Top 11 Questions to Ask When Buying a POS System

As a retailer, your point-of-sale (POS) system is the heart of your business operations. It’s more than just a tool to process transactions – it’s a platform that can drive efficiency, enhance customer experiences, and provide valuable insights to fuel growth.

With so many options available, choosing the right POS system can be a daunting task. To help you navigate this crucial decision, we’ve compiled the top 11 questions you should ask when buying a POS system.

Key Takeaways

  • Conduct a detailed audit of your specific business needs to ensure that the POS system you choose effectively supports your operational goals.
  • Embrace a technology-first approach by selecting a POS system that not only meets immediate needs but is also capable of adapting to future business growth and changes.
  • Ensure the POS system can synchronize operations across multiple channels, such as physical and online stores. This is crucial for seamless customer experiences.
  • Opt for a user-friendly POS that automates routine tasks and provides insightful analytics to enhance operational efficiency and service quality.
  • Compare POS Systems to find the best POS system for your business.

1. What features should I look for?

Illustration of POS System Features in a Restaurant

Identifying the right POS features is crucial for retailers to meet their current needs and prepare for future growth. Start by conducting a thorough audit of your operational requirements and research what technologies can help achieve your specific goals.

Consider the following questions:

For Retail:

  • Do you want to leverage data to gain a competitive edge?
  • Do you plan to scale your loyal customer base?
  • Are you planning to (or do you already) sell online?
  • Are there certain tasks that take employees too much time? Could those tasks be automated?

For Restaurants:

  • Do you need menu management capabilities, including easy updates across all locations?
  • Would table mapping and reservations streamline your operations?
  • Is integration with online ordering platforms essential for your business?
  • Could a kitchen display system improve order routing and efficiency?

A recent study by Retail TouchPoints found that 68% of retailers saw positive business impacts after implementing new technology solutions. To survive, retailers and restaurant owners must adopt a technology-first strategy.

By carefully assessing your specific requirements, you can choose a retail or restaurant POS software that not only streamlines daily operations but also strategically positions your business for sustained success and expansion.

2. Is onboarding, training, and support included with my purchase?

Implementing a new POS system can be challenging, and having access to comprehensive support is crucial.

Look for a POS merchant that offers:

  • Support is available on multiple channels (phone, online, live chat)
  • Onboarding sessions with product specialists
  • On-site installation, consultation, and troubleshooting
  • An online help center
  • A community forum with Q&A capabilities
  • Training materials, step-by-step courses, videos, blogs, and webinars.

The right support resources allow you to leverage the POS system’s capabilities from day one fully. As the Hubspot study highlighted, 93% of customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and remain loyal after receiving an excellent customer service experience.

Investing in a POS solution backed by a strong support team ensures you can take maximum advantage of its features and functionality. This leads to optimized operations, increased staff productivity and efficiency, and ultimately better bottom-line results that justify the technology investment.

Robust training and support are key to ensuring a smooth implementation and continued success with your new POS platform. Don’t underestimate the value of having an experienced partner to guide you through the transition and provide ongoing assistance as needed.

3. Is the POS cloud-based?

Illustration of Retail Cloud-based POS System

In today’s digital age, a cloud-based POS system is basically non-negotiable. It allows you to access your business data from anywhere, eliminates the risk of hardware crashes and data loss, and provides automatic updates handled by the provider.

Look for a system that offers:

  • The ability to access your business information from anywhere, anytime
  • Automated data backups
  • Functionality with all types of computers, tablets, and other mobile devices
  • Centralized multi-location management
  • Seamless integrations

According to a report by Global Market Insights, the cloud-based POS market size surpassed USD 3 billion in 2021 and is projected to expand at over 20% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) from 2022 to 2028.

As the MarketsandMarkets data indicates, demand for these cloud POS capabilities is skyrocketing as businesses recognize their operational agility, cost savings, security benefits, and ability to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience.

By embracing a cloud-native POS solution, you equip your business with the modern, scalable, and connected technology foundation required to meet evolving customer expectations and outpace competitors still relying on legacy systems.

