museums&MORE Winter 2015
A Point of Interest

In years past, point-of-sale (P.O.S.) systems have been expensive and time consuming to manage — forcing retailers to neglect them and, as a result, neglect the opportunity for stronger store success, as well. Fortunately, modern technology has eliminated both the high cost and excessive time commitments of P.O.S. systems and instead has introduced affordable and efficient P.O.S. options for retailers of all sizes to benefit from.

The right point of sale must address one key challenge facing retailers … organization,” said Brad Malmberg of LightSpeed POS. “Above all, consolidating the basic processes of inventory control saves time and is essential for success. Purchasing, stock tracking, costing and reporting can all be done effectively with the right P.O.S. system, allowing proper flow of product for retailers. This should be the first and most important consideration for a retail business to thrive.”

To help navigate the competitive P.O.S. market, you should consider the needs of your unique specialty shop store, as well as the end results you are looking to gain. The time invested in making sure you analyze your options will be time gained once your P.O.S. system is up and running. Things you will want to consider during this process are identified below.

Hardware & Aesthetics

Beyond the actual software of a P.O.S. system, you should consider what hardware and accessories to support your P.O.S. system that is both desired and needed. For example, are you looking to minimize the space needed to introduce a P.O.S. system to your checkout area? An iPad-based P.O.S. system may be the right choice for you versus a heavy, more traditional computer based program. Possibly, however, you want to be able to move your checkout device — whatever it may be — from one spot to another, or even beyond your store walls.

Fortunately, many P.O.S. options are cloud based and easy to get if this is what you are looking for. iPad P.O.S. options, such as ShopKeep.com or LighSpeedPOS.com, are both lightweight and easy to incorporate into any store space, while other options, such as Square, can be even lighter and smaller in space when used on an iPhone. Consider what makes sense for your store and your employees, and don’t forget to identify all the options each P.O.S. provider offers.

Remember, the end goal is to make your life easier and your store productively more effective, so inventory tracking and store reporting should always remain top of mind. The aesthetics of the hardware don’t need to be lost in these details, though. Many P.O.S. providers offer sleek designs and counter worthy options in their hardware devices to help add appeal to your store décor, as well.

Customer Care & Support

Too often merchants dread introducing a P.O.S. to their store because they fear they don’t “have time” to get it set up. While time is needed to get things going, a P.O.S. system worth having is also worth taking the time to set up. Having trusted customer care along the way certainly helps with this, so be sure to identify what customer care (remember, you’re the customer here) is provided by the P.O.S. providers you are researching.

Do they offer automated support that is online only? Can you talk to a real, live human being if you have a question? Are their hours limited or do they offer weekend hours or more non-traditional hours, as well? These are details you should look into now to avoid frustration later should you need this type of care.

Another thing to consider is how your employees will be trained on your new P.O.S. provider. If your employees do not know how to use your P.O.S. and get frustrated, it does nothing to help your business. Keeping customer care on your priority list may not seem like a priority now, but may be the best benefit to your P.O.S. package later.

Accessing & Managing Data

Nowadays, people work from their phones both onsite and away from their stores. Having the ability to do this could change how you manage your store and manage your time, so think ahead if this is something you want. Traditional P.O.S. systems require reports to be run and aren’t always accessible when you are at home, traveling or anywhere other than your store. Many modern P.O.S. systems, such as OneStepRetail.com, ShopKeep.com and LightSpeedPOS.com, allow you to access data anywhere, anytime. Plus, you want to also consider how a P.O.S. system can help manage the data you receive — a must in today’s competitive marketplace.

“Today’s economic reality requires retailers to remain nimble and light in regards to their inventory levels; cash tied up in stale stock can quickly become an overwhelming problem,” said Malmberg of LightSpeed POS. “A consolidated system connects each piece of a store so that data is fresh and, more importantly, reliable. Automated warnings when popular items are low is, in itself, a critical way to make sure one has the right product mix at all times.”

The Fine Print

While all the bells and whistles of any product are fun to learn about if they end up making your life easier and your store more efficient, it ultimately comes down to numbers. Make sure you read the “fine” print that a P.O.S. provider has both online and in any contracts they may send your way. The extra details that P.O.S. systems offer you can sometimes add up, and it’s these “sometimes” you may want to avoid. Know exactly what fees are entailed in advance to avoid a headache later. This may include hardware costs, service calls, warranty upsells and P.O.S. upgrades.

Additionally, some P.O.S. providers may charge you subscription costs by forcing you to use a certain credit card processor. Transparent and no-nonsense pricing is key.

And, finally, for those of you who may need to change your P.O.S. systems from one to another to take full advantage of better performing options now available, consider this: “Changing point-of-sale systems is not a small task, but it doesn’t need to be painful,” Malmberg said.

“When considering a new point of sale, you should expect that there will be changes to your process, however you should embrace this. By keeping the ‘big picture’ in mind, you can select a P.O.S. that equips your store for vigorous growth, fits within your budget and gives you an opportunity to look at your store with fresh eyes and offer new ways to connect with customers.”

By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, special to Museums & More

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Author of “”Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business”” from McGraw-Hill and writes a regular column on Forbes.com. Additionally, Reyhle is the Founder of Retail Minded and the cofounder of the Independent Retailer Conference. Follow Reyhle on Twitter at @RetailMinded.com.





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