If you’re starting a new business, a point-of-sale (POS) system might be one of the last things on your mind. Instead, you’re probably busy doing things like choosing the right coffee beans to serve, setting up your inventory and fine-tuning the customer experience.
But the truth is, the right POS is a very important tool to have ready to go when the doors fly open. It will help you record every transaction, manage your inventory and provide you with powerful reporting, data and analytics.
What you should consider when selecting a point of sale
Features and functionality
Think about what sort of features you’ll need to run your business smoothly. Are you opening a retail store that will require inventory management? Or is it a bar or cafe, in which case an open tickets function will manage your orders more efficiently? POS systems offer have different features that they’re stronger in, so take the time to investigate and choose a provider that offers the functionality your business will need — now and in the future.
Working in the cloud
Many POS systems now run on Wi-Fi, store your business data securely in the cloud and are accessible from multiple devices. Square Point of sale is a cloud-based POS, but if your Internet connection drops, it will continue to run smoothly thanks to the system’s Offline Mode.
Even if you’re looking at a non-cloud-based, or fixed, solution, you’ll probably still require an Internet connection. Make sure you contact your Internet provider and give them advanced notice of your intention to trade, so that your connection is tested and running smoothly before you open the doors to your new business.
Consider what hardware you’ll need to ensure your day-to-day operations are running efficiently. A cash drawer, receipt printer and device to run your POS on are three essential pieces of hardware, although some businesses choose to go with hand-written order dockets and receipts when they start, because it allows them to delay buying a printer. If you have a retail business, you might also choose to buy a bar code scanner to speed up the checkout process.
Hardware is typically the most significant cost when setting up your POS system. Businesses running on Square Point of Sale may invest between $800 and $1,000 total on a tablet, receipt printer and cash drawer, which is why many business owners choose to start with the essentials, then upgrade once things are up and running. Square Point of Sale also offers special features like digital receipts or applications like Fresh KDS, a kitchen display system for tablets, which can help reduce the need for a printer at the get-go.
If you have additional stores, don’t forget to account for the hardware needed in those locations as well.
The support you need
Small business owners often need a lifeline — or, at least, someone there to answer their questions and help them get out of the occasional crisis. Some customer support comes at a cost, and some POS providers charge extra for priority calls or phone access. Find out what support is available to you and make sure you’ll be able to reach your provider in an emergency. Often a good idea is to reach out to the providers you’re considering and ask them what support options are available to you. Small businesses running on Square Point of Sale have access to support via email, an online Support Centre, and a dedicated support Twitter handle, all free of charge.
Set it up to serve you well
The better you have your POS set up in the beginning, the smoother your future experience is going to be. Many POS providers will give you online guides about how to set your system up, but you can also engage IT consultants and partners if you’re feeling a little out of your depth. Your provider should be able to point you towards some recommended partners to help you implement your POS solution.