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How to choose and manage a Point of Sale (POS) system

July 21, 2023 | Published by Faire

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Much more powerful than the simple cash register that preceded it, a Point of Sale (POS) system does more than accept payment. These systems can also:

  • Keep track of your inventory, flagging when it’s time to repurchase items.
  • Help you identify your best selling items.
  • Directly deposit cashless transactions into your bank account.
  • Log the shifts and tips of your employees.
  • Sync your inventory directly with your online store.

With the advent of more POS companies and features, there are a lot of options for store owners. Here, we’ll break down your options, help guide you toward the right choice, and make sure you set up your system in a way that will maximize your store’s success. 

What POS features do you need? 

This is a choice most store owners want to make only once. Changing systems is challenging after you’ve already added, configured, and customized hundreds or even thousands of products in your POS system—especially once your store is up and running. 

Take some time to think through questions about what you would like your POS system to do, so you can make a wish list for features. Some questions to ask yourself are:

How many different products do you want to sell?
This will inform how sophisticated of a system you need.

Where do you plan to do most of your inventory buying?
Some wholesale platforms—like Faire—offer seamless integration with certain POS systems, greatly reducing how much time you will spend updating your product lists.

How many locations do you plan to have?
If you have—or plan to have—multiple brick-and-mortar shops, you want to make sure your POS system will easily share information among these locations.

Will you be selling your products online?
Some POS systems offer an easy-to-use e-commerce option. If you already have a website or are in the process of building one, you may wish to choose a POS system from the same platform.

What existing systems or services are you already using?
If you already have payroll or accounting software in place, you want to make sure your POS system will automatically share information across platforms to keep you from having to manually copy and paste that data.

Do you need a system to organize customer and employee information?
Maybe you want a POS system that can do things like flag customer birthdays or track your employee schedules. 

Are you a service-based business?
This will help you determine if you need a POS system that also can handle appointments or reservations, as well as track tips. 

A good way to get familiar with the different POS options is to chat with retailers in your community. You can ask what they like about their POS systems and if they’d choose differently if they were starting over now. 

Choosing a POS system

The POS systems that are most popular among Faire’s retailers are Square, Shopify, and Clover. All of these systems easily integrate with your Faire account to save time manually entering inventory information and to make reordering easier. 

These POS systems have both a hardware and software component, which can create a lot of options and combinations to choose from. Although purchasing hardware isn’t a requirement to use any of these POS systems, most retailers will find having a physical terminal helpful. We’ve compiled an overview of what each of these three systems offers:

Shopify

Shopify launched as a platform for e-commerce selling in 2006, and the company now offers brick-and-mortar POS support as well. Shopify’s offerings come equipped with essential tools for inventory management, order processing, e-commerce, and even selling through social media channels. 

Hardware

  • Shopify POS Pro Kit includes an iPad stand, receipt printer, cash drawer, and card reader to make in-store sales easier.
  • Shopify’s Tap & Chip Card Reader is a small device that lets businesses quickly accept contactless payments. This gives businesses flexibility when ringing up customers.
  • The Shopify Retail Kit is made for larger shops with several checkout terminals. It allows for multiple cash registers, barcode readers, and even label printers for online orders.
  • The Tap & Chip Case is an option for businesses that want to accept mobile payments and connect to iOS and Android devices that work with Bluetooth.

Shopify also offers hardware like barcode scanners and cash drawers—though an important thing to note is that Shopify does not have its own receipt printer. It does, however, offer an extensive list of compatible options

Software

There are a range of price tiers available for Shopify’s software services. Each tier includes:

  • Basic options for accepting payment
  • Creation of an online store via a drag-and-drop interface
  • Additional sales channels like Instagram and Facebook
  • The ability to create and analyze store performance with easy-to-use tools

For more features, you can upgrade to POS Pro. It includes additional services like:

  • Personnel management
  • Customer database
  • Inventory control
  • Retail statistics

Square

A veteran company in the POS space, Square offers software that provides an online store, inventory tracking, employee management, and detailed sales analytics. 

