Point-of-sale (POS) systems

When starting your business, it’s important to consider how you’ll capture and record your sales data. Gathering this information effectively can help you to measure your success over time and manage your business finances.

Point-of-sale (POS) systems are computer systems that help your business to process sales.

As your business grows, you may find you need to update or upgrade your POS system. This may depend on the type of business you run and the payment methods that your business uses. When choosing a POS system, make sure you consider how your business may change in the future.

What can POS systems do?

Depending on the system you choose, POS systems can automatically:

  • adjust sales income and inventory records
  • create receipts, invoices and tax invoices
  • process EFTPOS and credit and debit card sales.

It’s a good idea to think about the features your business needs before buying a POS system. For example:

  • Sam bought a POS system for his coffee shop. Easily keeping track of sales was the most important feature for him.
  • Julie runs an office supplies company. She needed something to help staff update inventory records as stock came in and out.

Buying a POS system

POS systems are available as either components or a packaged whole. Components of a POS system include:

  • software, such as:
    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to record information about your customers and your interactions with them to help improve their relationship with your business
    • operating systems, such as Apple OS X, Microsoft Windows and Unix, to run the basic functions of any computers within the POS system
    • record-keeping software to record sales
  • hardware, such as:
    • barcode readers
    • computers
    • EFTPOS machines
    • scales to weigh goods
    • touchscreens to select the goods and services you want to sell
    • printers, to print customer invoices and receipts
    • cash registers
  • human resources, such as:
    • contracts for maintenance services
    • training so your staff can use the system.

No one POS system is best. The right POS system depends on your budget and the needs of your business.

Costs and benefits of a POS system

If you’re choosing a POS system, it’s a good idea to think about its costs and benefits.

Benefits of POS systems can include:

  • being easy to use, such as having an user-friendly interface
  • fewer running costs, such as allowing customers to self-serve to buy goods
  • having features your customers want, such as supporting EFTPOS
  • low set-up costs
  • management functions, such as collecting data to help maximise your sales.

Costs of POS systems include:

  • running costs, such as:
    • repairs if the system breaks
    • electricity costs to run the system
    • maintenance costs, such as paying people or time taken to maintain the system
    • labour costs, such as using your time or paying staff to use the system to process sales.
  • set up costs, such as:
    • lost income if you need to temporarily stop trading to install the system
    • paying people to set up the system
    • the price to buy the system and its components.

Tips when choosing a POS system

  • Do your research – Make sure the benefits of a POS system outweigh its costs to your business before buying one.
  • Find out what support services are available for your system – Support services are important to help you maintain your system and may reduce your overall maintenance costs. For example, regular software updates and antivirus protection may help prevent unwanted malware and viruses entering in your system.
  • Think about your reporting requirements – Different POS systems offer different reporting features. Depending on the size of your business, you may find basic reporting requirements are best for your business. Alternatively, you may find more detailed sales data is beneficial (for example, it may help you identify seasonal sales trends, so may assist you with planning your recruitment or marketing activities).
  • Consider the future needs of your business – Choose a POS system that suits the needs of your business and customers now, but also meets your goals for growth in the future.

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