So you need to get a point-of-sales (POS) system for your outlet. What kinds of point-of-sales systems are popular in Singapore? What can they do, and what should you know about them?
Singapore has a pretty wide selection of POS systems – a simple Google search will tell you that. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the variety available, so this guide was put together to help make your search a little easier.
First off, POS systems can be divided into two types: Legacy POS and Tablet (or Cloud-based) POS.
Traditional/ Legacy POS systems
Legacy POS: Also known as “on-site” or “traditional” POS systems, they store data locally and run on a closed internal network – in other words, the POS system is essentially a PC in your restaurant and you can only access your data there. They are typically bulkier and older – usually running on Linux or Windows software.
Cloud-based/ Tablet POS
Cloud-Based POS: Also referred to as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), cloud-based POS systems are Web-hosted and have their information accessible online. That means you can access your restaurant’s data anytime, anywhere, on a browser. They are newer-generation and more lightweight (run on tablets), catering to the modern day need for accessibility.
Which is better?
The answer really depends on what you want out of your POS system. One size usually doesn’t fit all and some brand design to expand rapidly to many outlets where another one happy with single store. We give you some pointers below that can help you choose what’s best for you.
iPad ordering ≠ Cloud-based POS
Some traditional POS systems do have iPad ordering capabilities, meaning that while your waiters can take orders on iPads, you still need a POS terminal, which is also where all your data is stored.
With these legacy POS systems, you will need to buy an additional iPad licence (a few hundred dollars) for each device on top of the basic POS terminal.
As you can see, some brands of POS serve both retail and F&B clients – in some cases the software is different and specialised for each kind of business (like Raptor) but in other cases, the same software serves both, with some features going unused. Most POS accept different modes of payment (such as NETs, Mastercard and Visa) and all you need is a credit card terminal, which you can get easily enough from the banks.
Systems that serve both retail and restaurants might not have all the functions you may want to run your restaurant optimally.
For example, some POS systems do not have table layouts, meaning they cannot display where all the tables in your restaurant are located and their current status. Some F&B owners and managers find this feature very important. Likewise, a POS system that can be used for retail might not have other restaurant-specific features like queue management or photo displays for menu items, which make it easier for waitstaff to recognise dishes – especially useful for big menus.
It’s important to note that as the layout, needs and concept of every F&B outlet is different, there is no fixed price for any POS system out there – they are customised for your restaurant.
Legacy POS systems will probably have a higher upfront costs because they are one-time payments. As for Cloud POS, there are usually monthly payments due to the online data storage. The number of devices you may need will determine the price you end up paying.
“Lifetime price” or “one-time payment” does not necessarily mean that you only pay once.
For many traditional POS quotations, the one-time payment includes a 1-year warranty for your POS terminal. After the first year, you will be required to pay for a maintenance package or extended warranty to ensure that you are covered should your POS terminal break down.
If the point-of-sales system runs on Apple iPad or Android devices, the warranty comes under the individual POS hardware provider (e.g. Apple) and you pay the same maintenance fees any other consumer pays.
Check with your POS vendor if you can only purchase hardware from them. It is important that you have alternative option and not retrict to purchase from the vendor only. Afterall, one of the reason that you choose a modern cloud based POS is to have hardware agnostic and able to buy it anywhere.
Scalability does not mean open another new outlets, but it is about flexibility that the platform design to adapt to your store. For example, you can ask if the POS software has a CRM built in, and is the CRM data visible across all outlets. You will be surprise that some branded POS may not even have such function. And the handicap may cost you more that what you try to save.
Another example will be open API, or in a nutshell, if the POS vendor allow other third-party cloud application to connect to their platform to retrieve data. Who knows you decided to move to another platform later and realise that you have no way to extract data out from the provider.
