Numerous businesses are switching to electronic point of sale systems for an array of reasons. They facilitate transactions like traditional cash registers, but they come with so many more perks, such as the ability to accept other kinds of payment and generate sales performance reports. An ePOS system is not just a means of taking cash and credit cards—it’s a valuable tool that can help you manage almost every facet of your business.
Not all hardware and software options are the same, though. What works for one store might not work for you. You know you need one, but how do you find an ePOS system that fits your needs? There are plenty of choices out there, so here are a few things to look for when shopping around:
Local or cloud-based?
The first thing you’ll need to decide is if you want a local or cloud-based system. In a local access network setup, you have your own servers on-site. With cloud-based, you pay a monthly fee to use software from a third-party provider. The former entails a more upfront setup, and you’ll have to update it yourself (whereas the software provider will create updates for cloud-based options). The latter is also very reliant on the internet, so make sure you have a dependable and high-speed connection.
Keep the hardware in mind, too. Some stores might be able to get away with only a device (such as a tablet), the software, a cash drawer, and a credit card reader. Others might need a barcode scanner, a customer display, a PIN debit pad, a receipt printer, etc.
So, this is where you’ll need to do a lot of research. Some ePOS systems are designed for specific markets, such as restaurants, hospitality, and different corners of the retail industry. There are several critical features that every ePOS system should have in common, though, such as the ability to generate in-depth reports. You can use these reports to learn more about your customers’ preferences and top-selling products or services to make data-driven decisions regarding how to grow your business.
Some features that retail stores will need are eCommerce, inventory management, and shipping tools. Restaurants and other foodservice businesses will benefit from integration with delivery apps, the ability to split checks, and table layout capabilities. Companies in the service industry might particularly enjoy calendar and scheduling tools. Make sure that whatever ePOS systems you compare offer resources you expect to need and more—and they will be, preferably customizable to some degree.
Is there a trial period?
When shopping, look to see if the provider offers a 30-day free trial. You want to be positive that the ePOS software you decide on is right for you, so you don’t want to commit to something before you’re certain. Take advantage of free trials until you find an option that fits your needs and makes everything run smoothly.
Trial periods are also an opportunity to assess the software’s ease of use. You want something straightforward that makes life easier for you and your employees, not something that confuses you further.
Because it’s not a technology you created, you will probably not be intimately familiar with a software option upfront. Read reviews from business representatives who have used a particular software in the past. What do they say about its features and its customer service? There may come a time when you need to call the provider to answer a question (or if they have technical difficulties on their end that affect you).
In this case, you want a friendly discussion and practical help, not someone who shrugs you off. Also, pay attention to when customer service is available—will you be able to reach someone during your business hours?
Inquire about data security. While cloud-based systems can be accessed off-site, providers hopefully regularly update their software to prevent the likelihood of hacks and theft. Be sure that your information and your customers’ data is safe.
And, of course, look at the cost. How high is the price tag compared to all that the software includes? This price tag might not be all that you pay, though—while the monthly fee to use the software will be transparent, there may still be credit card processing fees you need to pay for every transaction.
Some platforms don’t charge monthly fees at all; instead, finding other ways to make money (such as licensing and update fees). So, how much do you want to pay per month, and does the total cost—upfront and long-term—seem fair?
ePOS systems are diverse, so search for one that not only helps you interact with customers but enables you to view your business comprehensively and manage it more effectively. What features do you hope to see in an ePOS system?
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