A pivotal component in any business, a point-of-sale (POS) system can help a company run smoother, improve customer experience, and save time and money. That’s why the task of selecting the right POS shouldn’t be taken lightly.

You need to invest the necessary resources in the process, and as much as possible, you want to get your choice right the first time, because going through the selection procedure all over again will cost you a ton of money and eat up time better spent improving your products or serving customers.

So how exactly can you ensure that you’ll zero in on the perfect POS without wasting precious company resources? You can start by avoiding these 10 costly mistakes:

Mistake #1: Jumping into the search without determining your needs first

Being clear on the features and functionality that you need in a POS will speed up and narrow your search. A list of needs and non-needs will help you decide where to look and will enable you to immediately determine the POS systems that aren’t right for you.

On the other hand, failing to do so can cause confusion and overwhelm in your search. POS systems will present you with lots of shiny tools or functions, so if you don’t have a solid idea of what you need and don’t need, you could prolong the process by considering products that aren’t right for your business.Even worse, if you jump into a POS system without determining your needs first, you could end up paying for incompatible or unnecessary features.

Mistake #2: Not setting a budget

Similar to not being clear about your business needs, not knowing how much you should spend can also prolong your search and leave you wasting time looking at POS systems that are too expensive for your company. By not setting a budget, you could find yourself in way over your head with a POS system that you can’t afford.

Note that creating a budget goes beyond the initial cost of the POS. Be sure to factor in maintenance costs, transaction fees, and other values that come with the territory. Not creating a detailed budget could result to overspending and you could get stuck with a POS system that’s too expensive to set up or maintain.

Mistake #3: Failing to check for compatibility

Purchasing a POS system without first checking if it’s compatible with your existing hardware or software could spell disaster. You could end up purchasing a whole new set of equipment and programs or replacing the POS altogether—neither of which is cheap or convenient.

Mistake #4: Not thinking in terms of scale (Business-wise and POS-wise)

While it’s important to stay in the now and think about what your business needs at its current state, don’t forget to look into the future as well. If you’re thinking about expanding, adding more products, or taking on additional customers, be sure to select a POS system that can keep up with your plans.

Skipping this step can leave you with a POS that’s too small or inflexible for your business. And if you grow out of it, you’re going to spend resources either upgrading it or purchasing a new one altogether. Save yourself the costs and effort by making sure early on that your POS can scale with your business.

Mistake #5: Opting for a one-size-fits all solution

You’ll likely be better off choosing a POS vendor that either has a lot of experience with similar companies or is specifically made for your type of business. If you select a POS system that’s too general, you could end up with features that you don’t need or tools that don’t jive well with your company.

It’s also easier to seek help from a vendor that has experience with companies similar to yours because you know that they will better understand your concerns compared to a generalist.

Mistake #6: Overlooking important features

It’s worth repeating that determining your needs is extremely important. You have to write those requirements down and prioritize them so you can get a solid grasp of the features that your POS system should have.

Validate the need for those features and make sure that you really need them (and not just think that you need them). Also note that what’s important in your company may not be very significant for other types of businesses.

If you don’t have a distinct notion of the features that your business requires, you could wind up purchasing a POS system that doesn’t have the features that you need, is filled with unnecessary functions, or both.

Mistake #7: Basing your decision solely on price

It’s a bit ironic, but selecting the cheapest POS system can actually cost you more in the long run. Bear in mind that while the cost of a POS system is certainly important, it’s not the only factor that you should consider. Features, compatibility, and customer service are just some of the other factors that you should never overlook.

If you choose a cheap but low-quality POS system, you could be inviting a whole range of costs—and headaches—into your business. You could find yourself missing important features, battling with cumbersome tools, or failing to get a hold of decent customer service reps.

Of course, this isn’t to say that inexpensive automatically equates to low quality. If you happen to find a free POS system that has all the features you need, offers amazing customer support, and has glowing reviews, then you should probably consider it. But if you’re choosing a company based on price alone, then you’re most likely looking at rough experience.

Mistake #8: Diving head first without prior testing

A POS solution may look great on paper, but you can never grasp the big picture unless you take it for a test drive. Fortunately, most POS vendors offer free trials or test accounts. Take advantage of these opportunities.

Do not, under circumstances, get into a contract or purchase a POS system without seeing firsthand how it works—unless of course you want to end up stuck with a system that isn’t right for your business.

Mistake #9: Skipping the reference check

Don’t just select a POS system based on what’s on its website or brochure. Go a step further by asking for references. Get a hold of real clients and ask them how the POS system is working out for them.

If you don’t take this step, you could miss out on valuable insights and comments from real customers. The company’s marketing collateral and what its sales reps are saying can only take you so far. You need to seek feedback from actual clients to really know if a POS vendor is right for you.

Mistake #10: Focusing solely on the technical features

There’s more to a POS system than the features and functions that it offers. Other matters, such as customer service, thought leadership, and number of years in business are equally important, because they serve as indicators of how competent and passionate a POS vendor is.

For instance, thought leadership efforts demonstrate that a POS vendor cares about educating people in the industry, while excellent customer service would mean that you’ll be able to solve issues with ease and efficiency.

If you overlook these factors and focus solely on technical matters, then you could land with a POS vendor that doesn’t care about serving you better or helping you grow.

The best way to avoid these mistakes

The mistakes outlined above can cost you a great deal of time and money. Fortunately though, they can be avoided by being mindful of your actions and not rushing the POS-selection process. Remember, the resources that you invest now will pay off once you’ve selected the perfect POS vendor, so put in the necessary time and energy to do it right.

Author: Francois Bondiguel is from Vend, a point-of-sale, inventory, and customer loyalty software that helps over 8,000 retailers manage and grow their business. Connect with Vend on Google+ and LinkedIn.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. There are solutions already out there that cover most of these scenarios, including the ‘try it first’ approach. You don’t even have to invest in machinery as most of the small business owners already own tablets. One of these apps is TabTill which we have been using for a while. In fact most of the shops in our mall use it too. Although, it runs on windows 8, these tablets (our is Acer Iconia W3) can be bought for $300 nowadays.

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