This is a post by Abby Heugel.
As a retailer, you put a lot of your precious time and resources into finding ways to generate sales. More sales equal more revenue, which in turn leads to opportunities for the growth of your business. But how do you track all of these business operations that you’re working so diligently on?
Enter the POS, or point of sale system.
An efficient POS system brings together information about your sales, inventory, customers, and employees so you can manage your business more efficiently. But with so many solutions available to retailers, finding the best and the right POS for your business can be a challenge. And try as you might, mistakes can easily be made — and they can cost you not only time, but money.
Here are the most common mistakes retailers make when choosing a POS system and how to avoid them.
Not defining your needs
The most detrimental thing you can do when choosing a POS system is not having a clear understanding of the features and functionality that your business needs in an automated system. Are you a pop-up store where space is limisted or a specialty boutique that needs help with purchasing and receiving? You need to know how to evaluate what you actually need and how you as a retailer can incorporate each of the POS functions into your business.
Skipping this step could lead to having to deal with the risks of incompatible or unnecessary features and the failure of your system to perform functions critical to your specific business.
Only considering the price
You have to be smart with how you spend and invest your money, but you don’t want to be cheap when it comes to your POS. Going for a cost-effective POS system is smart, but not if you compromise important features in the process.
For example, if having a loyalty program essential in your business, then you’ll want to get a POS system that supports loyalty and rewards, even if it costs extra. Why? Because a poorly designed loyalty program could diminish the customer experience — and that’s a far biger price to pay.
One way to navigate pricing and ensure that you don’t overspend is to make a list of the must-have features that you’re looking for in a POS. Do you require a system that can support multiple locations? Should your system have the ability to integrate with your ecommerce site, accounting software, and staffing platform? Get clear on these requirements and recognize that you need to invest in the right solution for your business to run and grow.
Investing in hardware first
Not every POS system will run from the same hardware. You might only need a tablet or a mobile card reader if you’re a smaller retailer operating out of a shared space or market, while larger stores would need to focus on having hardware like traditional card readers, receipt printers, and most likely even more devices.
Each POS software requires a specific operating platform and certain types of card readers, scanners, printers, and cash drawers, so don’t limit yourself by investing in the computer hardware first. Why? Because doing so means you’re potentially wasting your time and money on resources that might not be compatible enough to support the next POS you buy.
Simply put, you’re limiting your choices for POS, which means you might not be getting the most compatible and efficient system for your business.
Your staff is one of your most valuable resources, yet many retailers try to save money when it comes to training staff on POS systems — which can prove expensive in the long run. Like anything else with your business, knowledge is key, and knowing how to effectively run your new system is critical to your success. Your employees are the ones who directly process sales, manage inventory, print barcodes, etc., and no matter how great your POS system may be, poorly trained users can quickly render it much less effective.
Dedicate time to give them an overview of the system, followed by training on the system itself that includes management functions such as purchasing, receiving, barcodes, inventory management, reporting, etc. Be careful not to overwhelm them with too much information, but rather teach them what is needed to run the business day to day, letting them know that additional training will be available in the future.
Not testing the system
If you were going to invest your hard-earned money in a new vehicle, you wouldn’t dream of choosing a car without first taking it for a test drive. So why would it be any different when choosing a POS system for your business? A POS solution might look great on paper, but you can’t really know the whole picture unless you take it for a test drive first.
Request a free trial so you can test out their software. If that’s not an option, schedule a demo to walk through every part of the system, making notes of issues that come up and seeing how efficiently they can respond.
This will give you an idea of not only how the system runs, but also what kind of system support is available — which we’ll get to next.
Skipping the support system
You might be great at running your business, but that doesn’t mean you can always troubleshoot any problem that might arise — especially with your POS system. When things go wrong — and at some point, they likely will — having a knowledgeable support system will be invaluable to help with technical questions and problems that come up.
That’s why when purchasing a POS system, it’s important to consider the technical support that is available. When a problem comes up, you don’t want to be stuck on the hold on the phone for an hour or waiting around the shop for that “three hour service window.” Not only is that frustrating for you, but it’s also frustrating for your customers. Make sure you can pick up the phone and speak to a real human being able to answer your POS questions when you need them most.
If you need more info on how to effectively compare different point of sale solutions, download Vend’s POS Buyer’s Guide. In this resource, you will learn the 7 secrets to find a reliable POS system, and avoid the costly mistakes most retailers make when choosing a new retail platform.
In it you’ll learn:
- How to budget for your POS system
- How to find and vet providers
- How to get the most out of the solution
Choosing the wrong partner
Choosing a POS system is entering into a long-term relationship, and you want to make sure that the company you choose will be there through thick and thin. You’re faced with a lot of options, and you want to make sure to partner with a strong company dedicated to the retail industry.
It helps to eliminate some options based on a few qualifying questions.
- Is point of sale the company’s primary business?
- Does the system integrate with other areas of your business?
- What type of ongoing support do they provide?
- Is the pricing transparent and simple to understand?
- Does it track the metrics most important to your business?
Once you create a list of pros and cons for your options, evaluate your selections and read any positive or negative reviews about the provider. Sites like MerchantMaverick even rank and review things like POS systems for retailers. But at the end of the day, by avoiding these mistakes, you’re well on your way to integrating an invaluable tool to your business — one that will set you up for success in the future.