Point of sale (POS) systems selection for restaurant, retail, salon, entertainment, and for hotel/resort properties with multiple store locations or application types can be a difficult task when presented with all of the apparent options available. I emphasize the word “apparent”, because in reality the options are very few.
Even when opening one business location, if your intent is to expand and grow with other stores opened in the same town, different states, or on multiple continents, the right point of sale selection decision is important now. Think of your new business as you would a growing child. When you buy the child a new pair of shoes, you don’t want to get a pair in the exact size, but would want them to have some room to grow in so you are not back at the store looking for new shoes every other week until they are an adult.
Selecting the right point of sale (POS) system now, will insure you have a system which will not need to soon be replaced, it will help you to grow by providing the information and data needed for short and long-term planning, and insures you will not need to look for alternatives as you expand your business.
As it relates to multiple locations, or mixed use for retail point of sale and restaurant point of sale integrated into one management system, by making the correct POS selection now, you could be saving tens of thousands of dollars later. But very few point of sale systems include one software program for multiple business location and type application capabilities.
Look for a system that was designed for Cruise ship and Hotel/Resort applications. Because of the unique Point Of Sale application needs, including central management and administration of multiple store types like restaurants, retail gift shops, and services like boat rental or Salon/Spa in the same property, the system inherently functions in all of these applications with a single point of administration and data sharing within one software package.
Why is single POS Software with the power to operate and administrate more than one type of business important? Because, without this capability you will need to use separate software programs, administrated separately, and without seamless integration of users, inventory, time and payroll, reporting, etc. Instead of true central management capability, you will find yourself managing and making changes in multiple software applications for each business location. Once again, most Point Of Sale options will require you to specify if you want the Restaurant version, Retail version, or the Salon version, etc. if they have options and that is what you get.
What is “True multi site central management”? Most point of sale companies will say you can manage your multiple store locations from one central office or store. But be assured, the majority of these are not offering a true multi site central management capability, which includes a shared central database connected to each store through a real-time secure VPN (Virtual Private Network) or Internet connection. Instead, they offer standard remote desktop or file management capabilities that are great for doing troubleshooting of a system problem, but not as a central management system. Make sure the system has a True multi site central management capability known as (HOM) or Head Office Module.
So enough about the “Why”, let’s get to the how! Eliminating point of sale system options that will not meet your current or future operational needs is a relatively simple task when you know the basic indicators to judge a system by. We have already touched on a few of them, and here is a complete list of questions you can ask in order to weed out the fray:
1. The “database” platform and design needs to be one that is secure, robust, and reliable.
a. What type of database does the system use? If the answer is anything other than a SQL or MSQL database, run and do not walk to the nearest exit or plan on staying awake at night with nightmares regarding point of sale failures during a Friday night rush.
b. Does the system utilize a single database, or multiple databases? The system should have one central database. Some exceptions may apply.
2. The methodology behind the “central management” capability. Remember, you need to know if the system truly has remote management capabilities, or if the Vendor is just offering remote desktop or file access. There is a big difference.
a. Can I manage and administrate my store or multiple store locations from one or more offsite locations? Most will state yes, but it is kind of like asking someone if the used car you want to buy has an automatic transmission. The answer may be yes, but that does not mean it works well in reverse.
b. How is the remote management done? Is it using a remote desktop tool accessing the store computer, or do I use my Back Office administration program on my offsite computer with integration to a central database? At this point, you have totally impressed the Vendor with your technical Savvy, and they may not be able to answer your question. Wait to get the answer before selecting this or any other system because this question is the lance through the heart of any low budget Point Of Sale system that will not grow with your business.
3. Using one primary software program for any type of, or combination of business applications including Restaurant, Retail, Salon/Spa, Rental, Hotel/Resort, Entertainment, etc. Be very direct and specific in describing your expectations.
a. I want one single software program installed on a computer that will provide point of sale function and administration for restaurant, retail, salon/spa, hotel, etc. Do you have such a single program capability? This is what separates the big dogs from the miniature poodles. If you now have or believe you will have a future need to operate and manage multiple types of businesses from one location, very few can meet this requirement.
Ok, so you don’t see yourself as a business that needs all of those sophisticated Point Of Sale capabilities. You say “I am just a small business person trying to run a sandwich shop, and I only plan on selling sandwiches, so why care about all of this”? First, keep in mind that at one time a small sandwich shop operator had a sub shop called Subway, another called McDonald’s, and others started as a small business just like you with only one business like selling fresh made gourmet coffee and eventually found that they offered as many retail products as food products in their stores.
The strengths and capabilities of a point of sale system are just as relevant in a small single store and use application as in a large multi store, or use franchise or enterprise. If a system demonstrates the ability to operate and manage well in these larger multi store or mixed type of business applications, it will certainly perform and serve you better in a small single store operation.
So now that you are better informed and have the basic knowledge needed to select a great Point Of Sale system instead of just another POS, you can begin spinning the heads of all those point of sale vendors banging on your door, and know how to pick a system for today and future business needs.