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Shopping for a POS? 6 mistakes to avoid that will cost you in the long-run

Posted by Bryan Wang
A POS system is a key component of your business management tools and critical for the efficiency of your business operations.  By planning, evaluating and assessing your business requirements, implementation process and organizational constraints ahead of time, you can avoid incremental cost further down the road.    
Here are the most common mistakes buyers are making when choosing a POS for their business. Avoiding them will lead to a well integrated business strategy that fits with your long-term goals.


1. Getting a free or a next-to-free POS

Getting something for free is always appealing. But not for a POS! Do not get caught into the trap of free things.    Your business is unique with its own visions and specific requirements - your POS must be in sync with that. A cookie-cutter, off the shelf POS may automate some of the general functionalities but a POS designed for your distinct business will add real value bringing better return for your investment (ROI). Beware of the ‘razorblade’ business model where the base package is criminally cheap but you discover later that you need to purchase costly add-on modules just to get standard enterprise functionality. 
“You get what you pay for” is another cautionary lesson here. Many ‘free’ POS systems also offer no support. Imagine your POS failing during a peak period and forcing you to troubleshoot by trawling through user forums and self-help sites.  

2. Not thinking long-term

Sometimes it is very tempting, especially when you are running a business, to make buying decisions based on immediate requirements only.  Step out of the cumbersome process of managing the day to day operations of your business and think about the future growth and possible impact.    A POS is a long-term commitment.  Invest in a POS system that is not just robust, scalable, and flexible but can also evolve as your business grows.  

Know if your POS can align with your future vision.   How easy is it to make the necessary changes to your system? The user flow, the menu and the functionalities should be able to adjust as you are growing. A restaurant may want to add online ordering and catering in future. A retailer may eventually need more robust inventory tracking. With the fast-changing pace of technology, you will want a POS platform that is here to stay - a platform that can be easily upgraded without having to disrupt and change the entire system.


3. Not including multiple user groups in the POS need-analysis process

A POS system is so much more than a financial transaction tool– it is a platform that integrates into your daily business operations and can help you manage your business operations more efficiently, facilitate and/or improve sales, support and related interaction with your clients as well as help optimize the use of your resources (both physical and human resources).  
As much as you would want to - it is hard to think about everything by yourself.  Involve your team.  Get input and feedback from employees from different departments that are hands-on with the everyday operation of your business.    Engage them in the buying process.   They are using the system the most and they will be able to provide great ideas to grow the business or to innovate.  This is also a great opportunity to receive honest feedback about any struggles they may have with your current POS so issues aren’t repeated. Do not limit the conversation to management staff.  


4. Assuming all reporting features are created equal

A good POS today is loaded with features and functionalities that can help you better manage your business.  Getting the right insights from your reports contributes towards good decision-making, yet too much data can be inundating.    Map out the information you might want to collect from your POS that is crucial to keep your business performing and growing.   Plan the type of reporting you might need such as real-time data, multi-location information, sales projections, or staff performance. Determine who in your organization needs reporting. Are there managers who oversee multiple stores and need remote access to real-time reports? 
Find out how your POS platform can support your present and future data requirements.   Understand what types of reports are available today and what level of customization can be supported to match your business needs.


5. Asking for a quote too early

Don’t wait for your system to breakdown before starting the evaluation for the new POS system, to avoid being in an emergency mode. You want to give yourself plenty of time to review potential solutions and consult POS users at every level of your organization, if needed. 
Ensure the POS company clearly understands your needs before asking for a quote. Rushing through the exploration stage and requesting the quote too soon will lead to inaccurate information and wrong budget allocation or worse will leave you with a system that does not meet your business requirements. 

6. Not evaluating the post-sales, implementation, training and support process

Evaluating a POS system simply based on its feature-functionalities can lead to catastrophic post-sale failure.  You need the POS system to be running smoothly and efficiently days-weeks-months after implementation.
Do not hesitate to ask the tough questions about post-sales implementation, training, and support process.  
Before making any purchase decisions, get the POS company to step into your world; test the functionalities, see how the POS deals with everyday situations.   Ask questions; talk to the support team and ask how they deal with different situations. See it for yourself. Ensure they know their product to give you the confidence in their ability to support you when problems occur. 
Understand how their training program works.  How much and how well will they support you few months after the sale is done.  

A POS system is crucial for your business – make sure you are signing up with a partner that supports, grows, and evolves as your business grows.

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Topics: Point of Sale