A Beginner’s Guide to POS Software and Systems

POS Buyer's Guide

Investing in a point of sale (POS) system is one of the best things you can do for your business, but with so many options on the market, how do you determine which POS hardware and software best suit your business needs and your budget?

This guide can help you get on the right path to finding the perfect POS system for your business.

Step 1: Define Business Needs

No one wants to waste time and money on a POS solution that lacks needed capabilities, or has unnecessary features that increase the price. To avoid purchasing a system that isn’t right for your business, you need to identify the specific challenges that you will need your new POS system to address.

Start by asking yourself:

  • Is business suffering because customers must often wait in long lines at the POS?
  • Do shoppers frequently leave your establishment empty-handed because you don’t have the merchandise they want?
  • Are you spending too much time managing employees or trying to find out why your sales volume often doesn’t jibe with your inventory levels?
  • Do you want to attract new customers?

Once you have clearly identified your business needs, research which POS functions address them. The list of functions you need your new system to provide will help narrow the field of choices when you shop for a new POS system.

Step 2: Set a Budget 

Decide how much your business can afford to spend on a POS system. By most accounts, the average industry investment in POS systems total 2 to 3 percent of retailers’ annual volume, and 1 to 1.5 percent of restaurant operators’ annual volume. Consider ongoing costs, such as software maintenance/updates, hardware maintenance, and technical support.

Step 3: Shop for Software

As you consider your options, you will find that not every software solution is compatible with all POS hardware. Selecting your software first will prevent you from being limited in functionality.

There are different types of software you can choose from:

  • Native. Native POS software is installed on your POS hardware. It is easier to customize then cloud-based software.
  • Cloud-based software (Software-as-as-Service, or SaaS). In a SaaS model, software is delivered via the cloud, and you pay for it on a monthly subscription basis. Also, cloud-based software can be accessed from anywhere there is an Internet connection, giving you enhanced visibility into, and control over your operation. Customizing this type of software may be difficult.
  • Hybrid software. This software can be run online in the cloud or offline.

Step 4: Find Compatible Hardware

The POS software you choose will dictate the POS hardware that you can use. In many cases, however, there will still be a number of options to choose from. Some of the choices you must make are related to how your employees will use the system. For example:

  • What is the preferred input method? Some operators favor keyboards or a scanner interface for POS data input, while others prefer a touchscreen interface that facilitates faster data input and easier training for new employees.
  • Will you use mobile POS? POS functionality on a tablet or other mobile device can give you line-busting, in aisle assist, and pay-at-the-table capabilities that can greatly enhance customer experiences. Your options include adding mobile POS to a traditional, stationary system, or using mobile POS alone.
  • Which peripherals are needed? You need to consider printers, cash drawers, PIN pads, payment card readers, and barcode scanners, and select the model that best suits your needs.
  • Will you accept all forms of payment? Make sure your new system gives your customers the ability to pay by their preferred method. Now that the U.S. is migrating toward EMV payments, all new POS systems should have the ability to accept chip card payments. Failure to do so can result in bearing liability for fraudulent payment card changes. Also consider trends that indicate emerging payment types. Mobile wallet use, for example, is gaining ground. To accept payments of this type, you’ll need POS solutions that include near field communications (NFC) technology.
  • Which terminal design do you prefer? A traditional POS terminal design may work well for your business. If space at the checkout counter is limited, however, you may want to consider a more ergonomic solution with a smaller footprint, such as an all-in-one configuration that incorporates basic peripherals (e.g., printers, cash drawers, credit card readers, PIN pads, and customer displays) or a tablet POS system. You will also find options that are aesthetically pleasing and don’t detract from a store’s dècor or restaurant’s ambiance.

For more information on choosing a POS system, download our POS Software and Systems Buyer’s Guide eBook.

Star Technology Day Recap

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Star Micronics would like to thank everyone who attended our very first Star Technology Day event hosted in Mexico City! Star Micronics had a wonderful time catching up with our customers and partners, and showing off all of Star’s newest technology. We’d like to share some of the highlights from the show for anyone who may have missed out.

IMG_2506While Star has a reputation for attending a variety of trade shows and events throughout the year, this was our very first Star-hosted event for distributors, resellers, end-users, and software partners. We were very excited to host our own event and showcase some of our newest products and technology.

Star Micronics spent the day showing off our newest TSP100III thermal receipt printer, now available with Wi-Fi connectivity and simple “Push ‘n’ Connect” WPS connection, making it the easiest wireless set-up in the industry. Also featured was Star’s all-in-one mPOP™, mobile point of purchase solution with built-in cash drawer and printer peripheral for tablet POS. Star was also showcasing our very own digital receipt application, AllReceipts™, which allows customers to store digital copies of their receipts, and provides more customer engagement for retailers with new features such as Engage NOW and Receipt Flip.

Star was proud to host a number of our software partners, allowing them to demonstrate their POS and mPOS software in conjunction with Star products. Software partners included GoNet, iPOS by Ivan, iZettle, Pacific Soft, MSP, National Soft, MyBusiness POS, SkyPOS, and Touch Bistro.

Thank you again to all who attended and we look forward to seeing everyone next year!

But what does Star Micronics really do?

In conversation recently, I was asked that same old question “What does your company do?” As an automatic reaction, I delivered my well-rehearsed reply how ‘we provide consumers with proof of purchases at millions of location worldwide.’ After delivering the response, I realized how dramatically the company has changed in recent years and it was time to redefine the new Star Micronics.

As I took inventory of the company, our people, the markets, and our key differentiators, I could quickly see a what the value of the new Star Micronics. Although every company is proud of products, services and solutions, it is truly our family that make Star shine.

Star Micronics is blessed to have an experienced team of trusted sales advisors for our partners that has over 210 years of industry experience which equates to over 17 years per team member. When you are speaking to a member of the Star channel sales team, you can be confident you are consulting with the best in the industry. As the company and industry have rapidly evolved, so have our partners. Star Micronics is proud to welcome new partners to the Star family every day by embracing long term industry stables that recognize the status quo is over and Star is leading the path to the future and new industry partners that bring ideas and technology to our rapidly changing market.

For many companies mobility is just another trend or challenge but to Star Micronics Business Development team, this was our moment to demonstrate our “Always Leading, Always Innovating” spirit. Our team recognized that the mobility was the future, mobility was the disruptor that the once stagnant POS industry needed. Star embraced mobility and recognized that the world of feeds, speeds and emulations was over. The new mobile world opened the doors to integration, connectivity, and solutions. Star Micronics America invested in the right people to capitalize on the new mobile world and now 25% of our workforce is in the integration and market solution team – helping ISVs and end-users utilize our SDKs and new connected solutions. Behind the scenes, the Star family from Operations, Finance, IT, Human Resources and Sales Administration makes it happen everyday.

The next time you ask me about my company, I will be proud to say that ‘the new Star Micronics is the market leader that drive innovative solutions today and a family of proven partners for success tomorrow.
Michael Hanson