Business owners once looked forward to the sound of a cash register. While traditional cash tills got them this far, the commerce landscape is shifting—and the way merchants transact with customers must keep up with the changes. Now, business owners are more likely to see a checkmark on a screen noting a successful payment instead of hearing a dinging sound.
Electronic point of sale systems have grown in popularity in recent years. Not only are they more practical in all the functions traditional registers perform—also called “legacy” POS systems—they offer a broad range of useful capabilities that give merchants a more comprehensive view of their businesses.
Some ePOS systems run locally, but an increasing number take advantage of the cloud. So many of retailers’ favourite choices are cloud-based that it seems as if the cloud is where the technology’s future lies. Is this the case? Trends suggest that the answer is yes.
The trouble with traditional systems
Traditional POS systems entail stationary equipment that runs on closed networks and store data on local servers. Installing these terminals can take weeks due to the necessity for networks to be on-site and the amount of hardware involved. Once they are in place, they are complicated to update—which means that it’s challenging for businesses to adapt to customers’ needs and preferences.
Cloud-based systems, however, store data on remote servers, so business owners can access information from internet-connected devices. While many retailers have been skeptical of cloud-based networks thanks to their potential for hacking, software providers regularly update their systems and back everything up to protect clients’ data and prevent successful cyber attacks.
ePOS systems enable greater mobility
Cloud-based ePOS systems don’t need nearly as much hardware as traditional cash registers. While the latter are bulky and cumbersome to move (which is essential for businesses that operate on-the-go, such as food trucks, vendors at farmer’s markets, and nonprofit organizations that host events in different venues), ePOS systems only need a device to run the software—such as a tablet—a credit card reader, a cash drawer, and maybe a few other pieces, like a barcode scanner or receipt printer.
As such, retailers are able to branch out from their physical locations. Even in-store, employees are no longer confined to a counter, so they can roam the area and check out customers wherever they happen to be. Enhanced mobility reduces the time customers spend waiting in line and increases the places retailers can do business.
Cloud-based ePOS software is designed to work rapidly, so depending on the internet connection, merchants can have customers in and out as quickly as possible. Customers don’t appreciate complicated checkout processes when all they want to do is pay for their products (with any applicable discounts) and leave, so they won’t depart with a sour taste in their mouths if checkout flows smoothly.
Aside from customer-facing perks, ePOS software can help streamline behind-the-scenes operations. For instance, many systems include inventory management capabilities. Every time a customer purchases something, that product is automatically subtracted from a built-in inventory database. This way, business owners and staff always know how much of every product is currently available, and they avoid the risk of overselling.
Inventory management software needs to be a separate application when using traditional systems. Merchants need to update both manually, which presents the risk of human error and data inconsistencies. By having inventory and a POS system working together, retailers will benefit from having an eye on every change their business experiences in real-time.
Easy access to customer support
Because most retailers purchase a cloud-based system from a third-party provider, they have access to helpful customer service. Not customer service to provide to their customers, but for them. If an issue arises, a merchant does not need to test the problem themselves or hire someone to come fix it—they simply need to call the provider, who will walk them through the solution and assist with any technological malfunctions.
The cloud enhances connectivity
What if a retailer has multiple locations? Instead of each store depending on its own local network, a cloud-based system can connect them all. Business owners can glean insight into which sites perform better and why. If they each execute a different strategy, an owner can apply the effective ones to every location and learn from the mistakes of the others.
Because a cloud-based ePOS system relies on software, merchants can easily install it on any device they want, including their personal phones. They can check-in and manage aspects of their businesses while they are off-site.
ePOS zystems come in multiple forms, but its future lies in the cloud. How do you foresee the future of cloud-based payment software?