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Point of Sale Systems. Design & Features

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POS (Point-of-Sale) system is a complete set of equipment for the automation of trade operations. In simple words, it’s a computer with a check printer (or fiscal recorder), bank terminal for non-cash payments, keyboard, customer display, cash drawer, cashier’s display, and barcode scanner connected all together. 

All the devices are designed and integrated with each other in the most convenient way to provide maximum comfort for the seller and prompt customer service. Often, complex solutions are used where productivity and speed of the cashpoint are essential – in trading enterprises with high capacity, supermarkets, restaurants, canteens, serving providers, etc. There are also budget models for microbusiness (mini-markets at home, boutiques, and shopping mall pavilions).

POS System Functions

Store management and payment process are two functions that generalize all the tasks you can expect from a POS system. In other words, efficient point-of-sale software should help you optimize all your operations in the store.

Today’s commercial environment has a wide range of solutions for brick-and-mortar stores, most of which are essentially multidimensional sales systems. Therefore, although the numerous options are causing increased competition between suppliers, the choosing process can still be quite difficult.

Fortunately, you have found this guide to learn about the point of sale system design features and parameters! I have carefully analyzed a wide range of POS system software solutions so that you can clearly identify the most important factors to create a POS user interface with high-quality design. This article will help you understand what is a POS system and what features to look for in it while sticking to a few basic principles. So let’s get to it! 

Main POS System Features

Choosing a POS system can turn into a nightmare, especially if you’re looking for the perfect one. There are many potential solutions, each with its own unique set of features. That’s why the decision-making process of around 56% of retailers can often take up to 5-6 weeks (on average).

However, considering all the circumstances, you can determine the best POS system for your retail business in a fairly short period of time. The key is to use a structured selection process.

How to Choose a POS System

Start by consulting with other retailers, especially those who are already using POS software. Learn about the type of POS systems they use, their individual functions, and, of course, their pros and cons. Also, consider the results together with the needs of your business to determine the range of POS system functions in priority.

Customer requirements for POS devices can be divided into four main groups: reliability, functionality, ergonomics, and appearance. Only the first requirement is constant, the others are subject to certain modifications over time.

The functionality of POS-terminals depends directly on the software used. The cash program must support all trading processes: cash acceptance, refunds, cancellations, various payment types, etc. 

The possibility of introducing marketing programs: discounts, bonuses, promotion campaigns, etc. is also very important nowadays. As you know, POS units not only accept payments but also credit cards, mobile payments, utility bills, etc. 

General requirements are also important: protection against unauthorized cashier actions, data security, directory updating speed. There are more and more new requirements for cash app functions, e.g. video surveillance system support, queue busting, etc. 

Here are some of the most important factors to pay close attention to when choosing a reliable POS system:

  • Integration. A POS system should integrate not only with your current business software but also with relevant third-party apps that you will (possibly) use in the future.
  • Convenience. Your POS system’s software should not require additional technical skills. Even novice users should be able to install it and use it without any difficulties. 
  • Design and ergonomics. Just as the location of POS terminal components on the working surface of a cash register, are very much dependent on the concept of customer service in the store. The most common are the main types of cashiers: front, classic, standing up work. More and more trade companies choose to use the front-facing of the cashier. Such an approach implies the keyboard is combined with the cashier’s display, which simplifies its placement on the cash desk, and a flip-top cash drawer. Everything is designed to minimize the space at the side of the cashier. 

For example, the appearance and even the color of the equipment plays an important role in boutiques. In a supermarket, the goal is to find the most convenient location of the equipment relative to the cashier’s movement at the cash desk. This will increase the speed and quality of customer service, which is the most important indicator.

  • Payment process. The best POS software systems can support a wide range of payment options and processors.
  • Inventory management. Your POS system must match your type of product and also facilitate real-time tracking of all relevant inventory parameters. 
  • Customer relationship management. A solid POS system should help you to appropriately manage your customer data and increase sales through promotions. Some of the main features you should pay attention to include customer profiles, gift cards/certificates, email newsletters, discounts, and bonuses.
  • Staff management. In addition to multi-user access, your POS software should have features to manage and track your employees. Choose a POS system that (at least) provides permission control, task scheduling, working hours, and employee analytics.
  • Costs. Set the total cost of each expected POS software by combining the initial purchase price with the anticipated operating costs. This means that you must consider the subscription cost, as well as the corresponding payment processing fees, plus, of course, additional hardware costs.
  • E-commerce. Although the focus here is on sales in stores, the best POS software systems are also capable of supporting concurrent sales. This allows you to expand your business beyond the borders and take advantage of the vast community of online shoppers.
  • Customer support. Focus on POS software vendors with a robust customer support structure, consisting of responsive agents who can be reached via multiple channels.
  • Testing. It’s highly essential to come up with innovative testing strategies and paradigms to make sure that the software suits the context of use. Keep in mind that POS real-life users are always demanding, and no matter what your plans are, there’s always a huge risk that it just won’t work out for everyone. Abstract handling can be too complicated, that’s why testing is a must. But will you make your customers wait? This issue remains one of the main dilemmas.

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect the number of consideration factors to increase, as you go deeper into a certain retail niche. Basically, the entire POS selection process should be based on your business needs.

How Do POS Systems Work

A POS system is not a single element but a combination of several hardware and software components that together process your in-store transactions and extend your overall business management capabilities.

In the past, point-of-sale systems were quite simple. Essentially, product prices were entered manually to complete the sale. Then came the era of EPOS + cloud POS systems – and everything changed. Today POS systems operate using all the power of advanced hardware and software.

The software itself is built with two access points. Backend (also known as dashboard or back-office), for beginners, handles management and reports. Whilst front end, in its turn, serves as the main input interface. Transactional data enters the system and is processed based on parameters set via the backend.

Average POS System Cost

To start with, an entry-level POS system will cost you about $1,000. It’s designed to install and train software and hardware such as card readers, check printers, or Apple iPad. On the other hand, a mid-level POS system costs about $1,500. Such equipment helps make multiple payments. An advanced EPOS system will cost you about $3,000, Such equipment provides specialized large-scale resources to facilitate the work of extensive retailers.

In addition, the cost of subscriptions to cloud services is quite diverse. Some of the POS software options offer basic features for free, while others may charge between $20 and $70 for standard features. Average opportunities are more expensive and can cost up to hundreds of dollars per month.

In general, the amount you end up paying depends on factors like the size of your business, package features, retail needs, types of products, locations, software features, etc.

Conclusion

That’s all you need to know about the basic factors of a regular POS system. Although some of the judgments presented here may seem subjective, most of my conclusions on POS software are based on facts and are absolutely accurate. If you want to know more about software solutions, go to detailed reviews of the EPOS systems themselves, which include such popular solutions as Shopify, SumUP, Square, Lightspeed, Vend, Airpos, Bindo, Kounta, iZettle, Clover, Nobly, Goodtill, ShopKeep, etc. This way you can learn more and discover something new that you have not even thought about before.

It should be noted that POS systems are constantly modified and updated with new features. Thus, you can closely follow this guide for pointers to any new developments and I will continue to monitor the POS software market to keep you informed.

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