Support is another additional cost that is seldom factored in when considering the price of a POS system – and that’s a crucial mistake. Most POS quotations will include a training for management and staff on how to use the system, but extra trainings will be chargeable. Few companies provide onsite support, and those that do charge exorbitant amounts by the hour. Find a point of sales provider with a service and support package that you’re comfortable with before committing for the long haul, you’ll thank yourself later.
Retail point-of-sale (POS) systems have transformed over the years to become completely mobile, meaning you can sell in store or on the go using an iPad to run the entire system. There are many additional POS benefits that have come with this innovation.
iPad-based POS systems are designed to simplify your store by saving room and providing an all-in-one solution for taking payments, managing inventory, producing receipts and keeping track of purchases. Some vendors choose to display their iPad in a Square Stand, for a professional-looking register that connects to a receipt printer, cash drawer and barcode scanner via a USB hardware hub.
Square Point of Sale is a free-to-download app that can be used on the iPad in combination with a free Square Reader to create a complete iPad-based POS system. You’ll pay just 2.65% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, and you’ll have the payments in your bank account in one to two business days.
Once you have set up your iPad POS system, you can do more than just process payments — you can also make changes to details like price, name and quantity. You can track inventory and receive email alerts when things are running low. A drag-and-drop function lets you put the most popular items front and centre. And the touch-screen system is easy to learn and to train your staff to use.
When you use an iPad as a POS with Square, the date from it syncs with your Square Dashboard so you can see, in real time, what’s happening in your store and across multiple locations. The portable nature of the iPad system means you can use it as a register in any location — from pop-ups to markets — so you can continue to make sales on the go.
Check out our guide for how to choose a POS system for tips about which system to purchase for your iPad and more information about how to pick the right POS for your business.
Food trucks are a great business today, but every owner knows the demands of managing one are challenging, to say the least. Fortunately, there are numerous ways technology can make the job more efficient.
Event management software
Whether your food truck is going to be at a festival or catering to a company gathering, event management tools allow you to digitize the process and simplify your job. With an event management software option, especially a cloud-based one, you can manage your growth and expansion even while staying organized.
You can respond to questions and concerns more quickly, especially for event catering, streamline the process for booking, and use analytics to see how you’re doing overall.
For example, Eventbrite’s event management software lets you use built-in tools for event promotion and social sharing, letting you get started much more quickly with a mobile-optimized event page.
Point-of-sale for mobile
You obviously need a POS system that’s specialized for food trucks. The key is getting something that’s mobile, like a handheld iPad that can manage your inventory, run credit cards and put orders through. That’s perfect for fitting into your small food truck space and help you streamline everything. Another bonus is that the touchscreen and ease of use means your new employees won’t need much training to use it.
A mobile POS system, in addition to cost, space and ease benefits, is also great for customizing your menu, sending orders quickly to the chef, processing quick payments, pulling up sales reports on the go, and more.
Vend POS lets you use an iPad to take orders from anywhere, even outside your food truck, but Square offers a free POS with offline payments, ideal for small food trucks that are starting out.
You can make a great impression on your customers by using a digital display for your menu. You can pick the right layout and background that works with the theme of your food truck, work with different screens and font sizes, and even have a video background playing the best and most appealing shots of your food.
When you work on a digital menu display, you want to make sure it will appeal to visitors and make people walking by want to come to have a taste of your menu. Make sure your images are large enough to see at a distance. You can also easily switch between menus if you have multiple ones or you ran out of a certain ingredient.
Eats365 POS offers digital menu boards with the option for videos and with existing templates. You can also change the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the boards work completely offline.
The success of a food truck depends a lot on a variety of locations. For example, studies have shown that food trucks who returned to the same location two days back to back had a negative financial impact. As a food truck, your goal is to be discovered by new clients or returning ones. There are several food truck location apps that let customers know where your truck is at all times, so you can rest easy knowing that your customers are aware of how to find you, and you also don’t have to be constantly updating your location.
These location apps let you share your latest location on a city map, and it helps your existing customers find you as well as new customers discover your food truck. You can also simply share your location across all channels instead of spending time posting on all your social media channels.
