What is a POS System? – Definition, challenges and solutions
The point of sale (POS) system has long been an essential part of the retail puzzle. Since the introduction of the first electronic cash register in the 1970s, retailers have been faced with the choice of finding the best system for their business, employees, and customers.
The last decade has seen huge leaps forward in technology and – like many other pieces of software – POS systems are now mobile (mPOS) and cloud-based. They have become powerful, indispensable tools for ambitious global retailers. They are now platforms retail businesses are built on rather than merely a way of processing transactions.
But with so much choice out there – and so many possibilities – how do you know what the best platform is for your business or even where to start when looking for one?
In this definitive guide to point of sale systems, we’ll help you answer the most pressing questions, from what a POS system is through to future-proofing your business with a POS platform.
This guide covers:
- Chapter 1: What is a POS system?
- Chapter 2: The evolution of POS
- Chapter 3: POS for retailers
- Chapter 4: Key features of retail mPOS platforms
- Chapter 5: The biggest benefit of a mPOS platform
- Chapter 6: Researching and choosing the best mPOS for your platform
- Conclusion & Summary
Chapter 1: What is a POS system?
At its most basic level, a Point of Sale – or POS – system is used to take money and process transactions. It’s the system that powers your cash registers and allows your customers to complete their purchases.
Typically, POS systems are made up of both hardware and software elements:
- Barcode scanners
- Card readers
- Receipt printers
- Computers or mobile devices
The hardware needs to be robust, reliable and capable of working whether it’s on or offline.
Your POS software – the programme that sits behind the hardware – should be able to:
- Generate sales reports
- Manage inventory
- Provide detailed reporting on store and employee performance
- Deal with integrated payments
- Send digital receipts
- Capture customer information
- Track customer purchases and much more
Historically, POS systems have been an ‘on-premise’ solution where software is installed on local machines in store. For larger organisations, this inevitably requires a dedicated IT team to manage it and also usually has high upfront costs both for the software licences and for the hardware needed to run it. It also brings with it significant ongoing costs – especially in terms of updating and maintaining the software.
The limitations of on-premise POS systems have been exposed by the advent of POS systems that are cloud-based. With cloud-based POS systems, software can be installed on any device connected to the internet, updates are included in the cost (which tends to be significantly lower both in the short and long term), and these systems tend to be more user friendly than their on-premise counterparts.
The world is changing and the way we shop is changing. For retailers to be successful, they must evolve with these changes and that means having a POS system that’s fit for purpose.
“One of the key drivers for us choosing Sitoo as our global point of sale system has been how simple it is to operate, to roll-out and to scale. In addition, having Sitoo as our global retail payment system will also give us sales data from our different markets collected in one place. This will of course have an important role in our expansion and growth.” – Mathilda Sällberg, Global Retail Buyer at Happy Socks
Chapter 2: The evolution of POS
History of POS systems
The first cash register was invented in 1879 yet it was close to 100 years later when we saw IBM release the first electronic cash register. It’s fair to say, progress has been much quicker since then.
Put simply, a POS system is a tool that lets a seller ring up sales and record transactions. The very first cash register was invented by James Ritty, an Ohio native and saloon owner. Ritty was motivated to build a machine to track his sales after he’d discovered an employee stealing from him and wanted to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.
Yet, this first iteration of the cash register, didn’t even have a cash drawer – that would come later from the National Cash Register (NCR) Company. They acquired Ritty’s patent in 1884 and are still in business today.
By the early 1900s, NCR had added in a cash drawer and paper roll receipts to Ritty’s machine leading to a surge in demand from businesses great and small who saw it as the perfect way to record transactions and manage capital.
Advances in technology helped advance the first rudimentary cash register – from LCD screens through to credit card magnetic stripes, the machine continued to evolve but it was the late 1970s and early 1980s which saw the cash register truly transform the way we shop and consume.
Computing power and software were the catalyst behind this transformation and gave birth to the POS system we know today. From touchscreen interfaces and graphical software through to basic automation and loyalty programmes, POS systems grew to become more than machines used to process transactions – they became the bedrock underneath ambitious, fast-growing store chains.
