How to choose a POS system

One of the most consistent — and biggest — mistakes new businesses make is leaving the decision for a point-of-sale system (POS) to the last minute. At first glance, selecting your POS may seem like a detail: aren’t they all about the same? The fact is, there is no single other piece of your business that will touch every single transaction you make.

Clearly, selecting the right system and integration partner is critical. Rather than waiting until you’re just about ready to open your doors, start the process early or, if you’re up and running and thinking about making a change, give yourself plenty of time so you’re not forced into a decision as one contract ends.

Too many businesses simply look for the cheapest option, which can turn out to be an expensive mistake. Here are some questions to ask when making your decision:

  • Is the partner and recommended system designed for a business like yours (based on size, kind of business, etc.) or are you being sold more or less than you need?
  • Can I add to the system in the future, or will I be forced to get an entirely new system if I want to add functionality or upgrade to improve security?
  • Understand service and up-time guarantees. Think of how much money you’ll lose if your system goes down during a critical daypart. If there’s an outage or service interruption, what should you expect?
  • Who will be your point of contact for different things? If you have a question or need assistance or training after the initial installation, do you feel good about the service you’ll receive?
  • Is the system fully compliant with all security standards (e.g., PCI)? If not, cross it off your list immediately!
  • Let’s say you get the system in, and you’re just not happy. Are there options for getting it right, or are you simply stuck until the end of your contract?

All of this is not to say that costs are not important. Make sure you understand not only the cost of the system, but work with a partner that will help you structure ongoing fees — like processing — in such a way to works best for the kind of transactions you expect. Further, understand what your options are if your sales pattern turns out to be different than you expected.

A solid integration partner can assist with all of these items and more. The important thing is to begin the process early in your business planning. Merchants must have a trusted advisor to help them enhance their revenue stream. Put your POS system high on your list!