Buying a POS What should we consider?
If you are going to start a hotel business or already have one, you will know that it is essential to have a few basic resources and tools through which it is possible to make the whole set of processes necessary for the company to work properly and the business to prosper.
In general, as part of these resources and tools, there is the infrastructure, the workers and the merchandise. Among the most important tools, there is what is known as the point-of-sale terminal. You have probably heard something about this tool and now you are wondering what it can do and what you should consider when buying a POS. Read on and you will get the answers to these questions and some others.
What is a POS?
Before tackling the aspects to be considered before buying a POS, it is necessary to make it sufficiently clear what a POS is.
Also known as POS, for Point of Sale, this is a device that has integrated software specially designed for sales management and everything that this involves. Among its most basic functions, there is the collection by credit or debit card (if you have collection hardware) and the part in charge of the management (software) , since also, this useful tool allows the generation of detailed reports on the state of the business, the stock, the sales and everything related to them.
As can be seen, a POS is made up of both hardware and software, both working together. As far as the equipment or hardware is concerned, this can be one of the two possible modalities:
- Modular: this is a common computer converted into a POS, which consists of a monitor, keyboard, printer for receipts and a coin carrying box.
- Compact: a unique equipment developed specifically for the point of sale.
In addition, some other elements can be added to this hardware, such as a code reader, a magnetic stripe or card reader, and even an electronic display.
As far as the POS software is concerned, you can choose from 3 options:
- Customised: that is, created specifically for a particular company.
- Commercial dedicated to shops. These are of a basic operation and easy to adapt.
- Specific: are specially developed for a specific type of business, but without the customization of the "Customized" ones. An example of this type of POS are those used in the hospitality industry.
You can acquire the software to install it wherever you prefer, from companies such as Bliscop.
When buying a POS, what should you consider?
If you want to buy a POS, you should bear in mind that there is currently a wide range of these devices and their software, which have different characteristics and different possibilities.
It is possible that in your mind it is necessary to have some basic technical knowledge of software and hardware to make the best decision when buying a POS, but the reality is that it will only be sufficient to take charge of analysing the management and operation of your business, something that is supposed to be commonplace for you.
What happens is that each business is different and has its own needs, fulfils its particular processes and has specific resources. But, equally, it is possible to find the POS that makes sales a significantly simpler process, without losing important details involved.
So, the first thing you should do before buying a POS, is to define some aspects of your business and what you expect from it. These aspects are:
- Type of business and the area it is dedicated to
- The transaction device; mobile phone, computer or both.
- Average amount of sales or those expected per day.
- You accept cards (credit and debit) or only cash.
- The establishment of branches and the link between them.
- Management of appointments and reservations.
- The need to connect the sales information with some external software, such as accounting software.
Keep in mind that the more you know about your business, the easier it will be to make the right choice when buying a POS. A good choice will mean many benefits, starting with covering the main needs and saving time and money in testing different POS.
Specific points to consider when buying a POS
In fact, the task of selecting a POS terminal does not have to take too long, as long as you are clear about the fundamental information I mentioned earlier, plus certain points related to the characteristics of each POS terminal on the market.
You may know that until a few years ago, buying a POS system required large amounts of money, which is why small businesses were not usually seen working or processing their sales with POS systems, because their income did not allow them to afford this "luxury". But, thanks to the advances of the digital era that the production of this valuable technology achieved at a low cost, it is now entirely possible for almost any business to acquire its POS and enjoy its benefits.
However, there is a significant price variation in the POS market that you should pay close attention to, as the lowest price is not always the most convenientand vice versa. It is normal that at the beginning you want to save a little and choose to buy a POS at a moderately low price, but this can end up being a stone in the shoe in the medium or long term, due to the poor performance you get from it.
Therefore, it is never a bad idea to invest a little more and acquire a technology that will be functional and completely useful for a long time.
A good quality point of sale terminal will not only be of great help to you in the process of collections and other sales related transactions, currently this equipment must be fully conditioned to be used in tasks related to the inventory, both of the products that are sold and those that are used for the provision of some service.