The Present & Future of POS systems
We now stand at another moment of transformation for POS systems.
Thanks to cloud computing and mobile technology, both software and hardware are advancing at a rapid rate, giving retailers the tools they need to meet new ways of shopping.
A cloud-based mobile point of sale (mPOS) platform isn’t just a cash register – it’s the most important piece in your retail puzzle.
Unlike traditional solutions, mPOS systems can run on smartphones and tablets – all you need is an internet connection, a card reader and to download an app. One of the most immediate and visible benefits of a mPOS system is how much space it can free up in your stores. Legacy systems are heavyweight affairs with cumbersome cash drawers and unsightly monitors. Tablets and phones are sleek, cool and discreet – they help set the tone for a modern, exciting store.
A mPOS system allows you to take payments through a phone or a tablet. With an easy-to-use and intuitive app, it makes life easier for you and your associates while providing a better experience for your customers – often reducing their wait times, providing them with digital receipts and making their purchasing journey buttery smooth.
Where a mPOS system becomes a true game changer is when it’s connected to an intelligent, cloud-based platform which enables unified commerce with real-time retail. When this is in place, all sales channels are connected in real time allowing you to sell everywhere and fulfil anywhere. Customers can access all stocks everywhere and choose where and how to have their products delivered while product information, campaigns, price lists, inventories and customer data are synchronized.
The best mPOS systems will seamlessly integrate with CRM, eCommerce, payments, ERP and other systems – resulting in shared real-time data across all platforms. They will also offer a wide range of payment solutions such as credit cards, cash, invoicing, gift cards, store credit, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Klarna, Swish, Alipay, WeChat Pay, and many more.
Sitoo’s solution for retailers takes this a step further by giving store associates enhanced product information and real-time access to all stocks, which means they can sell products available in other stores or online. Sitoo also has a self checkout option making it easy for customers to pay for their goods and giving your ‘in and out’ shoppers a great experience. Self-checkout also frees up time for your staff to provide an enhanced service for your customers, often resulting in an increased average purchase order.
As digitalization continues to transform retail – and as a forward-thinking retailer – it’s your job to keep pace with this transformation and give your sales associates the tools they need to create winning experiences every single time for your customers. This is why you need a mPOS system.
Do you want your associates stuck behind a clunky, archaic cash register struggling with out-dated, overly complicated technology? Or do you want them working the shop floor, engaging your customers, with the ability to sell everywhere and fulfil anywhere?
The popular opinion that retail stores are dying is wrong. Stores are far from dead. They are in a digital transformation. The challenge for you and all retailers is to embrace this digitalization and meet our new ways of shopping.
Chapter 3: POS for retailers
We stand at the dawn decade and – if the last 10 years were anything to go by – we can guarantee retail will continue to evolve, develop and change at pace.
Certain aspects will remain universal; people – and the human touch – will remain at retail’s heart, as they have done for generations. However, continued advances in technology, machine learning and AI combined with changing customer behaviour mean the best retailers are going to have to constantly adapt to stay ahead of the competition, deliver a seamless customer experience and be successful.
Challenges facing retailers
Retailers face a sea of ever-changing and evolving challenges. Whether it’s changes in shopping behaviour, advances in technology, changing consumer habits, or external challenges beyond anyone’s control, it’s a constantly shifting landscape with hurdles to overcome.
Here are some of the biggest challenges facing retailers:
Increase in multi-channel shopping and delivering an omni-channel experience.
Many retailers aren’t able to deliver a true omni-channel experience to their customers because their stores and e-commerce are not connected in real-time. They can’t keep up with the ever-changing customer expectations and deliver a seamless experience across all channels.
Inventory management issues.
Stock availability, replenishment and on-going campaigns are all affected by stock levels in store not being accurate or updated in a timely fashion. For many retailers, it simply isn’t possible to:
- See real-time stock levels in other stores;
- Sell from other store stocks;
- See online store stocks
- Perform cycle counts for inventory (often relying on cumbersome inventory devices that don’t work in real-time)
This poor inventory management more often than not results in lost sales, destroys customer trusts, and erodes brand loyalty.
