How to Select a POS System for Your Business

When you visit other businesses, do you ever take the time to notice how they take your payment? Some use cash registers and separate card-swiping machines. Others have computers with card readers. And some people are now using tablets, smartphones, and other handheld devices to take payment. When you start your own business, you’re going to have to determine which POS (point of sale) system will work best for you. And there are many options to choose from. So how can you select the option that’s right for your business? Here are some details you’ll want to address before you make your selection.

If you want to cater to the widest range of customers, you’re going to have to give up on the idea of a cash-only business. Unless you operate out of a flea market, this type of transaction is not the most acceptable form of sales. Many people prefer to use credit or bank cards these days, and they may only carry enough cash for tipping, if that. You’re almost certain to lose sales if you have a cash-only policy at your brick-and-mortar location. While you’ll avoid having to pay fees associated with credit transactions, the trade-off is a loss of customers that can’t or won’t pay with cash.

So once you’ve agreed that some kind of electronic POS option is necessary, how do you select the one that’s right for your business? There are several things to consider. If your business is relatively small and offers a limited range of goods, you could get away with little more than a cash register and a card reader. But for more complex operations, a computerized system could really streamline the process, increase efficiency, and provide some measure of oversight (via a digital record of transactions). Plus, many such systems have card readers included so that you don’t have to rent additional equipment.

These systems can be customized to meet your needs with pre-programmed icons and prices that make it easy for employees to ring up sales and take payment, they can include barcode scanning options, and they could even store information about customer rewards programs, just for example. If you’re looking for touch-screen cash registers, handheld laser barcode scanners, electronic scales, and other equipment, not to mention the software to run it all, a vendor like Arba Retail Systems can deliver the end-to-end POS system you’re seeking.

But of course, there is another option for point of sale these days: handheld devices. The major worry here is security, since tablets and smartphones run on networks that are less than ideally protected. And you have to consider that even though you might be saving money over other card readers by using a flat-rate service like Square, you’ll still have to shell out the dough for WiFi or a data service to use such devices. So the costs might even out in the end. But having this portable option may suit your business model, especially if you frequently travel to off-site locations (like outdoor markets) to make sales. Really, you need to consider the type of business you operate, the budget you can afford, and the options that best suit all of your needs before you select the appropriate POS system.