How to Choose a POS System

Choosing a POS system is an important decision for any business. With numerous options available, it can be overwhelming to determine which one is right for you. However, by understanding your specific needs and carefully evaluating the features and benefits of each system, you can make an informed decision.

To start, clearly identify your business requirements. Consider the size and type of your business, as well as the specific industry you operate in. This will help you narrow down your choices and find a system that is tailored to your unique needs.

Next, research and compare different POS systems. Look for key features such as inventory management, sales reporting, and customer data collection. Consider the ease of use, as well as the level of support and training offered by the provider. Additionally, read reviews and seek recommendations from other business owners in your industry.

Cost is also a crucial factor to consider. While it’s important to find a system that fits your budget, remember that the cheapest option may not always be the best. Look for a system that offers a good balance of features and affordability.

Security is another important consideration. Ensure that the POS system you choose is compliant with industry standards and offers robust security measures to protect your customers’ data. This will help build trust with your customers and safeguard your reputation.

Finally, take advantage of free trials or demos offered by POS system providers. This will give you an opportunity to test the system and determine if it meets your requirements. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification before making a final decision.

In conclusion, choosing the right POS system requires careful consideration and evaluation. By understanding your needs, researching different options, considering the cost and security aspects, and testing the system before making a decision, you can find a POS system that will streamline your business operations and contribute to your success.

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How to Choose a POS System

A point of sale (POS) system can be a valuable addition to any business. Beyond accepting credit cards, POS systems offer features such as inventory management, reporting, and time clock options.

In my work for CardFellow, a leading resource for small businesses seeking credit card processing and terminals, I frequently test, research, and provide overviews of equipment. Consequently, I receive many inquiries about POS systems.

One question that always arises is, “With so many options available, how do I choose?”

The good news is that selecting the right POS system does not need to be a daunting task. Follow these three steps to find the ideal POS system for your business.

1. Identify what matters most to you.

There are two approaches to selecting a POS system: choosing based on features or choosing based on costs.

If specific features are of utmost importance to you, start by selecting a POS system. However, if low costs are a priority, first find a credit card processor and then choose from the POS systems that processor supports.

When considering features, focus on less common ones. POS systems typically offer standard capabilities like credit and debit card acceptance, reporting, and inventory management. Restaurants often require the ability to split checks and add tips.

Here are some key features to look for:

– Online ordering for in-person pickup (restaurants)

– Delivery tracking for food or non-food businesses (pizza shops, florists)

– Age verification/ID prompt (liquor stores, tobacco sales)

– Integrated appointment or class calendars (healthcare, beauty salons, yoga studios)

If these features are crucial for your business, start by finding your preferred system. Make sure to inquire explicitly if the feature you need is included, either by contacting the POS company or checking their website.

To research POS systems and find specific features, utilize an online POS system product directory. These directories provide quick overviews and allow you to narrow down choices by manufacturer, features, processor, and more.

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Choosing based on cost is another option. If the standard features mentioned above fulfill your needs, begin by finding a competitive credit card processor. After obtaining quotes from multiple companies, inquire about available POS systems. Although your selection will be more limited, popular and user-friendly systems will still be offered.

2. Determine if you’ll accept proprietary POS systems.

Some POS systems are proprietary, meaning you must work with a specific processor to use them. This has both advantages and disadvantages.

One advantage is that it may require less research since you won’t need to review pricing from multiple processors. You’ll obtain pricing from the processor that supports the equipment, and that’s it.

A disadvantage is that you have limited ability to negotiate costs. Your competitive advantage disappears because the processor knows you have no alternative options. Additionally, if you decide to switch processors in the future, you’ll need to purchase a new system since your current one won’t be compatible with other companies.

Consider the worst-case scenario: if you switch processors, can you afford to purchase new point of sale equipment even if your current system isn’t outdated? If not, a POS system that only works with specific processors may not be the best choice for your business.

To identify systems requiring specific processors, consult the manufacturer’s website for disclosures. It will often state the credit card processing company that supports the system. In contrast, if a system supports multiple processors, the website may mention that it is "processor agnostic" or list multiple processing partners. If unsure, reach out to the POS manufacturer directly for advice on compatible processors.

3. Decide if you’ll lease or buy.

Consider your payment options when selecting a POS system. Since POS systems are more expensive than basic countertop credit card machines, you need to determine what makes the most sense for your business.

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Leasing equipment may be an option offered by some companies. While it requires little to no upfront cost, leasing can be costly over time. Monthly fees can add up to many times the retail cost of the system. Calculate the costs yourself and compare them to buying the equipment outright.

It’s worth noting that leasing often comes with a long-term contract that cannot be cancelled for several years. The contract is typically with a separate leasing company, not your processor. Even if you stop using the POS system, you’ll still be responsible for the equipment lease.

Purchasing a POS system outright requires a larger upfront financial commitment, but you’ll own the equipment. Many POS companies offer free software updates to keep your system current. When buying, consider choosing a system with the latest technologies, such as contactless (NFC) capabilities, to accept a wider range of payment types.

Remember these tips when choosing your POS system:

– Decide if you’ll prioritize features or the processor.

– Choosing by features: Use a product directory to research POS systems and select the one you want, then set up a merchant account with a supporting processor.

– Choosing by processor: Select a processor with competitive rates and fees, then choose a POS system from their supported options.

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