Master data issues.
Without one platform controlling how data is handled across all storefront and business operations, retailers are often faced with different product information for online and in-store stock, different prices and campaigns for in-store and online, and inconsistent pricing across all channels. The result is confused customers who ultimately end up having a bad experience.
Targeting and keeping customers.
The industry is rightly focussed on delivering amazing customer experiences yet so many retailers lack the basic tools they need to target and keep customers. For example, there’s no access to online shopping in-store, personalized offers are different online and in-store, online returns can’t be handled in-store, long checkout lines put customers off, and store associates aren’t empowered with the technology they need to give service and upsell to the customer on the floor. When all these combine they result in a massive loss of potential sales.
Keeping up with changing technology.
Many retailers are failing to keep pace with advances in technology and it’s hurting them. Legacy POS systems are difficult to manage and maintain, are expensive and cumbersome, hard for new employees to learn, don’t integrate with other systems, don’t automatically update or upgrade to new versions of software when it’s released, and don’t lend themselves to being able to deliver a great customer experience. Alongside this, there’s no global support for retail businesses looking to scale and no real-time data from stores for KPI follow-up and quick adjustments from HQ. The impact of this costs retailers time and money – both in terms of costs and lost sales.
How to meet these challenges
Retail has changed and retailers have to change with it. That’s why the best retailers are bringing technology and people together to delight customers, empower employees and create a unique experience.
E-commerce makes up more than 15% of all commerce. However the biggest impact of digitalization is that traditional window shopping now has moved to our smartphones. What’s more, 70% of all commerce begins online – with customers looking up stores, viewing the stock status and reserving products.
With a cloud-based retail point of sale platform, all sales channels are connected in real-time. The customers can access all stocks everywhere and choose where and how to have their products delivered. Product information, campaigns, pricelists, inventories and customer data are synchronized – giving true “Unified Commerce”.
Here’s how retail point of sale systems are changing the game:
Transforming your in-store experience
The role of the store associate has changed. They are no longer there to simply process payments and stand behind a desk. They are your champions, your ambassadors, and the people who bring the story of your brand to life. The emphasis of what they are in the store to do has completely shifted.
As a brand, you want to always be the best version of yourself and for the message you’ve worked so hard on crafting to always shine through. Your associates make this happen and are the key to transforming your in-store experience for your customers.
But to do this, they need to be freed from the shackles of the old ways of working. With a mPOS system, they are free to meet your customers at each point of their journey through the store and, crucially, are right there to complete the purchase.
With integrated payments, additional product information and integrations with both loyalty and CRM systems, a mPOS system gives you the power to personalise the purchasing journey and deliver an experience that exceeds the expectations of your customers.
Research from McKinsey shows 83% of customers say they want their shopping experience to be personalized in some way, and effective personalization can increase store revenues by 20 to 30%.
Personalized offerings – especially when it comes to upsell and cross-sell – will help increase sales as well as increase basket-sizes and conversion rates. In fact, according to Mckinsey, retailers who invest in technology are likely to achieve EBIT margins twice those of today, with the added benefits of improved customer experience, better employee engagement, and an easier-to-run store.
Delighting your customers by making sure they have a great experience at every single touchpoint is crucial and what a mPOS system can help you do.
Whether it’s through the seamless, personalised purchasing journey we’ve already mentioned or by giving your customers the choice to have their goods delivered to their home or to pick additional items up in another store, a mPOS system will level-up your customer experience.
After a positive customer experience, 69% of people would recommend the business and 50% would return to buy again. So give your customers what they want! Whether it’s a self checkout option, hands-on help from your associates or minimum fuss transactions, you need to be able to give your customers what they want, when they want it.
“The customer experience in our stores is important to us and, here, Sitoo is a vital piece of the puzzle.” – John Ramberg, Financial Controller, Lush
Connect e-commerce with bricks and mortar
The rise of e-commerce is the fuel behind the fire that’s destroying bricks and mortar stores….isn’t it? It may seem like it from the outside but the reality and the figures paint a very different story.
