If you’re of a certain age and ever worked in a food service or retail store, you probably remember the check process before the modern POS systems took over the retail industry. The cost calculated has to be manually done at the checkout counter, and receipt was another thing altogether. Not to talk about credit card transactions that weren’t instantaneous. However, all these processes are a breeze today, thanks to the innovation and convenience you get if you use the best POS system for retail businesses.
Like Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changing.” The advent of technology has enabled the sophisticated recording of data, speedy transactions, and overall improved customer experience. All these have affected your competition too. Hence, retailers are out to choose the best POS system for retail in order to remain competitive. However, the POS market is saturated. Therefore, you need to know the basics of the point of sale solution before you can correctly choose.
What is the Retail POS System?
The best way to think of your retail POS system is the point where your business and its customers converge to complete transactions. Therefore, the best retail POS caters to several crucial points along the customer journey, all the way to checkout. Hence, the words “register” or “checkout”’ may be used interchangeably with POS systems.
However, the modern POS system does more than your traditional checkout or cash register. Considering the hardware you’ll need to use, like directly scanning credit cards, the best POS system for retail is more of an all-in-one solution. Today’s system comes complete with multiple terminals all connected to a central server - either remotely or locally installed. Hence, you can ring up a purchase in a matter of seconds through the electronic system.
The retail POS system answers questions not only for the merchant but especially for dealing with difficult customers daily. However, some still debate the need for a dedicated POS system. In this regard, let’s consider some of the essential reasons why the successful retail stores of today all use the best retail point of sale systems available in the market.
Why You Need a POS System
According to a financial markets report by Statistica, the leading method of payment in the U.S. is credit cards. Therefore, if your retail business plan depends on the traditional POS systems and cash registers, you’ll have some major challenges on your hand. Ideally, you should streamline your transactions, by getting a system in place that instantaneously processes debit and credit card payments, tracks sales, and provides customizable reports on the performs of your retail business.
These are basic features of the modern POS system, which you can also benefit from simply by investing in the best POS system for retail businesses. Not to say that you can’t continue using your old system. However, it pays to take into account how your competition invests in systems so as to remain competitive. It’s hard to have an accurate understanding of what other businesses in your industry are doing to prevail and grab a bigger share of the market.
In this case, competitive market analysis helps to assess the different tools, systems, and strategies your competitors are using. Our guess is, they are using some of the best POS systems for retail businesses. These systems collect data, process this data, and give you insight into several aspects of your business. Remember, the more data you have, the better decisions you will make because they aren’t guesswork but are driven by real business operations.
So we now agree on the need to use the best retail point of sale system. Let’s also look at some important factors you need to cover before you can select the best POS system.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Retail POS System
In order to make the best choice for your retail store, there are vital factors you need to analyze every potential POS system. Some of these are as follows:
- The initial cost of setup (amount of money and time required)
- Cost of payment processing (e.g., Percentage of sale + charge per transaction)
- Hardware costs/rental fees
- PCI compliance (this is how to connect your system, securely manage customer data, and process payments)
- Level of mobility
- Ability to process transactions from EMV chip cards
- POS software fees
- Cost of additional POS features (example appointment management, invoices, customer loyalty programs)
- Additional monthly processing fees (examples chargeback fees and PCI-compliance)
- Ability to process and accept NFC payments like Amazon Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and contactless cards.
Depending on the kind of business you are currently running and where you take it, these factors will influence the choice you make. Ultimately, the benefits you will derive from your POS system will depend on some of these features. Next, we look at some of the benefits the best POS system for retail offers to its users.
Benefits of POS System for Credit Card Processing
All POS systems have particular features that are fundamental to their operations. However, a retail POS solution needs to offer additional functionalities that render the life of the retailer easier. These functionalities are many; however, here are some of the most vital ones below:
Ease of use
Everyone loves a system that’s simple, with an intuitive and user-friendly interface. Your average retailer doesn’t have the luxury of time. Thus, the best POS system for retail is the system that provides all its powerful features through an easy to use interface. Employees and other users shouldn’t need a long course before they can use the system.
You need your POS to run on multiple platforms; this has a direct bearing on the cash flow management of your business. Be it on PCs, iPads, or Macs. Also, the hardware components should quickly link up with receipt printers, cash drawers, and barcode scanners. Usually, you know you got the best retail POS system when it can easily integrate with third-party hardware and software. This way, you don’t have to discontinue the use of your old hardware and you also get to use several add-ons.
Other equally crucial features include:
- Inventory management
- Customer management
- Reporting tools
- Staff management
- Offline mode
- Third-party integrations
Though all these features are indispensable for the best POS system for retail management, it’s essential to state that you will need help to launch and use your system to its full potential. Hence, customer support is another vital factor we recommend you use when doing your POS reviews.
Usually, when you pay for a cloud-based POS system, you enjoy some level of customer, either via email, phone, or live chat. However, there are some POS vendors that offer their technical support as a separate service for which you have to pay.
In addition to these options and support channels, you will find several other resources that support users with information and knowledge for the experience. Some of these are:
- Video tutorials
- Social media networks
- Getting started guides
- Self-serve knowledge base
In addition, there should be a section for FAQ on the vendor’s website. And many how-to articles (like the one you’re reading now) to help you succeed with your investment in the POS solution. There are customized onboarding plans which are created upon request to help you set up your POS system. However, these come at an extra cost. They can be very helpful and ensure you know the ins-and-outs of your system.
Among all the different types of POS systems at your disposal, you only get to choose one to help you run your retail business. Therefore, you need to know you’re choosing the best POS system for retail management. We hope this article helps you make an informed decision. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions about choosing the best retail POS for your business.