How To Choose The Best POS System

Most brick-and-mortar businesses use point of sale (POS) systems to help them securely accept in-person payments – particularly those made with credit or debit cards. However, modern POS solutions can do a lot more than process payments. When set up correctly, they can manage your entire operations – including employee payroll, shift scheduling, and customer relationship management. 

Although not required for payment acceptance, these additional features can help businesses streamline their operations by saving valuable time. Using the right POS solution to power your small business can also help you grow as you generate more sales (at a lower cost).

Every business is unique, meaning there is no universal feature set. That said, if your goal is to select the best POS system for your needs, below are some of the most important factors to consider.

1. Data security

Because POS systems handle payments, they are attractive targets for criminals and thieves. This is why all for-profit and nonprofit organizations that accept, store, and transmit card information of any kind are required to satisfy the data security guidelines created by the Payment Card Industry (PCI).

However, PCI compliance represents the minimum in fraud prevention. Expand your search to include POS solutions that also feature advanced fraud management tools, such as:

  • EMV and near field communication (NFC) capabilities – both of which are more secure than traditional magstripe credit card acceptance
  • Point-to-point encryption (P2PE) to make payment card data indecipherable to potential hackers when sent over unsecured Wi-Fi or cellular networks
  • Credit card tokenization in which account numbers, expiration dates, and CVV codes are substituted with one-time tokens that can’t be reverse-engineered

2. Universal payment acceptance

Nearly all POS systems are designed for traditional credit and debit card acceptance – complete with slots for swiping a user’s plastic at the point of sale. However, newer POS solutions now come with in-built NFC and EMV support, which allows customers to dip or wave their cards across the POS terminal when making in-person purchases. As already mentioned, both newer payment technologies are more secure than their magstripe counterparts.

Yet modern POS systems aren’t limited to card acceptance. 

There are now solutions on the market that can securely process cash, checks, and even electronic payments sent across the ACH network. The more payment types your POS system can accept, the fewer in-person sales you’ll have to decline. 

3. Omni-channel payment acceptance

POS systems come in all shapes and sizes, allowing you to choose whichever design is most appropriate for your payment needs. Most businesses have historically relied on desktop POS systems that sit at the checkout counter. These terminals have steadily grown smaller over the years, with many businesses now using ultra-compact desktop solutions that consume little countertop real estate.

In addition, there are handheld POS solutions designed for mobility. They were already growing popular before the COVID-19 pandemic. Though with lockdown restrictions in place, many businesses turned to these portable solutions to help them process payments at the curb or on off-site deliveries. With the right attachments, it’s even possible to turn existing smartphones into mobile POS readers.

However, there’s one more potential “point of sale” that you should factor into your POS system selection. 

If any aspect of your business involves eCommerce, it’s important your POS solution can integrate these online sales into your larger payment environment. Otherwise, you’ll have two silos to manage – i.e., one for in-person sales and another for virtual.

This is something to consider even if 100% of your sales currently happen in-store. You might be a brick-and-mortar business today, but what happens if you decide to add an eCommerce portal at some point in the future? Will the POS solution you choose be able to support this expansion?

4. Payment integration

Many newer POS solutions can help automate time-consuming tasks such as employee payroll, shift scheduling, or inventory management. Sometimes this support is native – already incorporated into the POS software. Other times, you may need to download third-party apps.

Either way, this integration eliminates the need to manually capture incoming sales, payroll, or inventory data. Instead, this information is automatically logged and reported. Since the individual components within the POS system can speak with one another, changes made in one area are instantly reflected everywhere else in your business.

Not only does payment integration save time, but it also reduces human error since machines are doing more of the heavy lifting. The result is more accurate record-keeping, which makes tax prep or strategic planning much easier.

5. Reporting and analytics

Do you often find yourself combing through spreadsheets and financial statements to assess your business’s performance? If so, you should add reporting capabilities to your list of POS system criteria. Doing so allows you to generate detailed charts, graphs, and other custom reports to help you quickly identify important metrics such as:

  • The best- and worst-selling products in your inventory
  • Historical sales data – segmented by payment type or channel
  • The best- and worst-performing sales members on the team
  • The busiest and slowest hours, days, or weeks for your business

All this information is likely already in your spreadsheets, but reporting and analytics can provide you with instant snapshots of your business’s financial health. You can then use these insights to make better informed decisions about challenges and opportunities on the horizon.

6. Anytime/anywhere access

Another increasingly popular feature in many POS solutions is the ability to access one’s sales and performance data from anywhere in the world. This is made possible with cloud-based solutions that can display these types of metrics from web-based dashboards or dedicated smartphone apps. As a result, you can track (and manage) your business from the comfort of home or while on vacation.

There’s one final tip when searching for POS solutions: Instead of choosing the technology first and finding a provider that supports it, you may be better finding a payment provider that offers the type of POS system you need. Keeping everything under one roof makes it easier to troubleshoot problems if they arise. Instead of contacting several customer service hotlines, you only need to make one call to have your issue resolved.

Author bio: Mihir Korke is Head of Acquisition at Clover Network, a leader in small business credit card processing and POS systems. Clover specializes in restaurant, retail, and personal and professional service payment solutions. With desktop and mobile POS systems, contactless payments, solutions for curbside pickup and online ordering, loyalty and rewards, Clover has multiple solutions to meet your business’s needs.

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