When choosing the technology your business will use to process payments, you want to ensure that your investment will deliver the greatest return. To do this, you need to select the solution that provides the optimum combination of functionality, efficiency, and security. Does this mean you should opt for a customized POS system built specifically for your business, or a pre-configured off-the-shelf point of sale product?
A business’ point-of-sale system plays a crucial role in daily operations, and has a direct impact on the overall profitability of the company in several ways. Due to the vital functions a POS system performs, it’s of utmost importance that the payment processing solution offers the optimum combination of features that are most valuable for the business. For some companies, a standard off-the-shelf point of sale system will be perfectly capable of meeting their needs and delivering a fast, secure, and efficient transaction experience for customers. However, there are many instances where there are unique factors at play for the business which necessitate the implementation of a custom POS solution.
Determining which type of system is best requires looking closely at the different pros and cons of the different POS options, and comparing those against the specific needs of your business. In doing this, you will be able to identify the type of POS solution that will provide the greatest return on investment, and set the stage for continued success and growth for your business. Let’s begin by examining off-the-shelf POS systems, the various advantages they offer, and what potential challenges might arise.
Reasons to Choose an Off-the-Shelf POS
Off-the-shelf POS systems are often referred to as ‘all-in-one’ systems, as they generally include all the hardware and all the software needed to process payments in a single package. This has the advantage of providing simple setup & fast configuration for the business, allowing them to get up and running in a very short period of time. With the hardware and software both designed to work together in harmony, there are often far fewer steps in the set-up process. In addition, these types of POS systems tend to come in at a lower price point due to their all-in-one design and standardized feature set. This helps make them particularly appealing for start-ups and small to medium businesses who are looking for the most affordable payment processing option.
Another benefit to off-the-shelf POS systems is the ability to obtain technical support from a variety of different sources. The standardization of these POS systems, and their widespread usage by a diverse range of businesses, means that there are many resources available to assist with troubleshooting in the event that problems arise. Even if the merchant services provider you obtain your POS system from does not offer ongoing support, chances are good that there will be other providers that will be able to provide ongoing technical support on either a contract or on-demand basis.
One notable advantage that off-the-shelf POS systems have over custom one-off solutions is that they provide a familiar user experience to both customers and employees of the business alike. Since many businesses that choose to go with an off-the-shelf solution will be using the same or similar POS hardware and software, there’s very little learning curve to get new employees up to speed on proper usage of the system. This saves time on training and reduces the likelihood of user error. Customers will also feel very comfortable using POS systems of this type, and will have no problem completing their transactions quickly.
Even with these advantages, there are certain aspects of standardized off-the-shelf POS systems that could present an obstacle for some businesses as they grow, as market conditions evolve, or as consumer behaviour patterns change.
Challenges of Stock POS Systems
One potential downside to choosing a stock POS system is the inherent limitations in functionality that many of these systems have. For example, there could be restrictions on what other types of hardware or software that can be connected to the POS system, such as barcode scanners, printers, ecommerce integrations, or other important business tools. In other cases, there may not be the ability to use value-added apps to expand your POS capabilities. In the event that you may want to leverage built-in inventory control tools or scheduling apps, an off-the-shelf POS system may not be able to achieve these tasks.
Another consideration is there will inherently be a lack of differentiation among businesses who use similar or identical payment processing systems. This can come at a cost in the form of lower competitive differentiation, as your business may end up offering a very similar, if not identical, checkout experience to your competitors.
Furthermore, some standard POS systems are not always future-proof. Hardware and software can have limitations on what can be upgraded to meet changing demands, which can present a significant challenge in the future if new payment methods or technologies are introduced that are outside the scope of what your POS can handle.
Ultimately, for some businesses these concerns will be minor, and an off-the-shelf POS will be able to deliver all the functions needed to provide a positive customer experience. For these businesses, the advantages of off-the-shelf POS systems far outweigh any possible downsides.
On the other hand, there are many companies that will need features and functions that are simply not standard options provided by off-the-shelf POS systems. In these situations, the best option will be to seek out a merchant services partner that offers custom point-of-sale solutions and complete implementation services. Even so, it’s important to have a clear view of what advantages custom POS systems have, and what to watch out for before you commit to implementing one.
Benefits of Custom Point-of-Sale Solutions
The most prominent advantage that custom payment processing systems have is their enhanced functionality and ability to perform a comprehensive array of business operations tasks. For example, inventory control is a challenge for businesses that operate out of multiple retail locations. Having a custom POS system that includes real-time inventory reporting and automatic replenishment capabilities can help reduce overhead costs and improve efficiency. Incorporating other business tasks into a single point of contact through the POS system can have similar advantages, boosting profitability and increasing the ROI of your investment in POS technology.
Having a custom POS terminal can also deliver benefits in the form of competitive differentiation. With a customized POS interface, you can present value-added options to customers during the checkout process that are exclusive to your business. These could include such things as loyalty programs and email list sign-up prompts, or offers to increase average order value such as extended warranties, home delivery options, and other types of discounted add-ons that customers may be interested in.
Greater efficiency is another significant advantage that custom POS systems bring to the table. This comes in the form of an optimized checkout flow specific to the nature of the products or services the business offers. Sometimes businesses require additional info at the point of sale that cannot be entered in the standardized interface of an off-the-shelf POS. This would require the use of time-consuming workarounds to achieve the same result. Custom POS systems eliminate wasted time by streamlining the entire transaction process and making it as fast and efficient as possible.
Custom POS systems can also be configured to be complete business operation tools, incorporating the tools needed to manage marketing programs, customer loyalty initiatives, ecommerce sales, and much more, into a single easy-to-use platform. Choosing a custom POS system gives you the opportunity to leverage powerful reporting and analytics functions to obtain valuable insights into how your business is performing. This type of information is vital to developing more impactful marketing plans, optimizing business processes, and guiding the strategic direction of your company.