This is not a list of the dos and don’ts of point of sale (POS) software for small business.
Ok, yes it is.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a scary read. POS systems are meant to help small businesses:
- Save time
- Increase sales
- Boost customer engagement
And like them, so are we.
To help you become a POS software power user, here are ten useful reminders.
1. Do your research
The harsh truth is: Not all POS software for small businesses is created equal. We admit, this makes it harder to decide which system to adopt.
It also means that doing your research is crucial when choosing POS software.
To narrow down the options, you can start by looking at what other small businesses are using. For example, Capterra’s Top 20 Most Popular Point of Sale Software is compiled based on the number of users and customers, as well as a platform’s social presence.
Another great jumping off point is to read real user reviews; you can gain valuable information about how a software vendor actually performs when it comes to customer support, ease of use, and, implementation.
2. Know what you need, and find a system that offers it
A robust and reliable POS system is one of the most crucial investments your small or midsize business (SMB) will make early on. It’s also one aspect of your business you don’t want to have to redo.
And just as no two POS systems are the same, neither are any two businesses. So before you start calling around, speaking to sales reps, and grilling other local small businesses, sit down and make a list of what you want to gain from comprehensive POS software.
What is most important to you? Perhaps it’s inventory management or eCommerce integration. Maybe adopting something cloud-based scares you more than it excites, but then maybe ease of use or customer support will be at the top of your list.
Regardless of your requirements or expectations, figure out what they are now to save you the additional hassle later on.
3. Beware of the ‘free’ POS trap
The best things in life are never completely free—and that includes POS software.
It’s not that there are no free POS options out there, but there are always trade-offs. As a savvy POS researcher, take the time to understand whether the features and terms of free software match what you and your business are looking for.
The most common issue to be on the lookout for is credit card processing rates. In many cases, companies are happy to give away software if they can make their money on the payment processing end.
Keep this in mind if you’re considering a free option, and make sure you’re getting a rate that makes sense for your business. It may even make more sense for you to pay for the software so you can save money with a custom processing rate.
4. Know the lingo
Whether you’re setting up your first POS system, or transitioning from a legacy cash register, the process isn’t complicated.
However, there are a few industry terms you should know to help the process go smoothly. If the terms “X and Z reports” and “Order trigger” leave you scratching your head, brush up on your point of sale lingo. Remember, knowledge is power.
5. Leverage inventory management features
There are dozens of point of sale features small businesses can, and should, take advantage of. But one of the most valuable, without a doubt, is the ability to comprehensively manage your inventory.
And when we say manage, we don’t just mean the ability to view stock on hand.
We’re talking about having the capacity to perform functions such as:
- Making price changes with a single click
- Tracking the popularity of products
- Crosschecking inventory with ease
All of these capabilities combined provide more accurate stock counts, increased business insights, and recouped time. Who wouldn’t want all that?
6. Automate as much as possible
While we’re on the topic of inventory, let’s also talk about automation.
When was the last time a customer requested an item, and you ran to your stockroom to retrieve it, only to realize you sold your last size medium, blue cashmere sweater earlier that day? Your customer needs it today, but it will take two days to get a new shipment into your store, and you’ve just lost another sale.
If you had been automating your reorders with your POS software, this wouldn’t have been the case.
By setting up order triggers to alert you when stock levels are low, you’ll never have to disappoint another customer. That feature is most definitely worth its weight in gold.
7. Know what you sell and when
As we said, you need to have a handle on your inventory management, but on top of that, you need to know when that inventory is likely to sell. Point of sale software can help small business do exactly that.
Take advantage of the abundance of sales history data you generate, along with the reporting analytics capabilities of your POS system. These features show you, not only what you’re selling, but what days of the week, time of day, and season an item sells best.
This knowledge can have a huge impact on how you market your inventory, what you drop from your catalog of items, and ultimately your business’s bottom line.
8. Integrate, integrate, integrate
Point of sale software is an essential tool that can help you increase both the revenue and efficiency of your business, but it does have its limits.
The most robust and powerful POS systems have heeded the requests of their customers and offer integrations with other useful small business software.
Some of the most common integrations are:
- Email marketing,
If you’ve chosen a reputable and reliable point of sale software, these tools should be at your disposal, so use them accordingly.
Email marketing and eCommerce can help you reach a wider scope of customers, while integrating accounting software such as QuickBooks can streamline your accounting processes and save you time and money.
9. Deliver top-notch customer service
With all the benefits point of sale software offers small businesses, one of the most important is the opportunity to provide outstanding customer service.
From always knowing you have a customer’s favorite item in stock to being able to view their sales history and provide a customized shopping experience, and then ultimately having the ability to follow up with that customer via email for promotions and events.
It all boils down to having supportive software that works with you and enhances your business.
10. Don’t set it and forget it
We understand that, when the day-to-day operations of running your small business ramp up, it can often feel like you are simply trying to keep your head above water. Ordering inventory, ringing up sales, and dealing with difficult customers can feel like all you do and all you have time for.
But don’t get stuck in a point of sale software rut.
What do we mean by that? We mean don’t implement POS software and then neglect to stay updated on new features and products your system may offer.
It’s possible that an area in which your business is struggling could easily be improved by tapping into some new feature your point of sale system has recently rolled out. In this case, what you don’t know can hurt you.
Keeping your head above water
If this feels like a lot, we get it; we’ve been there.
The important thing to keep in mind with point of sale software for small business is that, even if you experience a learning curve, it’s only temporary.
Take your POS education step by step. Tackle one project at a time and, at the end of the day, you’ll get that time back tenfold. We promise.
You can also check out our POS software directory and filter by price and feature to find the system that fits you best. Or, for more reading on getting the most out of your POS system, check out these posts:
- 3 Square Alternatives Changing the mPOS Game
- The 3 Reasons You Need to Re-Evaluate Your Payment Processing Provider
- Restaurant POS Features You Didn’t Know You Needed
Looking for Retail Management Systems software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Retail Management Systems software solutions.