Gone are the days during which the retail industry’s point of sale (POS) process consisted solely of selling a product and capturing a transaction. Today’s POS systems differ significantly from their predecessors – so much so that some systems that were considered state-of-the-art a few years ago can no longer meet the demands of today’s customer-centric retail environment. But why is this the case? Because more advanced POS is needed to meet customer demand for today’s shopping experience and is what is driving software engineers to develop POS systems that truly support omni channel shopping.
Retailers on the frontier of this new POS landscape are thriving because they can now meet customer expectations, thanks to their investments in cutting edge retail store systems. But not all retailers have embraced the evolution of POS systems. Consequently, those businesses are finding themselves lagging behind in areas of operation that modern POS systems are designed to enhance. Here at RPE Solutions, we specialize in retail point of sale solutions. Our goal is to help businesses smoothly transition into a more robust POS system and avoid any headaches that may accompany the implementation process. Over the years, we’ve noticed that POS system upgrades often involve jumping a few hurdles; but we’ve also noticed this: How often retailers find themselves leaping depends entirely upon which track they choose to run. With that in mind, our team of industry-leading IT professionals put together this list of steps for executives and IT managers to take when evaluating POS systems for potential implementation.
1. Develop a software roadmap. Take into account every third party application used to support the POS system. Database applications, payment applications, Java and messaging systems need to be considered. How will the vendor respond to updates? Will newer versions be supported? Questions like these help estimate future industry changes. Doing so correctly can significantly impact your bottom line.
2. Outline a hardware, platform and infrastructure roadmap. By that, we mean you should consider applications’ platforms. What are each vendor’s implementation and support costs? Be sure to include communication ports, 64-bit, multi-core CPUs and operating system updates. Doing so is key, in order to avoid disruptive and costly upgrades, and to ensure compatibility between POS interfaces and other key systems.
3. Assess the tender and payment authorization process. This means conducting a full evaluation of all payment processes. How secure are they? Older systems may need to be replaced. This will help you meet PCI compliance and EMV requirements. Moreover, this will help you eliminate the potential for data breaches.
4. Review ease of management. Minimal support is key, and the less moving parts the better. Consider how real time data is managed. Again: Think about security, and take care when investigating, because you’ll need to figure out how the POS system will respond when a network is down. Doing so will ensure you’re getting optimal real-time data flow to stores. This kind of accuracy will ultimately reduce support costs.
5. Evaluate basic functionality. Most retail point of sale solutions have basic functionality, but you should consider what the most important modules for your business are. Ask yourself these questions:
• What are the basic functions needed, like search capabilities and refund handling?
• What kind of extended functions, like special orders and send sale/pickup, do you need?
• What are the back office functions, like corporate reporting, loss prevention and auditing?
• What inventory management operations are there? Think about ordering, receiving, transfers and physical inventory.
6. Understand today’s modern functionality. You need to optimize the customer’s shopping experience. Look into how the POS system captures customer data and records behavior. POS systems that accommodate modern shopping from all perspectives will ultimately help drive sales and build brand loyalty through their impact on customer relations.
7. Address security concerns. Examine process flow and storage, especially in regards to payments. Security gaps can immeasurably impact businesses for the worse. You’ll want to make sure the POS system meets any and all compliance requirements.
8. Estimate costs and understand what’s included. POS upgrade and replacement costs vary greatly depending on license fees, maintenance and support fees, payment processing charges, and other miscellaneous costs that add up. Good estimates will help you control your ROI during the selecting, design and implementation process.
We hope you found this useful. If you’re looking into retail store systems, take a look around our site for information about what we can do for you here at RPE Solutions, or give us a call today to schedule a consultation with one of our industry-leading IT professionals.