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Point of Sale FAQs
When it comes to making a vital purchasing decision like buying a point of sale system, it's essential to take the time to ask questions and get all the facts. Ask for demos and walkthroughs of the software. Ask for references from other businesses like yours. Moreover, never accept anything less than a solution that truly fits your unique business needs.
Q:
What features should I look for in a POS system?
A:
From full-service restaurants and bars to small retail boutiques and salons, your needs at the point of sale will vary significantly from one industry to another. Here are some features to look for that are relevant to your industry:

Core POS features
  • Basic inventory management
  • Employee management
  • User permissions and access levels
  • Customer management and loyalty program
  • Sales reporting and analytics
  • Gift card support
  • Vendor management
  • Third-party integrations to other business management solutions

Restaurant and bar POS features
  • The ability to split checks by item or dollar amount
  • The ability to merge checks or transfer checks between servers
  • Print tickets from the POS to the kitchen or support for a Kitchen Display System (KDS)
  • Happy hour pricing
  • Open and run tabs with a credit card authorization
  • Integrated online ordering
  • Raw goods tracking
  • Liquor inventory control
  • The ability to split checks by item or dollar amount
  • The ability to merge checks or transfer checks between servers
  • Print tickets from the POS to the kitchen or support for a Kitchen Display System (KDS)
  • Happy hour pricing
  • Open and run tabs with a credit card authorization
  • Integrated online ordering
  • Raw goods tracking
  • Liquor inventory control

Retail POS features
  • Advanced inventory management and retail matrix
  • Easy product lookup
  • Simple return and refund process
  • Split payment methods
  • Customer-facing display
  • Promotions and discount management
  • Layaway tracking and management
  • Consignment management
  • Rental management
  • eCommerce integration
  • Advanced inventory management and retail matrix
  • Easy product lookup
  • Simple return and refund process
  • Split payment methods
  • Customer-facing display
  • Promotions and discount management
  • Layaway tracking and management
  • Consignment management
  • Rental management
  • eCommerce integration

Salon and Spa POS features
  • Appointment booking
  • Online appointment booking
  • Stylist scheduling
  • Client profiles and management
  • Class or group scheduling
  • Member management
  • Room assignment management
  • Appointment booking
  • Online appointment booking
  • Stylist scheduling
  • Client profiles and management
  • Class or group scheduling
  • Member management
  • Room assignment management
Q:
How much should I expect to spend on a POS system for my business?
A:
While there is no right answer, you want to stick to a budget without compromising core functionality to run your business efficiently. Typically, your point of sale system budget should range between 0.5 percent to 5 percent of your yearly revenue. Here are some costs you should expect to pay and include in your budget:

POS Setup and Installation
Depending on the point of sale system you choose, you may have an option for a guided setup from the POS company or the POS reseller. Some companies like Harbortouch will offer this service at no additional cost; while others can cost $600 or more.

POS Software
Point of sale software can range from free to thousands of dollars a month, depending on your specific business needs. For cloud-based POS options, expect to pay $50 - $100+ per month, per workstation.

For traditional (a.k.a legacy POS software) expect to pay a more substantial lump sum upfront for the software and have minimal recurring costs.

POS Hardware
Point of sale hardware are the peripheral devices that work with the POS software. For small-ticket items such as cash drawers, barcode scanners, or receipt printers, you can expect to pay $100 - $300 per device. A touchscreen monitor or tablet will set you back an additional $300 - $700 per unit.
Q:
What about fees? What should I expect?
A:
It's a very important question.

Credit Card Processing Fees
Although some companies offer flat-rate, transparent pricing, the reality is it's not that cut and dry. Factors like the type of business you operate to the kind of credit card the customer uses, all play a role in determining the actual cost of that transaction to the business owner.

Additional Fees
Be on the lookout for additional miscellaneous fees such as premium or VIP customer support fees, account maintenance fees, and statement fees that will vary from one provider to the next.
    Q:
    What's the difference between cloud-based POS systems and legacy POS systems?
    A:
    It all boils down to network infrastructure.

    Legacy POS systems use a locally installed server at the business location. All your business data is stored on-site.

    With cloud-based POS systems, the point of sale system connects directly to the internet and stores your business information on a remote server (a.k.a the cloud).
    Q:
    What happens if my internet connection fails? Will I still be able to use the POS system offline?
    A:
    The answer to this question largely depends on the network infrastructure of the point of sale system.

    If the POS system is strictly cloud-based and relies on an internet connection to transmit data, the answer is no; your POS system will not work offline.

    If the POS system uses a local server it will work without an internet connection, however, with some limitations.

    If the POS system uses a local server, and the server transmits data to a remote cloud server, then yes; your POS system will work without an internet connection.
    Q:
    What are my options when it comes to credit card processing and merchant services?
    A:
    These days, most POS software companies are associated with an in-house payment processor. Therefore, if you want to use the POS system, you'll have to use their payment processing to accept credit or debit cards.

    If a POS company claims they are processor agnostic (meaning you can use your current provider), they will most likely make it very hard for you to do so.
    Q:
    What is PCI DSS and why is it important?
    A:
    PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It is a widely accepted set of policies and procedures intended to optimize the security of credit, and debit card transactions to protect cardholders against misuse of their personal information.

    The technologies used to accept payment cards must follow these security protocols to ensure customer information is protected from potential data breaches.
    Katie:
    How do I purchase a POS system?
    Q:
    Typically, there are two ways to purchase a POS system — directly from the POS software company, or from a third-party reseller. Some point of sale companies sell direct to the end-user, while others rely on a network of dealers to resell their product and services.
    Q:
    After I purchase a POS system, who will set up and install the new point of sale?
    Support:
    This all depends on which POS system you choose. Some companies or resellers include this service with your initial purchase of the solution. Other software providers may charge a hefty set-up fee, and others may not even offer this type of service at all.
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