Looking for your first or next point of sale (POS) system can be daunting. I’ve walked in your shoes, and that’s part of the reason I’m such a fan of cloud POS. So what should you look for in a cloud POS? I must warn you: At this point in my career as the president of a cloud POS provider, my standards are very high.
1. You should look for a solution that simplifies your life rather than complicating it — one that doesn’t turn you into the information technology (IT) person but lets you focus on the reason you got into business in the first place.
2. Be sure to look for software written in a modern, 21st-century cloud-native programming language (rather than 20-year-old legacy code wrapped up to look like cloud).
3. Open application programming interfaces (APIs): Modern cloud POS systems offering open APIs are more likely to be compatible — natively — with partner services such as third-party mobile ordering and payment vendors, who have developed their services using modern code.
4. You want a solution that works the way your restaurant or retail business does, so you aren’t forced to use specific hardware or limit the ways your kitchen can accept orders.
5. Be on the lookout for a cost model that works for your business. Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid having to pay five figures for hardware up front, plus perpetual fees for licensing, per terminal costs and support? Wouldn’t you rather avoid the financing fees for borrowing capital and instead pay one low monthly fee for everything that’s based on your actual revenue without per terminal costs, hidden fees or “gotcha” charges for who knows what?
6. You should also look for a POS with a core set of functionality included in the base price and a menu of add-on options. This serves three goals for the business owner or manager. First, it gives you the functionality you need without complicating your interface with things you don’t need. Second, it grows with you. Third, it keeps the price at a level that will work for your budget. If you’re a small startup, why buy something suited for a large enterprise system on day one at enterprise prices?
7. A complete platform (rather than a best-of-breed approach) reduces vendors, headaches and costs and gives you one integrated view into the data for your entire business without manual data gymnastics. This one bears a bit of explanation since it’s so encompassing. POS is just one part of a comprehensive set of integrated capabilities that span checkout (if you run a retail operation) or ordering/front of house to back of house (if you have a restaurant) to budget and finance, management and administration (labor scheduling/forecasting) and payroll, for example, all the way to customer engagement and marketing. In today’s digital-first age, whenever possible, it’s best to have an inclusive application or an integrated set of tools from one provider than a hodgepodge of solutions from multiple vendors.
8. A provider with the technology stack, upgrade path and willingness to work with you to transition to the cloud as your needs, budget and operational constraints allow. In an earlier post, I shared how cloud POS providers can seem more like your advocate than your adversary. That’s because features can be released much more quickly than older Windows server POS solutions.
9. A solid, well-funded, stable provider who can endure the considerable expense of developing and sustaining a cloud POS development project, as well as the expense and time involved in marketing it.
10. A vendor with a positive reputation among technology resellers and end users.
Your restaurant or retail business depends on your POS. Choose wisely, because once you decide and go through implementation and training, it can be very expensive to switch. I hope you find these guidelines helpful as you evaluate your options.