Retail store numbers continue to grow. According to Census Bureau data, 2018 saw a net increase in retail stores in the United States. There were almost 3,100 more stores during the fourth quarter of 2018 than the same quarter a year earlier. What’s more, when a physical store closes, ecommerce sales in the immediate area fall by a huge 37%. And, according to a study by Forbes, 68% of consumers use ‘click and collect’ with 85% of them buying something else when they collect their goods.
The best retail businesses learn to evolve and are really clear on who their consumer is, what their speciality is and what their product offering is. The birth of e-commerce has allowed them to tell that story to a much wider audience.
Where a retail POS system or mPOS system fits in is as the missing piece of the jigsaw that allows those different elements to be connected and empowers brands to deliver a compelling experience that generates sales and ensures the consumer leaves with a smile on their face.
A mPOS system revolutionizes inventory management, allowing sales associates to manage incoming deliveries, outgoing shipments and inventory directly on their mobile device. It also makes stocktaking easier than ever before. And, linking back to the previous chapter, with an increased inventory accuracy store associates get more engaged, resulting in better control and cut costs.
It also changes how we think about fulfillment. The customer can – without any extra effort on their part – have their purchases shipped to any address or can easily request to pick up items at another store. With real-time alerts when a Click & Reserve has been placed, the ability to access all orders for returns and all stocks for reservations and sales, your store associates become a natural part of delivering a seamless customer experience.
Finally, a mPOS system is the missing link between all the other systems in the retail ecosystem. Seamless integration with CRM, eCommerce, payments, ERP and other systems result in shared real-time data across all platforms. This data can then be viewed in a dashboard, available in the POS, with real-time KPIs, helping your sales associates measure performance and boost teamwork.
A cloud-based mPOS system enables the two worlds of bricks and mortar and ecommerce to join up and make sure that clear, concise, compelling proposition is followed right the way through to the finish line.
“Sitoo will make it much easier for us to integrate the online and offline. This means our customers will be able to order things online and pick them up in stores as well as ordering in store and have the goods delivered to their home – or any other address they want to choose.” – Karin Lindahl, CEO, Indiska
Chapter 4: Key features of mPOS platforms
Sometimes software can feel like ‘death-by-features’ however, when it comes to a retail mPOS platform, here are the key features you should be looking for that will benefit your store associates as well as the operations you run from HQ.
For store associates
Here’s how a mPOS platform benefits your storefront operations:
Mobile checkout & self-checkout
With mobile checkout and self-checkout you have the power to give your shoppers what they want, when they want it. All certain shoppers want is ease and convenience. These guys want to be in and out as quickly as they can. They know what they want and they want to get in, get it, then get out. They hate lines and don’t want to wait. This shouldn’t be seen as a negative either as it can increase your average purchase order and (with self-checkout) free up your staff to provide an enhanced service for your customers on the shop-floor. Mobile checkout empowers your associates to give a better and more personalized level of service to your customer wherever they are in the store, transforming their shopping experience.
Each store becomes a fulfillment centre giving you the ability to access all orders for returns and all stocks for reservations and sales. Your store associates become a natural part of delivering a seamless customer experience.
Endless aisle & mixed cart
With access to all stocks, your store associates can display your entire product catalog and sell products available in other stores or online. This means you can make money by never missing a sale and save money by optimizing all inventories.
With the POS as an app for mobile devices your store associates can offer customers a frictionless shopping experience anywhere in the store. With enhanced product information and real-time access to all stocks, store staff is able to sell products available in other stores or online.
Sales associates can manage incoming deliveries, outgoing shipments and inventory directly on their mobile device. With a mobile POS platform, stocktaking has never been easier. With an increased inventory accuracy store associates get more engaged, resulting in better control and cut costs.
Enhanced product information
Customers are more discerning than ever before – and more knowledgeable. Many will look to your store associates as trusted advisors. With enhanced product information at their fingertips, your associates will always have the knowledge they need at hand to answer any questions your customers might have.
