A point of sale (POS) system can revolutionise the way in which a small to medium business operates. It can streamline the day-to-day activities, from stock ordering and inventory to speeding up the payment process for the consumer and delivering a better customer service to clients.
As a management tool it is very versatile, and in a company where the senior management or business owner tends to do everything, it can save them a lot of time, money and effort… providing they do not make the following five common mistakes:
1. Not considering the return on investment
If a company does not consider the right POS system in the same way it would invest in its staff or in new premises or equipment, they will often buy into the cheapest package available. The first question to ask themselves should be, “What do we want this to do for the business now and for the next 3-5 years?” Not, “What is the cheapest option available?”
This is where a strategic business plan fits in with an eye to the future. Mapping out where the company will be and what is required to ensure its smooth operational running will address what functions are needed from a POS system. Most important is having a mobile Point Of Sale system that can adapt to new forms of payments that are under constant development. In this day and age, a system that can deal with payment via contactless cards or mobile devices is a must.
Buying cheaply in this instance is not going to pay off in the long run because it is not cost effective. Being sensible and upfront about what is affordable is important but don’t go for a one off cheap option from the lowest bidder. A POS system has to be robust enough to deal with the heavy usage that the retail and hospitality industry demands. It also has to have the software components that are compatible with the current system in use in the business.
2. Picking the wrong POS provider
It is very important that a business works with a POS system provider who makes time to get to know their needs and requirements. Not doing some research into what is on offer in the marketplace often causes retailers to end up with the wrong system for their business.
This can be easily rectified by asking a couple of pertinent questions, the most important being is the POS provider a reseller of the product or is it their own product? If it is the latter, then there is an understanding that a better quality of support can be provided, and if there are any technical problems, there will be quick access to online help and training. This leads into the third mistake commonly made.
3. Not enough training
A POS system should help to save time and effort so it is important that all staff members are trained in how to use it appropriately at shop floor level. This is going to be much more than just a very high tech cash register; therefore by not factoring in enough training time, you are not making the most of the system.
Frontline staff as well as back office management will need a training session on the POS system. In fact, behind the scenes training will take up more of the time, covering areas such as reporting, ecommerce, barcodes, inventory management and the like, so do not skimp on this. There may also be other training that is required, either online or face-to-face, as the POS system is used across the business so check out what is on offer.
4. Forgetting about data back up
A POS system is a very powerful management tool, and when used properly will be able to provide data that allows analysis of trends in sales and marketing as well as accounting features. When planning for business continuity, a company should allow for disaster recovery if the buildings and contents are destroyed or damaged due to fire, flood, natural disaster, and the like.
Company data stored online should also be treated in the same way. Today the majority of information is held in the cloud and data is backed up automatically, which allows for it to be recovered as and when required. Therefore it is important that your POS system provider also uses cloud-based technology, otherwise they should not be the vendor of choice.
5. Not customising the POS system to the company brand
Finally, remember that branding is incredibly important, and in a highly competitive sector such as retail and hospitality, consumer loyalty is the key to a successful business. Not being able to build a POS system that fits in with a company’s brand is a big mistake.
In the same way that the logo, theme, colour scheme, fixtures and fittings of the business are customised as part of the branding, the same should happen with the POS terminal, the receipt printer and cash drawer. Make sure this fits in with the organisational brand as part of the enhancement of the consumer experience.
About the author
Peter Ling is the director of POS system and App Abacus.co. With 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry and a Masters degree in Business Systems, he makes it a point to keep abreast of all the latest technological developments in the retail and hospitality industries. His background also means that he is uniquely positioned to understand the needs of small business owners and how technology can meet those requirements.