In this 10-minute read:
- What is a point of sale (POS) system?
- What should a good POS system do?
- Questions to ask about your next POS system
- Types of POS systems to consider
Running a business is no small feat, and there’s a lot that goes into keeping the daily processes smooth and orderly. From sales reports to customer management, and everything in between, you have a lot on your plate as a small business owner.
A point-of-sale (POS) payments system is vital for every brick-and-mortar business. In this article, we’ll share some of our favorite POS systems and how they can help keep your business running smoothly..
What is a point of sale (POS) system?
Point of sale is the time at which a customer makes a purchase. A POS system is the process and device by which your customer makes that transaction, but a good POS setup generally does much more than just facilitate electronic and cash payments.
Today’s POS systems are the hubs of everything related to the sales process in your business. All tracking of sales, inventory, and and even customer relationship management can take place with this system.
A good POS system is not just nice to have—it’s vital to keep your business running smoothly and save your time by automating and organizing the exchanges of information that take place during the sales process.
What should a good small business POS system do?
A POS system simplifies key payment processes in your business, saving you and your employees time with every purchase.
In the beginning, there may be some hiccups with training and learning a new system, but after that, it should relieve a burden and help automate your sales functions.
If your POS system is difficult to use, unreliable, or takes too much time during the checkout and payment process, then you don’t have the right system for your business.
Here are some things a good POS system should do to help your small business succeed.
Create sales reports
Every good POS system should have a seamless way of presenting you with your sales reports. They should be easy to access and provide simple overviews.
You should also be able to generate detailed sales reports broken down into different categories:
- Total cost
- Net profit
- Gross margins
- And more
One of the most important functions of a good POS system is tracking inventory. Robust POS systems can keep track of all of your products, how many have sold, and will notify you when it’s time to order more of a certain SKU.
Your POS should be able to do the following:
- Manage your products by different categories (i.e. color, size, count)
- Identify unique serial numbers
- Scan products and count them digitally
- Track inventories across multiple locations
- Enable simple ordering for customers
- Consolidate multiple purchases in one order
Acquiring new customers and then getting them to come back to your business is one of the ultimate goals of every business. Your POS system should help you maintain customer relationships to encourage repeat customers.
You should be able to do the following customer processes with your POS system:
- Manage customers by purchases
- Keep track of purchase history by customer
- Collect information about each customer (name, birthday, email, phone number)
- Enter customers into email marketing campaigns to stay connected
- Keep customers connected with your loyalty program
Employee performance is critical to the success of your business. If an employee is falling short, so are you. A good POS system can help you keep track of employee performance and help your employees to keep their own personal sales goals as well as stay in-line with the business’s overall sales targets.
Your POS system should be able to complete the following employee-related transactions:
- Add new employees
- Modify and create employee schedules
- Send employees their schedules via email
- Track employee hours for payroll
- Analyze employee performance
Questions to ask about your next POS system
You’ll want to do plenty of research on any POS system you use for your business. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of whichever system you are leaning towards and ask lots of questions before making the leap.
Here are some questions to consider before choosing a POS system:
Can it be integrated with your current systems?
What software programs are you already using for your business? Do you have a website or CRM? Your POS system should be able to seamlessly integrate with any current accounting software you are using as well as with your website. Make the transition smooth by finding one that already works with your current systems.
What are the costs, and do they make sense for your business?
If your monthly sales only bring in a couple thousand dollars each month and your POS system is costing $1500 a month, then it probably isn’t worth it. Most small businesses can find a POS system that works within their budget and makes sense for them.
Determine the features you absolutely need and find a smart solution that helps save your business time and, ultimately, money.
Is there a contract associated with the system you want?
When you sign a contract, you are stuck in that agreement until it ends. So make sure you are ready to commit to the system you’ve chosen, especially if there is a contract that comes along with it.
What are the fees associated with the payment processor?
Some POS systems add additional fees for credit/debit card transactions, for making refunds, for downloading specific items, for activating gift cards, and other various processes. Make sure you know what fees your system will have so you aren’t caught off guard.
Of course, every payment processor (the organization that facilitates you accepting credit and debit card payments) will charge you a fee for each transaction. Speak with your processor’s representative, usually called a merchant services provider, to negotiate your rates and make sure you understand all the costs associated with accepting card payments.
Does the system have proprietary hardware?
A POS system that uses proprietary hardware can be convenient as it usually enables smoother functionality between the various hardware that you’re using—scanner, credit card processor, monitor, printer, etc. However, this can have its limitations as you might not be able to easily integrate it with your current systems. Be sure to understand the hardware limitations and integration capabilities before committing to anything.