Modern payment methods & cash
Partnering with market leading Payment Service Providers, the best retail POS providers will offer a wide range of payment solutions such as credit cards, cash, invoicing, gift cards, store credit, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Klarna, Swish, Alipay, WeChat Pay, and many more. The combination of digital receipts and mobile payment methods provides new possibilities and, at Sitoo, we’re constantly adding new payment solutions.
For HQ & retail management
In Sitoo’s back-office, management and trusted employees can set up and assign campaigns, organize products, handle prices, set taxes, activate integrations, administrate roles, create all kinds of reports and much more.
Product information, campaigns, pricelists, inventories and customer data are synchronized – giving true unified commerce. What’s more promotion and campaigns can be time-controlled and prioritized so the customer always gets the best offer. With an integrated loyalty system, customer-specific offers are displayed directly in the checkout. You can also track the success of your influencer marketing by tracking sales originating from influencers both in-store and online.
Here’s how a mPOS platform benefits your business operations:
- Omni Order Management
- Inventory Management
- Stock Replenishment
- Store & Multistock Management
- Promotion Engine
- Multiple Pricelists
- Influencer Codes
- Omni Insights & Reports
This is powered by our platform technology. A simple-to-use REST API makes it easy for third party services to integrate with the POS platform. These seamless integrations with CRM, eCommerce, Payments, ERP and other systems result in shared real-time data across all platforms
Features of Sitoo’s technology include:
- Cloud-native Infrastructure
- Single codebase for all customers
- Global Compliance
- Dynamic Scalability
- Open REST API
- Pre-built Integrations
- Native mPOS App, iOS & Android
- Offline Mode
Chapter 5: The biggest benefits of a mPOS platform
Retail has changed. Today, shoppers have a mobile first mindset and expect a unified retail experience across all channels. There is no online versus offline. As a retailer you need to sell everywhere and fulfill anywhere. A mPOS platform will help you springboard your business to the next level.
Unify All Sales Channels with Real-time Omni Data
By unifying the in-store and online sales channels you can sell everywhere and fulfill anywhere. Real-time product inventory alongside order and customer data across all systems enables Unified Commerce, ensures a seamless customer experience and, most importantly, means you never miss a sale.
With a platform based on the cloud, real-time retail is made possible and the master of the stock isn’t your ERP system, it’s your stores. In fact, with a mPOS system, stocktaking has never been easier and allows you to manage incoming deliveries, outgoing shipments and inventory directly from a mobile device.
So, as well as revolutionizing the in-store experience, a mPOS system and real-time data can transform your inventory management.
Which leads us to our next point…
Clean Out the Clutter & Minimize “Dead Inventory”
Unified commerce and real-time retail are two of those buzzwords we mentioned above, everyone in the industry is talking about. But in order for them to actually happen, inventory management has to move away from being initiated in the ERP system and being a centralized operation controlled from headquarters.
Unified commerce begins in your warehouses and with your warehouse quantities. Since traditional POS systems don’t communicate in real-time with your other systems then you’re not getting one, true view between your stores and online. It’s a problem store associates face everyday. Sure, they can check stock levels in another store but they have no real idea if it’s accurate which leads to a lack of trust in the system. The same applies to customers. They can check stock online but, because it’s not real-time data, there’s no guarantee it’s accurate. By eliminating the role of the ERP of being the master of stock in inventory management – where constraints are put on the ‘omni-flow’ – you can take a giant leap forward to delivering true real-time retail.
A unified view of your omni data, in one single place, makes it easier to manage inventory, orders and replenishment. It enables you to minimize your “dead inventory” and maximize your inventory availability. Global omni insights help you make the right decisions at the right time – making your business more efficient and more enjoyable.
It also helps you optimize your stock. If something is out of stock, your customers won’t purchase anything at all. By optimizing your stock levels you can increase your conversion rates while ensuring your customers are happy. This happens in two-ways; firstly, your stores will have real-time access to – and be able to sell from – all stocks, both online and from different stores. This means stores can fulfill straight away and the customer gets what they want. Secondly, you’ll be able to ensure your most popular items are never out of stock.
