What to look for in a POS: Software Advice shares their latest insights

With retail becoming increasingly competitive, it’s more important now than ever to have a system in place that gives you a bird’s eye view of your sales, customers, inventory and employees. Point of sale (POS) software brings a lot of these benefits and more, automating processes to save you valuable time amidst the hustle and bustle of retail environments.

We spoke with Justin Guinn, retail market researcher at Software Advice, a site that researches iPad POS and other point of sale systems. They shared their latest findings with us looking at the benefits of POS, and insights from retailers thinking of adopting a new merchant POS system.

Is your in-store solution giving you the competitive edge needed to stay ahead? And exactly what features should you be looking out for? Read through the findings of Software Advice below and see if you can apply them to your retail business.

Can you tell us a little bit about your analysis and what you uncovered in terms of current POS adoption?

We looked into a year’s worth of free consultations between our expert retail advisors and business owners to see what’s trending in the retail industry, and found some pretty telling stats around the top benefits small businesses are looking for in a POS system.

Most surprisingly, 64% of single-store retailers don’t have a POS system in place at all. Within that 64%, nearly a quarter (22%) are only using cash registers, and 18% are using nothing at all to manage their business. Given the operational benefits and affordability of POS systems these days, these findings really surprised us!

So there are still a lot of stores without a POS system in place. For retailers that are looking for one, what are the most requested functionalities?

Sales reporting and analytics capabilities are at the top of the list. More than three-quarters (76%) of business owners are requesting this for greater insights into their best performing products, most loyal customers, and overall revenue.

Coming a close second (at 74%) are inventory management capabilities. Who wants to spend hours manually counting inventory? It’s a laborious process, with a bigger margin for human error. Automating the process with this feature gives retail owners and managers a whole lot more time to spend on the shop floor, training new staff or interacting with valued customers.

When consulting with retailers, did they give you an overall sense of why they’re looking to replace their current system or adopt a POS for the first time?

Interesting question! For retailers newly adopting or replacing a system, we found that simply “modernizing” was a lead motivator for nearly a third (31%) of them. After that, 21% are motivated by their current system’s inadequacies. This is completely understandable, because if a shop owner is using manual methods to track everything, things are bound to fall through the cracks. And of course, another 20% want to improve their inventory and product tracking. This again highlights how important a formal inventory management system is for retailers.

Your research shows that a lot of retailers are looking for functionalities like customer or employee management. How might these features benefit a business that’s on the fence about adopting a POS solution?

Luckily, most POS systems now on the market already have customer and employee management features. Engaging with your shoppers to create a loyal customer base is crucial in retail today, especially when competitors are looking to get them through their own doors. In fact, we recently interviewed loyal customers to find out some of their biggest pet peeves when shopping at small retailers, and found that two thirds (66%) of them would consider taking their business elsewhere if they’re not recognized as a loyal shopper by the store owner or staff.

So how can retailers make sure their customers are being acknowledged? Customer loyalty features give merchants a previously unparalleled insight into who their most valuable customers are, and when and how they shop. With this, they can make the customer feel more appreciated and keep them coming back with personalized messages and offers.

And likewise, acknowledging top performing employees is just as important in terms of boosting staff morale and increasing sales. Employee management capabilities not only save time, making it easy to set schedules and monitor hours worked for payroll, in some cases they can help owners track individual performance. In the same shopper survey, we found that 85% of customers are likely to stop shopping at an understaffed store. So for improved shopper experiences, store owners should be on the lookout for a POS system with robust employee management features to ensure shifts are adequately staffed with the right balance of skill levels.

When it comes to small business in retail, costs are always an important consideration. Did your research take budgets into account, and what they might look like when searching for a POS system?

In terms of expected monthly budgets, we found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of first-time buyers are looking to spend between $50 – $100 per month on a new POS, while only 53% of replacement buyers estimate that budget. This is right inline with the average monthly prices for many of the popular options on the POS system market today.

This shows us that replacement POS buyers are willing to spend a little bit more on a new system. Perhaps this is because they now understand the importance of a POS system, and are willing to make a more room for it in their budget. The message we often hear from replacement POS buyers is that they’re just not happy with the system they currently have, and are looking for a POS more suited to their needs.

No matter what a budget may be, the value of a POS system is that it can start shaving costs by automating time-consuming admin tasks, keeping track of sales, inventory, and staff, all while building and sustaining a loyal customer base. And in an industry where consumers are overwhelmed with choice, it’s important that you’re providing them the best retail experience possible. The benefits of POS software listed above are certainly a step in the right direction for retailers of any size.


So what kind of system are you using in your store? Is it meeting your current needs? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below. 

About Ashley Gilgrist

Ashley looks after product marketing at Vend — working hard to bring exciting product launches to retailers around the globe. When she’s not busy talking all-things-Vend, Ashley also has a love of tea, candle-crafting, binge-watching, and hiking the pointy peaks of New Zealand.

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