A guide to leveraging cloud technology for food trucks

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.

Digital menus

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.

Location tracking

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.

Modernizing the Retail store Infrastructure with cost consideration

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.

What is a POS System?

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.

pos hardware
iPad pos hardware for retail

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
  • Shift reports
  • Sales by product type and tag
  • Sales by customer
  • Sales by discount
  • Sales by payment type
  • Inventory value
  • 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.

POS Hardware

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
  • Barcode scanners
  • Receipt printers
  • Cash drawers
  • Label printers
  • 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
  • Employee commissions
  • 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.

What Is a Point of Sale (POS) System?

Operating a retail store calls for a range of administrative, management and marketing skills. From ensuring that there’s enough inventory to putting together monthly sales reports, these skills are necessary in ensuring that your store runs smoothly.

Having an efficient point of sale (POS) system can go a long way in making sure that all your operations are running smoothly. In this article, we speak to two industry experts who’ll share tips on what you must have in a POS and how to choose the best option for your retail store or restaurant.

What’s the Point of a Point of Sale (POS) System?

A point of sale system, or POS, is the place where your customer makes a payment for products or services at your store. Simply put, every time a customer makes a purchase at your store, they’re completing a point of sale transaction.

The POS serves as the central component for your business; it’s the hub where everything—like sales, inventory and customer management—merges.

As evident as the benefits of a POS system are, we found that 56 percent of single-store retailers are still not using one. Instead, we found, many are still using a combination of manual methods, cash registers, QuickBooks and Excel for bookkeeping.

So why have retailers not taken that step to POS yet? To begin with, implementing new technology—especially technology that’s central to your business process—can be scary and overwhelming. Retailers need to consider the negative consequences of failing to have a POS in place.

“[Retailers] run the risk of slowing down their operations and missing critical data that could help them grow their business faster. Having key insight about their customers, their inventory level and when they should order more supplies are examples of information a POS provides.”

Understanding what a POS system is—its software and hardware components, as well as capabilities—will enable you to make an educated buying decision.

Software Components of a POS System

Every POS system comprises of software and hardware components that make running the daily operations of your business easier and faster. It’s important to understand what POS software options there are and what each have to offer.

When deciding what to look for in a POS software ease of integration is imperative.

“Flexibility is key. Ensure your POS vendor works with the payment processor/gateway of your choice, so that you can control cost. If you’re already using applications important to your business, make sure the POS can integrate with them seamlessly, so that you can continue using them.”

Hardware Components of a POS System

These are the common physical components required to get your POS up and running.

Monitor/tablet: Displays the product database and enables other functions, such as employee clock-in and viewing sales reports. Tablets—especially iPads—are popular for replacing bulkier monitors.

Barcode scanner: Automates the checkout process. Scanning barcodes pulls product info and adds it to the checkout total. Barcode scanners can also integrate with inventory management systems to automatically adjust stock levels.

Credit card reader: Since the EMV payment standard went live in 2015, secure and EMV-compliant credit card readers are a must-have. Non-compliant retailers face potentially huge losses on account of fraud liability.

Receipt printer: Email and text receipts may be gaining popularity, but paper receipts remain essential for providing customers with a quick snapshot of their purchase or returns.

Cash drawer: It may fade away in years to come, but cash is still king. Until then, you’ll need a secure place to store cash for transactions. Another benefit of cash: there are no associated credit card fees.

Key Features of a POS System: What to Look for When Buying

Many tasks in a retail store can be overly tedious and resource exhaustive. With the right POS system, retailers have the ability to simplify crucial daily business operations with greater proficiency.

“Modern POS systems do more than just offer flexibility when processing daily transactions,” says Dishthefish. “They improve a merchant’s chances of success by providing them with tools to streamline business processes.”

Our analysis with POS software buyers identified key features that retailers and restaurants look for in selecting a POS system:

Sales Reporting: On the surface, most POS systems enable you to look at your sales. The difference lies in how those numbers are presented, the ease at which data can be accessed and how much detail you get.

Your POS system should ideally be able to:

  • Generate detailed sales reports (based on product, hour, employee, total cost of items sold, total retail amount, net profit, profit percentage, gross margin)
  • Provide quick snapshots and charts on your store’s sales performance

Inventory Management: One of the most important functions of a POS system, inventory management, at its very essence, keeps track of all products so you know when it’s time to order/or not order specific products.

