The vendor of your point-of-sale (POS) system is key to your successful implementation, so choose your partner with care.
Here’s what to look for:
- Assistance with getting their software and database system up to speed. They install it, they train your people on it, they support it every step of the way.
- A Help Desk to support the stores, providing tech support even during evening store hours and on weekends. You can’t live without your system; if it goes down Saturday afternoon during a sale, your vendor had better be there to answer the phone and get you back up, or you are in big trouble. A serious vendor who understands the business will have serious support. It may charge seriously for this level of support, because it’s no joke).
- A proven track record is the most critical thing of all. Your business will suffer when the system goes down, so get references and invest the time to follow up on them, in depth.
- If you think you will or might be expanding your chain out of state, or even out of the area, your vendor has to be able to handle that. You don’t want different providers for different regions. That will lead to data compatibility and coordination problems.
- Onsite service is another big issue. How does the vendor interpret the common promise of “four-hour onsite service?” Does that mean the service tech shows up within four hours, says, “I’ll need to get a part,” and goes away for five days until the part wanders in? Technically, they’ve fulfilled their four-hour commitment — but your system is still down.
Backup and Redundancy
When your system goes down, do you have backups of your data? Even more important: If something goes down, can you run anyway? If one point-of-sale unit goes down, do the others on the network still work? If your server goes down, what happens? Your vendor had better have good answers to these questions. (For an overview of the components in a POS system, read Understanding POS Components.)
First, if your server is down, can the POS stations keep working? Can one act as a temporary server? If not, your entire operation could be out of action during that four-hour repair window — yikes!
Ask how each vendor provides redundancy, that is, more than one machine performing a task, so that if one part fails, the whole system doesn’t. For example, if the server in Store 1 goes down, the whole operation can roll over automatically to Store 2, or to the headquarters system (if you’re that big).