— By Graham Campbell —
Choosing a new POS: 5 tips to avoid unexpected costs in the long run.
Shopping for a new POS system can be a difficult process. Whether owners have a restaurant, salon, retail store or other type of business, the right POS system can help drive sales, manage their business and even leverage e-commerce features like online ordering, third-party delivery or loyalty programs.
However, the wrong POS system can cause serious problems for any business, including unexpected costs. To avoid these incremental costs further down the road, here are some tips to keep in mind when searching for a new platform.
Make Sure It Can Integrate Easily
It is easy to be distracted by the flashy features of a new POS platform, but business owners need to verify that the system can, first and foremost, integrate into their current operations. A good system should integrate easily with everything from accounting software to online ordering offerings and loyalty programs.
In addition, a quality POS platform needs an integration-friendly approach for changing technology trends — not only does it need to work with established operations, but it also needs to function with newer systems that restaurant or retail owners might bring on as the space advances. In order to constantly create a high quality of customer experience and engagement, the POS needs to set the business up for future success.
Most people think of a POS system as a tech stack, but quality platforms should provide additional hardware that improves the business overall, whether that be tablets for tableside ordering or kitchen display systems for better efficiency in the kitchen.
Be Wary of Expensive Add-Ons
If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Retail and restaurant owners need to beware of the “razor-blade” business model where the base POS package is suspiciously cheap but requires purchasing costly add-on modules to get standard enterprise functionality. If businesses are not careful, the costs associated with the software and hardware upgrades can surpass the alternative options eliminated earlier in the search process due to price.
Hidden upgrade costs can pop up in a POS system’s support features as well. Since the base packages for support are often just open forums, they are not a feasible option for businesses who experience regular crises. For example, if one of these standard systems fails during peak hours, the owner is forced to spend time and energy trying to fix it through user forums and self-help sites. In addition to quality onboarding, these businesses need someone on the phone who can offer technical support and lead them toward a specific solution quickly. Sadly, many POS vendors don’t offer this support for free.
Every business is unique and has a specific vision and requirement for their POS. “Cookie-cutter” or “off-the-shelf” POS systems might automate some of the general, basic functionalities, but since they are not designed precisely for a business’ needs, they might ultimately decrease the overall return on investment.
POS platforms are a long term commitment — owners should invest in a system that is robust, scalable and flexible, and that can evolve as the business grows. Instead of a buying decision based on immediate requirements only, business owners need to consider future growth and possible impact.
Additionally, owners often underestimate the importance of the post-sales, implementation, training and support process and instead focus on day-one features. This can be catastrophic in the long term. Business owners need their POS to be running smoothly and efficiently at all times and expect their POS to be functioning well for years after implementation.
Involve Your Team
Another major tip for business owners is to involve their team. The feedback from employees of different departments is incredibly valuable as they are the ones with hands-on experience in the everyday operation of the business. The employees will use the system the most, and therefore will be able to provide accurate feedback.
A POS system is much more than a financial transaction tool — it is a platform that integrates into daily business operations, helps manage the business more efficiently, facilitates and improves sales, supports customer interaction and optimizes the use of both physical and human resources. By involving the team in the buying process, business owners will have an opportunity to receive honest input into the pitfalls of their current POS so current issues aren’t repeated.
Finally, business owners shouldn’t hesitate to ask tough questions during the buying process. By inviting a representative from the POS company to interact with their staff and test functionality against the operation’s day-to-day needs, they can best determine whether the POS they are considering is a good fit for their business.
Evaluate the Reporting
Not all reporting features are created equal and a quality POS platform is loaded with endless analytic functionalities that help better manage a business. Operators need to find out how the POS platform can support their present and future data requirements.
By understanding what types of reports are available from the get-go and what level of customization the POS system provides, the owner can better match the system to their business needs. These consumer reports help the business continue to perform successfully and grow after it makes the transition from one system to another.
Overall, a POS system should support a well integrated business strategy that aligns with long term goals. By planning, evaluating and assessing business requirements, the implementation process, and organization constraints ahead of time, business owners can avoid incremental costs further down the road.
— Graham Campbell is chief operating officer of Givex, which discusses how business owners can save money by investing in the right POS system.