Hardware

  • The Square Terminal is a mobile device that combines a card reader, receipt printer, and touch screen to process payments and handle sales while on the go.
  • The Square Stand is a countertop solution that converts an iPad into a POS system with secure card payments and simple software.
  • The Square Reader is a tiny gadget that allows contactless and chip card payments to be made using a smartphone or tablet.
  • The Square Register is an advanced point-of-sale system with a customer-facing display and built-in card payment acceptance.

Square also offers cash drawers, barcode scanners, and a Square-specific USB printer

Software

You can sign up for a Free plan with Square, paying only per financial transaction. If you’d like features tailored to restaurants, merchants, and appointment-based enterprises, you can upgrade to its Plus level. A bespoke Premium plan is also available. 

Each Square subscription tier offers: 

  • The ability to quickly accept payments in person or online
  • Customer directory and team management options
  • Creation of payment links, buy buttons, or QR codes
  • Distribution of the above via social media, email, SMS, or your website
  • A Square card that gives you instant access to your money

Clover

Clover is a popular choice for many service-based businesses, which tend not to have e-commerce components. While it’s possible to order online via Clover, this system doesn’t create an online shop in the same way that Square or Shopify systems do.

Hardware 

  • Clover Station is a countertop POS system that has a touch screen, cash drawer, receipt printer, and card reader.
  • Clover Mini is a small touch screen–enabled device compatible with cash drawers and receipt printers.
  • Clover Flex is a portable option that accepts card payments and prints receipts via Wi-Fi or 3G/4G networks.
  • Clover Go is a Bluetooth-connected card reader that lets companies collect payments on the go. 
  • Pro-Clover Station is an enhanced countertop system with a bigger and brighter display.

Software

Regardless of which hardware you choose, Clover offers: 

  • Simple payment processing and order management
  • A CRM that helps you engage and reward your customers 
  • The ability to manage your team within the system
  • Bonus features like customer feedback collection

What other tools do I need?

Whichever POS system you go with, we recommend adding a barcode scanner to your order. While not often included in most standard POS hardware packages, this small device will help you enhance your customer service and streamline your inventory management.

Barcode scanners allow for lightning-fast product scanning, allowing you to ring up customers quickly. Plus, you’ll be able to seamlessly add newly ordered products to your POS system by simply scanning the barcode. More on that below.

Managing your POS system

Choosing a POS system is just the first step in managing your inventory. Once you settle on a system, you’ll need to get it configured and then keep it up-to-date.

Organizing your POS system

There’s no universal way to organize products. Explore your POS system to determine what works best for the number of products you stock and the different sales channels you use. What’s important is that you choose a cataloging method that is intuitive for you and that you use it consistently from day one. 

Having a well-organized system allows you to easily monitor stock levels in real time. This leads to improved inventory management and fewer stockouts.

Adding and managing products

Your barcode scanner is one way to add products to your POS inventory. Many items will arrive with a barcode already on them, or you can create and print barcodes from your POS.

As you scan each item, the scanner will pull up the number used to identify the product and enter that product into your store’s inventory system. If you want to make a product available in your Shopify or Square online shop, you’ll need to upload pictures, write an appealing description, and add appropriate tags. 

You can also easily keep your POS up-to-date by integrating your Shopify, Square, or Clover account with Faire. Any item you purchase on Faire will be automatically added to your POS—and inventory levels are only updated once your items arrive. This step-by-step walkthrough shows how to connect your POS system with Faire.

Utilizing data from your POS

Your future self will appreciate the time you spend ensuring your POS system is set up properly because it will be able to seamlessly know when to reorder, determine your bestsellers, and evaluate your shop’s sales.

Reordering

Your POS system will keep track of product sell-through and inventory levels, which helps you know when to reorder. This will ensure you keep your customers happy because they can rely on you to have stock of all the items you carry.

Identifying sales trends

Which of your products are bestsellers? What day of the week do you make the most sales? During what hours?

You can find out all this and more from your POS system.

Some POS systems—like Square and Shopify—even integrate with your social media channels, track the successes of your online marketing campaigns, and nudge customers who have abandoned shopping carts to complete their orders. Data collection is one of the things that makes your POS system so powerful—not only does it make running your shop easier, but it gives you the information you need to be more successful.


Are you opening a new retail store? Read more about Open with Faire and learn how to apply for up to $20,000, with 60-day payment terms, to stock your new shop.

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