Your POS system should enable you to:

  • Scan and count products digitally
  • Manage your stock by creating product variations (size, color)
  • Identify pieces of inventory with a unique serial number
  • Track inventory levels across multiple locations
  • Enable seamless ordering such as automatically setting custom reorders of best-sellers
  • Consolidating purchases and orders in one order

Customer Management: Building strong relationships with your customers will lead to repeat business. A POS should have customer relationship management (CRM) to track all customer data.

Your POS system should give you the ability to:

  • Attach a sale/transaction to a customer
  • Keep track of your customers’ purchase history
  • Capture customer information such as name, age, birthday, phone number and email address
  • Use email marketing to keep in touch with them
  • More advanced systems will have a built-in loyalty program

Employee Reporting and Management: The performance of your employees can make or break the success of your store. Having the ability to set sales targets as well as know who your top performers are and who requires extra coaching will help increase sales.

Your POS system should give you the ability to:

  • Add employees to your system
  • Create and modify schedules for employees based on forecasted activity
  • Email schedules to employees
  • Track employees’ hours weekly and over time
  • Analyze who your top performers are

Choosing the Best POS System: Questions to Ask

If you’re choosing a POS system for the first time, start making a list of features you must have and talk to fellow business owners who are operating in a similar space. Ask what POS systems they’re using and what they like, or not like about them.

“Then start looking at solutions and make sure vendors cover the key points important to your business while also offering a secure, easy-to-use, easy to maintain and modern solution,” says Tauzia.

Usability and agility is vital in a POS. “It’s important to consider ease of use, flexibility in pricing, what actionable insights the system provides, data security, hardware durability and quality of customer service,” says Grullon.

Once you start talking to vendors, be sure to ask questions that demand definitive answers.

Some questions to ask:

Is the POS able to integrate with my existing software?

Do you have a website or accounting software? Choosing a POS that integrates with your existing setup will save you time and money.

What payment methods can the POS accept? 

Double check that the POS is able to accept chip-enabled credit and debit cards. You’ll also need to have a EMV-compliant POS terminal.

How much does the software really cost?

POS systems can cost as little as a few hundred dollars each month to tens of thousands for a made-to-order solution. On average, about 46 percent of companies spend under $1,500 a year on their POS software.

Is your only option to sign a contract?

Signing on a dotted line means you’ll have to commit to the service until your contract ends, even if you don’t like it.

Are there any hidden fees?

Find out if there are any hidden fees involved in payment processing. These can come in the form of activation, downloads, early termination, refunds and transaction fees for different debit/credit cards.

Is any hardware proprietary?

Choosing a POS software vendor that offers proprietary hardware can save you time while offering smoother functionality. However if you’re looking to customize your setup, a proprietary solution can be restricting as it’ll only be compatible with equipment from the same company.

How To Find the Best POS System Without Second Guessing

On the surface, they all look the same and promise a similar set of essential features, the ability to accept credit card transactions, inventory tracking, customer loyalty tools, and employee management just to name a few. However, choosing a point of sale system is not a decision that retailers should make lightly.

This powerful tool is the lifeline of your day-to-day operations, empowering you to better manage all areas of your business, including supply chain management, marketing, accounting, and staffing. So, how do you determine the best POS system for your small business? Not to worry, we did the legwork so that you can avoid making a costly, uninformed decision.

Benefits of Using a POS System

Before we can address the qualities of a ‘best in class’ retail POS system, we first need to discuss what modern POS systems are capable of.

Enhanced Sales Transactions and Payments
Today’s point of sale system performs the same basic functions as an electronic cash register such as calculating change and sales. However, it was designed to operate as an all-in-one solution that provides robust inventory management and control, omnichannel capabilities like integrated ecommerce, and access to customer relationship management, marketing, and reporting tools.

Supply Chain and Inventory Management
With most modern POS systems, keeping track of your store’s inventory is easier than ever. Today’s point of sale software allows retailers and managers to instantly import their inventory data and keep track of when stock items are low.

