When your old cash register and terminal just aren’t cutting it, it’s time to upgrade to a modern, scalable, and even portable solution. Picking the right point of sale system can be just the right move for a small business that needs more information than the single purpose cash register can provide. Improve your efficiency at front of shop, back office and in the stock room without breaking the piggy bank.

So What’s the Big Deal?

The big deal about the newer POS systems is that they’re not just for retail’s heavy hitters and mass merchandisers any more. While not that long ago a store owner would need an ambulance to handle the case of sticker shock when looking at the price for a point of sale system, new POSes are cloud based and use tablets such as an iPad or Android as the CPU. So instead of laying out the thousands needed for an old POS system, and then finding a developer to integrate it with your shipping department, stock room, back office, and website, there are ways to set up a point of sale system for under $1,500.

3022182-slide-square-press-event-06

What Gear Do I Need?

Setting up a basic POS system can be as easy as buying a tablet and some additional components. For instance, a 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi serves as your CPU, or the device that runs the POS. The tablet also takes the place of a separate monitor and keyboard, saving you some money. However, adding a small Bluetooth keyboard can be a good idea when you’re doing work other than checkout on your tablet.

Then you need to add on some of the basics like a cash drawer to hold your merchant copy credit card receipts, cash, and checks. You’re going to need a receipt printer, too. In many states, it is mandated by law that a customer be provided with a receipt for every transaction, even at a farmer’s market or swap meet booth. Some receipt printers also have the ability to scan, authorize, and endorse checks for deposit into your bank account. You’ll need a stand for the tablet, preferably one that swivels so that you and your customer can see the purchase and the total in the absence of a “customer pole” – which is a display that faces the customer and shows them the total of their purchases. A “card slider” is a small device that fits in the earphone jack of the iPad, and enables you to take credit cards, EBT cards for certain items, and debit cards.

jhuK8yB

And, if you really want to make the POS the best possible expenditure, you will need two other devices – a bar code scanner and a bar code label printer. Why? Well, the first and biggest reason to get your inventory under control with a live inventory system is to know what you ought to have, and if you don’t have it. $13 billion dollars a year is lost to “shrinkage” either by outright theft or human error, according to the National Retail Federation, and it can be a deadly drain on a small business. While creating SKUs and bar codes sounds tedious, the value of the data your new live inventory system can give you could be a business saver. The ability to view and filter live reports on your inventory and accounting back end is more than enough reason to do it. Businesses with better information systems – and a POS is an information system every bit as much as a cash wrap – fare better, according to the Houston Chronicle simply because they can better control shrinkage.

business-in-a-box

You And The Cloud

Finally, the most important development in small business is the cloud. The cloud has given small businesses access to software and services that they could not otherwise afford. Inc magazine estimates that by 2020, in just six years, 80 percent of small businesses will be using cloud services for most if not all of their computing needs. Services like accounting and inventory management from QuickBooks or Wave, productivity suites from Google, and creative suites like Photoshop and other web needs from Adobe. The cloud and the ability to access cloud services is what has enabled the boom in eCommerce, and facilitated some of the new POS systems that you might be considering after this article. It’s what makes the POS affordable and scalable, as the data can be wherever you are, whenever you need to access it.

Whether it’s using an eCommerce platform like Shopify, or integrating your mailing list with your contacts database on Outlook, the versatility of the services available through the cloud makes investigating the cloud a real option for growing and expanding your small business.

Meet Evan Varsamis

Evan Varsamis is an Entrepreneur, Founder / CEO at Gadget Flow Inc, Investor and Marketing Advisor at Qrator Ltd and Contributor at Forbes, Inc, Huffington Post and American Express Essentials.