In business nothing happens till a sale is made. Having the right point of sale or POS equipment can make sure that you give yourself the best chance of processing sales quickly so that you can serve more people.
POS Equipment Tech vs Pen and Paper
Before you go out and spend your hard earned money or rack up even more debt from your store expenses take a good look at your business and be objective about what you really need vs. what would be nice to have. The main factors that are going to determine what type of POS equipment will best suit your business needs are going to be; how many customers do you have and what types of products do you sell.
Having loads of customers may not necessarily warrant buying expensive equipment if you have a limited range of inventory. Conversely, businesses with few key customers that buy many different items may need help processing sales faster and keeping up with their stock levels to avoid losing sales and increase efficiency. Your business may grow to need sophisticated point of sale equipment in the future but if you are buying an expensive system where a pen and paper will suffice then you really shouldn’t be too surprised if you are having cash flow problems. Also bear in mind that you will need to train people on how to use the equipment and the more complex it is the longer the training will take and the likelihood of errors will increase.
The following are some of your options for different input devices. You may find that a combination of these work best for different parts of your business
Using a keyboard or more conventional cash register with a keypad is a popular and relatively inexpensive choice for most businesses and models will range in from $100 to $400. The main advantage of the keypad based systems is that they can be set up relatively quickly. These systems mean that you can assign your own codes and corresponding keys to different products quite quickly. This feature is handy if you carry non bar-coded items like fresh foods or things like handicrafts. Essentially you are buying another computer dedicated to your checkout and you can program it to do anything else you want. The more advanced versions will also account for your running stock levels so that you can place orders faster.
The disadvantage is that these systems take up space on your check out desk. Though it may not seem like a big issue this is extra space in a prime location where you can make many last minute and impulse sales and also give the customers more room to place their purchases in front of you which is easier to manage theft. Your system may also need to make room for other items like credit card processing machines so this may be an issue in a smaller space.
The main advantage with the touch screen system is that it is user friendly. This means a lot in business because it will not take long to learn how to use and there is little time wasted in training new and existing employees. The more intuitive the system is for your staff the easier it is for them to sell your products. The touch screen also means that you don’t have to make room for a keyboard and can have more space for your products. The price point will be slightly higher starting from $500 through to $1500 for a fully integrated system that also includes a credit card reader and is able to process payments from mobile devices.
Though these systems are great looking the disadvantage aside from the considerable outlay is that they require a considerable amount of programming that is typically done from another computer so if you have many new items coming in often much time could be spent on inputting these into the system of course the good thing is that if you use many of these terminals then the changes can be made across the whole store at one time making things like weekly specials or promotions much easier to handle.
POS Scanners and Barcode Scanners
Scanners work by quickly identifying the products that your customers present you so you can process the sale quickly. Typically there are hand held and built in versions which will retail from $100 to $500. If you are processing a low volume of customers then the hand held scanner will suffice though the drawback is that you will have to identify where the bar code is on the item. This can be problematic if you are selling large items as you may not be able to reach them easily from the counter and this is also an issue with the more expensive versions that are built in to the counter top. Should the bar code be damaged or unreadable then you can simply input the item number manually.
Hand Held Point of Sale Devices
Typically used in F&B applications a hand held device functions like a mobile register to take orders. These can come in the form of a PDA or a small mobile phone like device where orders are sent from the table to a central printer and cashier. These devices enable your staff to serve more people by spending more time with the customers as opposed to running back and forth with orders. It also minimizes the chance of wrong orders as each menu item is coded. A hand held system will start from $200 for a basic system including the print terminal and can go further than $2000 for multiple terminals and devices for larger premises.
Upgrading Your Point of Sale System
Chances are good that you are not getting or even need a completely new system. You can maximize your sales simply by upgrading what you have either through your software or hardware. Many older systems will not be able to transition to other systems should there be an equipment malfunction so starting with a simple back up is important. If you are looking to save money then there are many retailers who sell second hand point of sale equipment and you can save a lot of money and still pick up a great system that has only been lightly used. Conversely other retailers will offer discounts for complete systems if you are starting out from scratch.
Point of sale equipment like Scanners, Printers, Handheld Devices and Registers can quickly amount to a large business expense. Make sure that you compare your local and online retailers thoroughly once you have determined what your business needs to be successful.