10 Questions you need to ask before buying a Point of Sale System

With so many options on the market how do you ensure you are choosing the right provider for your point of sale? The decision is crucial which is why we have composed a guide of everything you must consider before making your choice and the questions you need to be asking.

AirPOS
AirPOS
14 min read

A point of sale system is more than just another piece of hardware in your business, it is integral to making sales, managing stock and tracking your daily data through simple integrations.

Choosing the wrong point of sale system can be an expensive mistake. So we've put together a guide on how not to get stuck with the wrong point of sale system, including the 10 questions you need to ask before choosing a point of sale system.

Questions to ask every POS provider

  1. What support does your company offer? Phone/email/24 hours? What is the cost?
  2. What payment providers do you integrate with?
  3. What integrations do you have? Do the integrations cost extra?
  4. Can I sell online? Do you have an eCommerce integration?
  5. Do you also supply POS hardware? If so, what are the costs?
  6. Can I speak to one of your current customers? Where can I see reviews?
  7. Do you offer an integrated loyalty program?
  8. Do you offer customer accounts?
  9. How long does it take to set up your system and train staff?
  10. What are your contract terms?

For more details and a full explanation for each question click here.

How do you know what you need?

The following guide explains how to choose the right point of sale for your business. Before making any descisons, take an outword look at your company and define what you need. We have put together a list of the questions you should be asking youself when defining what you would like from your point of sale so you can find the perfect solution for your business.

What system do you currently have if any?

Firstly you must consider what system you currently have. Are you replacing your current system, or is this your first experience with an ePOS systems.

If you already have a POS system, why are you wanting to change? Is there any hardware that you can bring across to a new system? Have you had a bad experience with another companies support?

If you have little to no experience, you want to make sure you take time to research different companies and take advantage of free trials. Once you have opened a contract with a point of sale company and input your stock, it can be time consuming to switch so therefore you want to get it right the first time. The following points in this article highlight the key areas you should be looking out for during your search.

Can you use your POS anytime, anywhere?

Although this may not seem like an essential for many brick and mortar stores, having offline capabilities can be incredibly useful for any small business. Many ePOS providers will enable users to make sales and manage inventory offline which means that they can sell anytime.

This will open any business up to a multitude of opportunities such as selling at local markets, at large festivals or even providing coverage if the wifi connection goes down in your store.

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How easy is it to use?

This may seem obvious but when searching for your point of sale system you want to ensure that you and your staff can use the software.

Nothing will irritate your customers more than slow service at check out with staff who are struggling to process sales.

It is all well and good that you understand how to use the system but you staff are those who will be responsible for the day to day running of your businesses.

If you want to be able to take time away from your business knowing that you can rely on your workers to operate the point of sale with ease is important.

By choosing a point of sale that is easy to set up and use you are removing any of the time spent on training which will come at a cost to your business.

Does if offer reports?

Business reports play a vital role in the decision-making process within a company. They provide visibility that will allow you to plan strategically and have a better understanding of your business.

Your point of sale will be one of the most important tools in your business. It will help you process sales and manage your inventory, as well as reporting capabilities.

One of the benefits of choosing an ePOS system over a traditional push-button till is its ability to store data. Therefore you will want to ensure the point of sale system you choose is able to provide you with real-time reports so that you can stay ahead of your competition.

Through easy integrations you can manage your stock levles by tracking your best sellers and manage staff hours by analysing busy periods and productivity.

Different providers will offer different levels of reporting capabilities, however this is a fundemental functionality and one of the most important questions you should be asking.

AirPOS not only offers superior reporting capabilities through its POS but also through the mobile Reports app that enables users to keep tabs on their business anytime anywhere.

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Does your POS care about your customers?

Loyal customers are the most valuable asset to any organisation, choosing a POS with loyalty tools is super important. Some point of sale companies, including AirPOS will offer unique customer management functionalities integrated into your point of sale solution, for example, custom loyalty schemes.

Do you want to be able to give back to your customers? If so you can choose a provider who allows you to build such schemes rather than build this through another company and attempt to run simultaneously to your POS.

Another customer management feature you may want to consider is customer accounts which will allow more flexibility in payments and give you visibility on what your customers are buying. Both tools allow you to increase your business revenue by encouraging customers to spend more with you.

Can your POS integrate with all areas within your business?

Building a business set up that meets your specific needs is crucial, and importantly a system you have confidence in and can easily use.

You may already have ePOS hardware and if so you will want to ensure the new provider you choose integrates with these tools. Also as you grow you will take on more pieces of kit to manage customer demand. Its important that you choose a provider whose POS software will scale as you do.

