Tips for Choosing a New Point-of-Sale System for Your Retail Store

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So you’ve known for quite some time that you need to go ahead and upgrade your point-of-sale system, but you get a headache every time you even think about the task ahead. It can be a frustrating experience trying to decide on which new POS system you would like to use for your store. “Am I making the right decision? Will it really really meet my store’s specific needs?” Fear not brave retailer, we have some tips that will help.

Where to start?

With tons of new options on the scene, it can be nerve racking just trying to narrow it down to a couple frontrunners. Since ShoppinPal works seamlessly with leading POS systems for small to mid-size retailers, our team here at ShoppinPal has spent countless hours looking into the latest POS systems and talking to hundreds of retailers – from retail owners that have never had a POS system, or those that describe their system as “ancient” and “tired,” to those that have a modern POS system but are shopping around for a better fit. We’ve learned a thing or two about point-of-sale systems and the needs of retailers, so in order to make this daunting task a little more manageable let us help you eliminate some choices right off the bat…

Whether it’s a new and modern system or one that’s been around for years, you really have two types of POS systems to choose from: on-premises and cloud-based. Go cloud. Nice! You’ve just eliminated quite a few choices. Good start.

Why cloud based POS systems? Three reasons:

  • Upfront cost: The main difference between the Mac and the Cloud based systems is that the Mac system requires a significant upfront hardware investment. With cloud based POS systems there is low to no upfront cost, which is a pretty big factor especially for small retailers.
  • Get up and running fast: Mac based systems require special installation and configuration. Cloud based POS companies love to tout the fact that it is very easy to set up and get going in no time.
  • No lock-ins: There are lock in costs associated with being in a closed on-premises system. It creates cost prohibitive barriers to employ other aspects with your system.

So how do you make a choice?

Be prepared to put in many hours evaluating your options. Short of hiring someone with expertise in the area to make the decision for you, you are the best judge to figure out which POS system will meet your store’s needs within your budget.

Who currently uses the point-of-sale system that you are considering? If you have a gifts store, and the majority of their featured customers on their website are cafes, it might not be the best choice for you. Specifically ask what retail verticals they serve.

Talk to existing customers. If similar stores are using the POS system that’s made your short list, call them. Ask them how they like it. Ask them what issues they run into. Ask them if they are happy with their choice.

Sign up for a free trial. Cloud based POS systems make it a realistic expectation to give it a test run before you make a final decision. Take advantage of it.

What about support? The last thing you want is to be frustrated because you can’t get simple questions answered from the company you chose to help you with such an integral part of your business. Ask the POS companies about the level of support you will get. But don’t stop there. Search for them on Twitter to see how many frustrated customers have resorted to tweeting for a response on a support question.

Does the POS system offer a solid selection of product add-ons?  Vend is an excellent example of a POS company that gets this right. Look at their add-on offerings; it’s clear that they care about the other set of operations and marketing tools that the retailer needs to work seamlessly– whether it’s web commerce, accounting or a mobile shopping add-on like ShoppinPal.

What did we miss? What’s the most important thing for your store as you search for a new POS system?

Stay tuned for an upcoming post where we’ll talk specifics about a handful of the leading point-of-sale systems for small to mid-size retail stores.