How We Chose the Right Point of Sale (POS) Software for Our Retail Business
My husband and I own a bar and grill, and when we were just getting started with our retail business, we chose a low-cost point of sale (POS) platform. It was a nice little workhorse for the first year, but when our operations began to outpace the speed of its functions, we knew it was time to upgrade to something that would keep up with both our customers’ demands and our employees’ fast-moving work tempo — but didn’t break the bank.
As every retailer knows, slow or cumbersome payment processing can be frustrating and disruptive to the flow of business. When your POS system doesn’t pair up well with the way you operate and serve customers, it can really throw a wrench into your operations. The optimal POS platform, however, can actually enhance payment functions and lead to sharp improvements in service, which can directly drive up revenue.
I work with a lot of retailers in situations that are similar to ours, and though there’s no one-size-fits-all POS solution for the vast variety of retail operations out there, our experience selecting the right system could help you make a better informed decision for your own business. We ultimately found a cloud-based POS platform with credit pre-authorization and tab management features that were just what we needed. This has resulted in greater efficiency, a heightened customer experience, and increased sales.
Here’s how we arrived at our purchase decision.
First, we did our homework
We started by doing some investigating. There are so many platforms on the market that it was difficult to know where to begin. So, I went to colleagues and restaurant peers for reviews and recommendations. I also consulted our current software vendor for some insights, as well as looked through trade magazines for leads in the articles and ads. The internet, of course, served up a wealth of information on POS systems. But some of the best intel I got was from checking out our competitors’ establishments to watch firsthand what worked well and what looked problematic.
From this research, we were able to narrow down the options to those that suited our specific needs.
Next, we touched and felt
You really have to experience firsthand how different POS systems work to judge how effective they would be in your business. I scheduled demos with our top three choices and set aside the time needed to analyze and explore these options. I created a spreadsheet of our top concerns and questions, and filled in the answers as I received them. Ultimately, I took a lot of notes as I watched what they had to offer.
Finally, we compared and contrasted
Once I completed the demos, I had a robust spreadsheet we could review to see how the features and providers of each POS platform stacked up against each other side by side. The key factors we considered were:
- Upfront and ongoing costs, including credit card processing fees
- Top features needed
- Integration with our accounting software
- Software platform and hardware options
- Migration, setup, and training options
- Ongoing support and warranty
With these items in mind, it was easy to compare and contrast the options on the table. The software solution that was right for us had our most-desired features (quick and easy software with credit card pre-authorization and tab management) and stayed within our budget of $200 or less per month. The platform we chose operates on an android operating system and is a hard-wired device, which offered great versatility and reliability. The migration, setup, and training could be done remotely and on our own time. The package comes with 24-hour support and a three-year warranty, which is the life of our equipment lease.
The right POS software has made a big difference in business efficiency and customer payment security
Taking the time to research various POS platforms, try them out in person, ask a ton of questions and take copious notes, helped us to make a truly informed purchase decision that has improved our business in many areas. We can now close out a tab much faster, and we don’t have to hold onto customers’ credit cards. That means we don’t worry about the risks of retaining those cards (especially when they are left behind when a customer forgets and walks out), and customers don’t feel the unease of having someone else in possession of their cards.
How we can help
CLA’s retail industry professionals can work with you to identify key operating issues and research and select the POS system that’s right for your business.