Retail Point of Sale Systems

Retail Point of Sale Systems

Today’s retail point of sale systems go beyond monitoring sales. They also track costs, inventory, even improve staff efficiency–and fast.

The choices of retail point of sale systems and peripherals are increasing dramatically from year to year.

With this increase in retail point of sale systems suppliers comes confusion, headaches, and potentially bad investments. It’s not that the new entrants don’t offer quality products, it’s just that as more and more suppliers jump on the retail point of sale system bandwagon, there’s a growing chance that some will be real dogs.

When retail point of sale systems were dependent on proprietary hardware, suppliers had to design, manufacture, and warehouse the hardware–and that took commitment. Today, however, many retail point of sale systems are built on a PC platform. Vendors differentiate themselves primarily through the retail point of sale software they sell, and the prices vary widely. In fact, if you Google “Restaurant POS”, you’ll find some point of sale packages that cost as little as $599. Of course that’s just for the retail point of sale software. Keep in mind, also, that some vendors may have rushed their retail point of sale systems to market so quickly that they don’t even have a web site yet.

Retail point of sale systems have evolved into much more than a just a way of entering and recording sales. While some point of sale vendors offer a complete package, others offer a base retail point of sale software package with optional modules added as needed, for an extra fee. Buying retail point of sale software is like buying a new ear. Sometimes you have to take options that you don’t need in order to get the options you do need. That said, there are some basic modules that you should expect from any point of sale system in addition to order-entry and sales recording.

One of the most logical inclusions is time management. With the swipe of a mag card, the keying of an employee ID code, or a biometric reading of a thumbprint, employees can cheek in and out of shifts. A sub-routine allows you to maintain additional records such as a pay scale which, when matched with hours worked, can be automatically uploaded to the payroll department or company at the end of each week. A related module allows you to plan staff schedules. And, if you maintain sales or customers-served records, you calculate labor productivity per hour worked or per salary dollar.

While there are mixed opinions about this–some like stand-alone credit verification–I’d opt for a retail point of sale system with credit verification that is fully integrated. That card swipe can be at an order-entry station or from a check presentation folder incorporating wireless credit verification. The card can be swiped without leaving the hands of the customer–for those concerned with identity theft. Before you purchase any wireless credit verification system, cheek to see if your operation is within wireless coverage areas. If you don’t have a back-office computer, a retail point of sale system with inventory and back-office accounting modules can be useful. If you purchase a retail point of sale system that can be networked, that retail point of sale software can reside on a computer in your office with cabling to the order-entry monitors and keyboards.

Network capabilities might not be necessary. if you have a single operation with just one order-entry station. But if you have multiple stations or multiple sites, a retail point of sale system with networking capabilities is a time-saving, and error-eliminating must.

Also, pay close attention to your retail point of sale system’s data storage capabilities. Some retail point of sale systems dump all your records after just a short period of time. But you’ll find that that’s often too fast for you to be able to properly track and analyze your retail point of sale data.

That’s where an internet-based data-warehousing service comes in handy. But they offer more than just point of sale data warehousing. Providers offer programs that will analyze raw data. They will help you track costs, improve staff efficiency, and monitor sales trends to help with marketing and menu engineering, and more. All those reports are available over the internet through a password-protected portal. You can pull data from a single property or aggregate and analyze the data for an entire chain.

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