In the old days, point of sale equipment (or POS as it's often called) was simply a cash register.
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Today, point of sale systems are incredibly sophisticated, with self checkout kiosks, radio frequency identification (RFID) readers, biometric scanners, mobile POS and other cutting-edge technologies leading the way towards a whole new way of doing business.
What is POS? In essence, point of sale equipment comprises three key elements.
There's payment processing technology that accepts payment in a variety of formats: credit cards, smart cards, debit cards, electronic checks, check guarantee services and electronic benefit transfer cards offered by state and federal agencies.
There's software that takes the POS data and uses it to help you with merchandising, forecasting, accounting and inventory control.
Finally, there's product scanning technology that makes pricing and price checking a cinch.
So the key question is how to choose point of sale equipment that's right for you. The answer is fairly intuitive. If point of sale equipment saves a retailer time and money, it's doing its job. If it has an adverse effect on your business, you've got the wrong point of sale solution. For example, if the system is slow and would-be customers are walking away, rather than purchasing, you've got a serious problem.
Here are some helpful tips for choosing point of sale equipment:
- Visit Other Stores. It makes sense to see POS systems in action at other stores before you start the process. You may see a POS solution that you love, and then it's just a matter of making sure that you talk to that particular vendor. If the retailer you visit is not competing with you, they may be more than happy to tell you the pros and cons of their point of sale equipment.
- Try Before You Buy. The key to selecting point of sale equipment is to use the point of sale solution before you buy. For example, if your credit card system requires manual key-in processes, you'll see soon enough that it's not very efficient and maybe you need to move to swipe technology.
- Security Matters. Some point of sale equipment is less prone to fraud. For example, swipe technology is more secure than key-in processes. As a result, your credit card processing company may give you lower rates if you use newer technology.
- Consider Your Time to Cash. If you purchase something at Walgreens and use a credit or debit card, they somehow manage to get your money in their bank account before you leave the checkout area. That rapid "time to cash" is a huge benefit. If you are waiting two days to get your cash, that means somebody else is earning interest on your money.
- Talk to Many Vendors. Contact multiple POS manufacturers -- such as NCR, Epson, Logic Controls, Symbol, Metrologic, Zebra, POSitive and NWNS -- to hear what they've got to offer. It doesn't cost you a thing to hear their pitch and you will learn a ton in the process. It's also a good idea to talk to consultants who specialize in point of sale equipment.
- Consider Used Point of Sale Equipment. There's a ton of great used point of sale equipment out on the market. You can save as much as 50% on your costs if you buy used POS equipment instead of new.
In the end, POS is all about increasing sales and delivering great customer service. Follow our advice on point of sale equipment and you'll soon be processing sales quickly, safely and profitably.