What are Retail POS Systems?
The POS, or “Point of Sale” is where a transaction occurs. In retail, this means where a customer makes and completes payments for a purchase.
A retail POS system is the combination of the hardware and software involved in the purchase - however, the hardware and software do far more than just process the purchase.
Systems can be as basic as a simple cash register, but are more likely today to be a combination of computer, transactional hardware and comprehensive management and processing software.
Retail POS Hardware
Computer or Management Device
This can be known as a register screen, but is usually a managing computer, or network of computers or devices where data and retail systems are managed and displayed.
A barcode scanner is able to read a barcode on every item available to purchase. It scans the price to process the payment, at the same time adjusting stock levels, and recording sales data as the purchase completes.
Credit or Debit Card Reader
Credit or debit card readers, needed to process payment transactions, and should be EMV compliant as of October 2015 to prevent fraud and manage fraud liability.
Email and text receipts are now available, but most retail stores still have a receipt printer at each checkout.
A cash draw is still very relevant despite the increasing move towards electronic payment processing.
Retail POS Software
Cloud vs On-Premise POS Software
Retail POS software can be the more traditional on-premise type where a software licence is purchased and used on single network or PC.
Cloud based POS software, a type of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), is web based and hosted within the cloud and is growing in popularity.
POS software processes, manages and records transaction and payment data, stock information, pricing, discounts and offers, and sales trends. It can also manage employees, any commission information, payroll, and accounting.
Benefits and Capabilities of Retail POS
POS systems automate many processes and provide real time data on every aspect of a retail business. They allow retailers to streamline and react quickly to data which becomes apparent from the wealth of reporting POS systems provide.
Accounts software can be a part of the service or integrate with existing software, saving hours of banking reconciliation.
Sales Reporting and Customer Management
Sales are recorded and the information processed to provide sales trends in real-time. Informed business decisions can then be made quickly.
Customer service is improved and the more advanced POS can integrate with, or provide marketing tools to enhance customer relationships and grow sales.
Again, real-time sales data can update inventory as it is sold. Negating the need for manual stock takes or reconciliation. Stock can be replenished quickly and in response to apparent sales trends.
POS systems can provide valuable function for staff scheduling, clocking in and out, bonus and payroll information.
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POS Price – What Will a POS System Cost My Retail Business and How Do I Choose One?
Full retail POS systems in Canada can start from around $1000 CAD. The cost will depend on the hardware and software required for the size of your business. There may also be monthly subscription and maintenance costs to consider.
Some POS systems also have a contractual period which is worth investigating thoroughly. Solely cloud-based options may come in cheaper, or work on a month by month fee rather than an initial investment.
Choosing a Retail POS system – Step by Step
What Hardware and Features do you Need?
Decide what functionality you need and how many devices/points of sale you need to cater for. Research thoroughly the features available and how they can help your business. Then, think about areas of your business you can streamline, what POS feature could help there?
If you have existing devices or software you need to integrate – check for compatibility.
Set a Budget
Costs and contracts vary immensely. Consider what you can afford and set a budget. Be prepared for a supplier to sell you cost savings as a POS system streamlines your business. Don’t discount them but if you decide to spend more, conduct a proper analysis into cost versus return.
With POS you need to consider the initial investment, any contractual terms and costs, monthly fees and the cost in time and resources to embed the system into your retail outlet and train your employees. If it doesn’t work out you then have the costs in both money and time of starting all over again, however if it does you can see years of savings and ROI so it pays to do some research before buying.
Identify and Compare Suppliers
Compare each supplier against your list of requirements and your budget. Draw yourself a comparison chart and make sure you research any areas which seem vague or you do not understand.
You never want to be stuck with a retail POS which doesn’t work for you, your employees and importantly, your customers.
This is where Expert Market can come in, let us know what you need and we can do the leg work comparing POS suppliers. We will then put you in contact with up to 4 providers we believe to be a perfect fit and leave the ultimate decision of which one to choose with you – after all, no-one can decide what is best for your business better then you can.
Take Advantage of Support and Functionality
Too many times we make a big purchase, choosing lots of new and additional features, then continue to use it the same way we used its predecessor. Make sure you learn how to use every aspect of your retail POS software and employ this across your business.
Maximise your ROI by using the POS system to its full extent and take advantage of any product support or training available.