For those of us who grew up with family members in retail, early memories of the excitement of cashing up can bring up so much nostalgia, you consider giving Doc from Back to the Future a call.
Some of us even had toy cash registers where we’d spend hours pretending to process payments and sales. Back in the day, the concept of retail was relatively simple. People would walk in, decide what they want and pay for it. There would usually be a receipt (often handwritten on a Croxley book), the sound of tearing paper and “ka-ching” as your eyes lit up in excitement.
Suffice to say, times have evolved, and with this evolution comes many developments in the way business transactions are conducted. A Point of Sale (or POS) system is now a fundamental aspect of successful retail – often one of the first elements installed in a new outlet. However, choosing the perfect POS system for your business can be tricky, which is why we’re here to talk you through it.
First off, what is a POS System?
At its core, an effective Point of Sale is your platform for processing sales, returns and stock control. Remember that old man with a calculator at the register (or abacus, if you’re old enough)? This is the computer version of him without the double checking and chin scratches.
The right software can offer so much more than just sales. What used to be a painful, time-consuming and effort intensive process can now be processed in seconds, meaning your business can focus on the things that matter and leave the nitty-gritty to the machines.
You can essentially break down the important components into three segments: Software, Hardware and Payments.
Running a business is about far more than sales. You also need to factor in returns, exchanges, stock control and inventory. Gone are the days of remembering everything mentally or keeping tabs in a little black book. Human error always leaves room for just that, which is why modern POS systems have become a fundamental aspect of the modern business.
Effective POS Software is essentially Star Command. Technology has become so advanced that you can accurately monitor stock and process all incoming/outgoing transactions. Should you fork out for the more expensive bad boys, you can also unpack tools like reporting, week-on-week growth, busy periods and item ranking in terms of popularity. Some even notify you when a certain item needs to be replenished, but it all depends on how advanced you’d like your technology to be.
The hardware element is more open-and-shut, as what you see is generally what you get. If installing a new POS system, you need to ensure that there’s functionality for card payments and transactions (let’s face it, not everyone carries cash these days). You may even need to cater for “tap and go” payments as well.
We’ve also seen our fair share of systems that begin and end at “insert card into this little machine”. Now, that may function perfectly fine for your small to medium enterprise, but some retailers and their clientelle have more advanced needs. Consider whether or not your customers would need receipts and printing, bar codes or the good ol’ fashioned “ka-ching” cash deposit drawer.
Transactions these days are no longer as simple as R100 and change. Your POS needs to be registered with your bank account to ensure that card payments are routed accordingly. Otherwise, what’s the point of all that swiping and fancy “insert card” machines?
Without a good programme, it can be next to impossible to accurately measure your quantifiable data. Human beings aren’t computers, after all (or else we wouldn’t have invented them). Once you reach a certain scale, this Data becomes even harder to regulate, and it would take a very brave soul to attempt to do so without the appropriate technology.
With a world full of resources at your disposal, it just makes sense to invest in a simplifiable solution.
Next, what do I need to look for?
Well, there’s no blanket solution, as different retailers have vastly different needs. For example, the transactions within a high-end fashion boutique will differ from those of, say, your local chip shop.
As an SME, you need to consider a variety of factors before making your decision. These include:
- Value for money.
- Maintenance and potential upkeep.
- Security and reliability.
Ultimately, this will define all incoming transactions and stock control going forward, so think twice before choosing the cheapest option. It may be more worth it to pay a little extra and make that money back than to save a little and damage your brand.
Other factors to consider (before diving in head-first):
You need to weigh up your options and assess which solution best suits your business needs. Take into account the initial cost of starting up, as well as the time involved. Factor in the monthly expenditure and initial equipment outlay, the commission on payment processing and any other potential maintenance related expenses.
Look at maximising your return with the most features available for your money. Most of all, however, don’t look at this as another expense hanging over your head. Rather, see it for what it is – an opportunity to divert attention away from the things that demand it most and focus on growing your brand.
But what’s the solution?
Of course, we at Braintree specialise in feasible, real-world service offerings that exceed expectations and meet modern business needs. With all our talk about the importance of POS systems, we’d be silly not to offer you something that’s just right. LS Retail by Braintree is, to us, the ideal, the benchmark, the everything in between. Customisable to your needs and packed with essential retail functionality, from inventory management to promotions, mobility, reporting and accounts, LS One is a quick setup and contains everything you need to thrive.