What Type of Support Should I Consider When Buying a POS?

With POS technology being what it is, having a significant volume of support seems like it would be a very important dimension of a consumer’s positive experience in switching over to a POS system or when upgrading their current POS system to do more. And while this is certainly true, the issue of support is not one that runs the same among all the different suppliers of POS systems currently on the market. So how is a smart POS system shopper to be assured that an ample measure of help and support will be available for just as long as it is needed?

Adequate Support Should be Paramount

It would seem like anyone who understands the value of backup support would categorize the varying levels of support that are in place from one company to the next. This would find the shopper ultimately choosing the POS system that brings a level of assurance that often can only come from third party assistance. Oddly, this is not typically a prominent consideration for many people who are looking to make a move to POS technology for their businesses. If you are going to invest so much money, time and effort into making such an important transition, you will need varying degrees of support, and at varying times of installation and use.

First Things First

The best thing to do would be to make the issue of support levels the very first question you ask a salesperson. Then, depending on the answer, you may end up saving yourself a good deal of time. Good support means that help is available to you, 24/7, with the option of remote storage to depend on, in the (very rare) case of something like system failure. There should be adequate training available to you and your staff, too.

Other Support Sources

And of course, there should be ample support available to users of any POS software through the company from which the software is obtained. Then, there are a variety of sites that exist via the Internet to provide support for users of POS systems. Many of these are offered for free, and serve more or less as support forums. There are support subscriptions available from several sources, however especially when you are buying a new POS system, you should never have the need to go outside of your provider for any measure of help and answers to your questions.

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How Easy is a POS to Install and Use?

So it would appear that, if you are now reading this, that you are more than a bit curious about getting on board with the burgeoning POS generation, although you might have a few remaining reservations. One might tend to think that any system so capable of handling such a vast array of operational elements (and for different types of businesses) would more than likely require a good deal of expert smarts in the technology department in order to install it. This is simply a misconception. Every POS system manufacturer will have different instruction requirements and methods of setting the system up. These are always provided in clarity in the system instructions. You will need POS software, a POS server and POS workstation.

Installing the Software

Find the instructions for installing. The software for your POS is on the POS server. The system may take up to an hour or so to configure databases.

Attaching the Workstation

Make sure that all the computers in your system are interconnected, and then connect all your system computers to the Internet, using your chosen server. Attach the POS workstation.

Attach the POS workstation to the server by connecting all system computers to each other and connecting to a local Internet service.

Software Installation

Once all the workstations are effectively connected to the server, the POS software will need to be downloaded to every computer that will become part the system. Refer to the exact instructions for software installation in the POS software that came with your system.

Connecting Devices

While POS systems offer a good deal of varietal options (that will vary depending on the specific needs of your business,) generally most every POS system will require the use of a scanner. And every scanner will require and be dedicated to its own separate workstation. This scanner will be responsible for reading bar codes. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, install hand-held terminal devices with the appropriate cables (included with the system.)

Enter Pertinent Data

Now here’s the most time consuming phase of the entire process. Different database tables will be downloaded for the various areas to which your POS will apply, such as information on inventory, promotions and employees. Again, refer to the accompanying software instructions.

Test Run

Take any item that you have loaded into the system and scan it. The system should then show all related information from the scan, as you have entered it. If this is successful, then you have succeeded in installing your POS system.

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How is POS Different From My Accounting Software?

While it’s not yet the most prevalently discussed element pertaining to POS software, it’s important for all users to understand that every POS system will offer users a different level of accounting, e commerce, business management along with a variety of degrees of integration of it all which will ultimately have a significant effect on the success of your business.

Integrated vs Interfaced

Any worthwhile discussion over POS software options should include the distinction that exists between the terms “integrated” and “interfaced. While these terms are often used as though they are interchangeable, there are real differences between the two types of products that are currently offered. If you are in the market to get onboard the POS revolution, it’s important that you first determine the exact needs of your business. Do you want a POS system that comes with fully integrated accounting that has been built into the software, or do you prefer to work with a QuickBooks and Peachtree.