The app Food Fiesta, as well as showing the location of many many food trucks, hosts regular “Truckeroos” where several trucks from the nearby area park together for customers to find them easily. These types of events have previously turned out very successful for all involved.
Safety apps work
There is a lot to think about when you run a food truck to make sure your food is staying safe. That includes accessing clean water, keeping the water tank full, disposing of wastewater, connecting to a power source, and keeping your food at the right temperature. Food trucks also experience a lot of safety checks that are impromptu. That’s why getting a food safety app is great to automate manual tasks like calibrating thermometers, cleaning and training lists, and having temperature logs for quality control.
One highly recommended solution is Gocanvas, a highly specialized mobile form app with many forms especially for food trucks already put together.
Technology continues to evolve, and developers are always looking for new ways to make businesses more efficient. It is important for food truck operators to keep abreast of new tools coming on the market.
Short-sighted retailers have under-invested in their in-store technology and are currently struggling with legacy IT infrastructures that are complex, expensive and outdated.
Retail executives must decide if patching their in-store infrastructures and sticking to what they know is the answer, or if it is best to rip and replace expensive in-store infrastructures and venture into the unknown. Many are discovering that it is possible to modernize existing in-store infrastructures and remain competitive for years to come – without breaking the bank.
To uncover how retailers can best leverage the power of the software-defined store to reinvent their infrastructure and some questions to ask as below.
What pain points drive retailers to consider a software-defined store?
Today’s store IT infrastructure is complicated. Systems are thick-deployed, with device-level software/hardware compatibility concerns. As customers demand more, having to update both hardware and software is often time-consuming and cost-prohibitive.
Some retailers face an impending deadline to overcome operating system end-of-life challenges (Windows 10 compatibility) with their existing point of sale, so the clock is ticking.
With the transformational speed of change within retail, it’s unclear what to invest in to modernize and stay ahead. Adding new innovations to inflexible systems is challenging. So, there’s a risk of buying the wrong thing and being stuck ― a flexible platform is key to survival.
Also, legacy systems are expensive to maintain. IT budgets are eaten up by maintenance and support, with nothing left to spend on innovation. Organic and acquisition growth is being compromised by the complexity of legacy store infrastructures when attempting to deploy systems into new stores.
What benefits can retailers achieve by implementing virtual servers?
Faster store acquisition and organic growth. A software-defined store architecture allows retailers to create a single software image of an existing store IT ecosystem and deploy it across new stores with minimal intervention. So, they can stand up new stores fast — without replacing hardware — significantly reducing costs.
There is less downtime for planned and unplanned maintenance. The software-defined store operates in a resilient architecture that reduces the impact of utility, hardware or software faults. A dual-edge server provides high availability for critical systems that didn’t have it before.
Systems feature simplified issue identification and resolution. With virtualization, retailers can remotely monitor and resolve equipment issues with fewer interventions and expensive site visits. They can centrally and precisely control store IT across a large store estate.
In addition, retailers enjoy reduced hardware purchase and ongoing maintenance costs. Virtualizing existing POS registers extends the life of existing hardware (by moving software applications and operating systems off the device and onto the virtualized server). This eliminates device-level hardware/OS compatibility issues, and can lead to measurably improved performance. When it’s time to upgrade hardware, retailers can buy lower-cost, “thinner” hardware.
And finally, the solution increases staff productivity. With virtualization, a single device can access multiple systems. A cashier can switch between the POS and a back-office system without leaving the lane, or a manager could use an inventory tablet as a mobile POS during peak times.
A software-defined store architecture allows retailers to replicate the systems easily and much more scalable when expanding to more stores in the future.
Based on your experience, what advice can you offer retailers looking to get started?
