5 Crucial Steps Every Retailer Must Take before Choosing a POS Vendor


You know you need a Point-of-Sale (POS) system that works for your retail business. There are a lot of options available and there’s no way you could possibly try them all out before you decide.

That’s okay, because you don’t need to try them all. You need to identify only the few that are the best fit for your business needs, then try the most appealing option first.

So, here’s how to choose your best-fit POS system.

Step 1: Know What Your Business Needs

Before you start auditing POS vendors, audit your retail business. Ask yourself:

  • Are there any problems that you hope your new POS system will resolve, such as shopping cart abandonment or low customer loyalty?
  • If you already have a POS system, were there things it couldn’t do that you wished it could? Make a note of these desirable features to look out for in your new POS.
  • Will you use your POS for online or offline retailing, or for both?
  • Precisely what happens when a customer makes a transaction? How are payments, inventory and customer relationships processed, monitored and managed?

Step 2: Know How Much You Can Spend

Don’t start looking at potential new POS systems until after you’ve established a budget. It’s important that your budget is derived from your business finances and forecasts rather than from a sense of market pricing. Here are some points to consider:

  • Do you want to pay a low monthly subscription for your POS or a higher one-time licensing fee?
  • Can you afford to spend money on specific POS hardware, or would you prefer to use a cloud-based POS app that works on any device?
  • What cost savings can your business make in other areas by implementing a better POS system? Will you funnel those cost savings into the POS budget, or spend them elsewhere?

Step 3: Check the Hardware Requirements

Hardware considerations form part of your budget analysis, so you should have a good idea from Step 2 of the type of hardware you can afford. When you start looking at POS solutions, check the hardware requirements before you evaluate other features and benefits.

If you’re often on the move or you don’t want to clutter your store with purpose-built POS hardware, look into getting a mobile POS solution like Vend for point-of-sale, inventory management and customer loyalty in the cloud. A mobile or iPad POS will reduce hardware costs considerably, especially if you already have an iPad to run it on.

Step 4: Draw Up Your Shortlist

Once you get beyond the hardware question, it’s time to shortlist the POS systems that offer the best fit for your store’s needs.

  • Talk to other retailers about what they use for POS and how they’re getting along with it.
  • Read independent reviews online to get a sense of any known issues, common complaints or particular points of praise.
  • Check POS vendors’ websites for key indicators of a reliable, reputable vendor, such as customer service 24/7 or at least during the hours you’re likely to need it, easily available user manuals and clear online tutorials.
  • If you retail online and offline, seek out POS solutions that will work for you in both cases.

Step 5: Take a Test Drive

Ask your shortlisted POS vendors to give you a demo or free trial of the system in action, ideally using your own business data. Notice all the obvious points such as functionality, speed and user-friendliness, but pay attention to the specifics of implementation, too.

  • If you’re watching a demo or taking a trial with limited functionality, how does this reflect the full implementation?
  • How long is the transition process and what does it entail?
  • What kinds of reports does the system generate?
  • How steep is the learning curve?
  • Will this solution suit your company culture?
  • For mobile POS apps, will you have access via any internet connection or only through a limited selection of devices? Can you use the application offline as well as online?

When you’re satisfied you’ve found a POS solution that will work for your business, slot it into your budget and cash flow forecast to check exactly how it will affect your finances. If it’s affordable, congratulate yourself on your new POS system and get ready for the transition!

About the author

Francois Bondiguel is from Vend, a point-of-sale, inventory, and customer loyalty software that helps over 8,000 retailers manage and grow their business. Connect with Vend on Google+ and LinkedIn.

About Steve Baik

AddMe.com is a pioneer in the free search engine submission industry and has been providing valuable web tools and resources for small business owners since 1996. Sign up for our free newsletter to receive the latest info on SEO and Internet Marketing.
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