Know the Subtle Differences

While any distinctions between the two types of accounting approaches are subtle, they exist, nonetheless, and it’s important to differentiate between the two, in order to best match the specific needs of your company’s operation. First of all, in the wide world of software, what’s known as integrated modules rely upon the dame3 data files, while info is updated in real time. Maximum integrity is achieved through the consistent data preservation across all modules. This also prevents wasting time and the possibility of double-entries. Interfaced modules, on the other hand, use software with established protocols that can effectively translate and then transfer data back and forth. Most of these interfaces are designed to communicate with third party programs. The only downside considerations are that an interface requires manual manipulation, and it does not occur in real-time. While this issue is not one that can be easily or expediently addressed, hopefully what you are now reading will inspire you to intensify your investigation to determine the plan that will best suit your needs.

Built-in or Integrated Accounting’s Advantages

Probably one of the most distinct advantages to having an integrated accounting system come from the benefit of immediate updates in real-time. This means all transactions are posted just as soon as they are made. And then, such a system will only require you to learn and use one program. Your POS system will automatically be updated and will support a new version of your accounting software. Another (dreaded but helpful) benefit is that if you ever are the target of an audit from the sales tax authorities, referencing the particulars will be seamless.

Go Deeper than Face Value

Remember that all POS systems work differently; whether interfacing or integrated. Literature that claims “integration” isn’t always necessarily so. And occasionally, information will need to be entered by hand. Make sure you inquire with the POS seller about this.

Avoid Unnecessary Issues

Ultimately, choose a POS accounting software that bears a proven track record among known entities. The last thing you want is problems from pirate-type software.

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Protecting Your POS From Potential Problems

Like any form of technology, whether brand spanking new or in place and fully operational for a period ot time to be considered as safe, there can be the occasional snafu or glitch found occurring in any POS system currently in use. This in no way can diminish the importance of implementing POS technology for today’s businesses, whether retail, food-oriented or service based. And while it would be a bit naive to engage in any new form of technology while expecting full and smooth sailing, the general issues that tend to manifest in the arena of POS technology so far remain as simple and easy fixes. And many, by maintaining a healthy and stealthy lookout, can actually be avoided.

Issues Related to Power Supply

Occasionally other store equipment can spike and/or surge, thereby producing problems ranging from unwanted power supply noises that can damage your system and produce failure. Connect your POS system to a device that provides protection for such occasions. Ask your POS rep if his company carries devices specifically designed for protecting POS hardware. Many of these units will stop high-voltage surges in power and prevent random lightning from damaging the POS terminals, among other issues.

Sudden and Accidental Disconnects

Even well-meaning Employees on an industrious mission to ring up sales or enter orders during peak times, can always inadvertently trip over one of your POS system’s critical power cables. And you know the rest of the story. Suddenly disconnected or unplugged hardware results into system failure, however temporary. Such accidents can produce a chain reaction that is not favorable. Make sure every employee you hire is given a thorough tour of your POS cable system, including all areas where it’s plugged in, thereby reducing the potential for many accidents occurring from plain ignorance.

Uh-oh, the Software Did it!

One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is in trying to pair up their new POS system with the likes of a consumer-grade PC or iPad. While it may seem like adding insult to injury, if you are going to go to the effort of becoming a POS system retailer or business owner, fortify your operational safety by ensuring that you connect only to industrial-grade components that are designed to stand up to the demands of retail use. These fundamentals are the only ones that are adequately configured to work seamlessly in conjunction with POS software. It’s a good move to consult first with the provider of your POS system to gain a full understanding of all associated device interconnectivity requirements. This will help you to select a POS system that will not require the most significant overhaul of your existing equipment.

Select a Single Provider

Finally, it’s a really good idea that you purchase all of your POS hardware and software from a single POS provider. Any reputable company will also provide their clients with substantial support for every step of the way.

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How Your POS Protects You From Theft

One of the most pressing areas of concern for any business owner today who has at least one or more employees is going to be found in the area of theft and theft prevention. Unfortunately, even the most seemingly dedicated and loyal employees cannot be blindly counted on to always do the right thing. And when you really apply some thought to it, any measures you, as an employer take to eliminate any possibilities for your employees to “do the wrong thing” will ultimately result in your employees maintaining a clean slate, in terms of becoming involved in legally punishable misconduct.

