The ability to evaluate employee performance, improve the customer experience at checkout, and manage your inventory is beneficial for businesses of all sizes, but do you really need all of this functionality? Before diving head first into a POS solution, you should consider several factors.
If you're new to the idea of managing your business with a POS system, you can be overwhelmed by the breadth of options. You may think you'll never need some of the available functionality; however, it's important to keep scalability in mind. You should select a POS solution that can grow with your business and still meet your needs -- with perhaps some form of upgrades -- in 3, 4, or 5 years.
Note: Select a POS solution based on a 5-year lifecycle. When you're weighing functionality, consider your business needs today as well as your needs in a few years.
Whether you're new to a POS solution or upgrading your existing system, two solutions are commonplace:
If you're looking to replace or upgrade an existing point of sale system, you're already aware of how quickly you can outgrow a POS solution. Focus on building a POS system that meets your expanded requirements. You might need to customize your options specific to your business.
When you're a small business just starting out, it may seem easier to opt for a more familiar solution. You're already comfortable with PCs, so just adding POS software to a PC seems cost-effective and reasonable. On the other hand, a proprietary POS solution seems more retail oriented.
Pricing, interoperability, and your specific retail needs should be your top considerations. There are pros and cons for both types of POS systems, as described in the following sections.
A desktop PC solution has a relatively low price compared to a proprietary POS system, especially if you opt for customizations. You might even already have a PC capable of running the necessary software. Long-term costs for support and maintenance are usually minimal with PCs, whereas a proprietary POS solution requires a maintenance contract with the vendor.
Because it's a PC, it readily integrates with any back office systems you already have -- a proprietary POS solution might require costly modifications and interfaces to work with your back office system. A PC can run multimedia and browser-supported applications; most proprietary POS solutions don't offer this built-in functionality. A PC might not be compatible with any existing retail components or able to adapt to future retail-oriented peripherals. On the other hand, POS systems have multiple serial and USB (universal serial bus) ports for connectivity.
Proprietary POS solutions are designed to hold up to the strains of a retail setting. PCs are not built to withstand the heavy-duty retail environment over the long term. PC makers suggest a 3-year life cycle, whereas POS solutions support longer installations aimed at 5-year replacement cycles.
POS solutions with a five year lifecycle dramatically extend your budget and provide greater value, providing greater functionality over more sales. Long rollouts make deployments simpler, and greater lifecycles promote business growth.