10 Most Common Mistakes When Buying a POS System

You already have enough on your plate; worrying about customers, organizing your staff, dealing with suppliers, purchasing, receiving…not to mention the time you spend trying to answer the tough questions about the health of your business.
Do you know your number one performing vendor, or your top 50 selling items? Who are your most reliable suppliers? What about your most popular selling sizes, and best margin items?
Have you ever thought about starting a customer database and keeping track of your best customers? Have you been intending to start a custom tailored direct mailing campaign to your clients?
Is there a simple way to get at this type of information?
Absolutely. A good POS program can make answering these questions (and many others) easy. It can provide you with the reports you need to plan for your growing business. A good POS program can eliminate the time you spend sorting through the racks trying to figure out what is selling, what needs to be reordered and how items are performing. It can even automate your physical inventory process allowing you to spend more time working on your business rather then in your business! Wouldn’t it be great to be able to generate reports at the touch of a button instead of having to leaf through your filing cabinet, take manual stock counts or worse yet…guess?
A good point of sale program can elevate your business to new heights. The challenge is to choose the right one for your business. There are thousands of POS programs available out there, so how does one decide? The following is a list of the most common mistakes retailers make when purchasing a new POS program.
Mistake #1 – Decision Based Solely On Price
Ever heard the adage – you get what you paid for? Well, it is very true in the area of point of sale systems.
Although price will be a factor as you work within the confines of your budget – it should not be the primary deciding factor. The most important factor that you should be considering is functionality.
Does the system you are evaluating have the functions that you will require for your day to day processes? How flexible is the system to adapt to your business? Will this system be scalable and grow with you as your needs become more demanding? Is the system easy to use?
Your Point of Sale system is a very powerful tool in your business that should not be looked upon solely as an expense – it is an investment in the future of your business. Make sure that it has all the features and functions to help you take your business to the next level.
Mistake #2 – Lack Of Research
This is a common occurrence… Retailer ‘A’ is not sure what they need in a point of sale system. Retailer A goes to their neighbours to see what they are using. Retailer A decides on the same system.
Talking to other retailers about the system they are using is a great place to start but every retailer runs their store differently. What functionality is great for one store may not be the right solution for another – even if they sell exactly the same products.
It is really important that you use the resources available to you while you are researching point of sale programs. Remember your point of sale program will become one of the most powerful tools to take your business to the next level. You will be making a substantial investment and it is vital that you are getting the right program to meet your distinct needs in order to ensure you see the Return on Investment.
The store down the street can be a great resource to give you the inside scoop on the program and the company supplying the program but don’t stop your research there! Start Googling, talk to retail consultants (after all, their work is based on the information that ultimately comes from your point of sale program), talk to the different retail associations, and ask lots of questions.
Mistake #3 – Not Researching The Company That Will Be Supplying The POS Program
As important as it is that you investigate the program itself, it is almost more important to investigate the company that will be supplying you the program. Remember you are entering into a partnership with this company. You will be relying on them to ensure that your system is kept up to date and especially dependent on them for technical support.
While researching POS providers ask questions like how long they have been in business. Do they have the resources to maintain your system and keep things up to date? How does their support structure work – retail is a 7 day a week business – do they offer technical support on weekends? Holidays? Evenings?
Who are their clients and what is their install base? If something were to happen to the company – what would happen to you and your support?
Are they focused specifically on retail or are they more or less just a technology or accounting company? Do they really know retail?
Mistake #4 – Not Being Personally Involved In The Process – Relying On Someone Else To Source Your POS System
It is true that not everyone is computer literate and many people tend to rely on the knowledge of others in this area. That is one of the main reasons why retailers’ will put the point of sale solution search into the hands of an employee, accountant or friend and simply trust their judgment. This can be a big mistake. Their input is important, but there are dangers in relinquishing the process to someone else.
No other person knows your business better than you.
You are the one with the vision of where you would like your business to go and the POS solution you decide on can play a big role in getting you there. Enlist the help of others that you trust but make sure you are still involved in the process every step of the way.
Mistake #5 – Not Speaking To Existing Users Of The POS System’s You Are Reviewing
A POS solution can look fantastic in a demo and look good on paper – but how does the program perform in a live environment?
The sales representative of the program you are evaluating should be able to provide you with some references of similar retailers who are using the product. Call, or even better, visit them.
Prepare a list of questions for these references so that you can really see how they feel about the program in action.