With pen and paper or batch file transfers, it’s impossible to get a true real-time view of stock levels. With a cloud native platform, everything is also up to date and gives you a true picture of stock levels across all stores at any given time. Real-time data gives you the possibility to have automated replenishment if this kind of functionality is beneficial to your stores.
Give stores back their autonomy
Somewhere along the line retail lost its way. Go back to market stalls at the start of the 20th century and they’d all know who their customers were, what they ordered, how much product they had in stock and how long it would take for stock to be replenished if they didn’t have anything. On the hyper-local and pop-up level, this still exists today but has been lost in larger retailers.
Through centralized models, retail has stripped away the power of individual stores. Using a mPOS platform for inventory management can radically improve this. Power is given back to your stores and they become the master of the stock. Your stores are where everything happens and, by putting control of stock back into the hands of stores, it’s easier for them to calculate what they need and when they need it as well as stock they don’t need. With a mPOS system, your stores can carry out smaller, rolling inventory checks through the app, saving huge amounts of time, making it easier to see what’s needed and making everything easier to keep track of.
By giving stores back their autonomy, they will have full control over their store stock and, even more importantly, the customer experience.
By supporting all omnichannel scenarios, across stock, purchase, payment and return you give your customers what they want, when they want it. With an improved service, line busting and a seamless experience across all channels you exceed customer expectations ultimately building trust and loyalty.
Speed of Implementation & 50% Lower Running Costs
One of the biggest benefits of a cloud native solution is, it’s scalable and easy to implement regardless of language, legal requirements or currencies. Having a system that’s scalable, easy to deploy and works across multiple locations is integral for ambitious global retailers who are growing fast.
With the best retail POS systems and mPOS systems you can run a successful, global, multi-location retail business on a single platform. All product information and inventories are synchronized in real-time and available in all locations, giving consumers unlimited choice on where and how to shop – making it possible for enterprise retailers to reach true unified commerce.
And, because the solution is in the cloud, you’ll always be running the latest version of the software, you’ll have access to new features as soon as they are released, and your long-term support costs will be a fraction of what they are with a legacy solution.
At Sitoo, we pride ourselves on speed of deployment. Roll outs of new software can be fraught with challenges, end up being huge time drains, and take many months to be successfully implemented. Thanks to our tight-knit team and our desire to make things happen, we’re able to deploy and roll out quickly, efficiently and with little to no waste time.
With our game changing technology and the constant evolution of the platform, you’ll get speed of implementation and up to 50% lower running costs. Through global compliance, pre-built integrations, dynamic scalability, and an easy-to-use open REST API, you can use the same system in all countries, scale with ease and efficiently springboard your business to the next level.
We’re undergoing rapid growth and continuing to expand into more countries while opening more stores. One of the key drivers for us choosing Sitoo as our global point of sale system has been how simple it is to operate, to roll-out and to scale. In addition to that, having Sitoo as our global retail payment system will also give us sales data from our different markets collected in one place. This will of course will have an important role in our expansion and growth. – Mathilda Sällberg, Global Retail Buyer, Happy Socks
As well as saving time by using a mPOS platform for inventory management, you’ll also save money. Because everything is run from an app you won’t have to invest in specialized hardware – it can all happen through a smartphone or a tablet. Your store associates use their smartphones to control all functions of their lives and, increasingly, they are also using them in a work setting giving more weight behind the argument of them using them in-store for work functions like inventory management.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Look out for more developments around inventory management in the near future includes the use of RFID – where the costs are being lowered and the technology is more readily available to retailers – which is set to be yet another game changer.
What’s more, one single codebase, a cloud-native infrastructure and an open REST API, unleashes new modern functionality and turns the complex into the simple. The platform constantly evolves, with continuous performance and functionality updates being included, and instantly made available for all Sitoo customers.
Empower your associates
Employee engagement has become one of the vogue terms across all industries but particularly in retail where there are high rates of staff churn and ongoing recruitment drives.
The logic is simple; keep an employee engaged, motivated and happy and they, in turn, will be more productive, more efficient, provide a better customer service, take less sick days, and be less likely to leave their job.
