10 key questions you need to ask your new POS provider
10 key questions you need to ask your new POS provider.
Every retailer can benefit from a good retail management system. A point of sale system helps you to monitor and control your business better, from managing daily transactions and stock to longer term reporting and strategic planning. Investing in specialist technology helps you to create a profitable business and promotes growth.
Choosing a point of sale provider can be a bit of a minefield. There are so many suppliers out there, and what they offer varies enormously.
Whether you have had an EPOS system in the past, or this is your first toe in the water, here are a few questions you should always ask to make sure you choose a system that really fits your needs.
1. What features do I need?
There are a few common features you’ll find on even the most basic POS systems. Here are the main functions you can expect:
- Transaction and payment processing
After that, it’s a matter of writing down the things you want from your system and talking through them with your consultant. A good way to do this is to make a list of your daily, monthly and weekly tasks.
Some popular ideas include:
- Ordering and stock control
- Promotion management
- Customer relationship management
- Enterprise resource planning/ analytics
- Secure data management
- Loyalty and gift cards
- Separate user accounts
- Barcode reading and printing
- Integrated third party services (more on this later)
- Head office capabilities
- Remote access
The list goes on and on, but this will give you an idea of some of the possibilities. The clearer you are on your requirements, the more suitable your system should be.
2. Is this POS system designed for my sector?
Point of sale software works best when you choose one that is designed especially for your kind of business. For example, if you have a grocery store, you will want to be able to manage your short dated products efficiently, but you’ll have no need for the seat and table settings that a restaurant system may provide.
All but the most basic systems will have features that are geared towards particular types of retail businesses. Make sure that the POS system you choose has the right features that benefit your industry the most.
Your hardware should also be suitable. A busy supermarket checkout needs powerful, fast, and reliable hardware, so make sure the equipment will be up to the task. Conversely, if you have an art gallery selling higher value items with fewer daily visitors, you will not need the additional outlay for top-spec machines. Be aware of hardware specification differences when making your selection.
3. Is there back up support?
Technology moves on quickly. Your new EPOS system is an investment, so you need to make sure its not going to be obsolete in a couple of years’ time.
Choose a reputable supplier that has been around for a while. Check them out online to make sure they have good customer feedback and testimonials. Longevity is usually a good indication that they know what they’re doing, and if their existing customers are happy, then they’re more likely to be in business for the long haul.
Make sure that your supplier offers back up services, including ongoing support and development. It’s crucial that you can talk to someone technical if you encounter a problem or need some advice. Additionally, you want to make sure they are continually working on enhancing and developing their product. That way your software is always current, and you can benefit from any updates and improvements.
4. What happens if my business grows?
Check that your new EPOS system will be scalable. It’s always the aim of any business to grow, and if you decide to increase your store size, add more lines, or incorporate an entirely new business venture, your system should be able to grow with you.
Make sure you have the option to upgrade your software, and add on new hardware should you need it in the future. Maybe you’ll decide to add a new café, or vending machines, or even a self service check out. Be sure your EPOS system can handle the changes.
If you’re not purchasing your equipment outright, it’s also not a bad idea to check if you can downscale, should the need arise.
5. Data transfer times
This might not be the first thing you think of, but make sure your data will be updated to all touch points in real time. For example, when an item is sold it needs to come out of stock immediately or there’s a danger of selling it twice. Prices should also be updated quickly, in case your competitor changes theirs. Your system should constantly update your data to prevent errors.
6. What if I want to add an online shop?
Ask about omnichannel selling. This means if you decide to sell your products anywhere other than your bricks-and-mortar shop, that you will be able to link your data and stock files to your existing store. So, if you decide to add an online store, mobile app, or other third party service, your stock and transaction data will remain correct and can all be managed from your central back office.
7. Is my data safe?
Your EPOS system will store all of your store data, including transaction and customer data, and much of this information must be protected by law (GDPR), so it’s vital that it’s safe and secure.
Ask about security and ensure your supplier has adequate measures in place to protect your data from cyber attacks.
Data backups are another consideration. You’ll need to make sure that all your information is regularly backed up and accessible so that you don’t lose anything. Many companies are now offering cloud back up services, which offer you secure and unlimited online storage.
8. What about size and mobility?
The POS system you choose will depend entirely on your business set up. So the size and portability of your system may well be an important consideration.
If you have a tiny shop or kiosk you’ll want a small system that takes up very little space. If your shop floor is vast, you might like a hand held tablet to take everywhere you go, saving the time and effort of constantly going back to the counter.
Consider your requirements and see what ideas your supplier has to cater to them. It’s worth asking for advice on this as there may be new technology and options you haven’t thought of yet. For example, did you know that a self service checkout can take up just 1/3 of the space of a traditional checkout?
9. Is it easy to use?
Your new system should be intuitive and user friendly. Not only will you need to learn it, but you’ll want to train new staff to use it quickly, and with minimal errors.
Once you have narrowed your choices down to one or two options, you should ask for a demo before making your final decision.
Make sure that professional training is included in your purchase price, and find out what future training options are available to you if you need them. Ask about online tutorials, users guides and remote telephone training.
10. Can I add third party supplier services?
It’s likely you’ll want to use one or more integrated services, so check your supplier’s capabilities before committing.
Integrated services mean you can also benefit from other specialist services, whose software will work together with your point of sale software for even better results. Some examples include:
- Accounting software
- Payment services
- Bill pay/top ups
- Vending machines
- Stock taking services
- Waste management services
- Fuel suppliers
- Electronic pricing
Your EPOS supplier may already have provisions in place to work alongside other industry suppliers, so discuss your requirements before making any decisions.
Once you have carefully weighed up all the possibilities, you should be able to narrow your options down considerably.
Get some quotes for your preferred services, and if you still have one or two options left to choose from, ask for a demo to check out the systems capabilities and interface to help you decide.
Also, don’t forget to ask about payment options. Your supplier may be able to arrange SaaS (Solution as a Service) options, rental options, or an interest free payment plan, so ask the question and see what kind of deal you can get. Find out how long you can expect your system to be serviceable for, and calculate what kind of return you can expect on your investment.
Got a question for us? Contact one of our experts to find out more:
Who are we?
We are dedicated to providing your store with the most up to date and reliable point of sale hardware, along with software management tools to help you manage your business effectively.
Our self-checkout partners are NCR, who are global leaders in self-checkout technology.
About the author:
Susan McGuire is originally from London, United Kingdom, and has now lived in Galway, Ireland, for 15 years. She has been with Retail Solutions for almost 7 of those, and during that time has enjoyed various roles within the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing. You can follow her on LinkedIn!