4. How does the POS manage inventory?

Effective inventory management is crucial for both retailers and restaurants to avoid stockouts, minimize waste, and meet customer demand. Let me expand on the key inventory capabilities to look for in a POS system:

Look for a POS system with robust inventory management capabilities, such as:

For Retail:

  • Visibility on stock levels per location
  • Reports on which brands and products are your best-sellers
  • Customizable reorder points to avoid stock-outs
  • Built-in purchase order (PO) workflows

For Restaurants:

  • Ingredient-level inventory tracking
  • Automated purchase order generation based on menu item sales
  • Inventory value reports for food cost management
  • Alerts for expiring ingredients or low stock levels

The data-driven inventory insights are absolutely vital, as studies show stockouts can lead to losing over 40% of customers.

Restaurants with poor inventory practices can experience up to 10% in annual food waste, so advanced inventory tools are absolutely required to stay profitable with thin margins.

By leveraging these robust inventory management capabilities in their POS, businesses can maintain optimal stock levels and reduce waste and carrying costs while never missing out on sales due to inventory stockouts.

5. Does the POS enhance my customer experience?

Illustration of POS System in Restaurant with Table Management

In today’s competitive retail landscape, the emphasis on creating personalized shopping experiences is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity for attracting and retaining customers.

A Point-of-Sale (POS) system that is adept at enhancing customer interactions can significantly elevate the quality of service and efficiency, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Key features include:

For Retail:

  • Ability to look up product availability across all locations
  • Upsell suggestions related to products in a customer’s online shopping cart
  • Ability to create customer profiles that store purchase histories and preferred brands and sizes

For Restaurants:

  • Table management and reservation capabilities
  • Online ordering and delivery integration
  • Loyalty program and customer relationship management (CRM) tools
  • Tableside ordering and checkout

According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 76% of consumers want a personalized in-store experience. Leveraging a POS system that enhances customer experiences can increase sales opportunities, bolster brand loyalty, and help businesses stand out in a crowded market.

By leveraging a POS system that incorporates these features, businesses can increase sales opportunities, significantly bolster brand loyalty, and differentiate themselves in a crowded market.

With such systems in place, companies can ensure they meet modern consumers’ expectations and thrive in the evolving commercial environment.

6. Does the POS have contactless payments and mobile capabilities?

Contactless payments and mobile capabilities have transitioned from optional luxuries to essential components of a modern Point of Sale (POS) system. These features are critical for meeting today’s customer expectations and facilitating a smooth and efficient shopping experience.

When choosing a POS system, it is important to consider the following features:

  • The ability to process payments anywhere on a mobile terminal with zero contact
  • Wireless capabilities to support pop-up shops, tradeshows, and other temporary events
  • A user-friendly design that gives staff easy access to the information and tools they need
  • Mobile device support (tablets and phones) that encourage customers to interact with your store

According to a study by Irisys, the average American consumer’s patience is limited; many will leave a store without completing their transaction if they need to wait more than eight minutes to pay. This statistic highlights the importance of a quick and efficient payment process.

By investing in a POS system equipped with contactless payment and mobile capabilities, businesses can significantly streamline the checkout process.

This not only minimizes wait times but also enhances overall customer satisfaction by providing a frictionless shopping experience that keeps pace with current trends and consumer preferences.

7. Does the POS sync with my online store and physical storefront?

Illustration of POS sync between online and physical store

In today’s omnichannel retail environment, customers expect a seamless shopping experience across all channels. An effective Point of Sale (POS) system that can synchronize an online store with a physical storefront is crucial for meeting these expectations and ensuring operational fluidity.

When selecting a POS solution, it is crucial to consider the following capabilities:

  • Synchronize your online and physical stores and manage both using one platform
  • Provide reports on total sales, sales per location, and e-commerce sales
  • Offer access to professionally designed, personalizable website templates
  • Enable you to sell on social media and online marketplaces

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, 73% of shoppers use multiple channels during their shopping journey. This statistic underscores the importance of an integrated shopping experience.

Customers often research products online before purchasing in-store, or vice versa, and a disconnected experience can hinder sales and affect customer satisfaction.

By syncing your online and physical storefronts, you can provide a cohesive brand experience and cater to customers’ evolving preferences.

8. Does the POS collect sales, customer, and employee data?

A point-of-sale system with advanced data collection capabilities forms the backbone of such strategic decision-making. It helps not only understand consumer behavior but also optimize operations and improve service delivery.