Marketing and Customer Outreach
Today’s point of sale software allows retail businesses to leverage the latest in digital marketing, enabling you to coordinate email blasts, encourage engagement on social media channels and promote discounts.

Staff Management
With modern POS software, you can oversee your employees, track performance, build intuitive schedules and ensure that your store is running smoothly, even when you’re not there.

Data Reporting and Analytics
In the modern world of sales, data can tell you everything about your business. It pays to know what’s working, what’s not, and what you can do to boost your outreach. Many small business owners avoid analytics because they feel like they won’t understand the reports, but with today’s POS software and user-friendly design, makes reporting simple to view, understand and export. You can even see real-time data in the palm of your hand — with a smartphone app that’s integrated into your POS system.

Of course, while many modern POS systems offer all of these capabilities, the ones that stand out have a particular set of qualities that are rare in the market. What you want to look for in a POS system is the ability support every aspect of your business.

Without further ado, here are some features to consider when choosing the best POS system for your small business.

The Key Features of a Quality POS System

If you were to boil down the goal of a retail store, what would you say is the most important aspect? It’s likely that you thought of sales first, and for a good reason. A store that is unable to sell its wares will not last long in today’s competitive retail market.

The best POS system makes selling as easy and organized as possible. Here are a few things you should expect — or rather, demand — from your POS software, to help support your business.

Short Transaction Times
Whether your goal is to be a high volume seller or to corner a niche market, transactions that take too long will be a drain on your staff and your customers. See, spending too much time processing a sale comes at a significant opportunity cost; customers will grow impatient, your employees will get frustrated and be too occupied to handle other duties throughout the store. The best retail POS systems make it easy to access product information in the computer and ring up sales.

Investing in a mobile, iPad-based solution like Vend also allows retailers to process a high-volume of orders during peak hours without slowing down. The iPad’s flexible, portable design quickly turns a fixed POS station into a mobile register making it easy to reduce wait times by processing transactions mobility.

User-Friendly and Customizable Interface
The best POS systems have an intuitive user interface that is easy for customers and staff to navigate when they are engaged at the point of purchase. One of the capabilities that tend to separate an average POS system from the best retail POS systems on the market is customization. A customizable POS system allows users to do things that you might not think of first when shopping for new software, like toggling sales tax, managing add-ons to sales and providing notes to avoid misunderstandings in the fulfillment of a transaction. Not only will a simple, user-friendly system save time you’d otherwise spend training your staff, but it also allows you to cut down on human error during the checkout process.

All of these little options can be crucial to building a POS package that fits your retail business, rather than molding your business to fit into a static POS software package.

Diverse Payment Types
In the modern world, we’re all going digital, and this includes paying for goods. Retailers that don’t accept all forms of payment are missing out on potential profits. That being said, the best POS system for your budget, is one that has a diverse payment platform that can handle cash, credit, and debit, as well as newer methods such as Apple Pay, and other forms of NFC or contactless payments.

With advancements in payment technology and security, this area is bound to keep on progressing. Your small business needs a POS system that can handle these advancements.

Not only do you want a POS system that can keep up with the evolving payment landscape, but you also want one that offers a seamless payment experience for your customer. What does that mean, exactly? It means that customers want their goods or services, they want stellar customer service, but they don’t really want to be bothered with the actual transaction part of the equation.

A great example of this is rideshare service, Grab. A customer uses the app to to hail a ride, hopefully the driver provides quality customer service, and when the customer arrives at the destination, payment is made with a few clicks. Or if the customer fails to initiate the payment, their card is automatically charged the fare within 24 hours. So, in this case, the actual payment portion of the transaction takes a back seat to the service and quality of the experience.

Ecommerce Integration
In a market where 81 percent of shoppers will look up an item online before making an in-person purchase, ecommerce is more critical to a retailer’s success than ever.

The best retail POS systems allow you to integrate your brick and mortar business with an online webstore where shoppers can browse products and do their preliminary research before visiting your physical store location.

Integration with tried-and-true eCommerce sites like BigCommerce streamline inventory management by syncing items across both online and offline channels, so your inventory is automatically updated whenever you make a sale. Not only will local customers be able to browse your store digitally, but so will the rest of the world — significantly broadening your customer reach and visibility.