How do they like the system? How is the company that supplies the system to work with? How is their technical support? What is their response time? What do they like most about the system? Would they recommend this system? Why or why not?
A retailer using the product can give you valuable information on the program and the company that you can not get anywhere else. Add their input to your growing list of notes.
Mistake #6 – Not Getting A Demo Of The POS Software From A Qualified Sales Consultant
Anything can be made to look good in marketing material, and a verbal description of functions can only go so far. How does the system feel? What is the work flow like? Will the system be easy to use? Does it have a nice interface? Most importantly, will it perform the functions that your require for your business? Is it adaptable to the way you want your business to run?
The only way to truly see how the system will work in your environment is to see it in action. Ask the sales representative questions about how the system will handle special functions that are required for your store. Walk through all of the different areas of the program so that you can see the work flow. This will eliminate surprises during your installation.
Mistake #7 – Not Allowing Enough Time To Complete Your POS Search Research – Purchase – Implementation
Time and time again retailers will leave researching and selecting their point of sale program to the last minute – not realizing the amount of time that is necessary to go through the process.
Researching the different point of sale options out there (there are LOTS of options), getting demonstrations and narrowing down your choices takes time. Another thing that retailers tend to forget is that once a decision is made there are many things that need to happen before your installation can occur. Hardware and the software will have to be ordered and delivered and your installation will have to fit into the company’s technical schedule. This can sometimes mean lead times of four weeks or more depending on the time of year.
Also, remember if you are opening a new store you will have to input your entire new inventory and price all your items before you can open your doors.
Every step of the process takes time – allow yourself a minimum of four months from the beginning of your research until the dates you are hoping for an installation, and communicate this clearly and early on to the POS provider you choose. This will help to streamline the process and remove some of the natural stress that comes with this type of decision.
Mistake #8 – Purchasing Hardware Before POS Software
A common mistake that a retailer will make will be to go out and purchase their hardware (computers, printers, scanners, etc.) once they make the decision to move to a point of sale program. Purchasing hardware before you decide on a POS program can really limit your available POS system options. POS systems often have specific hardware requirements, if your newly purchased hardware does not meet these requirements you will need to upgrade or replace components to fit with the specifications. This can take time and be costly, it is not ideal for either party involved.
Every point of sale program will have a set of hardware requirements that will ensure that the program runs at its optimum level. This is also true for the peripherals (cash drawers, receipt printers, scanners and label printers etc). They are not all created equal.
Many point of sale providers will offer a total package solution which includes all the necessary hardware you would require. This is the ultimate solution for both parties as it will save you time trying to source out the different components and the POS provider will be working with hardware they are familiar with. In the event that something goes wrong you only have to remember one phone number for both your software and hardware.
Mistake #9 – Not Enough Training On POS System
Some retailers decide that a good way to save money is to attempt to teach themselves how to use and set up their new point of sale system. This is a tragic mistake. Your new point of sale system is not as simple as an out of the box piece of software. There is much more involved in setting up preferences so that it will function the way you will need it to, to meet your unique store policies and procedures. There are many shortcuts or ‘work-arounds’ that will probably not be found in the point of sale manual. What is the value of your time? Trying to learn from the manual could take you hundreds of hours – hours that retailers do not have.
Technicians and trainers of the point of sale program that you purchase are generally certified and experienced in the program. This means that they can custom tailor their training and your system to meet the needs of your store.
Another mistake that is common for retailers is that they do not get enough training. They receive the initial training when they first install the system and they leave it at that. There is no possible way for you to learn and retain every single function available in the program in your first session. Generally, you will only be shown the basics in order to get you up and running but there should be a world of additional features that could simplify your processes as you get more comfortable with the system.
Training should be ongoing. Your business will always be growing and evolving – so you will need to have the training to allow your point of sale program to grow and evolve with you.
Never stop learning how to better use your POS solution.
Mistake #10 – Purchasing Without Vision For Future Needs
When you are evaluating point of sale solutions it is always important to think about the future. Do you have plans for expansion? Are you thinking about adding a web store at some point in time?
The functionality you are looking for right now may seem pretty basic but you should always think about the future – what will you need then? Once you get more comfortable with the system your views on what functions are vital to your business may change – will the system you are looking at grow with you? Will it adapt to your ever changing needs?
This is also true for the company supplying you with your point of sale solution – what are their future plans? What are the future plans for the development of the point of sale program?
Always think about what features are available to meet your needs now but also what features are available to you in the future.
Contact us today to book your free systems consultation.