What to Consider when Choosing a POS Terminal

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Confused by the features of POS terminals? Know what to look for when choosing a point-of-sale system

As a business owner, you are instinctively aware of the importance of accurate cash handling and of keeping track of all your financial transactions. If your business has grown to a point where you feel you could do with some help handling customer transactions (or if you run a business like a restaurant, a hotel, or retail premises), a Point Of Sale (POS) system can really help grow your business.

POS systems have clear advantages. They can help business owners run their companies more efficiently by keeping track of every item sold, reduce the time invested in taking inventory or calculating daily and weekly sales figures, and record key information that can help you modify your sales and marketing strategy. However, if this is your first time dealing with a POS system, choosing the right approach might be complicated. Below you will find some key questions that you need to ask yourself in order to choose the most suitable POS system for your business.

Does the POS suit your needs?

As is the case with other types of software, POS terminals range from the very basic to super-computers able to carry out complex financial analysis. The best approach to choosing an adequate POS is to make a list of all the critical tasks that you need the system to perform before you even start looking for the capabilities of specific POS systems. Do you need preauthorisation/vat summary? Do you require a black and white screen or colour screen? Do you need touchscreen, wifi, Bluetooth, gratuity, mobile top up and cashback? Do you require physical standalone terminals with management information (MI) report tools or do you require an integrated solution with MI including as a web application?

Once you have defined your business priorities, you can start comparing different systems or requesting demos from POS suppliers to see if they suit your needs.

How cost effective is the system?

Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to invest more or less on a POS terminal. Some units can cost thousands of pounds. Therefore, it is important to make detailed calculations to assess if the expenditure is going to be paid off by an increased volume in sales or productivity. There are options to buy or to lease a unit which may work out cheaper.

Also, consider whether you need to purchase a complete POS system or if you can re-use some of your existing software to lower the cost. Do you really need to invest in scanners, handheld devices, fingerprint readers, or thermal printers?

Another aspect that you need to keep in mind is the price of POS software. There are some entry-level shareware packages that can be installed with a simple download and only cost a couple hundred pounds, while higher-end versions can cost three times as much.

Is technical support reliable?

By acquiring a POS terminal, you are entrusting a highly delicate aspect of your business to a machine. Although the technology involved is reliable, you may want to anticipate the worst case scenario and see if the POS supplier provides adequate technical support. Having a malfunctioning POS terminal and not being able to reach customer support could have a detrimental effect on your business and lead to reduced sales.

Backup Options

Having a reliable method of backing up the data stored in a POS terminal is critical. Web-based (also known as cloud-based or hosted POS systems) allow users to create automated backups and to access the data remotely. Security is higher too, as no data is physically stored in the terminal.

By taking some time to examine what every POS terminal has to offer, you can ensure that you will be using technology to further your business interests.

Ashely is a keen blogger who enjoys writing about small business topics and giving advice to business owners.

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