How to choose the best POS equipment
How to choose the best POS equipment for your store. When it comes to choosing the right hardware for your business it can be a minefield. There are a lot of options out there, how can you be sure what hardware your business needs?
Whether you are just starting out, expanding your business, or simply upgrading your old equipment, hardware outlay is a big commitment. You want to be certain you get it right before you hand over your hard-earned cash for new technology.
There will be many elements being covered within your equipment budget, depending on your business, but there will always be IT aspects including your phone system, PC, tills, printers, storage devices, scanners, maybe a server.
We’ve come a long way from the simple cash register, and with retailers and their customers now expecting more than ever from standard equipment, getting the right kit will save you time and trouble in the long term.
Your technology hardware should be useful and reliable, and of course it should make your life easier, but ultimately any technology expenditure should result in increased efficiency and therefore, profitability.
Before you look at the hardware that’s out there, the first thing to think about will be the functionality that your business requires. What do you need your hardware to do for you?
Consider things like how much space you have and whether you are always based on site. What needs to be automated? How do you manage your stock? What kind of record keeping and reporting will be essential for you?
The list goes on, but before you make your investment make a note of the things your business spends a lot of time on, and all of the features you can think of that might benefit it.
Almost all retailers will now choose a modern EPOS system to run their business. These systems allow for faster transactions and reduce of human errors, they can also facilitate useful add-ons.
Useful hardware might include a barcode scanner, for eliminating most manual inputs; a receipt printer that issues a VAT receipt and breakdown for you and your customers’ records, and of course a secure cash drawer that is operated from the register. You can now even opt for a smart cash drawer that will count your cash by weight.
Your EPOS system will use a monitor, which can be touchscreen, to record and display transactions to your staff, you can also opt to add a customer display.
You may choose to add a credit card system, which can also be integrated with your EPOS system, for secure and convenient transactions (when integrated, this can also handle useful reporting data regarding your customers’ transactions).
EPOS can also support a signature pad, if you’re in a business where your customers need to sign transactions, a tablet if you have a need to carry out transactions from the shop floor, and handheld terminals for stock taking, allowing you fast and accurate inventory control.
The capabilities of your hardware will be important, particularly when it comes to PCs and tills. Those with larger processors will be able to handle more tasks simultaneously and perform at greater speed.
Weigh up the requirements of your individual business; if you own a busy store that has a huge lunchtime demand, for example, having a higher-performing till system may prove to be an advantage over time.
Make sure that your equipment is capable of handling the software programmes that you choose to run on it. You might want to make a list of the programmes you will use and discuss this with a consultant, to ensure that your tills/PC etc. are up to the task.
Accurate record-keeping is essential, so consider how you will store and back up your information, and how much storage space you will need for the task.
Back-office PC’s or laptops can offer tons of space now, and you’ll want to consider additional external hard drives, USB’s or cloud storage to ensure your data is backed up and safe.
Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to physical backup tools, as it offers the added security of being backed up off-site, reducing the risk of losing your data if something should happen in your stores, such as a fire or break-in damage.
For large operations with multiple sites, a central server may be required to handle all your information and store your records.
Consider how much physical space you have. Do you have a tiny single room store? Maybe you often work remotely or use a separate office space that isn’t right beside your shop. Or conversely, you might have a vast store area and often need to operate straight from the shop floor.
All-in-one till and back-office solutions are a popular set-up for those with limited room. These take up only the room that a till system would (a PC and monitor sized space) and don’t need anything additional to function.
If you require access to your data from elsewhere or have multiple people requiring access – whether it be from another location or simply another room in the building that requires effort access regularly – you can utilise a slave laptop in addition to your back-office PC
Should you be lucky enough to have a vast space to cover, you might be grateful for a portable tablet, which saves your tired legs and allows for the completion of transactions straight from the shop floor.
Once you have created an overview of your needs, it’s a good time to speak to a consultant to see what kind of solutions are available to suit those needs and the costs that may be involved.
Based on these costs, you may find it useful to run a Return on Investment (ROI) calculation, to determine how the expense of equipment may be expected to impact profitability. This ‘Business News Daily’ article gives more information on understanding and calculating ROI.
Whatever the requirements, the budget always has the final say. You will already have some idea regarding the budget you have available for equipment, and if there turns out to be a huge gulf between what you need and what you can afford, there are plenty of finance, leasing, and rental options available.
Be sure to stay focused on what your business actually requires, as investing in outdated or inadequate hardware can often be more costly in the long term.
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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.
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About the author:
Susan McGuire has been with Retail Solutions for over 6 years, and during that time has had roles within the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing. You can follow her on LinkedIn!