Do you handle all of your business's transactions with a cash register and simple credit card swiper? It's time to modernize. Consider the ways in which the personal computer revolution changed small business administration in the 1980s and 1990s. A Point of Sale system (POS) can do exactly the same thing for the way in which your business interacts with its customers during purchasing. Although POS systems aren't inexpensive, the investment can pay great dividends over time.
POS System Features
To better understand how a POS system can increase the efficiency of your business, let's examine some of the common features that the best POS systems typically have.
- Credit Card Capture: The most important thing that any POS system does is capture and transmit customers' credit card information for payment processing.
- Receipt Printing: A POS system should have the ability to print a paper receipt for the customer.
- Barcode Scanning: Many POS systems can scan product barcodes and calculate the total cost of the purchase automatically.
- Touch Screen Display: A touch screen makes it easy to input details for customized orders. Restaurants in particular demand POS systems with touch screen interfaces.
- Cash Drawer: Every retail business needs to process cash transactions from time to time. A POS system should include a cash drawer for handling these transactions.
- Marketing Tools: The best POS systems include -- or have the ability to interface with -- CRM databases. Capturing customer information such as email addresses and social media accounts at the point of sale gives you the ability to continue marketing to customers after they've left your store.
- Inventory Management: A good POS system can replace the existing method that you use to track business inventory. At a glance, your POS system can tell you what your most popular products are and what you'll need to reorder soon.
- Employee Management: Do you use a punch clock or similar method to track employees' time at work? Your POS system can do it instead. It makes complete sense to track employees' hours on the tool that they use to do their jobs. Using your POS system to log employees' activities also gives you the ability to monitor efficiency and coach employees that need a little assistance.
How Much Does a POS System Cost?
In general, you can expect a POS system to cost at least $500. Some systems cost more than $2,000, though. Although the price may seem high, you can see from the list above that the best POS systems don't just process credit card transactions. They can also greatly increase the efficiency of your company's employee and inventory management while simultaneously making it possible to market to your customers in new ways.
If you already own an iPad or other tablet that you're willing to devote to business use, you may be able to save a bit of money by buying a tablet POS system. A tablet POS system doesn't have any computing power of its own. Instead, it includes an enclosure for your tablet, which then becomes the POS system's screen and processor.
Many payment processing companies offer to lease POS systems to their customers. When you consider the long-term cost of leasing POS hardware, though, the fact is that it's almost always better to own your equipment. A company may offer to lease a $2,000 POS system to you for $100 per month, for example. Leasing the POS system may seem like a good idea at first, but your opinion may change in 20 months when you've spent enough money to buy the system and have nothing to show for it.