Start by uncovering the biggest IT challenges they face in the stores to realize immediate benefits. Most often, these issues cause the biggest pain:
POS hardware/software/OS compatibility concerns
Reliability of critical systems needs to be improved
Business processes that require specialized hardware (or multiple pieces of hardware) to accomplish a task
Retailers must understand that a software-defined approach isn’t about solving a single IT issue (like a POS upgrade) – it’s a fundamental strategy that benefits every IT project going forward. They should think about long-term IT operational efficiency gains. By remotely and centrally controlling store IT, retailers can significantly reduce the expense of IT teams to patch and fix store IT issues.
We also think it’s important for retailers to understand the difference between traditional data center-focused virtualization and a system purpose-built for retail. Clients who are familiar with the data center systems are concerned that additional IT staff or virtualization expertise is required – but that isn’t true with our solution. We’ve designed the infrastructure to be self-maintaining, with security features built-in, and we’ve addressed things such as POS peripherals and retail system workloads. Understanding these differences is important to realizing the true value of a software-defined approach to retail.
What can retailers do to future proof their store systems?
Start with a flexible in-store infrastructure. It’s the key to everything else. Don’t “rip and replace.” Likely, the existing system works ― it just needs flexibility. By decoupling the hardware from software, and adding cloud-based API services, retailers can enhance what they have today and be able to innovate faster for tomorrow ― maximizing ROI all the way.
However, just because you’ve heard of something, doesn’t necessarily mean you know everything there is to know about it — especially if your source is less than reliable or you’re a first-time business owner.
We’d like to do you a solid and help you learn everything there is to know about point of sale systems. They’re such a critical part of your business operations, whether you own a small retail shop or a five-star restaurant; POS systems not only get you through your day-to-day operations but also help propel you into the future.
Simply put, POS systems are a combination of software and hardware built to streamline business operations at the point of purchase (POP). They’re quickly replacing cash registers because they can do more than take payments. To help you see what we mean, let’s take a closer look at point of sale systems. We’ll cover what exactly they are, why you need one, and where you can buy one.
What is POS Software?
Point of sale software is a cash register, but smarter. It’s the focal point of your checkout, allowing you to ring up sales, process returns, and tally your daily revenue — just like a cash register. But, that’s where the similarities end. POS software does more, much more.
When it comes to a POS system, the software is really the driving force behind providing you with the right functionality and features to run your business. If we were talking in terms of vehicles, the software would be the engine. Without a working engine to make the car go and power all the other parts, you just have a useless heap of metal — aka POS hardware, but more on that next.
POS software has changed significantly over the last 10–15 years from something that was only available as an on-premise solution for large enterprises with a dedicated IT staff and deep pockets. Nowadays, you have cloud-based solutions that operate on tablets like iPad cash registers and POS systems that are pretty much plug-and-play right out of the box or download. For retailers and other small businesses like restaurants, it doesn’t get much better than that.
POS Software for My Business: What to Look For?
When it comes to choosing the right POS software for your small business, you don’t have to buy the most expensive one or the most popular one, you just have to buy the one that works best for your unique business. All businesses are going to operate a little differently than the next, even within the same industry. Therefore, what might work for your restaurant or retail shop won’t work for the one down the street.
We LOVE our new iPad POS system! After 9 years with an ok but antiquated POS system, we researched everything (literally) that is out there — for several weeks (months) to find a system that would meet our list of 22 requirements (somewhat quirky needs for a unique business model). iPad POS was the only one that fulfilled virtually every requirement!
Here are some general features you’ll want to look for when vetting POS software solutions. We’ll talk about some of the more industry-specific features later, so stay tuned.
Inventory Management One of the fundamental functions of POS software is to manage inventory for retailers. In fact, a lot of POS software started out as merely that — inventory management software.
In today’s fast-paced, world where customers will just as soon buy an item online if they can’t find it in your store, it’s crucial that you have tight inventory control. Too little inventory can result in missed sales and revenue. Too much inventory can result in suppressed cash flow.
