Future-proofing your POS system: how to tell if your system will grow with your business
Before we arrive in the exciting land of POS systems and scalability, let’s familiarise ourselves with a real world example of what happens when you don’t plan for growth.
You’re hosting a barbeque and you’ve invited ten people. Naturally, while shopping, you carefully select enough sausages and packets of crisps for this number. You leave the supermarket confident that there will be plenty to go around. But what happens when one person brings their partner, another brings their hungry flatmate, and your neighbours decide to ‘pop in’ for a while?
You’re now kicking yourself for not buying the extra packet of sausages and several more bags of crisps. To go back to the shops now, while the barbeque is in full swing, is not an option.
In case this wasn’t painfully obvious, the guests are your business, the barbeque is your POS system, and the sausages and crisps are its insufficient features and capabilities.
Choosing a scalable POS system for your business
You’re in this for the long haul and you want your chosen company to grow with you for at least the next five, seven, or fifty years (okay, that last part might not be possible)! The best way to plan for the future is to ensure you’re implementing a highly scalable POS system. How can you do this? Read our checklist and grill your potential POS providers!
We’ve provided some key questions to ponder and the features associated with them. Of course, it’s also a good idea to have a brainstorming session with employees, industry experts or some trusted friends to see what you might require in the future.
Will you hire employees?
You may start up as a one-man band or as a family business. While you may not have many or any employees at first, it’s important to consider whether this might change in the near future, as your business grows. Workforce management within your POS system is critical. Some features you may need from your POS system as more employees join:
- The ability to add new users and permissions
- Clock-in/out functionality to track hours worked
- Salary and tax management
Will you introduce new benefits for your customers?
As you get a better feel for your market and industry, you may want to spice things up for marketing campaigns, or simply reward your customers in new ways. Check that your POS system will be able to accommodate for items such as:
- Loyalty and rewards programs
- Gift cards
- Special promotions
- Big sales, e.g. stock take sales
Will you expand beyond one location?
We’re not just talking about physical locations; this also includes selling your product or service online (you can technically run two separate systems, but this is a waste of time and expensive). If you hope to be opening up more stores or selling via your website, your POS system needs to support this. This is true for all businesses, from big retailers with online stores to small pizza places introducing online ordering. Things to check with potential companies:
- If they support multiple locations and if there is any cap on this number
- If they offer an integrated ecommerce solution with impressive features
- If they offer multiple-currency support (for businesses selling their product or service internationally)
Will you need more complex reports?
When you first start out, the standard reporting features offered by any POS system will probably more than cater to your needs. However, as you grow, you may require more customised and complex data. It’s important to really think about how sophisticated you want your reporting to get. Some reporting features you may appreciate in the future:
- Ability to create customised reports
- Sufficient selection of pre-configured report options
- Multiple user access with varying permission levels
- Clean, good looking reports that are ‘boardroom ready’. This is particularly useful if you end up taking on business partners or investors.
Will you require more server space?
This is important as you accumulate more and more data over the years. Your POS provider should offer the opportunity to upgrade your service. Things to check:
- Check that your company will store unlimited data or at least offer the option as an upgrade.
- Ask your company if you’ll be sharing server space with other businesses and make sure you can move to a different server with more space should you need to.
Will you want to go totally mobile?
By totally mobile, we mean ‘access anywhere’ functionality, as well as selling from mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, and in store. This is what most tech-focused businesses are already doing (think Apple store) and traditional businesses are quickly following. Some features you’ll need:
- A cloud-based POS system that will allow you to access data from anywhere (your home, business trips, a trendy café, etc). This is also helpful if you’d like to offer employees the opportunity to work remotely in future. For more information, read our post on the benefits of a cloud-based POS system.
- Support for mobile devices in store, instead of the traditional cash register.
Will you need more customer support from your POS provider?
This is one of the most important considerations in this article. While it’s nice to know that you can upgrade features and functionality as needed, it’s not much help if support is minimal and upgrades are overly costly. Before selecting a POS system, you need to make sure that customer support will be with you all the way. Some notes on this:
- Free or reasonably priced support is a must if you plan to upgrade your service in the future
- Triple check that your chosen company won’t install your system and disappear on the tech support front. Scour the internet for reviews and ask in forums until you’re satisfied.
- Make sure that support is available when you’ll need it. For example, if you extend store hours in the future, you may want to contact support outside of normal business hours.
Choosing a POS software provider that will grow with your business
In addition to the points above, there are some key things you can look out for when choosing a company. Some indicators that your potential provider will move with the times (and your growing business):
- If the company currently serves large businesses with multiple locations and online stores it’s a good sign that they’ll be able to cater to your needs. Ask for a list of their existing customers and go from there.
- If the company is up to date with the latest in POS technology and offers cloud-based solutions, you can be pretty sure that future upgrades will be as smooth as possible.
- It’s easy to tell if a certain company is truly passionate about technology and continually improving their system. This is the kind of company you should be choosing.
Now you’ll always have enough sausages and crisps at the party!