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Steps in Implementing POS Systems

The first step in implementing a POS system is determining that you need one.  Beyond that, how do you proceed in choosing a vendor, deciding on features, or evaluating the needs of your business?

A good place to start is by reviewing the reasons you want to purchase a POS system.  Are you hoping to increase employee efficiency?  Is your goal monitor sales more closely?  Write down a list of all the reasons you think a POS system would help your business.  This should give you a clue as to type of system you might need.

Research the type of vendor that might suit your business.  It is a good idea to consider which qualities are most important to you in choosing a vendor- do you prefer a local company that can provide on-site help on short notice?  Will your employees need training to use the system?  Make sure you choose a vendor you are comfortable with. 

Once you have settled on a provider, it is time to choose the actual system- the software and POS equipment that you will be using.  The vendor will be a big help in this process, helping you evaluate the type of system you need (depending on your industry and the size of your business) and a time frame for installation and setup.  If you are installing large equipment, like computer stations, that require physical changes to your business or construction, take these costs and time frames into consideration.  If the vendor allows you to “demo” or try out the system, do this before you make any physical changes to your work area, if possible.

The vendor should also be able to provide a time frame on how long the system will take to set up.  The vendor will need to order the software and hardware, setup and install both, and program information specific to your business, such as your products, discounts, employee names.  The vendor will need to link any credit card processing functions to your merchant services account. This can take anywhere from a week to a few months, depending on the system.
If you currently have a POS system and are switching to another one, you'll need to choose a good time to make the switch.  Whether you are switching systems or implementing a POS system for the first time, the transition should be as seamless as possible.  Test the system during “down time,” and make sure all employees are trained in using the system before you make the transition.  If you are buying a new POS system because your old one isn't working, make sure to input the inventory correctly.  Don't import all your records over because most likely the data from the old system isn't accurate.  Import your customer list only and start inventory fresh with the  new system.

Once the system is up and running, communicate regularly with your vendor about how it is working.  Are you using the reporting features in the way you anticipated?  Are any components of the system difficult to use, or not working the way you thought they would?  Any malfunctions in the system should be covered by a warranty.  If there are any applicable upgrades, make sure that you understand how to use the new features they provide.  A reputable vendor will be happy to show you new features or suggest different ways the system can be altered to meet your needs.

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