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POS Systems For Your Life-Cycle Stage

Buying the perfect point-of-sale (POS) system for your small retail business is a matter of evaluating your needs and picking a system with the features you want. But your store’s life cycle stage, budget and system capabilities will likely determine which system you choose.

Check out this guide on three retail life cycle stages and the POS systems best suited for each.

Retail Start-Ups

For retailers with one location and straightforward needs, the oldest POS system may still be the best: A cash register. Even the slightly more elaborate digital versions available today have the essential features of their wood-and-metal predecessors: manual price entry, automatic receipt generation and plug-and-play credit processing through an external credit card terminal.

For some retail small business owners, a simple solution is just the key. Melisa Ford Christie, co-owner of Arlington Centered in Arlington, MA, thinks having a basic cash register and credit card machine is just fine. "I’ll never be on the cutting edge — I like it better being old-school," she says. "I can keep track of inventory in my head, so I don’t need anything more advanced when it comes to a POS system."

Simple systems like a standard cash register can’t typically generate any detailed reports of sales trends, which can be useful. However, they remain a reliable, affordable and proven solution to help keep your growing business running.

More Established Businesses

For retailers that are a bit more established but may not require detailed reporting, an intermediate POS system is a good option.

Look for options that will let you:

  • Accept credit, debit and gift cards through integrated payment processing
  • Track inventory turns
  • Generate discrepancy reports to resolve errors in physical inventory
  • Track accounts payable and receivable

Retailers Ready for Business Expansion

The most powerful POS systems offer an intelligent sales system that interfaces seamlessly with every aspect of your business, from inventory figures and loyalty programs to coupons, promotions and multiple locations. Many include a touch screen that allows you to program messages (e.g., promotions) directed toward customers.

Be aware, however, of the extra expenses that can come with advanced POS systems. Software-based systems carry no monthly fees, but you must pay for software updates. Web- or cloud-based systems generally include free updates but require a monthly fee for the service.

Find the Right POS System for You

Getting the right POS system comes down to figuring out which features you absolutely need to run your business. If your business starts to grow and an upgrade becomes essential, look to the next tier of POS systems for features that can provide a clear return on investment.

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