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Whether you are starting out or ready to upgrade, there is a lot to consider when you’re shopping for a retail POS. These topics will help accelerate your research.

Shopping Retail POS System

In a retail business, the selection of your point of sale software and hardware is a crucial one. You need to know that your selected vendor is trusted, reliable and will be there for you — and that the POS solution will be easy to use and fully compliant with all applicable laws. With so many different point of sale systems on the market, how can you be sure you’re making the right choice for your business? There are some key considerations that you will want to keep in mind as you’re researching the various solutions such as your projected growth rate, the level of support that you can expect to receive and how the system will integrate with your current marketing or customer relationship management solutions. It’s crucial that you take the time to fully understand your options before signing a contract because a poor selection could have a ripple effect on your organization. Here’s what you need to know when you’re shopping for a retail POS system.

Review Your Budget and System Needs

There are some systems with some pretty hefty bells and whistles, but is that what you really need for your business? Just as with any technology solution, you want to “right-size” your requirements to be sure you’re considering systems that will meet your needs both now and in the future without a lot of pricey functionality that will not be used in your stores. Even if you’re just starting out in a rented space, what are your plans for expansion in the future? While that extra-fancy reporting software may be great for larger businesses, is it truly providing you with the value for the additional cost? Force yourself to justify each addition to the scope — but don’t scale back on basic requirements for your business.

Proactive Support During Onboarding is Imperative

It is all too easy to make an uninformed decision during the initial configuration of your POS system that could severely limit the way you are able to leverage the platform for your business in the future. When you’re considering a new POS system, be sure you are meeting the team that will physically do the onboarding, initial setup and training — and you need to be fully comfortable that they understand your current (and future!) business model and needs. Once your system is fully configured and operational, it can be much more difficult to change settings that are core to the utilization of the platform. While some changes are relatively straightforward (adding a new product or updating a price) others could require a significant investment in consultant time, testing and training before you can trust that the changes have been made correctly.

Aggressively Limit System Complexity

The word “aggressive” can have some pretty negative connotations in business, but it’s truly needed in this instance. Everyone from your staff to vendor sales teams will be pitching you on the relative value of additional functionality. Unless you are able to tie this directly back to a quantifiable business gain, resist the temptation to add complexity to your system. When you start with a system that is simple yet scalable, your ROI will be recognized sooner and you may even reduce employee frustration with the new system. Change is difficult for people, so anything that you can do to ease the transition will help soothe the nerves of unsettled staff members. When possible, consider a longer-term roadmap of development and ensure that your selected system will fulfill the future needs of your business as it grows.

Consider Integrations Possibilities

While it’s impossible to know what types of integrations you may want in the future, there are a few basics that you’ll want to consider such as how well your new POS system will work with your customer relationship management (CRM) software. Your customers are an integral part of your business, and capturing their purchases and needs allows you to serve them more effectively in the future. Other potential integrations include with your cloud storage solution, shipping management systems, inventory, communications and more. As you’re building the infrastructure to support your POS system, it’s important to review whether your telecommunications platforms and internet bandwidth are up for the challenge.

Robust Batched or Real-Time Reporting

Do you want to receive automatic reports about your business on a regular basis? Are you interested in configuring the reports that you receive, or are you happy with what comes out of the box? When you need new reports, will you have to engage consultants, or will you be able to do some simple report changes internally? Consider gathering copies of any current reports that you’re using or taking the time to detail the types of reporting you’ll need in the future before you begin your search. That way, you can share these details with the sales teams for your potential POS systems to determine the level of reporting that will be possible in the various systems.

Flexible Payment Processing

Have you considered all the ways that your team can accept payments, and does your POS system need to allow for tipping, printing or emailing receipts? An emailed receipt is a great way to continue a conversation with customers that started in your store. Customers want their receipt, so they are likely to give you an active email address for that reason. With proper opt-out procedures and messaging, you’ll then be able to communicate with these individuals in the future.

Finding the ideal POS system for your business may take some time, but doing the upfront work of research and to define your requirements will allow you to make a solid decision for a system that will serve you well in the future. Your POS system is a key element of your business operations, and finding a solution that is flexible, includes adequate reporting capabilities and can integrate well with other business systems will have your revenue humming!