What are the key functions of retail POS software?
You'll use your POS system all day, every day, and it will make it either easier or harder to run your business. It will help you do the following:
- Move customers through the checkout process
- Record sales data
- Track inventory
- Capture customer contact information
- Generate reports that you can use to analyze your business's performance
Even if your business is very small, if you sell goods or services in person from a physical location – such as a brick-and-mortar store, restaurant, salon, spa or office – a POS system is a worthwhile investment that saves you time and money.
What do the best POS systems include?
In addition to having a comprehensive suite of features (read more about POS software features below) and providing reliable support, the best POS systems are those that give you the most flexibility with contractual terms and setup configuration. They don't lock you in with contracts, leases or proprietary hardware, so you can move on if the system isn't the best fit for your business or you want to try a different solution.
They integrate with multiple payment processors, so you have a choice of which one you work with and can switch processors without having to move to a different POS system if your rates increase or if the processing service doesn't meet your expectations. They also integrate with various business applications, allowing you to add more features to the system or connect with other systems you already use, such as accounting and marketing software, saving you the time it would take to manually share data between systems. Many also have an open API so you can build custom integrations if needed.
Finally, they can grow with your business, whether that means adding extra users, more devices or registers, or even a new location – allowing you to manage multiple outlets from a single account.
What are the benefits of a cloud POS system?
Cloud-based systems offer convenience, allowing you to access back-office features from any browser, which means that you can view your store's sales performance and run reports wherever you are. You don't need to set up a local server to host your data, as the company takes care of that for you.
Although you usually pay a monthly fee for cloud POS software, most companies have transparent pricing and few upfront costs. They update the software regularly and you receive upgrades immediately, so you're always using the newest version. These upgrades are included in the subscription price; there aren't any annual upgrades that you have to buy. Most also include customer support in the subscription rather than requiring you to sign a support contract with a separate monthly fee.
The only potential downside to a cloud POS is that it does require you to have reliable internet access. If this is an issue in your area, you may need to consider a downloadable program that runs offline.
Does the POS system come with mobile app support?
The best POS systems have POS apps that you install on iPads and Android tablets, transforming the tablets into POS terminals. You can then use the tablets as mobile checkout devices and ring up customer orders anywhere on the store floor or, for restaurants, take orders and payments tableside. You can also attach the tablet to a stand and add peripherals, such as a cash drawer and a receipt printer, to create a countertop checkout station.