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"How to Find Simple POS Software that's Easy to Use"

- By Bob Twain

You know you need POS software. But there are so many programs out there-with so many complex features. It seems as if you need a degree in computer science just to make sense of it all. Relax. You can buy simple POS software. This article will show you how.

Before getting into "where" you can actually find simple point of sale systems, let's discuss how you can actually tell if the POS software will be easy for you and your employees to use...

Here are 10 tips to for choosing retail POS software that will be simple and easy to use:

Tip #1 - Make sure it's consistent. One of the most important characteristics of a "simple" POS system is consistency. It's critical for the software developer to design everything in a consistent fashion. Each screen should look the same. All of the buttons should be in the same place. You don't want to spend time hunting for the information you need.

Tip #2 - Get software with a "training mode." It will be easier to train your employees. This essentially allows you to use the real software without affecting your "live" copy of the data. Once you're done training, you can turn it off and use the real thing.

Tip #3 - Make sure common tasks are easy to do. Take a close look at the most common tasks your employees will be performing. In most cases, this is the actual "point of sale" portion of the software. Of course, almost all POS systems do much more than just "point of sale" including inventory, purchasing, accounting, reports, much more. But most likely, the actual POS portion will get used the most.

So how easy did they make the POS? Is it designed so it's really easy and intuitive for almost any employee to figure out (whether they're a teenager or a retired person)?

It's important for these common POS tasks to be readily viewable right on the screen. Plain and simple buttons that work in the same fashion make it much easier for to train employees at the POS.

Tip #4 - Consider a touch screen. Or something that uses large simple buttons like a touch screen.

Touch is one of the simplest, most instinctive human actions - making it very simple for the user to interact with the computer. In some instances touch screens allow you to completely eliminate the mouse and keyboard - which saves space, saves time, and simplifies training.

Tip #5 - Buy from a company with fast and helpful telephone support. Do you really want to wait 24 to 48 hours to get an answer when your system has frozen up? Of course not. When something goes wrong (and it will) you need a company that will answer your questions quickly and be there when you need them.

Some companies outsource their customer support service to inferior firms. If you can't understand the people on the other line-or they don't completely understand you-then the service is worse than useless to you. Call the customer service number and ask them a simple question. See how well they help you.

Tip #6 - Get on-line help and documentation. Having field level help can be very nice feature. If you're not sure about a certain area, you simply hit F1 and help will come up about that particular screen and field. This is a quick and easy way to figure things out.

Tip #7 - Look for something designed for your type of business. Most POS software companies slant their products toward certain businesses. Using software that isn't designed for your business is like using a screwdriver to hammer a nail-it will work, but not well.

So how do you find simple POS software that is specific for your industry? Some sales reps will try to convince you that their software works for all companies. Don't believe them. If you own a motorcycle shop, ask to see a list of their motorcycle shop clients. If the company can product a list of 100 clients, then you can be reasonably certain that the software will work for you.

Tip #8 - Use something that you're employees will be familiar with. One of the easiest ways to learn a new program is by applying concepts you've used in the past.

Are you a "Windows" or a "Mac" person? If you use Windows regularly, and the POS software follows "Windows standards" and it works similar to other Windows based systems (like Word, Internet Explorer, etc), then you'll pick things up faster.

Tip #9 - Try out the software demo. The POS software can sound great, but if it's hard to use it's a waste of money. That's where the demo CD comes in. Try out some real-world scenarios on the software.

How long did it take to complete the scenario? When performing a checkout, for instance, does the program give you the information you need and no more? A clothing store will need a very simple receipt produced quickly. A company that sells semis has a lower volume and needs a more detailed invoice.

How long will it take to train your employees? Only you can answer this question. If you aren't sure, you may want to pick one of your top employees and run through a typical scenario on the demo.

Tip #10 - Look for companies that sell software for your size of business. You don't need the same POS system Walmart uses. That would be overkill. If the company heavily markets toward your business size, then it will most likely be simple POS software that you can easily handle.

Where can you find really simple POS systems?

Look at different POS systems that meet the criteria above. Make a short list of POS systems that meet your most important needs.

Is this overwhelming? Are you too pressed for time? I've developed something that might work for you.

One of the easiest ways to create your "short list" of possible choices is to use our buyers guide. It allows you to confidently compare the different POS options out there and choose the one that's right for your business. I've also included a detailed checklist you can use to assemble your list of "must-have" features. And there's even a section on common mistakes most businesses make when they buy POS software-and how you can avoid them.

Finding simple POS software that is right for your business doesn't have to be complicated. Not when you have the right tools. Check out the buyer's guide at:

You will have POS software that is easy to use in no time.

To Your Success!

Bob Twain

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