Employee Management Keeping track of your employees can be a business in itself. Who can only work evenings? Who only works days? What are my labor costs so far this week? Can I put another person on the schedule this weekend? It’s like a game of Who’s On First, retail edition. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Luckily for you, many point of sale systems can help alleviate those headaches. You can create employee profiles to store their contact information and their credentials to access the POS system.
Reporting and Analytics If your POS software can give you a variety of reports, great. If it can provide you with the right reports, even better. Reports and analytics can provide insights and help you track Key Performance Indicators (KPI) about your business, allowing you to make smarter, data-driven decisions.
Some report of these reports are:
Sales by item
Sales by employee
Sales by product type and tag
Sales by customer
Sales by discount
Sales by payment type
Product reorder reports
Cash drawer activity such as pay-ins and payouts
Customer Management and Loyalty Programs Most POS software will have either a customer database, customer relationship management function (CRM), a customer loyalty program, or all of the above. Engaging with your customers either through email marketing or loyalty programs is an effective weapon to get customers back into your shop — don’t be afraid to use it.
In fact, 58 percent of consumers are comfortable with retailers using their purchase history to customize a future shopping experience. The key is, finding the right customers (audience) and sending the right message.
Integrations While POS software is certainly the hub of your retail business, it’s usually not the only thing working behind the scenes to ensure a smooth operation. Many point of sale systems integrate with third-party providers for email marketing solutions, ecommerce platforms for selling online, and accounting software for bookkeeping.
Payment Processing POS software should be able to handle all of your payment types or tenders, not just some of them. The most common tender types include, cash, credit cards and debit cards, gift cards, checks, coupons, and NFC payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. We aren’t saying you need to accept every tender type, but your POS system should offer you the option to so you have the most flexibility.
If a point of sale system has integrated payment processing, not only will you be able to accept all types, but you’ll be able to see the breakdown of the tenders and accurate records on ones that are reported on as liabilities such as gift cards.
Mobility Whether you’re a food truck and your whole operation is mobile, or you own a retail store with a traditional brick and mortar storefront, it’s always a good idea to think mobile when it comes to your point of sale system. In fact, in 2018 mobile POS (mPOS) is forecasted to surpass standard POS terminals.
Any retailer can attest that regardless of how much square footage you have, there is never enough space. Retailers in metropolises such as Singapore where space is at a premium and a minimum, know these pains all too well.
A mPOS solution like an iPad cash register not only gives you a smaller footprint at your checkout area, but it also gives you the opportunity to take the checkout to your customers on the floor. The industry term for the latter is line busting, and it’s an excellent way to provide a faster, more efficient checkout process and a positive customer service experience.
Now that you have a good handle on what POS software is and the features you need for your business, let’s talk about the hardware.
Going back to our vehicle analogy where the software is like the engine, this means the hardware is the shiny hunk of metal on the exterior. When technology companies develop software, they enable specific pieces of equipment to work with it. Some of the hardware components that are likely to be compatible with your POS software are:
iPad or Android tablets and enclosures
Credit card terminal
Depending on the nature of your business, you may or may not need all of these components, but this gives you a great starting point.
Types of POS Systems: What Are My Options?
Speaking of the nature of your business, the type of business you operate will determine the right POS system for your needs. Up until this point, we’ve spoken in general terms that any storefront, whether restaurant or retail, needs a point of sale solution. And while this is all true, not all POS systems are created equal — nor is one solution designed to serve all industries.
Retail POS Systems Retail businesses have a unique set of needs and requirements that differ from the requirements of restaurants and vice versa. While in some cases you might be able to use a retail POS system in a quick-service restaurant (QSR) environment, it won’t suffice in a full-service restaurant or bar.
Some unique retail POS requirements are:
Label printing for items without UPC codes
Product matrix and item variants to support different products sizes, colors, etc.
