Choosing the Right POS Terminal

Over this series of articles, I will seek to expand on these topics in further detail and help explain and suggest what to look for when choosing the right POS terminal as well as point out some pitfalls.

Whether you are opening a brand new site or upgrading an existing one, choosing the right restaurant POS system is a big decision.  Besides the large capital expense, the typical POS lifespan is 5-7 years, but I have seen some be used for 20+ years before being replaced (yes it was a PAR system).

Several factors need to be taken into consideration, and you need to be prepared to ask the right questions to your provider.

  • Technical specifications –What do all those acronyms mean and why do you care about them?  It all comes down to what is needed to run your restaurant.
  • Is it built for your environment?  A purpose-built POS terminal is more than “just a PC”, it is designed and built to run 24×7 in the extreme conditions that exist in the restaurant and retail environment.
  • Aesthetics – does the look and feel of the unit fit your environment?  The unit should complement and provide a good customer experience.
  • Is it easy to use?  Will you and your staff be able to easily learn the POS software and train new employees once the install is completed?
  • Reputation of the provider – Since the POS will be with you for a while, will the supplier be around to support you?
  • Support – regardless what you are told during the sales cycle, there will come a time where you will have a problem. How do you get it solved? You need to have a plan for support and understand that “one plan” does not fit all customers.  Read the fine print and understand the SLA’s to make sure they meet your business requirements and budget.  You don’t want surprises when you have a problem that is effecting your ability to serve your customers.
  • Integrations – Do you want to purchase your hardware, software and services from one company?  Having one company to deal with reduces your burden and ensures that all the components that make up your system are optimized to work together.  It also provides the “one throat to choke” concept when issue do arise.  Depending on your site concept, application provider and business requirements this may not always be possible, but at a minimum you should look for an approved hardware providers list from your software provider since they should have established relationships at the right levels to support you.
  • Lifecycle -What is the lifecycle of the technology?  Is the technology of the hardware and operating system at the end, middle or beginning of its life?  Will you be able to get repairs and updates throughout the expected lifecycle? This not only should include hardware but security patches and updates to the operating system to avoid any issues in this area.

Are you overwhelmed yet?  Over this series of articles, I will seek to expand on these topics in further detail and help explain and suggest what to look for when choosing the right POS terminal as well as point out some pitfalls.  When considering a POS, it all comes down to making sure you choose what you need to fit your business and looking at the total cost of ownership of your investment.

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