Every retail and restaurant operation needs a top-caliber POS system in order to increase customer throughput, to track sales and profits, and to efficiently manage inventory, merchandising, marketing, and other functions that are vital to success. However, maximizing the ROI on such a system is contingent upon choosing the right POS provider with the following essential qualities.
- Expertise in, and POS solutions geared towards, your specific industry vertical. The needs of retailers and restaurant operators vary by market. An ideal POS provider understands these needs and offers POS solutions that fulfill them. To gauge whether a POS provider truly comprehends your requirements and those of other players in your segment, list the three top problems you’re trying to solve, or the three top objectives you want to attain, using a POS solution. If the responses seem vague and/or center on technology bells and whistles, steer clear.
- Financial stability. Unless a POS provider has the financial resources to support future system enhancements, it will be impossible to harness the technology to its greatest advantage and to achieve an adequate ROI. A look at the company’s Dunn & Bradstreet rating and current financial statements will clue you in on its financial stability. Other indicators of a given POS provider’s stability include a proven track record in your industry and a minimum of five years in existence.
- Flexibility. Retailers and restaurant operators shouldn’t alter their operations and expansion plans to suit the POS provider. Rather, the POS provider should be sufficiently flexible to work with you as you expand your operation—whether out of the area, out of state, or to another part of the country. The consistency and stability of your establishment—and its potential to flourish—is best served by a single POS provider, rather than by multiple providers whose systems may be too dissimilar to support a cohesive retail or restaurant organization.
- Extensive training and installation services. Any POS provider worth its salt will handle all aspects of training, from implementation and operation to inventory entry, purchasing/receiving, and reporting. While online training is acceptable, training that occurs at the POS provider’s offices or in-store is preferable because it is typically more comprehensive. “Soup-to-nuts” installation services are also a must, so you can focus on your own core competencies.
- Extensive technical support. The need for technical support is inevitable, no matter the quality of your POS system and the amount of initial training you received. A reputable POS provider will make technical support services as available after hours and on weekends as it is during regular business hours. Ideally, the POS provider will maintain a dedicated telephone line so that support-related issues may be handled quickly and before they can have a negative impact on its customers’ business. Finally, make sure your provider offers a US-based help desk.
- Readily supplies a list of several references whose operations are comparable to your own. References should be able to offer some detail about how the POS provider handled installation and training and how well its solution met their needs. Inquire too about the timeliness of follow-up and troubleshooting and whether the POS provider delivers on its promises or makes empty ones. Two caveats to remember: If the POS provider refuses or is reluctant to share a list of “live” references, it probably has something to hide and is not worth pursuing. And while short testimonials on a website or featured in written sales materials are nice to have, they aren’t an acceptable substitute.
Ensuring that a POS provider is right for you by carefully checking these qualities may involve considerable effort on your part. However, the end-result—POS technology and services from a trustworthy, supportive partner—will justify the time spent.