Types of small business Point Of Sale (POS) systems to consider
POS systems come in all shapes and sizes and there are hundreds out there to choose from. We’ve gathered together a few of our favorites to give you a good start to your research. Not every POS system is one-size-fits-all. Take your time to find the right system for your business.
Square is definitely one of the most popular POS systems out there for small businesses, and has disrupted the traditional payments industry.
Anyone can use it, and the best part is, the software is free! You don’t have any monthly payments to make when you use Square (other than the fees charged with each card transaction).
You can start by simply downloading the free app on your phone or tablet and purchasing a Square card reader for $10.
Square also offers more involved hardware systems including a terminal, stand, or register from which to process payments and keep track of your sales functions.
Despite the inexpensive startup costs Square offers, there are still costs associated with using their software to accept payments. But you only have to pay Square when a customer makes a purchase. Each transaction costs roughly 2.6% of the purchase amount plus 10 cents. (See terms and conditions for additional costs for certain types of cards, and card-not-present transactions.)
Best features of Square POS system:
- No hidden fees for hardware or software, just pay for card processing
- Send custom invoices to customers for free
- Fraud protection
- Transfer funds to your account instantly for a small fee or get them the next business day for free
- Transform your current devices (laptop, iPad, cell phone) into a POS system
- Set up a free online store
Shopify is great for in-store and online sales. Similar to Square, they have an app for your phone or tablet that is easy to use. You can also purchase Shopify’s hardware systems to process payments. And, Shopify offers 24/7 customer support, so if you ever have trouble with your system, they are there to help.
Shopify has three different pricing models for small businesses to choose from:
- Basic Shopify
This plan starts at $29/month and comes with 2 accounts for your staff members. It is best for eCommerce businesses that sell at fairs, markets, and other pop-up locations.
It also has a credit card transaction rate of 2.7% for in-person purchases.
This plan starts at $79/month and is best suited for small businesses with at least 1 brick and mortar retail location. You get 5 staff accounts with this plan, unlimited Staff POS PINs, and can use it at up to 5 locations.
The in-person credit card rate for this plan is 2.5%.
- Advanced Shopify
This last plan is great for established businesses that are looking to grow quickly and scale. It starts at $299/month and offers several advanced features and analytics capabilities. This plan can be used at up to 8 locations with up to 15 staff accounts.
The in-person credit card rate for this plan is 2.4%.
Revel Systems is full of all the features you need to run your POS processes smoothly. They have several third-party integrations as well to ensure that you can run your business how you want to.
Revel Systems wants to personalize their solutions to each business they work with. So they encourage you to get in touch with a representative to discuss all of your business’s needs so they can tailor the right solutions for you.
Revel’s software starts at $99/month. This is billed annually and requires a 3-year contract, so be sure you are ready to commit to this plan before signing on.
They offer in-person onboarding to help get your new system installed and your staff trained on how to use it. This costs a flat rate of $649.
Every Revel plan includes the following features:
- Personalized onboarding
- Unlimited users
- Secure cloud backup
- Always on mode
- Free automatic product updates
- 24/7 online and phone support
Several additional services are also available to customize your experience and fit your needs:
- Loyalty programs
- Gift cards
- Account management
- Online ordering
- Multi-location management
- Inventory app
Shopkeep prides itself as an easy-to-use three-part software to help your brick and mortar business.
They start with the register and help keep track of all customer purchases. Their app can be added to any tablet.
Next, you can manage your inventory and access reports from any device—desktop computer, laptop, phone, tablet.
Finally, they have a convenient mobile app to help you run your business while you’re on the go.
Shopkeep offers 3 plans to help your business get started:
The free plan gives you 1 register license and access for 1 employee. You also receive access to the BackOffice dashboard along with unlimited transactions and inventory tracking.
If you want the hardware that goes along with this, you will have to check out their store and purchase something with which to process your payments.
The Essential plan starts at $99/month and offers every in the free plan along with some additional features:
- Unlimited employees
- Advanced reporting capabilities
- Mobile app
- eCommerce capabilities
- QuickBooks accounting
- Email marketing
- Gift cards
- 24/7 phone support
This plan also requires you to purchase their hardware if you have a need for it.
The Advanced plan starts at $199/month and includes everything in the previous two plans plus some additional features:
- Unlimited register licenses
- Hardware package (valued at $499)
- Loyalty programs
- Online listings management
- Priority phone support
Do your research and find the best POS system for your business. Know which features you need, the costs that make sense for your business, and how this will ultimately help your business function more smoothly.
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