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Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to be utilizing technological advances to make their operations as streamlined and effective as possible. Even the smallest business can benefit from implementing certain technologies and systems that make it more manageable to stay on top of everything. One of the best options is a Point of Sale system (POS).  If you are new to POS systems or need a refresher on why they are so important, read on for everything you need to know about selecting a POS system software for your business. 

1. What is a POS system?

At the fundamental level, a Point of Sale system (POS) is where your customers can make a payment for what they have purchased from your business – whether it’s a meal, product, or service. You can think of it this way: Every time a customer makes a purchase, they're completing a point of sale transaction which is facilitated through a POS system.  That being said, today's POS systems do a lot more than simply process payments, as they have now turned into a home base for retailers and restaurants. With the new POS systems, you can integrate a variety of features, payment options, and other app capabilities. In other words, your POS system can (and should) be filled with features that aid you in running your business more efficiently and effectively.  For this reason, your POS system should serve as the hub of your business where you can monitor, manage, and analyze everything from sales to customer management, from inventory management to payment processing (to name a few features). 

2. Why is a POS system important?

In 2022, having a POS system is essential for various businesses because it eliminates the need to manually enter things, which helps prevent reporting errors in the future. While different industries and enterprises require various features, preventing reporting errors is essential across the board.   Other features you want to look for in your POS system include sales reporting to help you record and analyze sales data to make informed business decisions and inventory management to aid in managing your stock to determine when and how often to reorder products. Moreover, customer management features make it easier to log purchases and keep in touch with customers through marketing tools, while employee management features help to track employees' hours and sales while analyzing who your top performers are.  Every business wants to do everything they can to build strong relationships with their customers, so the customer management features are so crucial. Therefore, your POS system should have the features required to keep track of customers' purchase histories,  capture customer information, integrate email marketing, and create a built-in loyalty program.  For sales reporting, you will want your system to at least be able to generate detailed sales reports and produce snapshots and charts that describe your store's sales performance. 

3. What are the benefits of a POS system? 

No matter what size of business you have, there is no denying that a POS system can bring a number of significant benefits. For starters, it helps you to save a meaningful amount of time by allowing you to streamline multiple operations into a central system. Similarly, when you implement a high-quality POS system, you will quickly reap the benefits of increased worker productivity while seeing a reduction in administrative costs All automated systems help to decrease human error, and a POS system is no different. As a result, this system will help ensure that you are getting your orders correctly, that employees are accountable during their shifts, and that you have accurate data. When it comes to data, POS systems can also provide you with detailed sales reporting and data analytics that allows you to dive deeper into getting to know your customers and your operations. The more data you have to analyze, the better positioned you are to make decisions moving forward.  All of this together helps you to improve your overall customer service which, in turn, makes you stand out from the competition and aids you in creating a business that appeals to both customers and staff alike. 

4. What is a cloud-based POS system?

As technology has evolved and cloud-based systems have become more prevalent in recent years, cloud-based POS systems have been developed. These systems are different from traditional server-based POS systems as your data is stored in the cloud rather than on a computer. This means that as a user, you can access data, process payments, and get automatic updates via the internet.  There are several significant benefits of implementing a cloud-based POS system, including the fact that your data is accessible anywhere, anytime, as long as you are connected to the internet. In addition, this provides you with more flexibility when it comes to managing your business as you don't have to be on one computer to see what is going on. Or, if your business has you traveling to sell products, then a cloud-based platform is ideal to gain easy access.  Additionally, a cloud-based POS system is updated in real-time, which means that all of your inventory tracking, sales reporting, and other data points are always up-to-date, removing the need for guesswork. What’s more, these systems also offer more advanced analytics than their counterparts, providing you with more details to make informed decisions. Furthermore, cloud-based POS systems benefit from automatic upgrades and data backups that reduce the chances of your business experiencing costly downtime. Plus, the fact that you don't have to invest in software upgrades, maintenance, or licensing fees saves your business a significant amount of money.