Look for the following data collection features:

  • Highest and lowest-performing products
  • Highest and lowest-performing sales associates
  • Busiest store hours or meal periods
  • Top-selling brands or menu items
  • Online vs. in-store sales
  • Customer purchase insights and history
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Predictive analytics capabilities (forecasting needs before you need them)

According to McKinsey & Company, data-driven organizations are significantly more successful in key business operations: They are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times more likely to retain them, and 19 times more likely to be profitable.

These statistics clearly underscore the immense value of integrating a data-oriented POS system into your business framework.

By investing in a POS system that collects, analyzes, and interprets sales, customer, and employee data, you not only gain a deeper understanding of your business dynamics but also enhance your ability to make informed decisions

9. Can the POS help me create targeted marketing campaigns?

POS Targeted Marketing Illustration

While attracting new customers is important, nurturing your existing customer base yields a higher return on marketing investment. Look for a POS system that allows you to:

  • Create customer profiles that save name, contact information, shopping history, preferred shopping channel, and more
  • Segment your customer database into custom advertising audiences and personalize promotions
  • Integrate with email marketing software
  • Offer integrated loyalty programs
  • Marketing performance tracking

According to a study by Bain & Company, a modest increase of just 5% in customer retention can potentially increase profits by 25% to 95%.

This statistic highlights the significant impact that effective targeted marketing and customer retention strategies can have on a business’s bottom line.

By leveraging your POS system’s data and marketing capabilities, you can not only attract new customers but, more importantly, cultivate deeper relationships with existing ones. This approach ensures that your marketing dollars yield a higher return on investment, fostering both customer loyalty and increased profitability.

10. Can the POS support my business as it grows?

A POS system that can support growth not only adapts to increasing transaction volumes but also expands its capabilities as your business diversifies and extends its operational reach.

Here are key features to consider when selecting a POS system that can grow with your business:

  • The ability to manage unlimited product SKUs or menu items
  • Multi-location support
  • Robust integrations with popular solutions like MailChimp, Google Analytics, and QuickBooks
  • A public API, which enables software developers to build applications for your POS
  • eCommerce and/or web functionality

According to an industry analysis by Grand View Research, the global POS software market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.8% from 2022 to 2030.

This growth underscores the importance of investing in a POS system that meets current needs and has the potential to handle future expansion, both in terms of geography and service offerings.

By choosing a POS system equipped with these capabilities, you can future-proof your business, accommodating growth without the need for costly and disruptive system changes.

A scalable POS system is a foundational investment that supports not just your current operations but also your strategic future plans, ensuring that as your business grows, your operational capabilities scale accordingly.

11. Is the POS user-friendly?

Illustration of User-Friendly POS System

A user-friendly POS system is crucial for enhancing staff productivity and improving the overall customer service experience. When selecting a POS, the focus should be on systems that not only facilitate transactions but also contribute positively to daily operations by being intuitive and easy to use.

Here are key features to look for in a user-friendly POS system:

  • An intuitive interface that minimizes training time
  • Secure logins
  • Real-time inventory with access to inventory levels across multiple locations
  • Customization options to fit the specific needs of your business

According to Forrester Research, investing in user experience (UX) pays off significantly, with every dollar invested yielding approximately $100 in return.

This impressive return on investment highlights the importance of user experience in driving business success.

A well-designed POS system can streamline operations, reduce the burden on your staff, and improve service speeds, all of which contribute to a better customer experience and enhanced business outcomes.

Summary

In conclusion, the strategic selection of a point-of-sale (POS) system is critical for business leaders who want to drive growth and streamline operations.

As detailed in the article, essential features such as sophisticated inventory management, seamless multi-channel integration, and deep data analytics are fundamental for staying competitive in a fast-evolving marketplace.

Moreover, the necessity of user-friendly interfaces and cloud-based architectures cannot be overstated, as they are crucial for ensuring business continuity and scalability.

For executives and decision-makers poised to refine their operational strategies and enhance customer engagement, choosing a POS system extends beyond basic transactional functionalities.

I strongly encourage a thorough review of our expertly curated POS system buyers’ guide and the definitive guide on POS system pricing. These resources are designed to provide deep insights and practical advice, equipping businesses with the knowledge to make informed decisions that will underpin future success.

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