Point of Sale Systems: How Small Retailers Use “iPad Cash Registers” To Operate Better

There are so many awesome technologies available for small retailers – from marketing, to sales, to customer management, to inventory management and everything in between.

One of the centerpieces of a retailers growth is the check out process. Unfortunately many retailers still use a traditional cash register – yep that plastic (or metal) kind that has some buttons and spits out a ink stained receipt. Fortunately, many retailers are finding that new point of sales solutions, often powered by an iPad and running through an online service are best.

They provide faster real time inventory management, built in loyalty options for customers, and can easily grow with the company.

Some of the leading vendors in this space include Shopkeep POS, LightSpeed, NCR Silver and VendHQ

I recently spoke with Justin Hotard, General Manger of NCR Silver, he shared with me that retailers who use better point of sale solutions are able to better manage their cash flow and account for the day to day financial flow of their company.

Justin explained that other benefits of a POS solution include it’s ability to integrate with other parts of the business and fulfill multiple roles. For example it can help with:

  • Being used as a time clock for employees
  • Integrate with your favorite accounting solution
  • Provide real time inventory management data
  • Provide faster and more visibility to your business operations (gross sales, profit, and more)
Justin is also very excited about the ability for a POS solution to delight and wow customers. When customers are making a purchase, it’s a nice to be able to give them special perks based on their past buying patterns. A properly implemented POS system can help seamlessly do this.

Dax Dasilva, founder of LightSpeed answered some questions for me about this evolving world of cloud based POS solutions

How do you choose the right POS platform for your retail store?

There have been so many POS innovations recently, but it is important to remember that mobile check-out is really just the baseline.To differentiate, merchants should be looking for a technology partner that innovates on everything else that happens long before customers reach the register, such as inventory management, store operations and providing a more personalized shopping experience. Retailers should also take into consideration what comes with the technology that you bring into your store. For instance, do you want a payments system that interrupts your brand experience with its own logo or disjointed look and feel? Or in the case of retail giants like Amazon entering the POS space, think about the impact of them gaining access to you SKUs, customer profiles and sales. What happens to the business in the long term?

2. Are online POS systems, in general, all the same?

POS systems are not one-size-fits all. Some alternate systems specialize more in online retail, or  brick-and-mortar stores with disposable or less complicated inventory, like coffee shops and restaurants. LightSpeed was designed to be brick-and-mortar first, and we have deep capabilities in terms of complex and high-volume inventory, pain points for many serious retailers. Merchants should think about their needs today and where they see their business in the future before settling on a vendor. LightSpeed also offers retailers the opportunity to completely brand their POS- as more and more retailers use tablets to engage with and check out customers on the showroom floor, it is increasingly important that your POS is an extension of your brand, not of someone else’s.
3. What are some best practices for getting the most out of a POS

Start by choosing a POS that supports your specific needs and inventory. Are you online of offline? Do you have one store or 10? How many SKUs do you have?  Also, consider the amount of training you’ll have to do with sales people. Choose a solution that enables your sales team to check customers out quickly and become experts on products and inventory, not one they’ll have to spend a ton of time learning how to use. Make sure you know everything you solution has to offer, including applications and settings that can help you create a more curated, personalized shopping experience. Also, take advantage of open API (if available) and customization options to make your POS right for you. For example, we recently updated  LightSpeed Cloud for iPad, and retailers can now transform their mobile POS into a seamless part of the in-store experience with custom logos, product images and personalized inventory look ups.
Last, make sure you consistently use your POS and input as much data as possible. The more inventory and customer profile information you can get into your system, the better you analytics will be. Then you can start personalizing promotions and customer engagement and using tablets as an extension of the sales team in-store.
Watch our interview with One Girl Cookies about their experience with an online point of sale system.

About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com & Infusionsoft. Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

  • Sam James

    iPad-based pos systems are just perfect for small business! I use Smart POS system in my restaurant and it’s really great and simple to use. Ordered it here http://posvt.com/
    Really recommend it for small stores or restaurants.