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Will You Make These 5 Common Mistakes When You Buy Point of Sale Software?

- By Bob Twain

If you're like most retailers, you're worried about making a mistake when you choose point of sale (POS) software.  I don't blame you.  Buying POS software is a big investment -- and it can have huge impact on the efficiency and success of your retail business!

What's more, there are around 1,000 different POS systems to choose from.  And they're all different.  All these choices can be overwhelming and confusing.

Here are few mistakes that I see retailers making over and over again:

Mistake #1 - Buying Hardware First

I can't tell you how many times I've heard a retailer say, "I just bought new computers, printers and I have everything ready to go. Now I need to find POS software." As soon as I hear that, I think to myself, "This guy could have saved himself a lot of time and money if he selected his POS software first!"


First of all, your POS software will have hardware and operating system requirements. For example, the software will probably require a certain version of Windows, Unix, Linux, or MAC. In addition, each program will only function with certain types of printers, scanners, cash drawers and card readers.

Second, and more importantly, not all POS systems are the same. And the system that you choose is very important. It will have a huge impact on the efficiency of your business. If you install your computer system first, you will limit your POS software choices. The perfect fit for your unique business might run on UNIX but you already bought a Windows 2003 Server. You might also find that the printers and scanners you just bought aren't compatible either.

You can avoid frustration and save money if you choose the POS software first. Then you can ask the software company about their recommended hardware and operating systems.

Mistake #2 - Asking the Wrong People

Retailers often ask a local computer consultant for suggestions about POS software. Computer consultants are great sources for information about computers, hardware, and networking, but they don't usually understand the intricacies of POS software and retail management.  Nor do they realize that there are almost 1,000 different POS systems to choose from and it's VERY easy to choose the wrong one.

Every retail business is different and has different needs.  If you get poor advice and select the wrong type of system, your business will lose money.

Mistake #3 - Not Focusing on the Character of the Software Company

When you invest in point of sale software, you're buying a relationship, not just a product. In fact, the "quality" of the software company is usually just as important as the product.

Why is the POS software company SO important?


After you purchase the software, you'll rely on the software company to supply updates, training, technical support, and possibly hardware.

Consider these all too common scenarios...

  • What if the software company went out of business? (Dozens of POS software companies come and go every year!)

  • What if you can't print and it takes six hours to get help from a support technician?

  • What if they don't give you software updates when you need them?

  • What if the software has a bug and they don't fix it?

  • What if it takes 2 days to get your technical questions answered?

  • What if they didn't give you sufficient training? And as a result, your sales reports are showing the wrong totals!

The truth is, the level of service and the financial stability of the software company is very important.  It's critical to evaluate the software company; otherwise you could run into some frustrating and expensive problems.

Mistake #4 - Passing The Buck

Too many owners give the responsibility of choosing a POS system to an employee or a computer consultant that's not familiar with your industry. The person who evaluates the software must have in-depth knowledge about your business.

Top management and other key personnel must be involved in the selection and implementation process. You should never rely solely on a consultant's recommendation or input.

POS software is complicated. And it can make a huge difference in the productivity of your business. POS software is too important to pass the evaluation process to someone else!

Mistake #5 - Overlooking Important Features

Unless you're a retail POS expert, it's difficult to sort through countless POS systems and figure out what you need. What's more, it's difficult to understand the "true" potential of your POS system.

As a result, many retailers overlook important features that would save them a lot of time and money!

If you want to avoid this common mistake, it's critical for you to...

  1. Properly analyze the needs of your business (even if you're a small retailer).
  2. Create a list of important features. To figure out which features are important, just ask yourself: How much time and money will this feature save me?
  3. Prioritize your list and use it to compare and choose the right system.

At this point, you're probably thinking... how will I find time to create a list like this? And how can I be sure I didn't miss anything important?

Since this can be an extremely challenging task and so many retailers have asked me for help in this area, I decided to help...

I've found the best way compare each POS system is by using Micrsoft Excel. You can do this yourself or... if you'd like to save a lot of time and make sure that you don't miss anything important, you can use the Comparison Chart that I created. Click below to see exactly how it works...

POS Comparison Chart

To Your Success.

Bob Twain

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