Safely Designate the Money-Handling

The innovation of POS technology brings to employers an advanced level of assuredness with regard to preventing employees from absconding with both goods and proceeds, simply by the manner in which it records and stores every possible piece of critical information about the current status of your inventory, as well as offering 100% accuracy, in terms of reporting all important details regarding the exact volume of sales and returns. You can program your POS system to disallow anyone to access the cash drawer or manually manipulate all other forms of payment without the express consent and/or intervention of a supervisor or yourself. So what you’ll have is any opportunities for employee theft being assigned to the responsibility of the manager on duty (MOD,) or you yourself can oversee all such transactions.

Your New And Dependable Information Hub

Conversely, your POS can assign each member of your staff unique credentials (requiring unique log-ins) that will readily identify them and make an instantaneous association with every transaction they have any involvement with, not only on a daily basis, but it records the ongoing history of all such proceedings. Also with POS technology, you can effectively control the level of access that each of your employees have to various segments of operation. It will also effectively help with payroll management, not only in terms of accounting, but also keeping accurate records of employee hours worked.

Sad Statistics on Employee Theft

Reports from the National Restaurant Association (that’s right, the NRA,) cite the percentage of theft (resulting in inventory and cash shortages as well as sales for food establishments) that is perpetrated by employees to comprise at least 75% of the overall business loss. And an astonishing finding is that a whopping ¾ of company employees will steal from the business at least once during their employment, with a significant half of them being chronic stealers, in one form or another. What this ultimately means is that any offset resulting from the purchase of a POS will more than pay for itself, and very quickly.

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How Exactly Does a POS Work?

The current state of technology in which we now find ourselves operating, while in a constant state of flux, demands for anyone who hopes to move forward in business success to keep up with technological advancements, often requiring daily learning, daily unlearning and then relearning. That’s right, it can change on a dime, and the admonition for everyone here who hopes to stay afloat and even be esteemed among industry peers as a chief contender must keep one eye fixed on their day to day business operations, while keeping the other one transfixed on this rapidly progressing technology.

Still New

While still considered to be in the stages of the early years (or toddlerhood?) POS technology is fast becoming the standardized method by which all business transactions are and will be transacted by any viable business hoping to avoid being completely trivialized by the general public. So, the chances are fairly good that, if you are reading this, you are either an utter newbie to the POS concept, or maybe you’ve observed POS in action in enough sectors of daily life that you now realize the importance of investing some time into learning more about it.

Start at the Beginning

POS technology, in and of itself, is actually super easy, that is, once you break it down into the various services any particular POS system will perform for any given company. The hard part, if there is, in fact, a hard part, is going to be found in the volume of energy, time and attention required in the initial setup phase. If you are a big enough company, you can simply pay some designated employees to perform all the necessary data entry, from which point it’s literally going to be smooth sailing.

Oh, What You’ll be Able to Do!

So let’s assume that you have passed the point of data entry, and are now able to access all the functionality of your POS system. What you now have is a system whereby, with the swift scan and soft touch of a button on a lightweight handheld device, you can access every bit of information that could possibly apply to any given product, service, employee or customer. It all depends on how you have programmed it. Whether it’s records, provider details or history, a POS system brings it all together in a most easily accessed way.

Slow and Methodical Efforts Will Pay Off

For startup companies, there’s good news: you can initially enter in a much more limited volume of information, especially when it comes to customers, and then simply place more entries as you go. It’s not such a daunting task, that way. More established businesses will probably find the best way to conduct the data entry will be by adding a chunk at a time. Slow and steady, just like the turtle.

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POS at Conventions

Conventions have become a major source for knowledge and networking for individuals representing a myriad of industries. They represent a small window of time during which a company can present its very best key assets and innovations. With the many advantages of having a presence among the other industry representatives, there comes the challenge to demonstrate a superior product or service. However just as important as the actual product is the manner in which each company conducts their operations utilizing the most intelligent applications that current technology has to offer.