Integrations are great as they can automate many parts of your business. Part of the beauty of ePOS systems is how they make life simpler for you as a retailer. Epos providers such as AirPOS integrate with accouting software like Xero so that all of your reports and accounts are sycronised making accounting simple.

What level of support is available?

Choosing a point of sale system with quality support is as important as the system itself. You may believe you are choosing a company that makes economical sense however you may not realise the hidden support fees.

Your point of sale will be integral in your businesses sales and therefore you don’t want to be stuck in a situation when the software/hardware is experiencing issues and you can not get through to company support.

At AirPOS we recognise how vital support is for small businesses which is why we offer our support service completely free 7 days a week.

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Can it grow with your business?

No matter the business, growth is the goal. This may be growth in number of locations, number of sales or even the variety of products/services offered. Even if you are a new business you want to ensure you choose a point of sale that will grow with you.

Choose a provider that offers easy to scale options like AirPOS. This way you can add more devices or reduce the number easily as you grow.

What industry are you in?

Every industry is different and therefore requires different functionalities from its POS. Yes, there are some fundamentals such as usability and a speedy check out process but there are some features that will allow you to sell more effectively.

If you are in the hospitality industry you may benefit from table plans or customer accounts in order for customers to pay on a tab. Similarly if in retail you will want to have comprehensive inventory management and custom loyalty packages.

There are many POS providers on the market who will specialise on certain industries if you are in search of a POS with specific functionalities. If you would like to read more about industry-specific ePOS systems check out our guide on our community site.

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Considerations when researching providers

Contracts

When researching different point of sale providers you will come across many companies with very low costs however you must ensure that you read the fine print as there can be hidden fees and long contracts.

Put simply, signing a contract before you’ve given a POS system a real-world trial is like getting married before you’ve had a first date.

There may be savings up front, but the long term costs of getting stuck with the wrong system will be higher. Worse yet, as a business-to-business purchase, you don’t have the same rights of return or refund as you would if it were a business-to-consumer sale. You could be stuck with a lot of useless equipment and system that doesn't work for you.

Price

As mentioned the ePOS market is highly competitive with many different providers all at different price points. Most businesses will have a tiered pricing structure, you will need to consider your needs and then decide what is reasonable for your business.

There are some companies who offer their software at a very low price however there will be hidden costs or strict contacts as mentioned previously. It is crucial to read the fine print before making your final decision and take advantage of any free trial periods.

On the other hand some providers will charge a premium price for their software however this is usually balanced against unique features and attractive interfaces. Although these providers can offer unique industry specific features, you will need to consider whether this is a necessary expense for your business.

Choose a company with a simple and transparent pricing structure and it will save you any headaches in the future.

Hardware Packages

Buying new hardware, like printers, cash-drawers and barcode scanners, can be expensive. A lot of POS providers will offer you discounts on hardware, or leasing options to reduce your capital expenditure cost. But often this hardware is tied to the provider’s software, so if you find you need to switch, you’ll have to pay to replace all of your hardware anyway. Make sure any hardware you’re buying is compatible with any POS software provider.

At AirPOS, we don’t tie you down with hardware, we let you make that choice yourself, and our software integrates with almost all industry standard hardware. Interested in choosing the right hardware for your POS or want to upgrade your system, check out the free [AirPOS hardware package].(/free-point-of-sale-hardware-bundle-airpos/).

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Where is the company based

Although ePOS software can be accessed from multiple locations with the rise of the digital age, where your provider is based could have an impact on your business.

The location of a provider will have an impact on their company support hours, the contracts they offer and the culture of their business. This does not necessarily mean that you must choose a local ePOS company but it is a good idea to find one with the same business hours as you.

Reviews

Reviews are one of the most reliable resources available when searching for an ePOS provider. You will be able to access honest opinions from customers who have first-hand experience with the company.

Many companies will have reviews on their site however it is important to also search externally for unbiased reviews.

To make it simpler Reviews.io and TrustPilot both provide thousands of reviews of all the different ePOS providers. These will act as a one stop location for any companies you were considering.

Online publications

For as many ePOS software providers that there are in the world there are also as many online sites discussing the different options and the benefits of different systems.

Before committing to one company ensure you do thorough research to hear what those within the industry say about the company. Similarly to reviews you can also turn to social media, check out the company’s online presence, whether they are active and also join any communities which talk about this subject for further guidance.

The internet is a never-ending source of guidance and if you take the time to read the articles, or scroll through reviews you will be in a much more informed position to make a decision.

Shedule a free trial/ Book a demo

Before you make your final decision on your ePOS software provider make sure to take advantage of the trial periods offered and book in for a free demo. These services are usually free of cost and will allow you to see how a system can fit into your business and whether it can meet your needs.

