Point of Sale Systems, frequently shortened to simple POS systems, are a mainstay of brick and mortar businesses. These machines combine hardware and software to handle payments from credit cards, debit cards, EBT, and much more. POS systems continue to improve as time goes by, but the basic functionality and necessity of these systems remain more or less constant over the years.
With this in mind, today we will be looking at exactly what POS systems do, what your small business needs in a POS, wireless credit card machine, or other hardware products, the many features which can come with POS systems, and finally how this all feeds into your overall business plan.
What is a Point of Sale System (POS)?
Point of sale (POS) is a term used to describe the location and time where a customer exchanges money for product(s). In other words, this is where the transaction takes place. The point of sale is critical for business owners as this is where a consumer will make the final decision of what to buy and in what amount. This can be confusing, as POS within the merchant services world also refers specifically to a type of hardware that facilitates these transactions.
So POS systems are essentially just credit card machines, right? Not exactly. High-quality POS systems may do much more including inventory management, customer tracking, sales tracking, and run a number of proprietary or third party apps.
With the rise of mobile payment processing, the lines between in-store purchases, web purchases, and mobile purchases are beginning to blur. So too has the line between POS systems and general business software become blurred. To put it simply, think of your POS system as the central hub of your small business.
Identifying Your Credit Card Machine Needs
This begs the question, what features do I really need in a POS system? Do I need to track customer information at the point of sale? Is it really necessary to integrate purchases with inventory management? While there is no one answer, here are a few system features which you may want to consider when looking for your next POS system:
Detailed reporting and business insight: perhaps the most important feature to shop for is the information output your POS system will provide. This can include inventory information, customer information, and more.
Order processing and billing: POS systems are just good for customer transactions, they can be used to create invoices, email invoices, produce customized receipts, add discounts, and more.
Track sales information and consumer trends: as an extension of detailed reporting, tracking trends and sales numbers are key features of POS systems.
App market accessibility: some POS systems may even integrate with outside apps such as Quickbooks.
Customer support: your point of sale system is the lifeblood of your business tracking and management. If something were to go wrong, the ability to contact a knowledgeable and professional customer representative is absolutely critical. Opt for a POS system with 24/7/365 customer support.
Customization, customization, customization: last but not least, newer POS systems allow business owners and operators to essentially create their own user interface. This means different permissions for different employees, the ability to access specific reports instantly, and much more!
Integrating POS Systems into Your Business Plan
There is an understandable misconception that point of sale systems are essentially just another form of enterprise resource planning (ERP). While the two are certainly related, they are like oil and vinegar. They go great together but are not made from the same stuff.
Another way of thinking about this is that ERP is capable of handling all of your business’s information and tracking needs. This can include storing data from different departments, running complex analysis, and even improving the communication between different parts of your business. A POS system is more limited in that it is a centralized hub for transactions and related information.
In this way, POS systems can absolutely be integrated within a larger ERP platform. In fact, for many businesses we recommend just that. ERP is also focused on software, where the point of sale systems include both the powerful, sleek hardware required to run your business and the software to back that up.
Next Generation POS Systems from True Merchant
True Merchant is proud to offer both point of sale (POS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for businesses of all sizes. With our focus on merchant services and secure payment processing, POS and ERP systems are a natural extension of our other features such as CardSecure, EBT Payment Processing, and much more. With True Merchant, you can rest assured that you will be getting the best available price thanks to our complimentary rate reviews.
If you are considering a POS system for your business, please feel free to contact us by calling 1-888-770-2018 or through our online email form. A qualified merchant service professional will be waiting to walk you through the process!