There may be no other opportunity as significant as a convention to publicly display your company’s viability, and given the relatively small amount of time you’ll have to demonstrate it, you’ve got to set your presentation up so that you can capitalize on that opportunity. You want to make sure that all the exposure your company receives from the convention is positive and reflects on your company’s leadership qualities. While every encounter at a convention may not result in an on the spot sale, each one has the potential for becoming the beginning of an ongoing and prosperous relationship with a potential customer.

Without the most aptly-construed format achieved from using the best tools, there is little if any hope of making any kind of winning impression on convention attendees. These days call for smart technology with which you will demonstrate your prowess, and thus show potential customers that your company is cutting-edge.

If a convention is in your future, the iPad POS system is a must-have, and for all types of businesses. Among the numerous benefits to be derived from POS technology for conventions are the following:

  1. Seamless payment options. With cash being a rather rare commodity, and especially when it comes to big ticket items, a POS system offers the benefit of the most popular and secure payment options.
  2. Manage leads. Collect and store important data like email addresses and phone numbers for later use in marketing efforts. Broaden your potential client base and nurture the leads so you can produce devoted customers. Make it simple with the invention of a short script that asks for the info.
  3. Create happy customers. With the large crowds that conventions tend to draw, you stand to lose sales and produce dissatisfied customers by using manual and outdated checkout procedures. With a POS system, you can become a mobile checkout station, moving through any crowd that develops, checking out customers with ease.
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Customizing POS to Fit Your Needs

The level of benefit a POS system can bring to any business relies exclusively upon the range of functionality it provides and how it pertains to the specific industry. Without the fitting apps, every related transaction will ultimately end up absorbing unnecessary time and even money. The whole point of bringing any business into POS technology is, of course, to save time and money. It is, therefore vital that you first dissect the operation aspects of your company, and then, issue by issue, apply POS customization to each area that will work to serve your company’s best interests both expediently and effectively.

Simplify operations

When you have the right POS capabilities, not only do standard operations move much faster, but you (or your employees) will no longer be spending inordinate amounts of time backtracking, or needing to work overtime just in order to catch up with paperwork and other documentation. The right POS apps will provide a way by which your company’s users can both enter and access data right on the spot, and not just leave it somewhere to be gathered at some later unappointed time to be addressed and properly dealt with.

Appearance matters

The POS system you use should, believe it or not, make a good visual presentation to the clientele. It will leave a lasting impression on them, and its appearance will signify, either cognitively or subliminally to them the overall manner in which you regard not only your business, but each individual customer, as well. This is why, in considering the exact ways in which you will choose to customize your particular POS system, you should never lose sight of the effect the way it looks will ultimately have on others.

Specific examples

Customizing your POS system will provide a wealth of specific benefits to you and your customers that you may not even consider up front. These customizations include when and how various sundry processes are transacted, and will allow you to set your specific priorities, conforming to the express needs found within your particular industry. Further customization choices come from the actual dynamics found to be in existence within your specific organization. You can even schedule your business matters such as updates to be performed at non-peak times, You can add apps that help in businesses that tend to experience a higher rate of loss by employee theft, and you can take a much needed vacation without losing an ounce of connection to the ongoing operations while you’re away.

Further customizations

The POS systems currently on the market come in the basic colors of gray, black and white. You can find a small number of suppliers who provide their customers with the option of purchasing a custom colored shell which goes over the hardware and will match your company’s theme colors. Some of the vendors are able to set your printers to print your store’s logo right on the system’s lock screen.

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How to Buy a POS System at an Affordable Price

Making the decision to switch the standard mode of operations for your business from the traditional methods to the new POS system technology may at first seem to be a dauntingly awesome challenge, however we will all someday soon begin to find that any business owners and operators who do not make the change are sadly going to be left, bottoms-up and languishing in the dust of progress.

After establishing the dire necessity for any company with a sustainable future in mind to migrate to operating from a POS system, next comes the issue that may be causing some smaller businesses to hesitate or drag their feet: the question pertaining to justifying the cost of startup, in terms of how the addition of a POS system will be able to benefit the company’s bottom line. In other words, there needs to be some more information on how to get a POS system up and running for the smaller business without it being an unreasonable expense.

