There was a time when POS systems were limited to open-and-close cash registers, but as technology has grown, so have payment systems. Implementing a new point-of-sale system will heavily influence your day-to-day operations, so don’t skip out on your research.
Choosing a new system for your business can be daunting if you’re overwhelmed with endless options. Picking what features are vital must-haves for your company ahead of time can narrow down your options and ease the process of selecting a point-of-sale system.
When selecting a POS system, there are 5 key features you should keep in mind, including:
- Simplicity and user-friendliness.
- Mobile functionality.
- Sales reports.
- Reliable, customizable hardware.
- Secure payments.
Whether you’re starting a new business or just revamping your company’s current payment system, you can benefit from finding the appropriate POS system. Every business has different POS needs, so consider what features are most significant to you before splurging on a new system.
Is it user-friendly and simple to navigate?
Most POS systems offer the same basic functionality: the ability to accept payments, track sales, keep up with customer data, and streamline your restaurant’s inventory management. All systems should be designed with efficiency and ease-of-use in mind, but not all POS systems are created equally.
While your system should offer these features, each has its own layout, operating system, and user interface. Choose one that your employees can easily navigate, and you can save your business time spent training new employees to use the system.
Additionally, consider investing in a POS system that includes loyalty program capabilities and tools. When customers make purchases, ask for their phone numbers and link them to an account within your loyalty program. They’ll be rewarded for frequent visits while you gather data on what your individual customers are buying.
Your system should save you time, not disrupt your workflow. If your system is impossible to navigate, it doesn’t matter what all it can do. This cuts into time your business could be using to grow and earn money. Features should take minutes, not hours, to navigate.
Is it mobile?
Good systems will allow you to record sales and inventory data, but great systems let you access this information whenever and wherever. When you have a traditional point-of-sale system, you’re limited to conducting business at your company’s location, but when you choose one with mobile-enabled and -optimized features, the possibilities are limitless.
Mobile POS (mPOS) systems allow you to access business information from any web browser, no matter where you are. These are cloud-based, putting all your key transactions information at your fingertips with a simple click of a button.
Restaurants and other businesses today serve customers in all different kinds of locations other than just traditional dining rooms. Today, you can find more modern restaurant formats like food trucks and pop-up events than ever before. It’s important to determine the amount of mobility your restaurant needs before settling on a particular POS system.
Before purchasing an mPOS system, keep an eye out for basic features like:
- Alternative payments. Transactions are made easy by accepting any type of payment on mPOS devices. Your system should be able to connect to mobile printers and cash drawers, include card readers, and accept mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay.
- Inventory lookup and counts. Employees won’t have to step away from customers in order to check inventory in the stockroom when inventory counts are stored on your mPOS system. For example, if your restaurant runs out of an ingredient, servers will be able to immediately notify guests about the shortage before they place an order for something you can’t cook.
- Access to customer data. To personalize your customers’ experience, make sure your mPOS system allows you to look up individuals’ past purchases, loyalty rewards totals, and more.
Because of their mobility, cloud-based POS systems accessible on tablets come in handy for modern restaurants. Instead of manually recording orders using a fixed, limited POS, go with an mPOS system. These systems get rid of the limitations of a fixed POS terminal.
This approach has been particularly successful for organizations that need to process payments in a number of ways. Nonprofit fundraising events are great examples of the necessity of flexible, mobile-enabled processing tools. Learn more about how nonprofits process payments in multiple ways at events here.
Does it offer in-depth sales reports?
While all systems should provide you with sales data, there is a large variation in how different systems present that information. Your POS system should present you with detailed sales reports in an easily accessible and understandable way, unique to your restaurant and its needs.
These sales reports should identify both your best-selling items and categories and your costs and margins to measure the effectiveness of your pricing. Also, reports should track sales by department, item, and hour so you can more efficiently adjust your employees’ schedules and floor and time space. At the very minimum, reports should convey sales data like best-selling and worst-selling items and most commonly returned items.