Depending on the make and model of the POS, it could generate inventory and sales reports with data such as the following:
- Most sold items
- Level of activity according to schedule.
- Replenishment frequency required.
This type of information would be available to both the owner and the manager of the business at any time they wish. Without a doubt, it is a valuable resource for the increase of the company's general efficiency, managing to effectively develop sales strategies, promotional campaigns, inventory planning, among others. For all this, it is important that you try to buy a POS that has this functionality.
At this point you should consider the electronic devices that you have at your disposal and that can be used for the proper use of the point of sale terminal. The reason for this is that this technology usually requires the joint integration of different devices to make the most of its functions, from the most basic to the most advanced.
Fortunately, with some POS terminals, it is only necessary to connect them to a mobile phone or a computer with a decent level of performance; this happens thanks to the fact that the POS software has been evolving so that it can be synchronised with other commonly used applications.
It is inevitable not to fall into the habit of, at the moment of acquiring something new, thinking that it will not need to be repaired because it will not be damaged or disfigured in a long time. But the truth is that before buying a POS, this is a fundamental factor to consider, and that things do get damaged and need maintenance to last, both physical (hardware) and intangible (software).
When you buy a POS terminal, make sure you check the conditions of the contract regarding the technical support service. In general, most POS companies offer basic support to all their customers, but it is also true that some have certain beneficial features that others do not.
At the very least, you need to make sure, when you buy a POS, that customer service is available 24 hours a day for each of the 365 days of the year, because failures and unforeseen events with the system can occur at any second and the least you need is to stop your sales or slow them down for a whole day, because, as you may know, a failure in the sales process for a few minutes, could mean a big loss of income at the end of the working day.
There are several ways in which companies could provide you with support service as needed, these are
- By phone.
- By email
- By live chat.
- By the presence of a specialised technician in the establishment of the business.
Easy to use
I had already mentioned it to you in previous paragraphs, you don't need a lot of technical knowledge to buy a POS, although it is also true that systems like these have some tricks that you would easily discover with average computer knowledge.
But no matter what, it is essential that you assess the complexity of use of the POS you are about to purchase; ideally it should be as simple as possible and intuitive to learn. This is mainly so, because most of the time you will not be in charge of handling the POS, and if you were, you would not be the only one. This system will also be used by the employees in their basic tasks and by those in charge of monitoring and control.
So it is not at all practical to use a POS that is too complex to use, and even if you learn how to use it, it is very unlikely that the other people who will use it on a daily basis will understand it in its entirety. Furthermore, depending on the type of business, you are likely to have a considerable turnover of employees, so it will be extremely beneficial if your tools, such as the POS, are fast learning, saving you time and money in the training process.
Extra tips to select the best POS
At this point you already have a good base of knowledge about what a POS is and what you should consider before buying one to expect the best results. But, now I'll give you a couple of extra tips to reinforce your whole buying strategy and make sure you do it smartly.
Study the supplier
Because when you know well the type of system that suits you and your business, and you are close to deciding on a POS, it is important that you do not forget a crucial detail before deciding to buy a POS. This is to investigate the supplier.
No, I do not mean that you should investigate his life and that of his family, I mean that you should study a little about the company, how it has been in the market and, above all, how its current reputation is.
Concentrate on looking for references about their technical support service, how efficient it is and how responsive it is. Also, find out about their customers and their reputation, mainly in sales, through user feedback, which will give you an idea of the efficiency of the system.
Finally, give yourself the task of selecting a few POS system suppliers and investigate as much as you can about their activity in the market; the more you know, the better prepared you will be to select the one that best suits your company and its financial and growth objectives.
Try not to get carried away by distracting elements such as a low price or the talk of some enthusiastic salesman who constantly highlights all the wonders of his POS, but is most likely leaving out important details that are not so wonderful. You will be able to glimpse these details once you have all the information at hand and sit down to analyse it carefully to compare it objectively with the rest of the options on the market to buy a POS.
Remember that it is better to take your time and be meticulous in buying a POS terminal that will be useful to you for years, than to rush to buy one that you will have to change in the first year.