While POS system technology’s widespread use is relatively new to the manner in which standard business operations are transacted, it is quickly becoming recognized by the public as the expected standard mode of operating by the most “current”or “with it” purveyors. This will eventually create a chasm between the recognizability of those businesses that choose to remain in the dark ages with the old technology and those that make the switch to POS systems.

If you find yourself among the business owners who tell others they are “just waiting to see where all the POS technology goes,” which in reality is a cover up to mask your hesitancy stemming from worries about financial practicality, there’s hope. With a little bit of planning that includes determining how your company currently operates, and your vision of where you hope your company will grow in the long term.

The truth is, you do not need to spend $5,000 $6,000, $7,000 and upwards to get a great POS system that will do everything you need it to do and more. In fact, anyone with a basic level of understanding Windows technology can do it, a piece at a time. Not every business must have a large, stand-alone system. Assembling a point of sale system is actually more doable than you may be imagining, and by doing it yourself, you will definitely save big.

To break it down for starters, a POS system is just a Windows computer with some fairly basic devices that are connected to it: a slip printer, a bar code scanner and a cash drawer, which are all connected to a regular, everyday standard Windows PC. And there’s no magical mystery in the way you interconnect all these components. They connect in the same manner as any other basic PC devices. So, to begin with, a basic system is comprised of the following components:

  • One basic Windows computer which will cost somewhere between $500 to $800.
  • One receipt printer. You can find the more popular models between $200 to $300, however if you will only be needing to print invoices and statements, you will be able to use a standard printer.
  • A good inkjet or laser printer can be found for $100 to around $150.00, which you will use for printing invoices, statements, reports, price tags, barcode labels and any other incidentals.
  • A cash drawer (needs to be automatic,) for between $100 and $150.
  • A barcode scanner, which will run around $100 for a basic device, and around $200 for a laser scanner. Simply connect it to a USB port, with nothing else required.
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How Many Apple Products Should my POS Synch to?

Every business owner can benefit from the streamlining capabilities that bring new efficiency to management and the growth of sales that no other system has come close to delivering in the way that POS systems do. By implementing the right applications, your POS system will work effectively for your business’ success, with many more mobile options available to you through your iPhone or other devices.

There are so many options for apps that can be added to your iPad POS system, that may leave you scratching your head and wondering just how many you should actually choose to add. The best gauge to use in answering this question is that you should add as many apps as you really need (and will use,) but the number will not be able to exceed the amount that your system can actually handle. There are a few fundamental applications that practically everyone will want to sync to their iPad and their iPhone.

In determining the answer to this question in the most beneficial way, understand that the number of Apple products to which you sync to your iPad POS system will ultimately depend upon the exact type of tools and information processing that businesses in your particular industry need, in order to function their best. Exercising caution not to overload your system with apps it just can’t handle, you should download just as many as you truly need. Then sync them to your smartphone or computer, so that you will be able to manage all the information, from any place, whether you are on the scene or off remotely. With the advent of such brilliant technology, smooth running of all types of businesses requires a much simpler form of manual effort and time, whether for people in management or business owners themselves.

In determining the volume or number of apps to sync up with, it is really of the most logical issue to first determine some fundamental apps that you really could not be without. From there, the others and their particular level of usefulness should more or less evolve from any forthcoming issues that arrive.

The POS application

With any iPad POS system you are going to use, there needs to be an app that you can use to manage the overall system. Sync the app to your computer and/or your iPhone so you will be able to view data as it is updated in real time from your POS system on your other devices. Managing your business remotely from any location will become a breeze.

For retailers

There are many apps designed to work for efficient retail management that can add benefit to your POS system experience. Lightspeed, for one, allows users to instantly view information such as inventory status, product description and info on price fluctuations. Syncing with this type of app allows you to manage more of your overall operations, and all at the same place.

Quickbooks

Be assured that the basic POS system technology offers users several different features that are essential and helpful in business financial management. You get inventory management and sales tracking, however by adding an app like QuickBooks, you will thereby increase your level of control with respect to areas like adding taxes and interest, payroll and employee salary management and many other important routine operations.

Again, start using your POS system with the basics and the apps that you already know you will need and use, and if possible, take a little time to make a qualified assessment of other apps that will actually bring a higher level of productivity to your business operations.

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