Given that a point of sale (POS) system is critical to your business, choosing a dealer to buy from is a very important decision. In some ways, the dealer is a more critical factor than the actual hardware and software.
So how do you zero in on the right dealer? Here are some of the things you should look at.
* The dealer’s experience should play a big part in your decision. If you run a fine dining restaurant with up-market clientele, your business needs are vastly different from someone else’s who runs a self-service cafeteria. A bookstore has different needs than a dry cleaning outlet.
Make it a point to investigate what experience the dealer has in your specific industry. And for how long they have been dealing with your industry.
* If the dealer does have experience in your industry, ask for references from within the industry, or in closely related operations.
Ask these references questions about all aspects of their POS system experience. What is it they would have done differently in choosing and utilizing their equipment? What is it they don’t like about the dealership / choice of system?
Also find out if they know any other users who are served by this dealer. You may find that people not directly referred by the dealer tend to be more forthcoming about the pros and cons of the equipment and the dealer.
* A POS system quickly becomes indispensable to your operations. Any downtime is usually a very serious affair and may affect your business in many ways. That’s why support is a critical factor.
Determine what level of support you will need. Will you need 24 hour on-site support? How long can you afford to run without a live POS system?
Sit down with the prospective dealer and get a detailed understanding of the support they offer. Perhaps they initially provide phone support. If that doesn’t solve the problem, they may send support personnel over. And if the problem can’t be rectified immediately, find out if they will be able to give equipment on loan till your system becomes functional again.
Ask to see a copy of the service contract and scrutinize it carefully.
* Request the dealer to give you a demo of the equipment they are proposing to install for you. The demo could be done at your site or theirs. Go along with some of the actual end users in your organization.
A hands-on trial is an excellent way to gauge what you are getting into, both in terms of the equipment itself as well as how the dealer utilizes it.
* Get a sense of the dealer’s installation procedures. Do they have a one-size-fits-all approach? That could be risky with something as critical and complex as a POS system.
The best dealers will make a detailed study of your infrastructure, inspect your power lines and in general, get an excellent grip on your needs and on your present situation before recommending a system.
The initial days after installation are critical, to ensure that the system functions as intended. Will the dealer’s personnel be looking in often for the first two weeks to a month to ensure that everything is working fine and to answer the questions that will inevitably arise?
The above tips should help you determine which POS system dealer is the best fit for your business needs. Preparing well at the pre-purchase stage can save you endless frustration later on.
Mark Henry is a systems consultant and has written on POS equipments , tips for choosing the right point of sale system , how point of sale equipment needs to fit in with the business environment and other related topics.