Some additional features you should be on the lookout for are:
- Payment data like taxes paid and payment methods used.
- Employee data like hours worked and total sales per employee.
- Inventory data like real-time inventory numbers.
- Customer data like top customers and purchase history.
- Reservation data like integration with your reservation system.
Depending on how you want to view your reports, you should choose a system that allows you to toggle between numerical data and more visually-appealing data representations like charts. By analyzing this data through these different lenses and refining your strategies as needed, you can ultimately boost your sales.
Sales reports are a great tool to show your restaurant’s assets and determine areas of improvement. Extra features are dependent upon your business. Research wisely before purchasing a POS system, and make sure it offers the in-depth reporting capabilities you need.
Does it use reliable, customizable hardware?
If you choose a POS system that often crashes and can’t be customized in order to quicken your business transactions, you’ll wind up losing valuable time and money. Software that lets you use your own reliable hardware provides you with the most flexibility in using and customizing the system.
While some software works only with vendor-specific hardware, other software allows you to use a tablet or other device that was purchased through a third-party provider to access the POS software. These third-party devices could also include receipt printers, barcode scanners, or any other hardware you may already have and rely on.
Vendor-provided POS hardware allows for smoother functionality between your devices but limits the types of devices you can use. By choosing a POS system that allows for both manufacturer hardware and personal hardware, you can use whatever your devices you want in a smoother way.
Additionally, pick a POS system that prioritizes ease-of-use and functionality so that your restaurant can quickly train your employees. Having flexible, intuitive software that works with your employees and not against them will reflect in your restaurant’s productivity. You want tools that allow for this extra level of customizability and usability.
To prioritize finding a POS toolkit with this level of customizability, follow these two main steps:
- Look for a point of purchase system that’s designed for restaurants. Companies in the food industry have vastly different needs than other industries such as retail.
- Find a system that’s customized for your specific space within the restaurant industry. There are POS platforms that are specifically designed for different types of businesses like bars and pizza parlors.
Don’t settle for a one-size-fits-all system that limits your business! Picking POS software that works with manufacturer devices and allows more flexible usage on other tools will allow your restaurant to be as productive as it can!
5. Is it secure for my customers?
Your POS system may offer an array of features, but all these bells and whistles mean nothing if your customers’ private payment information isn’t secure. Any system that enables payments comes with a risk.
To start, check the latest industry standards and regulations concerning security. Without meeting minimum qualifications for payment security, your POS system will be rendered useless. Key security terms you should be familiar with are:
- Encryption. Encryption ensures that your customers’ data is unreadable by unauthorized users like scammers and hackers while it’s being relayed digitally.
- PCI compliance. Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance refers to the standards that businesses must follow to protect their customers’ payment information.
To determine if your potential POS system is secure, look for the following features:
- EMV technology. Chip card technology is still fairly new and can prevent fraud, so use a system that accepts chip cards.
- Encryption and tokenization. As we’ve discussed, encryption is what protects users’ sensitive payment information. Tokenization keeps this data secure for post-authorization transactions such as tips and recurring billing.
- Anti-fraud services. Make sure your payment processor service of choice has a team of people dedicated to anti-fraud services.
- Breach protection. There should be additional financial protections in place that help prevent breaches. Enabling this technology reduces your liability in the event that a breach does occur.
Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance in today’s world, and most customers won’t want to complete payments if they don’t know if their data’s protected. Take these extra steps to ensure payment data is secured, and both you and your customers will feel more at ease with your POS system.
To better understand additional steps you can take to enhance cybersecurity, take a look at Swoop’s authentication guide.
Choosing the right restaurant POS system can make or break your business. Make sure to choose one that’s simple and user-friendly to better utilize employees’ and customers’ time. Your software should allow you to use whatever hardware your business needs while also having smoother functionality.
It should offer mobility so that you can access information whenever and wherever, but it should still be secure to avoid any data breaches. In-depth sales reports will help you locate your strong suits and areas for improvement. Look for these key features in your new POS system, and set your restaurant up for success!