Which POS Fits Your Business Best?

Fundamentally and in a nutshell, the very basic concept of POS system technology brings a heightened level of capabilities to the checkout process for many different small businesses. Combining hardware and software options added in over the last decade, the practical options for POS technology have evolved and expanded to include a wide range of functions that streamline many other important operational duties. There has been no other innovation that so clearly brings a new level of ease and accuracy to the most critical components of successful business management. Where for many years the only available POS systems were awkward and complicated to use, new technology creatively delivers to current POS operation not only new and significant options, but to that, add an unprecedented degree of accuracy that business owners can trust. So today’s POS software options allow dependable management of inventory, sales reports and marketing options. And to those functions, add detailed timesheets that make payroll and employee performance details available at the touch of a button. Other software options create customer databases that help to maintain valuable connections with customers and offer marketing options and customer loyalty incentives.

Common Purchase Errors

And so it seems that today’s POS technology offers a panacea for streamlined management of small businesses everywhere. Faced with the various software options that address a myriad of tasks (and are fully customer-customizable,) a business owner might feel a bit overwhelmed when facing the choices that will best apply to their needs. While on average, the mistake that most POS system shoppers tend to make is in buying too little, rather than too much. The advantage is in how POS systems are structured–purchase options include bundling of software, but they also allow for customers to buy individual components as well. So to err on the side of underestimating the number of useable features is the better mistake to make.

Specifics That Matter

What type of business do you operate? The bulk of POS technology currently in use tends to be in either the retail or the hospitality industry. What you get ultimately depends on the exact system you buy. While some POS systems are designed to be highly industry-specific, there are others that offer users a wide realm of options that generally apply to practically any business management. Certainly, the owner of a custom-made jewelry boutique would be wasting money to buy a system that provided for split guest checks, tipping, floor layouts, take-out orders and taking reservations. And the operation of a food truck would be unable to effectively benefit from many of the necessities directly applying to the retail market.

The Size of Your Business

The size of your business should factor in prominently among the considerations for your purchase. Larger companies can spend tens of thousands of dollars on POS technology for their operations. Fortunately, smaller to medium-sized businesses don’t have to put so much on the line, especially now that there is POS technology that is designed specifically to work with iPads and other mobile devices.

Recognize Your Specific Areas of Need

Before you head out to shop for a POS system, make a simple list comprised of every area of your business operations that depend on having easy and quick access to any type of information. And to that, add details about how you handle payroll, if you have employees. Then, consider ways in which you envision future marketing campaigns and customer incentives that you would like to provide. You will likely need cash drawers, receipt printer(s,) barcode scanner(s,) and credit card reader(s.) Other components like workstations and mobile devices are fairly universal requirements.

Some Other Considerations

Newer POS technology that is designed to run on mobile devices is available for much less of an investment than the traditional style of server-based functionality. Many systems include free customer support. Software integration capabilities are important for allowing the system to manage many different areas. Local servers offer more stability for larger businesses, while the innovation of cloud-based technology works very well for middle-sized and smaller companies. How will your business fare, being exclusively dependent on having an Internet connection to work? Dedicated servers require more extensive hardware but cloud-based technology allows you to stay connected to your business from anywhere in the world.

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Is My Store Too Small to Benefit From a POS System?

Any merchant, proprietor, employer who has asked this question, while it may seem to be a good one to ask, should first answer the question “Do you know what you can depend on a POS system to do for you?” It’s difficult to imagine anyone in the wide variety of industries that POS technology currently serves not being able to reap exceeding benefits from a POS system.

Exceptions?

Of course, if there’s anyone in business who can realistically complain of having an inordinate abundance of free time, not having enough work to do, wishing there were more tasks to perform in order to spend more time working and so forth–a POS system may further disappoint. The whole point of POS technology is to bring a whole new level of not only freedom but accuracy to many different types of businesses.

It’s Not About Size

This type of technology offers a real boon to owners of any size of business–from the weekend craftsperson or the event food truck industry to the five star restaurateur and more. And it’s not really a matter of size of business as much as it is one of maintaining impeccable records on inventory and interactions with distributors and customers. If your business endeavors are generating enough of a profit to qualify yours as a viable business, in accordance with IRS guidelines, then you stand to benefit greatly from becoming a POS-supported entrepreneur.

Purchase Options

While simplification of the checkout process is at the heart of POS system technology, there are many other reasons to choose it. And the good news for small business owners is that you don’t have to go out and get a whole big-box system, as a matter of fact, you won’t even need to go with a specific type of bundled system. If you prefer to start out small, there are ways in which you can follow the “add a piece at a time approach. Every single component of a POS system can be purchased separately. This is advantageous too, if anything ever needs replacing, as you won’t have to start completely over from scratch. Just replace the device or unit, and you’re good to go.

