Most people are probably familiar with retail POS systems- you know, those touch-screens servers use at restaurants to input order information, or the scanning system used by the checker at the grocery store. Using a POS system is a great way to track sales and manage resources. For example, gyms can use POS to schedule training appointments and classes, allowing customers to pay in advance or online. Should you consider a POS system? Here’s a quick outline of the benefits, costs, and offerings available:
POS systems make transaction processing quick and easy- saving employee time and cutting down on transaction errors. You can use a POS system as a cash register and credit card terminal in one. They also allow you to keep track of inventory, sales, promotions, employee work schedules- software can be customized for almost any type of business. Retail businesses with lots of inventory can especially benefit from using a POS system- you can enter product offerings as they are received, and items are automatically deducted from inventory when they are sold. You’ll know when to reorder, what you have in stock, and can track sales trends to boost future revenue.
Benefits for service businesses
POS software is available for service businesses, as well. There’s a range of software available for restaurants, hotels, salons, yoga studios- basically any business. POS software can process transactions (for example, when customers pay for services) and manage scheduling at businesses such as hotels or salons. Most systems can be used with customized hardware- for example, POS systems for bars and restaurants can be linked to pour-tracking caps for alcohol bottles, allowing you to see which drinks were ordered, when, and how much inventory was used to prepare them.
Software and Hardware
Software is the foundation for your system- you should always choose it first before buying any hardware components. Choose an industry-specific software program that you’re comfortable with- ask for a demo or free trial. The software you choose determines the hardware you’ll need. You can purchase scanners, terminals, and other items as your software requires. Make sure you get the dimensions, weight, and electricity requirements for all POS equipment before making a purchase, and try to buy everything from one vendor.
An online search for vendors can turn up hundreds of results, so it might be a good idea to ask for recommendations first before wading through information from hundreds of companies. You can also use a vendor locator service- ours at Resource Nation screens vendors based on your requirements, so you’ll get search results tailored specifically to your needs.
POS pricing is hard to determine, because it depends on your requirements. As a very basic guideline, expect to pay up to $1,000 for a basic computer terminal and transaction processing software. Keyboards and scanners can cost up to a few hundred dollars, and touch screens can run into the thousands. Don’t let price influence your decision too much- the benefits to your business usually more than cover the initial costs.
Don’t build a system from scratch by yourself. POS systems are expensive, so it can be tempting to try a DIY system, with components purchased from different discount sources. Unless you really know what you’re doing, this usually isn’t a good idea. Sure, you might be able to get a touch screen for $200 on craigslist, but it might end up costing thousands to program it to work with your software or customize it to reflect your product offerings. Try to buy everything at the same time from the same vendor to ensure compatibility.
How to get the best deal
You can definitely negotiate when it comes to costs, especially if you’re buying everything from the same vendor. Here are a few “extras” you can ask for:
- software upgrades (for free or discounted)
- equipment discounts (or free equipment)
- extended contract terms
- maintenance services
- employee training sessions
You can also ask about refurbished equipment, or trade in used office equipment (like keyboards or computer monitors) to many vendors. It’s a win-win: good for the environment and your wallet.