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Tips for Selecting Retail Point of Sale Software

From Jeff Haefner

Don't Make These Mistakes When You Buy a POS System

If you're like most retailers, you're worried about making a mistake when you choose point of sale (POS) software. I don't blame you. Buying POS software is a big investment. Not to mention, POS software can have huge impact on the efficiency and success of your retail business!

What's more, there are around 1,000 different POS systems to choose from. And they're all different. All these choices can be overwhelming and confusing. The truth is choosing POS software is very difficult. And too many retailers end up with the wrong system. In fact, it's common for retailers to go through 2, 3 or even 4 different POS systems before they find one they're happy with. Those mistakes probably cost at least $10,000 - $100,000.

Here are few mistakes that I see retailers making over and over again.

They Buy Hardware First

I can't tell you how many times I've heard a retailer say, "I just bought new computers, printers and I have everything ready to go. Now I need to find POS software." As soon as I hear that, I think to myself, "This guy could have saved himself a lot of time and money if he selected his POS software first!"


First of all, your POS software will have hardware and operating system requirements. For example, the software will require a certain version of Windows, Unix or Linux, unless it's an open architecture system. In addition, each program will only function with certain types of printers, scanners, cash drawers and card readers.

Second, and more importantly, not all POS systems are the same. And the system that you choose is very important. It will have a huge impact on the efficiency of your business. If you install your computer system first, you will limit your POS software choices. The perfect fit for your unique business might run on UNIX but you already bought a Windows 2003 Server. You might also find that the printers and scanners you just bought aren't compatible either.

You can avoid frustration and save money if you choose the POS software first. Then you can ask the software company about their recommended hardware and operating systems.

They Ask the Wrong People

All too often retailers ask a local computer consultant for suggestions about POS software. Most computer consultants have good intentions but they tend to give poor advice when it comes to choosing POS software.

Computer consultants are great sources for information about computers, hardware, and networking. However they don't usually understand the intricacies of POS software and retail management. Nor do they realize that there are almost 1,000 different POS systems to choose from and it's VERY easy to choose the wrong one.

Every retail business is different and has different needs. If you get poor advice and select the wrong type of system, your business will lose money.

They Don't Place Enough Focus on the Character of the Software Company

When you invest in point of sale software, you're buying a relationship, not just a product. In fact, the "quality" of the software company is usually just as important as the product.

Why is the software company so important? Well...

After you purchase the software, you will rely on the software company to supply updates, training, technical support, and possibly hardware.

Let me ask you a few questions to help you understand why the company is so important...

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