Free Demos are crucial before a free trial, lessening the amount of time it will take you to get the hang of a new system enabling you to begin making sales straight away.

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Try AirPOS for Free

Want to work with a company that believes in try before you buy? You’re in the right place, here at AirPOS we believe in allowing you to test our product before you commit to any long term contracts. Even better we have a no-contract policy, we share as much risk in your business as you do, which is why we want you to succeed.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial and test out our software, or book a demo with one of our team so we can explain how AirPOS can work for you.

Questions and Answers

1. Do you offer support and what is the cost?

Most POS providers will offer some level of support, however, you will want to know before entering into a contract whether this is free as part of your monthly plan and what are their office hours. Ideally, you would want to get support free, however, some companies will charge you up to as much as £50 per month. Also worth noting when and how support is actually available, is it 24/7 or is solely 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.

This may not seem that critical when starting however if you have a major issue with your system during trading hours you will want to ensure you can get through immediately to your support team directly, resolving your issue quickly and preventing any impact on sales. The last point to consider regarding support is to find out what type of support is offered.

We’ve all experienced frustrating automated customer service lines and poor online chats. This will become even more frustrating when you have a serious issue with your system and are put on hold. Find out whether your provider will offer you dedicated customer support with a team member.

2. What payment providers do you integrate with?

Firstly you will need to decide who you would like to use for your payments. Obviously, you will need to choose someone who integrates with your POS provider however are you given enough options? Also, are the payment providers compatible with your location and can allow you to take payments in your currency?

3. What integrations do you have? Do the integrations cost extra?

Although most ePOS providers will state on their website what exactly is included as part of your subscription some providers will charge you per integration which you will only discover from speaking with a member of their sales team directly.

It’s important that you ask about loyalty, accounting, ecommerce, payments etc. It’s common that once actually asking these questions your monthly/annual subscription becomes almost double what was initially advertised and you don't want to have entered a contract before discovering this.

4. Can I sell online? Do you have an eCommerce integration?

As with other integrations, you will want to ensure your Point of sale will integrate with your webstore and allow you to sell online. It’s become more prevalent to future proof your business and most point of sale systems will integrate with Shopify, Woo-commerce or even offer their own eCommerce solution.

You may not have a webstore yet but you won’t want to limit yourself in the future by choosing a provider who doesn’t even offer that capability.

5. Do you supply Hardware, if so what are the costs?

It will be clear when doing your research whether a Point of Sale provider offers a hardware solution as part of their offering. However you will want to find out how much you will be charged for your kit and whether you will be locked in.

Being locked into your hardware means that you will not be able to use your hardware with any other system. If you decide down the line that the provider you chose was not suitable, you cannot simply carry your hardware across to any other system.

6. Can I speak to one of your current customers? Where can I see reviews?

Speaking with current customers will be a sure fire way to learn how a system works in an actual business environment. Although you may not want to speak directly with a customer, it is worth asking for a link to their reviews page or whether they have any customer case studies to add to your research.

If scrolling through reviews make sure to make the effort to check out the 1 star reviews also, you may find a common thread/red flag that is a deal breaker for your specific business.

7. Do you offer an integrated loyalty program?

Although you may not currently offer a loyalty program it is an easy way to ensure your customers keep coming back and build a stronger connection with your brand.

When using an ePOS system you will want to ensure that your POS has an integrated loyalty system. This will create a much more streamlined service for your customers and also give you greater access to their data. This not only benefits the customers it also enables you to build tailored offers but also gives you the tools to build remarketing campaigns.

8. Do you offer customer accounts?

Customer accounts are another great way of learning more about your customers. You can see what customers bought and when, total spent and more.

Customer accounts aren't just useful for learning more about customers, but it also allows you to offer them credit on their accounts, which can encourage loyal customers to spend more and pay it back over a period of time, increasing your sales.

As always, make sure to check if it costs more to have customer accounts with your POS provider.

9. How long does it take to set up your system and train staff?

Time is money, you will want to find out how user friendly your EPOS system is. It’s all well and good that you know how to work your system but how easy will it be to train your staff and assure they are comfortable with all the functionalities.

Look for a point of sale provider that is comfortable offering you a free trial so you can test it before buying.

Also find out if there are options for assisted setups, where they will help you upload any inventory to get started.

Lastly ask if there is any training or documentation so you have a way to learn more about the system.

10. Is it a fixed term contract with a minimum period, or do you have a monthly contract with no fixed term?

Companies that offer monthly contracts with no fixed period share the risk with the customer. Generally this means that they believe in their product and how it will work for your business.

Make sure to read the small print when signing up for any POS provider. Some companies offer competitive deals to get you hooked in, but the terms and conditions are for a minimum 3 year period.