Choosing A Retail Computer System
Your choice in a retail point of sale system is vital to the success and stability of your business. It is the hub around which everything revolves. You should have confidence in – and receive performance from – the system that is ultimately responsible for customer transactions, inventory management and every other action in your supply chain and tracking.
Let's walk through some important questions you should ask yourself when choosing a Retail System:
What Type Of Business Are You?
POS Systems are typically grouped in 2 separate categories: Restaurant/Hospitality and Retail. Restaurants are somewhat of a different breed – the focus of this article is Retail POS Systems.
Within the retail sector, pricing on Point Of Sale Systems can range from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. There are POS systems customized for every type of business under the sun, from Gift Shops and Mall Kiosks to Pet Stores and Bike Shops.
Custom features are great BUT, the most important feature of your retail system is that it's easy to use. What good is a feature if it's too hard to use or buried among so many other features that you can't find it? Business owners are opting for simple, streamlined retail POS systems that focus on fundamentals and deliver them flawlessly. This is why so many entrepreneurs are turning to web based point of sale systems to fulfill their retail computer needs.
What POS Computers & Software Are Best For Me?
Do you prefer Windows? Mac OS X? Perhaps Linux? You can find great POS Systems that are equally powerful on any of these platforms, so choose the platform with which you're already the most comfortable.
In the past, POS systems were typically installed on business computers as software packages, much like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint come packaged on Windows computers. Unfortunately, software based POS Systems present many problems and vulnerabilities that small and medium sized business have found overwhelming.
What about software updates? What if my computer breaks? How do I backup and save all my data? What if the platform needs patches or problems are found in the operating system or software?
These are questions you shouldn't have to deal with as a business owner — after all, why invest in a POS System that creates even more questions and uncertainties? Web based retail systems are solving these problems for many small retailers.
Advantages of Web Based Retail Systems
- Software features and improvements are continually added and updated automatically. You never deal with software updates, downloads and changes. Someone else takes care of it for you.
- Because the solution is web based, you can access your inventory from any internet enabled computer in the world. A computer breaking becomes an incredibly minor problem.
- What happens if your computer crashes and it cannot be fixed? With a web based POS your information is continuously saved to a remote location that can be recovered even if your actual computer cannot be.
Do You Have a Dedicated Retail IT Department?
Probably not! What small business can afford dedicating employees solely to managing their computers?
When something goes wrong with your system, how long can you afford for your business to be “down”? How long will it take to explain your problem via telephone or e-mail and to be walked through the steps? How long will it take for an IT professional to arrive to fix your POS System?
That's one of the beauties of a web based point of sale – experts can log into your system and fix the problem for you. This alleviates many of the support problems inherent of typical desktop software-based point of sale systems.
POS Bundles or Mix and Match?
If you're a brand new business or implementing a POS System for the first time, you can buy a package that will include every component needed to get up and running immediately… from your computer to your barcode scanners and receipt printer. You can realize great discounts for buying an all-inclusive bundle and for many entrepreneurs, this is the best idea.
Other companies may have existing hardware they'd like to use with their new system. Or, they may be cost conscious companies looking to achieve affordability through the purchase of refurbished hardware and use of existing hardware.
So What's The Bottom Line?
While companies seeking POS Systems are typically looking for customized hardware and traditional software bundles, small and medium sized businesses “in the know” prefer web based POS solutions for their flexibility, affordability and overall ability to deliver great results with premium service.