Yet, according to Gallup, only one third of sales associates in retail describe themselves as engaged at work. While it isn’t alone in this, the retail industry is struggling to look after its employees and the cost is spiralling – the Bureau of National Affairs in the US found the cost of disengaged employees to be $11 billion.
From better communication through to wellbeing at work, there’s an ever-growing number of ways retailers are trying to keep their employees engaged at work. Yet, one of the easiest is to get them using a mPOS system.
A mPOS system will immediately make life easier for your associates, freeing up their time so they can spend more of it with your customers. Because the system is operated through an app, it’s simple to use, easy to understand and requires little to no training. It’s a solution where you turn it on and it works. Everything is where you’d expect it to be and it makes life infinitely easier for your employees.
Give your associates the power to be better at what they do and make their job of helping customers a joy. With a mobile POS, access to endless aisle, omni orders, 360° view of customers, KPIs and efficient POS processes, you can turn every store into a fulfillment center. And with an Offline Mode stores don’t have to worry about interrupted connectivity.
Look at this way, your employee, let’s call him Bob, loves fashion. Nothing makes him happier than helping your customers find the perfect item. When they leave the store happy, it makes Bob’s day. But Bob doesn’t get to speak to many customers. He’s rooted behind a cash register waiting to process payments. His knowledge, love of fashion, and desire to help your customers are all going to waste. Bring in a mPOS system and this all changes – not only can Bob work the floor helping as many customers as possible, he can take payments wherever he wants. Everyone one wins.
Not only does an mPOS solution give your associates more time to spend with your customers, it makes them happier by removing the frustrations they have when trying to deal with tech that doesn’t work or isn’t doing it’s job properly.
Thanks to the ease-of-use, functionality and future-facing approach Sitoo offers, the store associates in the new Under Armour store will be able to focus their energy on providing great customer service rather than worrying about how the POS system works. – Peter Lindståhl, CEO, NRS
Chapter 6: Researching and choosing the best mPOS for your business
Deciding to invest in a new point of sale system and platform is a big decision for any retailer – even more so if you’re thinking about global expansion and a system you can use in all your marketplaces.
Introducing new systems, or even changing existing ones, will require effective change management, employee ‘buy-in’ and an initial investment of time and resources. But where should you start? Whether you’re changing solutions or investing in a mPOS system for the first time, we’ve put together the top questions you should be asking potential vendors.
1. Is it mobile-first and cloud-based?
If you’re still using a legacy system or have limited mobile functionality within your POS system, you’re making your own life much more difficult and compounding this for your employees and customers.
As a rule of thumb, our advice is to avoid investing in legacy solutions that require you to invest further in infrastructure to make the solution work. If the software is marketed as web-based, find out whether it is truly a 100% SaaS-service.
This means when you’re looking for a supplier, you need to choose a next generation supplier who has set a product strategy based on your industry’s future needs. The added bonus of having a cloud-based solution is you’ll always be running the most up-to-date version of the software with updates being rolled out by the software provider on a regular basis and requiring zero-effort on your part.
2. Is it easy to implement?
Historically, one of the biggest drawbacks to companies taking on new software has been the time it takes to implement. Many solutions remain too complex to set up and then to use effectively, leading to many businesses abandoning them or not using them to their potential. That’s why any solution you choose should be simple to setup and simple to use.
3. How important is research and development to the provider?
Before committing to a vendor, find out how important research and development is to them. Ask them what their roadmap is, what features they are developing and where they are going as a company.
4. Is it easy for your store associates to use?
Your employees will be the ones using your mPOS platform day in and day out. That’s why you want to find a solution that’s going to be easy for them to use. Look at the reviews of the software and seek feedback to see how easy it is for staff to use.
5. Is it scalable?
If you’re ambitious and want to grow, you need to find a software provider with the ambition to match your own and a product offering that can grow with you.
6. How good is the support?
Find out the level of support you’ll receive from the provider – both during the implementation phase and once you’re fully operational.
7. How well will it integrate with your other systems?
To unlock the benefits of real-time retail and unified commerce, you need a POS platform that talks to all the other areas of your infrastructure and is easy to implement.