Scales for weighted items
Ecommerce integration to set up an online store
Restaurant POS Systems Just like retailers, restaurateurs have their own set of unique needs when it comes to a POS system. How many fine-dining restaurants do you know that scan a UPC code on your filet mignon before they serve it to you? Precisely, none. Restaurant and bar POS systems don’t need a barcode scanner or label printer. However, here are some of the features they do need:
Remote ticket printing to send orders from the POS to a kitchen printer or bar printer
A custom table map to easily start checks and see what tables are occupied
A way to keep numerous checks open simultaneously
A way to split open checks, merge or transfer them
The ability to assign order types such as dine-in or takeout
Online ordering so customers can order from their smartphone or computer
Salon POS Systems Last but not least, if you own a salon or spa and you’re trying to use a retail or restaurant POS system, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Although, like retail POS systems in QSR establishments, you might be able to use a retail POS solution in some capacity in your salon, but it’s not going to be your best fit. Like the other two industries we discussed, salons have their own particular needs such as:
Online Booking — While walk-ins are welcome at most salons, the majority of customers make appointments to ensure they get the service they want at a time that’s convenient for them. Modern salons and spas use online appointment setting software so customers can easily book appointments without ringing the receptionist.
Calendar Management — Going hand-in-hand with appointment setting, salons also need a way to manage their employees’ calendars, so they know who is booked and when.
Memberships — Some spas charge membership fees for premium or specialty services, and they need a way to track all that. A way to securely store customer card data, process recurring transactions on a regular basis and have a card expiration report so they can proactively reach out to those customers whose card is set to expire.
How Much Do POS Systems Cost and Where Can I Buy One?
POS systems are no longer a luxury for small businesses, but rather table stakes if you want to stay competitive in the evolving business landscape. While it may be a requirement, the good news is that they no longer carry the luxurious price tag they once did more than a decade ago.
Cloud-computing, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model, and the development of consumer tablet devices like iPads have created the perfect storm in the point of sale industry. It has allowed software companies to develop robust POS solutions for small business owners and dramatically reduced cost as a barrier to entry to a fraction of what it once was.
Before tablet and cloud-based POS systems, it wasn’t uncommon for POS solutions to cost a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars to install and maintain. For a small business owner, that’s a small fortune.
Nowadays, if you’re a small retail store, you can pay less than $1,000 to get started with an excellent POS system like Vend, which covers both hardware and software. That’s a big difference in price, and one cash-strapped business owners can get on board with.
Not only have point of sale solutions gone down in price, but they’re also much easier to get your hands on. A lot of POS companies offer a self-service model where you can download the app, set up your store, and order hardware without ever having to talk to someone. And that’s great if you’re a self-service kind of guy or gal.
However, in most cases, especially when it comes to such a critical piece of your business operations, you want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone. You’re going to have questions outside of what you’re able to figure out on your own. Or maybe you can’t figure it all out on your own, and you need a little guidance to set you on the right path.
When it comes to choosing a POS system, make sure you select a software provider that is there for you 24/7/365 by either chat, email, or phone call.
Another alternative to buying a POS system directly from the software company is to go through a certified reseller. Resellers act as the middleman between the software company and the end user. In some cases, they can offer in-person services (like tech support) that the software company cannot and that makes them an invaluable asset to not only the merchant but also the software company.
Why Should I Invest in a POS System?
Small business owners should invest in point of sale software because it’s just smart business. Running a company is hard. It’s long hours, often meaning weekends and holidays away from your family because those are your busiest days of the week or year.
Are you sick of spending all of your time at your shop, cafe, or restaurant without a break in sight? Don’t you want to make life easier and put more hours back into your week? The major benefits of a POS system are that it can do just that. In fact, businesses that are buying POS software for the first time report that improving efficiency is a top priority.
The Bottom Line
After reading this article, you should have a solid understanding of what is a POS system. But, more importantly, you should know the features and functionality you need from a point of sale to run your business efficiently, where to buy one and how much they cost. If you can walk away from this article in confidence about your POS need, then we’ve done our job.
The right point of sale system will change your business.