For any retail and many service operations, a point-of-sale (POS) hardware and software solution can be critical to business operations, so choosing one cannot be taken lightly. Fortunately, this class of product is fairly easily categorized. There are proven vertical solutions, for example, Lightspeed POS that specializes in solutions for restaurants or retail stores. There are also more disruptive solutions like Square POS, which offers smaller businesses and mobile entrepreneurs a wide range of payments functionality using popular devices like smartphones and tablets.
Staying current with these trends means POS solution providers aren’t just modern in their customers’ eyes, but also highly flexible with the ability to adapt to many solution scenarios, including those previously dominated by vertical offerings. Looking to capitalize on this new trend, some mobile technology companies, like Samsung, are building POS functionality into their smartphone hardware to attract front-line workers and businesses that need a versatile mobile solutions.
“The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro contains a payment-grade Near Field Communications (NFC) chip with enhanced reliability and security features,” says Chris Briglin, Director of Enterprise Mobile Product Marketing at Samsung Electronics America. “The device can function as a mobile POS system. More importantly, it can handle all that without an extra accessory as the functionality is built right into the device.”
Samsung’s Galaxy XCover Pro has built-in POS functionality that helps democratize access to payment solutions
Samsung’s mobile POS functionality will work with various NFC-based mobile payments solutions (see image above). This joint solution benefits sellers by being very easy to enable as well as by helping them stay in touch with how consumers prefer to pay.
unlike enterprises, don’t have entire departments to handle specific parts of
business. The owner is frequently the general manager, marketing manager,
purchasing manager, and occasional cashier,” said Saumil Mehta, General Manager of Square POS. “In situations like this, having a
dozen vendors with a dozen different points of contact [for support] is irrational
and unsustainable. POS systems have slowly worked towards well-integrated
add-ons helping businesses run most of their store. This includes labor management (i.e. time sheets, payroll,
scheduling), sales (i.e. loyalty, marketing, gift cards, feedback), accounting
(i.e. seamless data integrations with accounting providers), and many others.”
While innovation in mobile POS solutions is quickly helping democratize mobile and credit card payment solutions, the wide majority of small to midsized businesses (SMBs) and retailers will likely seek more traditional standalone POS hardware and software solutions.
According to consumer statistics portal Statista, In 2018, the POS software market in the U.S. was worth 7.73 billion U.S. dollars and was set to reach 9.54 billion U.S. dollars by 2025 (see chart below).
(Image Credit: Statista)
While there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to selecting a POS, it’s good to know that both established SMBs and new retailers still working startup mode now have a wider range of options. To help you find what’s right for your particular business, below are five important considerations that are often overlooked by companies looking to buy their first POS or upgrade from a current solution.
1. Choose a POS for Present and Future needs
SMB’s often focus their POS search on solutions that offer seamless credit card processing. That’s till critical for today’s customers, but they should also be sure they can handle up-and-coming trends like the increasingly popular mobile payment platforms from companies like Apple Pay and Google Pay. POS systems are multifaceted hubs that exist at the intersection of sales, inventory management, and customer relationship management (CRM). These are all areas that directly impact a businesses’ bottom line especially since the POS sales experience is the primary point of contact with customers.
POS systems should be able to process every sale securely, but they are also relied on to handle administrative tasks efficiently. So, when looking at POS platforms, businesses need to spell out how this will feed into other systems as well as what software and solutions are made available by their POS vendor or by a third-party.
“Just be honest about where you are today, and where your business (is) going the next two or three years, because that’s generally proper evaluation time for a POS system,” said Alex Therrien, Strategic Solutions Manager at Lightspeed. “For the type of retailers that we work with, which are inventory focused or service focused. Having the point of control and purchasing, moving around and allocating services are very important for even the smallest box stores.”
2. Seek Solutions That Cover Front- and Back-End Needs
According to JP Morgan & Chase Co., over 99 percent of America’s 28.7 million firms are small businesses, but the reality is many of these SMBs struggle because they don’t have the same capabilities or tools that larger enterprise businesses can afford. This includes POS platforms, particularly when it comes to seamlessly integrating payment processing solutions.
