Software is the component of POS systems that records, processes and reports transactions. The methods used to perform these functions can vary depending on the type of software you choose. Basic POS software works like an electronic cash register- employees can input the items a customer wishes to order or purchase, total the items, and process and record payment.
More advanced features are available, depending on the needs of your business. For example, POS software can be linked to your merchant services account, for credit card processing and to accounting software such as QuickBooks, which can allow you to easily monitor inventory and sales profits.
The following are important questions to consider when purchasing POS software:
- Was this software designed for my industry, or is it a common choice within my industry? Software programs can have industry-specific functions and complementary hardware, such as pour-tracking caps for alcohol bottles that a bar owner can use to track consumption. Industry-specific software can alert you to helpful features that you may not have been aware of.
- Is the software compatible with the hardware I already have or plan to purchase? Hardware compatibility is key, and will allow you to make the most of your software choice so purchase your hardware first before making a decision
- Can I implement new programs easily? For example, if you want to add a new product to your inventory, will you be able to do this yourself?
- Is the software compatible with my products? Some retail stores sell products packaged by the manufacturer, with a manufacturer barcode. Depending on your business, you might prefer to record the product with the existing code or to add your own.
- Can I accept credit cards using the software? Credit card processing using a POS system eliminates the need for two receipts and makes record keeping easier.
- Can the software link easily to my credit card merchant account? There may be costs associated with switching merchant service providers.
The type of software you choose should be the first decision in purchasing a POS system. From that choice, you should be able to determine which equipment (computers, scanners, etc.) to buy. Remember, this is an important, long-term purchase. Dont pick your system based on a long feature list, but find a system that meets your business needs and is easy for you and your employees to use. The more diligent you are in selecting your software program, the likelier you are to choose the best POS system for your business.