5. What are the software components of a POS system?

The software components are one of the most significant differences between cloud-based POS systems and on-premise POS systems. Because while every POS system has software and hardware components, they are different depending on whether you opt for an on-premise (installed) POS system or a cloud-based (hosted) system.  So, if you opt for an on-premise POS system, you will have to purchase one or more licenses and install the software on your computer system, whereas with a cloud-based POS system, you can access the software on any device through the internet. An on-premise POS system will require you to update and maintain the software, whereas a cloud-based one will have the updates automatically conducted. Moreover, an on-premise POS system will require costly upfront hardware purchases, whereas a cloud-based POS system generally has a lower upfront cost For this reason, it is highly recommended that you opt for an iPad POS system that you can easily integrate into your existing business and processes. Not only are iPad POS systems easier and more intuitive to use, but they are also the most cost-efficient option as they don't require any significant hardware (apart from the iPad). Additionally, they don't require installation fees nor maintenance charges.

6. How do I choose a POS system for my business?

When it comes time to choose a POS system for your business, there is plenty that you need to think about. For starters, it is essential to note that not every POS system is the best choice for every industry - one-size-fits-all POS systems don't exist. Therefore, many of your considerations will vary based on the type of business you are operating as different industries will have differing functions and features that are considered "must-haves."  For example, suppose you own a café, restaurant, or bar. In that case, you want to ensure your POS system has the features required to aid you in staying organized, streamlining operations, enhancing staff interactions with patrons, and rendering top-notch dining experiences. You also want your POS system to allow staff to take orders tableside and have them immediately transfer to the kitchen, which is one of the most efficient things you can do.  Another vital feature for cafés, restaurants, and bars is an inventory management feature that helps you keep track of what you have and what you need to order. After all, running out of ingredients is one of the worst things that can happen. In addition, cafés, restaurants, and bars can significantly benefit from a POS system that offers floor plans with detailed information to assist in streamlining workflows as well as making seating arrangements easier, identifying high-value tables, transferring tables, and setting up plans for groups and special events.  Finally, it is also beneficial to have features that allow for staff management and scheduling, menu management, and customized reporting. You also want to ensure that the POS system you select has 24/7 technical support (particularly important if your business is open after regular business hours) so that you never have to deal with downtime. 

7. Are POS systems customizable? 

Another critical consideration to make is whether or not a potential software solution is customizable to fit your needs. At the very least, you need your system to have basic features, including recording sales transactions and inventory tracking. Still, it is also crucial to have capabilities such as employee management, custom analytics, and reporting. If your business sells products, you will want to ensure that you choose a POS system with features that help organize your heavy inventory needs. Alternatively, your priority may be having a feature for scale integration or menu optimization. The point is that knowing what you want to get out of your POS system is one of the best ways to determine whether or not a potential system has the features and customization options that are right for you.  Ultimately, the best POS system will offer an array of customization options that ensure you are able to set up a system that works well for your business's needs and preferences. After all, every organization is different and complex, and the POS system you select should reflect that and support your specific requirements. 

Final Thoughts 

To ensure you are choosing the best POS system for your business, there are several questions that you want to make sure to ask before you decide. First and foremost, you want to ask whether your POS system can integrate with any existing software that you already have, because if it does, you will save a lot of time and money. Additionally, you want to ask about the payment methods that a potential POS system can accept because you want it to accept chip-enabled credit and debit cards, as well as regular cards.  Before you select a system, make sure to do your research and read reviews from other system users. If it seems like others are satisfied with a system, that is a good sign for you when it comes to making an informed buying decision. Does your business currently have a POS system? If not, what are you waiting for? What is holding you back? If you do have one, what features do you like the most? What else would you like your system to do? Let us know your thoughts and any additional insights you may have in the comments below.

Ross SmithAUTHOR BIO: Ross Smith

Ross Smith is the Managing Partner at iPadPOS Middle East. Based in Dubai, covering the whole of the Middle East, the company is passionate about helping restaurateurs and retailers alike find the most suitable point of sale system to meet the needs of their business. They specialize in iPad-based point of sales systems and are resellers of Revel and Vend.

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