A POS System Buyer’s Guide: Questions Every Retailer Should Consider

2018-11-06T14:35:13+00:00October 16th, 2018|Categories: POS Functions, POS System|Tags: , , |

Picking out the right point of sale for your business is a critical decision. A great system can save you a lot of time and money down the road. A bad one can come with hidden costly fees and lose you business. So it’s important to understand what you need before looking for a system that is a great fit for your store.

Luckily, the world of POS systems is competitive and you have new options for software that can specifically cater to your small business. For instance, a coffee shop requires order automation, tipping options, and a user-friendly modification system, to name a few. None of these features would be particularly crucial for an amusement park, which would require advanced ticketing operations, scanning systems, and integration with additional park kiosks and booths.

So what are the questions you should ask yourself before you buy your new POS system? Let’s cover a few of the basic questions to a POS system buyer’s guide on how to know which point of sale is right for your small business.

  1. What Type of POS Hardware is Best?
  2. What POS Hardware Peripherals Do I Need?
  3. Cloud-Based or Legacy System?
  4. Software-as-a-Service or Buying Your Software License?
  5. What Software Integrations Do You Need?
  6. What Credit Card Processor Will You Use?
  7. Do You Require Any Niche POS Features?
  8. Do You Want Included Support? What About a Long-Term Contract?

1. What Type of POS Hardware Is Best?

A POS is no longer simply a cash register. The hardware is most often an actual computer or tablet that runs software through a browser or app. You can attach, either physically or remotely, any additional peripherals to the computer or tablet. These may include a scanner, printer, cash drawer, and credit card reader.

  • Desktop – These systems are best for businesses that have a clear checkout area with a cashwrap. Desktops are difficult to move and take up more space, so you want to be sure that they are well integrated into this area. Desktop POS systems, however, are powerful tools and can improve the experience for both your customers and your staff. For example, more advanced hardware has large touch screens with forward facing displays. You also often have the option of leasing or buying these outright.POS desktop hardware
  • Mobile – For a more mobile experience, getting a tablet or mPOS might be a better route. Tablets simply need a credit card reader attached and can complete transactions anywhere in the store. This solution is great for adding extra checkout options during your busiest times. It’s also a great option for smaller retailers who have fewer daily transactions and less inventory. Mobile POS systems can be set up as stationary units as well, and have other hardware peripherals attached to them. This gives you more versatility with your checkout experience.
  • Combination – Many retailers would benefit from an all-in-one approach by combining the two different options. For your bigger, busier locations, desktops are a better option, but keeping tablets as well are great for smaller stores or pop-up shops.

2. What POS Hardware Peripherals Do I Need?

Though a complete point of sale setup isn’t too extensive, there are a few additional items that every retailer must have.

  • Credit Card Reader – Retailers can’t rely on cash and check only anymore. It’s essential to accept credit cards. And if you do, you must also have a machine that is compatible EMV chip paymentsFederal law now states that any fraudulent swiped transaction must be compensated for by the retailer, not the issuing bank.
  • Contactless and Mobile Payments – You also should accept alternative forms of payment, including contactless, or, tap-and-pay, and mobile paymentsMore and more consumers are using these safe forms of payment and expect that retailers accept them. Make the switch now before you’re behind the curve.
  • Receipt Printers – Most retailers still have receipt printers, but they are less necessary now than they used to be. In efforts to cut down on paper waste, emailed or texted receipts are on the rise. This also allows retailers to continue the relationship with each customer even after they leave the store. An email or text could be easy reminders to go back to visit your business.
  • Scanners – Scanners are another non-essential piece of hardware, but one that many retailers would benefit from. Most importantly, scanners can make inventory management much smoother and accurate.

3. Cloud-Based or Legacy System?

For a long time, a legacy model was the only option retailers had. Legacy systems are all connected to a server on the premises of the store itself. Each POS and peripheral device is connected to this main server.

On the other hand, a cloud-based point of sale is connected through an external server hosted by the POS company. This means that you can have access from anywhere with an internet connection, allowing you to complete tasks remotely. Legacy models are also prone to complicated and expensive updates and disastrous internet outages.

