Point of Sale Systems for the Small Business

Investing in a point of sale system for your small business isn’t a choice to be made lightly. All POS systems should have the basics, like the ability to review your inventory and ring up sales, but from there they can differ widely, so it’s crucial to weigh your needs carefully and make sure vendors can meet your needs. These considerations and more will help you decide which system is right for your business.

What fees are associated with this Point of Sale system?
In addition to the initial setup costs, you’ll likely face processing fees (for example, a percentage of every sale and a flat charge per transaction) as well as monthly processing fees, equipment rental or purchase costs, the cost of the software, etc. Make sure you know how much it’s costing you to maintain the POS system, not just to set it up.

How secure is card data?
This should be one of the first questions you ask POS vendors. Identity and card information theft are still major problems, so the vendor should be able to explain to you in detail how their system protects your customers’ card swipes. Confirm that it doesn’t store card numbers and that all transactions it makes are encrypted to protect them from hackers.

How mobile is my business?
Will you need to take the POS system anywhere besides a storefront – for example, if you maintain a store but also have a booth at a farmer’s market once a week? If so, a simple tablet with a credit card reader attachment might be best for you. If all of your sales take place at a counter in your store, on the other hand, you can concentrate more on sturdiness than mobility.

What do I need it to look like?
Some are simply a tablet with an attachment and an app that handles the heavy lifting. Others come with a physical stand and attractive display that matches the general look of your business. Whichever you opt for, demand quality hardware that can stand up to constant use, including a secure and sturdy stand to enter sales, a printer that doesn’t jam and materials that aren’t flimsy.

What forms of payment do I accept and what else do customers expect from my business?

Make sure your POS can help you with cash and checks too, not just swiping cards. If you’re constantly on the go and you rely on a tablet with a card swiping attachment, your customers may be just fine with having a receipt emailed to them; in a store, however, they may prefer a printed receipt. The POS should also be able to scan bar codes and store cash in cash drawers for you.

What kind of reporting do I need?
Your POS system should help you analyze business data, including best-selling items, returns and margins so you can determine whether your prices are effective. Consider a system that not only tracks sales themselves, but can sort the sales by department, item and time of day to help you optimize your use of floor space and adjust staffing so the busiest periods are adequately covered.

Remember, vendors are there to answer your questions, so don’t be afraid to ask for more details. Your business deserves the best, so make an informed choice.

If you are looking for a new location for your small business, contact Craig Byers at Q4 Real Estate at 319-294-3339.