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How to Choose a POS System For Your Small Business

Choosing the right POS software for your small business is a significant decision. 

Point of sale systems represent the moment when you get paid by your customers. You don’t want to rush into something so important, and you definitely don’t want to switch POS providers on a regular basis. 

I often get asked what the best POS system is for small businesses.

This is a loaded question. The right point of sale software for one company might not be the best choice for another. 

That’s why I created this guide. I’ll identify the top factors that you need to take into consideration while you’re searching for a new POS system. Use this methodology to narrow your choices.

Business Type

The first thing you need to do is find POS software that works well for the type of business you have. For example, retail POS software won’t be the same as restaurant point of sale solutions. 

A small local coffee shop will have different needs than a state-wide clothing chain with an ecommerce website. If your business requires custom ordering at the POS-level, you’ll need to find a system that can accommodate those needs. 

Once you determine what category your small business falls into, it will be much easier to choose the best POS software. 

Business Size

A sole proprietor with a food truck and local dry cleaner with five locations and 30 employees both fall into the small business category. However, the two companies have drastically different needs in terms of POS systems.

One of the best ways to narrow your choices down is by determining how many POS stations you’ll need and how many employees will be using them.

Some POS software is free and can be used on an unlimited number of devices. Other point of sale systems are charged by licenses and terminal numbers. 

Do you need a POS system that works seamlessly across multiple stores with several terminals at each location? Or do you need a singular terminal for just one site? Maybe you need a POS system for taking payments on-the-go with your smartphone or tablet. 

You should also look for a POS solution that will scale with you as your company grows. As you hire more employees or expand to new locations, you won’t want to deal with the hassle of switching providers.

Ease of Use

If your POS system makes your life more difficult, then you aren’t using the right software. You need to find a solution that’s easy for your employees and customers. The software should also be easy from an administrative perspective on the backend level. 

There are a few different things that need to be taken into consideration when you’re evaluating ease of use. 

  • Initial setup
  • Employee training
  • Day-to-day use
  • Troubleshooting

In some instances, a long and complicated setup is unavoidable. For example, if you’re installing a new POS solution for your restaurant and need features for tableside ordering, self-serving kiosks, and kitchen displays, you won’t be able to set this up in an instance. 

However, small retailers can find solutions that can be set up at a moment’s notice. Sometimes it’s as easy as downloading software and connecting a credit card processing terminal. 

Whenever possible, try to request a demo or free trial before you agree to a long-term contract with a POS system. This will give you a better idea of how simple the software is. 

Hardware

Your hardware needs will also affect the decision for choosing a point of sale system for your small business. 

Some of you will want to continue using your existing hardware and processing terminals. Other businesses need to purchase equipment directly from the POS provider. 

Do you want a traditional register behind the counter? Would you prefer a tablet that can be used out on the sales floor? How about a customer-facing screen?

EMV chip terminals, magstripe readers, contactless payments; all of these must be taken into consideration when you’re evaluating hardware. 

Some POS systems bundle hardware and software into one package. Other solutions simply offer software and nothing else. You’ll need to determine which is the best option for your small business needs. 

Credit Card Processing

Point of sale systems and credit card processing are actually two different things.

You can find all-in-one POS solutions with a built-in payment processor. Or you can look for POS systems that integrate with your existing credit card processing company. Just because you’re getting a new POS system, you don’t have to switch credit card processors. 

Identify your processing needs before you start searching for a POS system. Whether you want to keep your existing credit card processor or use POS software with built-in processing, there are options for both. 

Features

POS systems come with a wide range of features. Some of which will be more important to you than others. These are just a handful of popular functions offered by various POS solutions:

  • Ecommerce integration
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Gift cards
  • Built-in payment processing
  • Online reservations
  • Customer-facing screens
  • Check-splitting capability
  • Inventory management
  • Employee management
  • Detailed analytics and reports

The list goes on and on. You just need to determine which features matter to you the most, and then find a POS system that offers those features in a cost-effective package. 

Add-ons and Integrations

Not every POS system comes with every feature all-inclusive. Some solutions are just the bare minimum, and then charge extra if you want to add-on specific features. 

In some cases, it could be more cost-effective to pay for an add-on if you don’t need lots of complex functions. But for those of you who need lots of extras, it will definitely be in your best interest to find an all-in-one solution.

You should also look for POS systems that integrate with existing tools that you’re already using. We’ve previously discussed the importance of credit card processing integrations if you don’t want to switch providers

But some POS tools offer third-party integrations for your accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero. 

Budget

Price is always a factor when you’re making business decisions. 

The cheapest POS system isn’t always the best option. However, you don’t necessarily need the most expensive solution on the market either. 

When evaluating the price of a POS system, consider the following costs:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Monthly or annual subscription fees
  • Setup fees
  • Credit card processing fees
  • Add-ons

Some software might be free to download, but you’re forced to buy expensive hardware from the provider. So just shop around and complete your due diligence before you finalize a decision.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best POS system for your small business isn’t always straightforward. But it’s much easier if you know what to look for and how to evaluate your options. 

Use this guide to narrow your search. I’m confident that you can find an excellent POS solution with the criteria outlined above. Let us know if you have any questions or need further assistance.