Point of Sale Systems 101 – the Basics

Point of Sale Systems 101

The chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re searching for a point of sale system for your business. Before you make a decision on purchasing anything, it is imperative for business owners or operators to learn and research as much as you can regarding the product in question. You need to ask yourself a few questions. One of them being – “what features & functions would I need from a POS System for my business?”. While you think about that, let us explain briefly on the basics of a POS System.

Which factor makes a point of sale system most valuable? A POS system should help you alleviate the daily chores of your business. A POS system should not interfere or make it harder for you to run your business. It should run parallel to your business operation. A perfect POS system should run your business for you, but not in a literal sense where it takes TOTAL control. You want one comprehensive package for your entire business, either small or large. And it should scale as much as your business grows.

Apples to Oranges : Electronic Cash Registers (ECR) vs. Retail POS Systems

Being in the retail environment, we’re sure you’ve experienced the highs and lows of the industry. Disregarding that fact for the time being, compare a retail store with a POS System to an almost identical store with a standard electronic cash register – there are much differences than first meets the eye.

Generally, small businesses (even medium sized businesses as well) avoid using a Point of Sale Systems. The major reason being the cost. Secondly, they may be so used to their current ways of manually punching in each item into the register, counting inventory on paper and jotting down the daily summary into a log book.

A big portion of these business owners are afraid of investing the time and money in a POS system to only end up regretting it because it just didn’t work as they had hoped for. And this is very understandable. The cost of a complete Point of Sale System with all the necessary hardware & software isn’t cheap for small business owners.

The Misperceived Fear

Although this fear of trying something new and failing is very real, businesses running out-dated electronic cash registers are actually hindering their own growth. Ringing up sales is just about what an electronic cash register is capable of. So in the long run, they’re missing out on all of the necessary elements that help a business grow and flourish. Especially in the retail industry, it is important to have such tools that only a Point of Sale System can provide at your fingertips. The most obvious being: error-free sales transactions, accurate pricing information, inventory management, customer tracking & forecasting, automated purchase orders and sales/daily closing reports.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Now, if you consider and really analyze all of those missing links in your business – then things start to become a bit clearer and evident. The return on investment (ROI) differences for the two businesses become astounding. Simply put, a business has to invest in itself, be it time or money – to be able to grow.

Consider this, with a point of sale system, the long line at the checkout counter can move much faster. Being able to just scan all of the items into the system, while automatically deducting each sold item off the inventory count, generating the total price, receiving cash or swiping card, printing receipt, bagging items if necessary and the customer is out the door before you can say “oh, wait!”. Just think about how much longer it’ll take with just a plain old cash register (keep in mind the inventory count factor). Even a few seconds is a drastic improvement to your turnaround times. Imagine how many more customers you can checkout. And we haven’t even considered the returns and exchanges!

A Point of Sale System provides all of the necessary information a business needs to make critical decisions. It provides flexible reporting and cost & labor saving inventory management tools that help identify vulnerable areas of the business.

Another feature that just cannot be done without a retail point of sale system is customer loyalty programs /frequent shopper program. Such initiatives reward loyal customers with incentives that in turn encourages them to purchase from your business more frequently.

Additional Revenue with Streamlined Operations

Electronic Commerce, aka Ecommerce – is a booming trend for Small Businesses. Once something that could only have been realized by large corporations, it is now possible for small businesses to sell online with ease. For retail stores that might want to venture out into selling on the internet, a retail point of sale system will prove to be most beneficial. All of the sales in the physical location can be in sync with all of the online sales.

The online shop will know when the item is sold out at the retail store, in turn stating that the item is out of stock. And this happens in real time. One price adjustment can affect both operations, coupon codes can be streamlined and discounts can be applied in one effort. All of these features help you run your business your way, the way it’s meant to be run – plus it keeps your customers happy.

Many point of sale systems are capable of ecommerce integration, but research the details. Each company may offer different things. Learn about which features can be streamlined between the pos system and the online shopping cart, and if it suits your business’ needs. A point of sale system can help propel your retail business, regardless of current size or future goals, to new heights while satisfying all of your business needs.


Basic Features of a Retail POS System

  • Sales – Simplified checkouts for both, business and customers. Reduce long lines with easy to use scanners and quick touch screens.
  • Customers – Build an ever growing community of loyal shoppers. Retain info and history of purchases to learn more about your customers and what they buy. Entice and increase sales with a rewards program.
  • Inventory – Easy management of stock levels. Effectively reduce unnecessary investment while protecting against out of stocks by tracking on-hands, on-orders, and shipments.
  • Ecommerce – Grow your business by reaching a wider audience. Set up shop on the web with ease.
  • Security – Provides a peace of mind. Ensures protection for your business and most importantly, your customer’s sensitive credit card information.
  • Reports – Know everything there is to know about your business. Access, process, and print various data to meet, your business’ every needs.


Benefits of a Retail POS System

  • Customized – Helps you run your business the right way, which is your way.
  • Personnel – Improve customer service. Reduce the time spent by your employees behind an antiquated cash register and free up their time to pay more attention to sales.
  • Organization – Eliminate the small headaches. Provides an invaluable tool that allows you to not only process purchases but integrates inventory, customer info, returns, exchanges, credit card processing, rewards programs, sales, records, etc all on one machine.
  • Growth – Beat your competitors. With all the necessary information at your fingertips, make faster and better business decisions.

Daniel Yi

Originally posted 2010-08-01 20:42:35.