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Web-based point of sale (POS) software is the Software as a Service (SaaS) solution to a retailer’s needs, and it’s a rapidly growing market, especially as more and more businesses turn to the Web to support their sales and/or marketing strategies.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to selecting this deployment model, particularly in the retail software market, so we’ve written this buyer’s guide to help you understand the benefits, potential pitfalls and popular vendors associated Cloud point of sale software.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Traditionally POS systems have all been on-premise, designed to help retailers increase the speed and efficiency of their checkout process and to alleviate much of the administrative burden associated with retail management.
In recent years, however, a number of online solutions have cropped up to perform this same function. These come with many of the advantages typically associated with cloud-based software: lower up-front costs and technical/hardware burdens. Web-based POS software is designed to meet the needs of the retailer, but with minimal hardware installation as compared to a traditional POS.
Before digging into software, you will want to know what type of buyer you are. For web-based POS systems, there’s basically two types of buyer:
Like for the cellular industry, specialty retailers may wish to consider the benefits of getting a solution that’s dedicated specifically to their market. These will be best-of-breed solutions with specific functionality that your store needs but may not be available in a generic POS system.
|This type of buyer …||Should look at these systems|
|Simple systems||MMS, SmartWerks, Real Time|
|Enterprise systems||RICS, RunIt Realtime, NetSuite, Jesta Vision Suite, Cegid, Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics|
|Cellular retailers||RetailIQ, Multiflex RMS, Wireless Standard, MMS Wireless|
There are also specialty systems available for other specialty retail markets, such as Granbury for restaurants and SWIM for jewelry. Keep in mind that many of the POS and enterprise vendors listed above have multiple different products tailored to specific industries, so as you’re performing your search, be sure to ask what markets they specialize in.
As you evaluate retail systems, keep these trends in mind. How your vendor fits within these trends could have a big impact on their viability.
Web-based software solutions are growing in popularity, and for good reason. They come with lower up-front costs and fewer of the maintenance challenges, and these days almost all of the same functionality, making them the perfect choice for smaller businesses in particular.
In the retail market, SaaS has other very significant benefits, namely those discussed under “Market Trends” above: built-in customer portals to transform your brick and mortar shop into an e-commerce store as well; integration with social media to expand your sales and marketing strategy, and; mobile applications to let the user take the store anywhere it needs to go.
There are two main drawbacks to online POS software. First, are the hardware limitations or add-ons. Most retailers aren’t operating with a standard computer setup, rather you’re using a scanner, a touch-screen and receipt and credit card machines, and all of these require special hardware that then has to integrate with the software. The more of this hardware you want to purchase, the more carefully you should consider whether an on-premise system will make more sense.
Second, web-based software relies 100% on a strong Internet connection on the store’s end in order to function properly. If the Internet goes down, so does the ability to conduct business in your brick and mortar environment. So a web-based system is not a great solution if your Internet is spotty or unreliable.