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As a business owner, a crucial piece of the checkout experience is making sure you have the right point of sale for your business. For many retail merchants, having the right POS can save valuable time at checkout, creating an enjoyable in-store experience for your favorite people, your customers.

When it comes to finding the right POS, the functionality of the software can be a deciding factor. Cloud-based software has replaced bulky, expensive and almost obsolete servers, which allows SMBs to keep costs lower while getting access to more functionality. For most, it’s important to look at each functional area and ask yourself if the integration pain is worth the gain.

In addition to being EMV-ready, it’s a good idea to make sure your hardware is contactless-capable. Contactless payments could be adopted by the majority in certain regions in as little as five years. Making sure your hardware has this capability now isn’t a large expense, and saves you from having to change the hardware in a few years.

Does the POS system you are considering protect sensitive data with solutions like PCI-validated point-to-point encryption (P2PE)? This is a significant differentiator as some solutions out there may not be protected with PCI-validated solutions. These solutions come with extra validation and security controls which help to reduce the PCI compliance scope required of each business.
Another powerful protector is EMV technology, especially when combined with solutions like P2PE. Make sure you’re using a system that can accept this credit card payment type. The U.S. adoption of EMV, or chip cards, has substantially reduced card-present fraud. In fact, the major card brands are even eliminating the requirement for merchants to obtain signed receipts because transactions are better protected by technology like EMV.

Consider the following functions against your business needs:

Inventory management. Do you want a POS to track your merchandise so you know when it’s time to reorder the fast selling items? It can also be crucial business knowledge to collect data on who is buying the popular items against the slower selling items.

Customer relationship management. In order to form relationships with your customers to generate repeat business, it’s smart to know more about them. Tracking loyalty is important to your business. Customer management tools can give you data to track customer spending habits.

Transaction management. Do you want a comprehensive platform for viewing reports on your transaction data? Savvy businesses opt for transaction management portals, some of which are available to access on mobile devices that make it easy to check on your business from anywhere in the store or while away from the store. Make sure you find a solution provider with powerful transaction management tools that are easy to use so you can focus on other parts of your business.

Returns acceptance. Do you want a process to help keep track of returns and exchanges? Knowing more about the purpose of the return helps with your next inventory purchase.

Employee Management. Do you want to offer important time-tracking capabilities so employees can clock in and clock out? This makes sense for businesses with several employees.

Integration. Does it integrate with other areas of your business? For example, when doing accounting with QuickBooks, does the POS software easily connect? There are many other functions provided by your other business tools. During the acquisition process, check to see if those integrations are available. If you ultimately choose a more complex POS system, make sure you’re comfortable with the level of support the provider gives you.

Pricing. Is pricing clear and upfront? Understand your provider’s processing fees and interchange rates, ask about any potential hidden fees and make sure you know when to expect the bill.

Customer service. Don’t overlook this area as your sales depend on quickly troubleshooting problems, especially during a sale. Does the retail POS provider offer accessible, helpful customer support? How are the customer service reviews online? Call the customer service support number before you become a customer. Test them out. How do they handle your call? Reviewing the software company’s website allows you to quickly gauge the helpfulness of their customer support.

Processor compatibility. Is the POS compatible with your processor? Not all POS solutions are created equal or are compatible with every payment processor.

Ease of use. Is the POS intuitive enough for your employees to learn and use efficiently? Is there a learning curve for a more complex system?

Speed. Is the software and hardware quick? Remember the scenario at the beginning of the empty checkout line and speedy checkout process? If you want that to be the experience you give to your customers pay special attention to the speed at which the POS handles the sale.

After all this, you may find several great options or be filled with more questions. Don’t forget about your peers. Many businesses like yours already went through this process. Maybe you won’t ask your competition down the street, but trade groups associated with your business type are an excellent source of information because their membership spans the U.S. They can give you firsthand information about their system of choice and how it works for them. Sifting through reviews online and engaging with other merchants through social media networks are also great ways to find out what works for others.

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