Therein lies the challenge. You can look at stat sheets and functionalities all day long, but the key is understanding where you are today and where you want to go tomorrow. Once that is fully understood, making the perfect match becomes a great deal simpler. Try answering the following questions to help guide the process.
Can you upgrade what you already have?
It’s almost always easier to upgrade an existing POS platform than implement a brand new one. It sounds obvious, but even retailers can get caught up in the behavior that they try to discourage in their customers at all costs: seeking a new provider without giving your existing one a second chance. If outdated technology is the driver for a new platform, is an upgrade available?
We almost always advise new customers to at least look into what options exist with their current providers before jumping ship. If upgrades aren’t available, that’s a good indicator that the current vendor isn’t keeping up with market needs and a great reason to look elsewhere. Feeling secure with a decision is also key, and the value of service and support can not be underestimated. So if that is something that isn’t possible with your current vendor, it is time to seek greener pastures.
What features will you really use?
POS equilibrium lies at the intersection of functionality and business needs. In other words, a platform with features that save time, money, and drive sales and customer experience are vital; but unneeded functionality that sits dormant is a waste of money. Your internal resources also play heavily into the equation: Do you have strong IT knowledge and staff, or do you need a turnkey solution? Understanding this will help determine whether a web based client or open database makes the most sense.
Equally important is understanding what your business will look like in the next 3-5 years. Are integrations with third party ecommerce partners important to your business? Will they be in the future? And what about mobile commerce? Strike a balance between not getting wooed by sexy features that you will never use and those that will become real drivers to success in foreseeable future.
What’s the future of the industry?
Seven, or even five years ago, it may have been tough to see that mobile commerce would become as important as it has. When new trends and behaviors emerge, the last thing you want is to be stymied by technology. It’s normal not to know what the long-term future holds, but partnering with a provider that has a history of responding early to trends and rolling out upgrades and new functionalities quickly will make sure you don’t get left in the dust.
Ian Goldman, President and CEO of Celerant Technology, is an expert software engineer and entrepreneurial enthusiast with an extensive knowledge of Point of Sale systems, CRM, and inventory management.