Advantages that Count

With POS technology, you get flexibility, in terms of offering your customers payment options, and the cash goes instantly into the bank. Make to-do lists, prioritize tasks, manage customers and send them alerts about promotions and other incentives. POS technology will open up an entirely new window for marketing your wares or services.

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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 of 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 whom 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 can not 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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Maximizing Your POS Without Working Overtime

First of all, at the heart of POS system technological design rests the intent to save users in a variety of business categories both time and money. And while there is no getting around the initial task of entering in all existing data in order to get up and running, it is probably more of a monotonous pursuit rather than a painful one. And once data is entered, that’s it. From that point on, there will be very little required for you to do, as the POS system will cover many roles that were previously assigned to more staff members.

Data Entry = Maximizing

And so, the way to maximize a POS system’s benefits to save time and money can be found in a single, solitary process, and that is by entering information into the system that applies to every aspect of your business operation, to include employee data and customer details. Your POS system can only serve as a success tool to the extent of whatever you give it to do, or in other words, whatever you load into it will become something you can entrust to your POS system to manage from that point forward. The more data you feed it, the less work you will subsequently have to do. A POS system is only as good as you let it be.

Really No Biggie

For many businesses of different sizes the responsibility of entering so much data can seem quite daunting, however there are a few ways around this issue. For starters (and assuming you purchased all the necessary software for each task,) just begin with some basics. Every piece of information becomes a piece you will never have to enter again. From this point, you can perform data entry a chunk at a time, an aspect at a time, a layer at a time–whatever works best with your schedule. Secondly, you can staff up with some extra team members who can responsibly enter and record data and the means by which you collect it.

What Me, Overtime?

If there is any measure of overtime work, as far as switching to POS technology is concerned, it will be found in the process of setup and data entry. But this does not mean that even starting out with POS technology comes with a mandate to work longer hours. While you’ll probably be anxious to get fully up and running with your new system, “easy does it” may apply here, in terms of entry accuracy and being fairly well-rested. So either take it easy, or delegate, delegate delegate.

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Secrets of the POS – What Other Owners Have Learned Along the Way

Like all forms of invention and technology, given enough time in circulation and individual users will eventually come up with a variety of shortcuts, tips and tricks that speed up or simplify standard operation and functionality. What follows are some of the more user-friendly methods that are working for your competitors:

Wireless Startup Protocol

In order to ensure that your wireless POS system performs at a top-notch level, make sure to check to see that every component/device is fully connected and charging through the night (Or at non-operational times for your particular business, whatever they may be.) Make sure any devices that sit in cradles to charge are fully in place in their respective cradle (or charging station.) Look at each handheld unit to check for the battery charging status on the front screen. Charging belt printers will display a green light, once fully charged. Once everything is fully charged and ready to roll, shut down the DD server and then restart it. It’s important that whenever you perform this, nobody else is logged into the system. To perform this, just click start>shutdown>restart in the menu that drops down at the top. The system will then ask you to provide a reason for shutting down, at which point you will select the most applicable option. Next, click OK. What this does is to clear off any previous windows settings before it restarts the hardlock server and terminal services. If the server requires login information, such internal system access should only be made available to team leads or managers.

Common Belt Printer Issues

If your belt printer seems to be malfunctioning or worse, before you call in for support, first try holding down the power button for a few seconds. Your belt printer should display a solid light once it is fully connected to the appropriate access points. If the printer is not connected to the system, refresh the access points. You will need to disconnect all handhelds and alert all staff/potential users. While it only takes about a minute, you don’t want anyone inadvertently interrupting the process.

Make Sure to Effectively Maintain Your System Database

The best way to ensure that your system will run smoothly and therefore provide all users with peak performance, it’s important to conduct monthly database repairs. The first step to this is to shut down all POS stations and handhelds, disengaging them from the system. Next, you shut down DD, by holding down ctrl>alt>delete together to produce the task manager. You will have to select each program, one at a time, and click end task. The codebase server should be the last program you close. Now open the setup program from your desktop. See that the automation manager, codebase server and the hardlock server all start up together. At this point, you will be prompted to enter a username and password. Then, under the utilities menu, you’ll need to select repair all. You will soon see a window that pops up informing you that the operation may take a few minutes. While you may sometimes be in too much of a hurry to perform this task, it’s not one to be ignored, especially if you depend on your POS system at all.

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