8. Are you going to enjoy working with the provider?
Relationships are everything and you should find a provider you can trust, who has glowing reviews from their customers and who you are going to be able to form a long and productive relationship with.
9. Will it help save you time and money while delivering a return on investment?
Cloud-based mPOS systems have significantly lower ongoing costs than legacy systems. You need to find a solution that will save you time – both in your head office and in store – alongside being cost effective and saving you money. When it comes to measuring your new platform’s effectiveness, you should measure metrics like customer satisfaction, employee happiness, time savings on areas such as inventory management, average order value, turnover, store visits, and cost-savings in your IT budget.
10. Will it enable you to deliver real-time retail and unified commerce?
Customers are more informed and knowledgeable than ever before. They also have higher expectations of the in-store and online experience.
From the customer’s point of view, there’s no difference between online and in-store. They expect them both to act and operate in the same way and together – whether that’s for payments and promotions, delivery, loyalty programmes, or inventories.
This means, as an ambitious retailer, you need to have the right systems and technology in place so you can meet these expectations. Real-time data – like the kind you can get when you have a cloud-based mobile point of sale platform in place – gives you the power to sell everywhere and fulfil anywhere as well as transforming other aspects of your business like inventory management and employee engagement.
This is the key piece of the puzzle when it comes to delivering true real-time retail and unified commerce and any POS platform you choose should be able to deliver this for you.
‘Retail Death’ may have been over exaggerated but there’s no smoke without fire. Retail businesses of all shapes and sizes are feeling the pinch and barely a week passes without news from across the globe of another retailer struggling.
At the same time, we have stories of huge successes. Of retailers with booming stores, successful e-commerce, happy employees, and happy customers. More often than not, these success stories are from retailers who have embraced technology. They are the retailers of the future, operating today.
From the customer’s point of view, there’s no difference between online and in-store. They expect them both to act and operate in the same way – whether that’s for payments and promotions, delivery, loyalty programmes, or inventories.
This means, as an ambitious retailer, you need to have the right systems and technology in place so you can meet these expectations. Real-time data gives you the power to sell everywhere and fulfil anywhere as well as transforming other aspects of your business like inventory management and employee engagement.
This is the key piece of the puzzle when it comes to delivering true real-time retail and unified commerce.
Too many retailers fail because they become lost in the sea of sameness. There’s nothing to differentiate them from their competitors and – without a compelling proposition – consumers are more inclined to turn to places like Amazon for their shopping needs.
That’s why retailers have three things to get right: they need a strong point of view, a compelling story and they need strong execution. Success stories and some of the most respected brands in the world, like Patagonia, do this exceptionally well and because they get their point of view and story spot on, execution becomes much easier.
What’s more, the best brands need to be consumer obsessed, asking themselves what the consumer will do, act and feel at all times. The best technology in the world can solve many problems but it won’t change the fact that, at the end of the day, we’re all still human and it’s the human touch which will always set the best brands apart.
To be the best, you need to work with the best. We believe Sitoo is the leading retail POS system in the world and will help springboard your retail business to the next level.
To recap what we’ve learnt in this guide:
- Cloud-based and mobile point of sale systems and platforms are the only way forward for ambitious global retailers. They help you provide unified commerce and meet new shopping behaviours while saving you time and money.
- From the customer’s point of view, there’s no difference between online and in-store. They expect them both to act and operate in the same way and together – whether that’s for payments and promotions, delivery, loyalty programmes, or inventories. The customer experience should be seamless across both and customers should go away delighted whenever and wherever they interact with you.
- Your store associates are your heroes. That’s why any tech you invest in should make their lives easier and allow them to perform their role – and be your brand champions – as effortlessly as possible.
- The best mPOS solutions should be easy to implement and deploy. They should be able to grow with you and you should be able to use the same platform globally.
- Look for a mPOS system with the right amount of features. Everything should be there for a reason and should enhance the way you operate as well as making life simple for you and your employees.
The time to act is now. Transformation can only happen through action. Talk to us today and we’ll show you what the future of retail looks like and how a POS system built with decades of retail experience behind it can be the missing piece in your jigsaw.