There are very few legacy systems still on the market, but still be sure that you are looking for a cloud POS system.

4. Software-as-a-Service or Buying Your Software License?

Cloud-based software also makes the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model more feasible. This means your purchasing your POS as a subscription rather than owning the software license.

SaaS means that you pay a monthly fee which includes automatic updates to your software as they’re released. Owning the software outright can be expensive, and any updates will quickly make the old version obsolete. In such a quickly changing industry it’s advantageous to find a solution that will keep you with the best technology available at all times.

5. What Software Integrations Do You Need?

While your point of sale can perform an array of tasks for your store, you might also want to consider third-party software for some more advanced tools.

For example, many wineries use the advanced loyalty program, bLoyal; many businesses need POS software that integrates with accounting tools, such as Quickbooks; retail stores seeking an online presence need to have a POS system that integrates with an eCommerce platform.

eCommerce POS platform

There are countless business management apps for every type of retailer. Of course, most won’t need more than a couple. But it’s important to make a list of those that you’d like to use prior to committing to your POS solution.

6. What Credit Card Processor Will You Use?

Your credit card processing decision is quietly one of the most important. Credit card processing fees, though a small percentage of the overall sale, can be a huge amount at the end of each year. And one that offers 2.25% instead of 2.75% can save a retailer tens of thousands of dollars.

Remember that you can shop around for the best rates. Beware of POS companies that are also payment processors. These solutions will lock your business into higher rates, even though they may offer a free tablet or no monthly software licensing fees.

Also, take a little time to learn about credit card processing. There are ways to find lower rates and save a significant amount of money.

See Related: Avoid Credit Card Processing & POS Early Termination Fees and Contracts

7. Do You Require Any Niche POS Features?

Much like your needs for any software integration, ask about niche features that are specific to your industry when shopping for a new POS system. A great point of sale should be able to offer industry-specific tools that benefit your business.

To give you an idea, here are a few that KORONA POS offers:

  • Order Automation – For businesses like coffee shops and bakeries, frequent, standard orders are common. Our software includes tools that automate these orders. The orders can also be completed directly through your point of sale.
  • Short-Stock Notifications – For many retailers, but especially liquor stores, KORONA has a short-stock widget. This tool is on your dashboard and notifies you whenever there is a product low in stock. Again, any ordering can be done directly through the widget.
  • Retail Analytics – A business with thousands of products, like convenience stores and gift shops, benefits from ABC retail analysisThis feature grades the performance and value of each of your products allowing you to better order and price each item.
  • Versatile Verticals – Wineries, amusement parks, and museums need a POS solution that is versatile enough to service multiple verticals. For example, a winery might offer ticketed tours, have a gift shop, a quick-service restaurant, and host large events. An all-in-one POS system is needed to cover each aspect of the business.

8. Do You Want Included Support? What About a Long-Term Contract?

It’s important to prioritize the POS business itself in addition to the hardware and software. With a more advanced point of sale, you’re bound to have questions. Support isn’t always fixing problems, it’s also about helping retailers use their point of sale most productively.

Look for a system that comes with included support. Many POS companies charge extra for this. Also, ask that it’s 24/7. You need a solution that is there to help any time that you need it.

Lastly, watch out for lengthy contracts. There is never a time when signing a contract with a POS company or credit card processor will benefit you. It’s only locking you into a potentially bad business situation.

How Does Our POS System Buyer’s Guide Conclude? Choose KORONA!

KORONA has been built for a very specific group of retailers. The cost is simple and transparent, and the product is second to none. Click below to sign up for a free trial. Have one of our experts walk you through the software and show you how it can help your business. Also below are a few other links to a few of our other guides to your POS shopping.

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About the Author:

As Content Strategist at KORONA, Michael comes from a background in blog writing and content management as well as extensive use of various point of sale systems. He's passionate about helping small businesses reach their potential, and Jeopardy. For inquiries and suggestions please contact our marketing team.