By Andrea Roberts
In a world where technology is ever-changing, it can be very challenging for retail and restaurant franchises to stay on top of software and hardware trends. How do you go about choosing a point-of-sale (POS) system today that will expand with your business and support further technological advances beyond your current needs? These are important factors to consider when starting any public-facing business, whether it is a franchise or an independent store.
The least expensive route is not necessarily the right way to go. You may end up having to change suppliers and equipment, which in turn could mean costly retraining for your staff. The right technology will instead empower you to better manage and grow your franchise.
What to look for
One of the important factors in choosing the right POS technology is working with suppliers that have a track record servicing the retail or restaurant industry. They should offer phone-based support and be able to access your site remotely for on-the-spot diagnoses and fixes.
High-quality hardware designed for the hospitality industry should allow expandable features. Software must be upgradeable, easy to use and adaptable to different types of taxes, deliveries, retail services, bars and quick-service restaurants (QSRs).
A successful QSR franchise with table service might add a takeout or drive-thru window; these are examples of different business models within the same restaurant that cater to a very different clientele. Table service requires fast-touch POS terminals, for instance, while patios call for wireless handheld devices.
POS systems should also be able to integrate with customer loyalty programs, gift cards, ongoing accounts and beer and liquor control systems for up-to-the-minute spot checks.
An integrated high-speed credit and debit card network is vital. Not only do retail and restaurant managers require fast access to all sales data and alerts, but transactions need to be authorized in a few seconds for your customers’ sake, too. An otherwise wonderful dining experience can easily be ruined by a long wait to pay.
Today’s customers rely on the Internet as their primary source of information. They expect to be able to find a store or restaurant’s website, indicating hours of operation and driving directions, among other information, and allowing them to purchase gift certificates, sign up for loyalty programs and reserve a product or table. Online ordering should be seamlessly integrated with your on-site POS system.
It is helpful for POS systems at the cash or checkout counter to have rear-facing liquid crystal displays (LCDs), so customers can view the transactional information relating to their order. These displays are also a great place to run advertising.