“There are a wide
variety of POS solutions that SMB’s can consider today based on the type of
store. POS systems can be geared specifically towards restaurants, omnichannel,
retail, and other industries,” Metha said, adding that SMB’s should consider a solution that has
everything they need, including quick and seamless payments, easy-to-use interface for
both customers and employees, and the ability to integrate features for
Today’s POS solutions are engineered to help businesses run their sales and payments smoothly. This means a cohesive experience for front-line workers (i.e. cashiers) and the back office. POS hardware should feature easy to read displays and screens for customers, and intuitive payment methods (i.e. swipe, insert and enter PIN, or tap-to-pay).
A faster checkout process can facilitate better traffic flow in retail spaces. It also frees up staff to spend more time on their customer’s needs.
Today’s POS solutions are engineered to help businesses run their sales and payments smoothly. (Image Credit: Lightspeed POS)
3. Be Up-to-Date With Latest Credit Card and Mobile Payment Options
You might say, you’ve already covered that, but it’s worth mentioning again as simply making sure you see certain brand names listed in your potential POS vendor’s “mobile payment types supported” list isn’t enough. Within this space things are rapidly evolving, so that means not only making sure your POS system supports certain vendors’ base offerings, but also that it supports upcoming enhancements as well.
card terminals and POS systems could be vended by different companies (even if
sold together) which resulted in sub-par integration and multiple customer
support contacts. Today, most small businesses, especially
newly formed startups, expect an integrated POS solution that can offer credit card
processing out of the box. Credit cards are increasingly how buyers want to pay
and modern POS systems should reflect that,” said Square’s Mehta.
The majority of credit card-enabled POS systems enable secure transactions such as EMV chip card technology. Today, most credit card terminals include NFC (near-field communications) technology that accept contactless payments and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay directly from smartphones and smartwatches. The best POS solution can help customers swipe, dip, and tap credit, debit and gift cards quickly and securely, so businesses need to anticipate these payment trends when choosing their POS.
4. Look for Integration Options and Platform Plays
The key to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and business solutions is that standalone applications and tools are expanding into larger suites and platforms. By adopting this model, POS vendors want to offer businesses a wider range of solution possibilities and customization options. This means they can retain those customers longer even if those businesses grow or evolve, and that means multiplying profit per subscriber while building loyalty. For small businesses, having to deal with fewer vendors to setup and maintain their solutions is compelling, provided these products and subscriptions cover all their needs.
Some vendors prefer to specialize on one product but at the same time are aware that businesses use a stack of solutions to operate. This means integrations, through third-party apps or application programming interface (APIs), are very important for businesses to consider whether their POS system can work well with other solutions. POS systems serve as the cogs that can freely integrate with inventory management, loyalty and CRM programs, merchant services, and e-Commerce fulfillment platforms.
5. Focus on Versatility and Easy Customization
POS systems don’t just need to be easy to use, they need to be easy to maintain and customize. Fortunately, by adopting a POS that’s standardized on software-as-a-service deployment, you’ve already taken a big step in this direction. However, many businesses may well need a little more. Most SaaS products have standardized on REST APIs as a common platform for inter-app customization and communication. But adherence to that standard still requires both a developer and a software development kit from the POS vendor to actually make customization and modifications. A solution that’s nimble enough to be customized and modified quickly and easily, and therefore with minimal impact on ongoing business processes or the need for long downtime is worth considering.
Well-integrated POS solutions should offers the ability to add on and take
off functionality at will, without having to deal with a new salesperson or a
new support person each time something needs to be added, tweaked, or changed. Enabling customization while ensuring that added functionality is safe for merchants and their customers is paramount. “A POS solution should help you actually run and grow your business,” Metha said. “This involves the ability to integrate and ‘add on’ functionality that is tailored to each SMB. For example, some really need an integrated Loyalty program to grow, others need integrated Invoicing to run their business. Many others need an integrated Online Store to be able to handle customers, orders and inventory that occur online, offline or even both (think online order placed for website for in-store pickup).
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