12 Tips For Choosing the Right Retail POS Software and Vendor Partner

When searching for a point of sale (POS) software and Vendor partner for your specialty retail business, here are some questions to ask yourself and a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Does the prospective vendor provide insight into how the POS software can help your operations run better? POS vendors are professionals and should be able to provide sound professional advice specific to your retail business. Specialty retail is complex as no two businesses operate the same way. Your POS vendor should have experience with your retail model and be able to easily justify your return on investment (ROI).
  2. Does the vendor have a project team assigned to your installation? A Project Management team to mange your expectations throughout the entire implementation process, while making sound business recommendations? A qualified trainer to teach your staff the features of your new system in terms that you can relate to? A dedicated support staff to help you through your installation? A customer service manager to take care of your ongoing needs and a competent technical staff to implement and integrate the technology into your business? Choosing the right POS software and vendor partner is about more than just purchasing software and expecting big results. The right vendor partner will have these dedicated project teams standing by to help you increase the ROI of your initial POS software purchase.
  3. Does the vendor have customer references specific to your type of business? It is important that your vendor partner is willing to list clients that have benefited from their expertise. References can tell you more about the vendor than the vendor can. Ask about service and support received, response time, after hours responsiveness, integrity and professionalism. You may even ask for references who have had some issues – issues do occur in the real world and it is beneficial to hear how the vendor responded.
  4. Does the vendor provide a turnkey solution for equipment, maintenance, software, support and training? Hopefully so, because this demonstrates that the vendor is capable of providing support for the entire Retail Management Solution, which eliminates a need for separate support call for each component. When you need help with a problem, you don’t want to hear that it’s not the vendor’s problem. Having a single number to call in a crisis is priceless.
  5. What is the vendor’s focus? Does the vendor understand your business? The vendors focus should be on your industry. POS software is available for many unrelated industries so you want the partner you choose to specialize in your business focus. A true retail solutions provider should be able to know your “hot buttons,” terminology and issues.
  6. Is the vendor able to customize special requests that you may have? (i.e., custom modifications, reports, accounting details etc.) A POS system should be attuned to your business focus and enable you to improve operations, while decreasing costs. The dealer should be able to assist you in customizing the POS to meet your specific needs. A good test of this may be customizations already developed for your type of business.
  7. Does the vendor understand accounting? When the month is over, your financial statement should be ready for you to review. Timely and accurate financial information is critical to running any business. When integrating your POS System, there are many ways you can save time. For instance, you can save time by reconciling credit card charges to bank statements, or by verifying inventory receiving’s and costs, or even by paying out vendor invoices.
  8. How many years has the vendor been selling and supporting the proposed software? It takes at least 5 years experience to effectively support a comprehensive retail POS product. You want your vendor to be able to assist you in resolving the problem as quickly as possible. There is NO substitute for experience. Ask about the vendor’s complex installations to ensure they can meet your needs down the road.
  9. Does the vendor offer toll free 24x7x365 support? Let’s face it: if you run a retail business 12 hours or longer, your problems need to be fixed immediately.
  10. Does the vendor have qualified Systems Engineers and Support personnel on staff? The dealer should have an established team and organizational structure so you are able to receive a quick response to any of your service needs. You vendor needs backups for all support and technical staff in case of an emergency. You cannot have your key support person being your trainer, installer and support team all rolled into one. What are you going to do when they are on another installation?
  11. What are the offered hours of support? Are you able to choose the support and service contract you need for your business? 24x7x365 is a support option you must have available with a fully manned support desk. As your business grows you may have locations in different time zones and stores hours may extend into non-standard work hours. To help you decide the support you need, sit down with the vendor and thoroughly discuss the options they offer. Support can be as simple as a phone call to fix or may require a site visit or equipment replacement. Make sure you are aware of how each of these levels of support impacts your business operations and your cost. Ask to see a copy of the service contract and scrutinize it carefully.
  12. Last but certainly not least, does your vendor partner provide managed services that supports complex multi-location POS environments in the cloud? These managed services should include hosting backed by experienced engineers and have applications support teams standing by to help customize your software to fit your specific business needs. Having a backup and storage in a secured hosting environment with custom support can help alleviate any concerns you may have over losing vital customer and business data.

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