What To Look For In A Point Of Sale System

Point of Sale (POS) systems can help retail and service industry businesses cut costs, manage inventory, and streamline sales -- but you need to know what options and features are right for your company.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

September 10, 2009

3 Min Read

Page 2 of 2

POS Software Features
POS software features can be divided into three main functions: Transaction-based features (compatibility with specific hardware, capability to perform certain transaction functions), inventory control features, and customer management capabilities.

Transaction-Based Features
Transaction features are those that deal with the software's capability to perform certain tasks at the point of purchase. Pppular features include

  • Application of discounts

  • Computation of taxes

  • Price/availability lookups

  • Transaction voiding/customer returns

  • Parking validation

  • Sales commission computations, split commissions, employee credits for a sale

  • Processing store gift certificates

  • Webcam support (taking customer pictures, product pictures, etc.)

  • Gift registries

  • Product layaways

  • Inter-store transfers (transfer of goods from one store location to another)

  • Employee clock in/clock out features

  • Service/repair price quote calculations

Inventory Control
One of the chief reasons businesses opt for a POS system over a basic electronic cash register is the ability to track and manage inventory. POS systems can be integrated with accounting, ordering, and invoicing programs to produce an accurate, real-time portrait of goods on hand. At bars and restaurants, for example, pour-tracking caps on alcohol bottles can trace the declining inventory of consumables, while ordering software shows how many unopened bottles are available. This information, taken together, lets the POS system alert you when it's time to order replacements.

Tracking inventory in real time is also a powerful way to minimize theft, unauthorized employee discounts, and errors in order processing. Popular inventory control features include

  • Transaction reporting (sales by department or staff member)

  • Security issues (times inventory alarm is set off)

  • Inter-store inventory check features

  • Integration with ordering and invoicing programs

  • Back-ordered items and item-request tracking

  • Employee or independent contractor scheduling

Customer Management
POS systems can help you gather and manage an accurate customer database. Since all details of a purchase can be stored (the customer's name, items purchased, the time of the transaction) a more comprehensive account of consumer habits can be created. Using information about past purchases, items already owned, and shopping habits, you can create targeted marketing promotions, special offers, customer discounts, and other marketing efforts . Popular customer management features include

  • Customer database creation (entering the name and contact information of a customer at the time of transaction)

  • Automatic receipt/"thanks for purchase" e-mail after a purchase is made

  • Customer rewards program management (frequent shopper programs, buy-ten-get-one-free, etc.)

  • Customer service alerts

  • Report generation ("big spenders," customer purchase habits, etc.) for marketing efforts

Whether you choose a POS system for inventory management or to improve customer profiling for marketing efforts, there's a system available for almost every type of business. Make sure you choose a system that offers the features your company needs.

Resource Nation provides how-to purchasing guides, tips for selecting business service providers, and a free quote-comparison service that allows business owners to compare price and service offerings in more than 100 categories from restaurant POS systems to credit card processing.

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