The list of tasks you need to complete in order to start a new business is an incredibly lengthy one. There is a reason the process is not for the faint of heart, or for anyone who doesn’t have 100% confidence in their idea and determination to see it through to fruition. From figuring out startup financing to writing a business plan, from finding premises to building a product inventory, and from determining how to market your services to starting the branding process, launching a new business will likely demand at least a couple of sleepless nights for you and your team.
Buying a point of sale system for your new business—your first point of sale system—might not even be one of the first 50 tasks on your list. It might not even be one of the first hundred. Eventually, though, you will come to the point where it’s time to start shopping for a POS system. When that happens, it’s important to recognize the weight that your ultimate decision might carry. A good point of sale system will make your business more efficient; it will make tracking finances easy and give you a better understanding of the money side of your business; it will also provide you with the tools you need to serve your customers better. All told, the point of sale system is one of the most important investments you will make during the early stages of your business, so make sure you take your time finding the right one.
How to Get Started
When you sat down to write your business plan, did you just look on Google for a template, download the document, change a few words, and call it good? No, you sat down—perhaps with your business partners—and you brainstormed. You took your time in figuring out a mission statement, establishing goals for your business, and figuring out realistic ways to achieve these aims. You wrote your plan entirely from the perspective of your business and industry, favoring specificity over generality.
You want to do a lot of the same things when you start shopping for a point of sale system. Don’t just grab the first thing you find on Google, or pick a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, think about your business and what you need to get out of a POS. Are you a service-based company or a retail business? What kind of inventory do you need to track? How many different items or services will your business sell? Do you want to offer a customer rewards program? Do you want to be able to track customer databases? Ask yourself all of these questions, because they will affect the usability of your system and how well it suits your business.
When in doubt, try researching point of sale systems focused on specific industries or business types. Retail Management Solutions, for example, offers POS solutions for pharmacies. Other companies offer point-of-sale systems for electronics stores, trade contractors, bars, and more. Do some searching to see if there is a tailored POS already out there that would serve your needs.
Narrowing Down the Field
Perhaps you will find a dozen POS systems perfect for your business. Perhaps you will find just one or two that are meant for your industry specifically. You might find none, in which case you will have to dig a bit for more general point of sale tools that you can customize. Regardless, the next step is to narrow the field. You can do this in several ways, from reading reviews to asking POS providers if you can get free trials or demo versions of their programs.
Perhaps the most important step in narrowing down your options is to consider budget and scalability. Often, startups find that these two concepts are opposite sides of the coin. If your budget is small and your needs are modest, a cloud-based POS might be your best bet. These systems can often be used with tablets or smartphone devices and require limited POS hardware. However, they are also harder to scale as your business grows. Software-based solutions are more expensive to buy upfront, but usually, they provide more options for customization and scalability. Young companies are the best candidates for cloud-based systems, but just know that you may have to trade the system out for a more permanent solution a few years down the road.