Learn How To Grow Your Business with BigCommerce and Vend

Reliable Hardware and Support
Since modern POS software focuses on many of the operational aspects of running a small business, we tend to forget about the actual hardware. Whether you’re setting up a basic cash register to track sales or a robust iPad POS system to manage all aspects of your business, you’re going to need reliable hardware to get the job done.

While POS systems are often judged based on the software and functionality, let’s not forget about the company that provides the software, and ultimately customer support. Will customer care be available to you when you need to troubleshoot errors that can have an impact on your business? Regardless of how reliable a product is, it is important to partner with a point of sale provider that is equipped to offer dedicated support on a variety of channels. This can include email support, an FAQ page, tutorial content, chat, and phone support.

Intelligent Retail Store Management

By now, you know that the best POS system for retailers is one that simplifies the process of running a retail business. This includes day-to-day functions like processing transactions, managing inventory across online and offline channels, and pricing adjustments. However, this is only a portion of what a modern POS system can offer your small business.

Store management has always been important, but before the dawn of easy-to-use POS software, inventory and supply chain duties have always been handled in the traditional, hand on paper method. The problem? Paper can’t calculate totals, or handle short-term sales projections. The best retail POS software is software that empowers small business owners with this data so that they can make smarter business decisions with ease.

Inventory Management in Minutes Not Hours
Imagine the ability to import and manage large inventories with thousands of SKUs within minutes, or set up order triggers so that you never run out of items or miss a sale. Or a platform that gives you the ability to identify best sellers, putting more money in your pocket and hours back in your workweek. A quality point of sale system makes this all possible.

One of the most overlooked wastes of time, money, and human capital is the lack of an efficient method for inventory tracking, yet countless retail stores unknowingly becoming victims of this pitfall. Your POS software should give you the tools to make real-time inventory management simple, fast, and reliable.

Whether you deal with a diverse range of specialized merchandise or you move huge quantities of product in your retail sector, a POS system should be able to handle the inventory management tasks that allow you to track costs and profit margins per item, differentiate between items that have a variety of arrangements, and identify items that are running low.

With quality retail POS software, you’ll never have to worry about having sufficient stock items. How’s that for peace of mind? With a comprehensive sales tracker integrated with your inventory charts, you can set-up stock alerts, automatic reordering based on the timetable for re-stocking and filling your shelves.

We can’t stress it enough: The best retail POS systems are customizable to your unique business needs so that you never have to sacrifice the efficiency of your retail operations.

Marketing Integrations that Boost Your Business
Another huge store management chore is the curation of customer lists and marketing campaigns. Smaller retail stores don’t tend to have the margins in the early going to have a fully operational marketing department, so it’s likely that the marketing duties are going to rest squarely on your shoulders alone.

Thankfully, modern POS features can support your marketing efforts until you have the ability to create smart marketing campaigns on your own. Customer lists to use in compiling email newsletters will ensure that your customers build brand loyalty, and a system that integrates with digital marketing software cultivates the ability to increase sales and grow your business’ reputation.

The best retail POS systems will allow you to interact with your customers, be receptive to reviews and strengthen your brand, directly from one simple source.

Simplified Staff Management, Payroll, and Training
Gone are the days of building employee training regimens, managing time clocks and creating schedules on paper. A great POS system allows you to do all of this from one simple source.

You can control employee permissions, build up-to-the-minute schedules, control training, update employee databases, and oversee the time clock; even when you aren’t physically in your store. For a retail business owner, this is absolutely crucial. The best part is that all this control and oversight allows you to break down staff performance and single out top performers and the employees that need extra training.

Additionally, a great retail POS program can make other aspects of staff management a lot easier. Don’t have the money for in-house accounting? No problem! Modern POS software can integrate with accounting software like QuickBooks to ensure that your employee payroll is well managed, and you never have to exceed your projected labor budget — and that can be worth its weight in gold.

Reporting with Return on Investment in Mind

You may think that you’ve heard everything that POS software can do to support a smooth-running retail business, but consider this: almost every part of the retail process can be fine-tuned and improved using data and analytics.

Do you want to judge the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns? Or see which of your brand’s products are selling the highest relative to their market alternatives? Maybe you just want to ensure that you’re addressing your customers concerns and having positive customer interactions. All of this information that was previously based on an inexact science is available thanks to analytics.

