Since the 1970s, point of sale systems (POS) have been streamlining customer purchases, and as digital technology has advanced, the software’s multi-tasking abilities have steadily increased. Today, a POS software package organizes information, manages inventory, generates reports, records and analyzes sales and transaction data, and merges with accounting software. It is a complex system and requires research and evaluation of your business needs and matching them to an appropriate software and/or hardware package. In fact, selecting a point of sale system is one of the more important steps in a business plan, because once it is implemented and the data is recorded and employees receive training, changing vendors could create a significant obstacle in continuation of services.
The following frequently asked questions can guide you as you evaluate whether to purchase a POS:
Why should I use POS Software?
A POS system is software package that is frequently packaged with an accompanying compatible hardware package used to organize and operate your business. The software links your customer service, inventory, accounting, payroll and other departments within one program, which helps centralize your administrative tasks. Using a POS is tremendously time-saving and efficient compared with the alternative of using separate software to manage each area.
It can also improve the customer experience with efficient sales programming, reduce waste with automated inventory reconciliation and expiration and ordering alerts, and prevent theft.
How Much does POS Software Cost?
The cost of a POS depends on the complexity, quantity and number of users of the software and hardware, if required. An individual software license is $1200 to $2500, while a POS terminal can range from $3000 to $4000 each. Additional frees include, a scanner, cash drawer, printer and an extended warranty. The return on investment for a POS is consistently positive, which is the reason most businesses use one. It will help your organization grow, which will eventually compensate for additional cost.
Do the POS software and hardware need to be purchased from the same vendor?
As the use of cloud software is rising, which operates online, if a terminal can connect to the internet, it will likely be compatible with a cloud software system. Otherwise, a terminal is similar to a computer because it using an operating system, and many offline software packages are designed to be compatible with only the hardware built at roughly a contemporary time frame. A vendor may offer a discount for purchasing a software and terminal package.
Is an industry specific POS system necessary?
Not necessarily. While there are many industry-specific software packages available, many of them don’t offer all of the features available in a general retail software package. Often times, a general retail software package can do everything that industry-specific software can do, plus a whole lot more. Ask yourself what features you need now and in the future. Do you want a customer loyalty program? Do you need faster credit card authorizations over the Internet?
If the server should stop working, would the terminal be able to process a sale?
POS software that has an offline mode will continue to work, even during a server interruption. When the connection re-establishes, the data from the offline transactions are uploaded to the memory for use in transaction details and reports.
Can I transfer my data on a current POS to a new POS software system?
If the current software can export customer and inventory details, it is possible to transfer the data into your new system, but each case would need to be evaluated individually.
Is it possible to operate the POS software from a home computer?
Can I analyze customer data with a POS?
Customer details and sales reports organized by customer can be retrieved efficiently with POS, and most systems organize the information into reports with customized categories for optimizing comparisons and applying the data to future planning.
The National Merchant Association provides a useful questionnaire, which you can use to support your POS purchase. It includes all of the detailed and logistical questions you will need to ask yourself about a specific POS system, which is a great way to verify that the specific vendor, software and hardware, if applicable, will meet your business needs.