Sales data can ultimately give you a detailed look at how your various product lines are performing, as well as each individual staff member. In turn, this information can help you make informed decisions about personnel and whether or not you should decide to take a low performing product off the market, or improve it based on feedback like customer reviews.

The best retail POS software can compile sales data over time and show you the trajectory of your store’s sales developments. The success of new products or new team members become more clearly visible than ever before through management of a top notch retail POS system.

Here are a few ways the best retail POS systems available to small business owners can improve sales.

Understand Your Customer and Fine-Tune Your Marketing
One thing data can absolutely provide for your retail business is a solid, complete understanding of your consumer. With analytics made available by a high quality retail POS system, you can draw up customer personas and tease out the qualities that your store must have to entice your audience.

This goes hand-in-hand with your store’s marketing efforts. This data can allow you to judge your campaigns, see who views your advertising the most, and get a complete view of your marketing ROI. What could be more useful than if all this capacity was made available for you in the palm of your hand, as part of a POS system package?

End of the Day Reporting That Brings Peace of Mind
At the end of each day, compare customer traffic with total revenue and measure the effectiveness of storewide sales, promotions, and coupons. The best retail POS systems will provide a register summary for the entire day, so you can confirm payment amounts and check for discrepancies each day.

Making Business Decisions On-The-Go
The best retail POS software will package all your data and analytics reporting in a simple, portable package, whether you opt for an iPad POS or want to manage your business from your phone. In today’s market, POS software must come with a mobile app for a constantly available, up-to-date snapshot of how your business is performing at all times.

No longer do you have to be afraid to leave your store for more than a few hours. With the level of remote access and control allowed to you by way of a great retail POS system, you can roam freely while never losing grip on your business.

Sales Forecasting for a Winning Sales Floor
An essential aspect of running a successful retail business is understanding inventory and sales trends. This allows you to accurately forecast future sales and minimize the risk of overstocking slow moving inventory. Viewing inventory and sales reports make it easy to understand historical performance that empowers the owner to make smarter purchasing decisions in the future.

So What is the Best Retail Point of Sale System?

So, you’ve found a POS system that checks all these boxes. What’s next?
The best retail POS system provides you, the small business owner, with the tools and information that minimizes the stress of running a retail business. So far, we’ve gone over, what you should expect from a modern POS system and how they can support every aspect of running a retail business.

But now we’re going to give you the broad qualities that your POS system should ultimately provide for you, your business and your budget, regardless of your unique needs. The best retail POS system is…

Customizable
Your service provider should offer you the ability to customize and include as many or as few of the support features we mentioned as your business requires. While it’s great to know that your POS system can have positive effects on all ends of the retail spectrum, your unique retail store may not need in-depth functions.

Thus, the best retail POS system will be the one that you can customize to use however you need it, without sacrificing functionality and reliable use.

User-Friendly and Easy to Operate
None of what your POS system can do for you matters if you can’t use it and teach others to use it in a short period of time. What’s the point in having a complicated iPad POS platform that’s variable and portable if you don’t know how to use it? A great POS system is easy to use and a great POS service provider will allow you to test out your software package before making the final purchase. Reach out to providers that seem to offer the best retail POS system on the market. Sometimes hands-on experience is the only way to find out if a certain POS system is the one for you and your business.

Accurate
When dealing with small margins, supply chain management, and up-to-the-minute data reporting, you can’t afford to not trust your information. The best POS service providers build software that gives you reliable, accurate and comprehensive information, on profits, sales, customer data, marketing ROI and much, much more.

When peace of mind in your POS system choice can be the difference between success and failure in retail, you deserve the absolute best retail POS system on the market.

Affordable
Going along with your ability to customize your retail POS, your system should be affordable at each level of feature simplicity. Let’s say you need the full range of support services mentioned already, in order to seamlessly track inventory, sales and coordinate staffing, marketing, and all around store management.

The best POS system on the market for your needs will be able to offer all these services at a cost that works for your unique budget and business needs.

Innovative and Evergreen You don’t want a POS system that becomes obsolete the next time a new payment method comes out or an innovation in retail inventory management becomes standard.

The best retail POS system is one that can be updated to stay current as the retail environment changes constantly.