5 Tips to Avoid Botching Your POS Implementation

By: on November 20, 2015

Selecting the best POS system for your business is a difficult task. This may explain why 64 percent of single-store retailers and 63 percent of restaurants don’t have a system in place. But choosing the perfect software is only the beginning—next, your business has to transition to using it.

And implementing a point-of-sale (POS) system is a delicate process. Too often, business leaders don’t set the stage for their staff to succeed, or follow through with a thorough POS implementation plan.

“The best POS system, poorly implemented, is not as good as the second- or third-best system, properly implemented.”

Dick Calio, owner and operator of R.J. Calio Consulting, a POS consultancy

We’ve put together this list of five POS implementation tips that you can use to get staff excited about your new system and ensure a successful implementation.

1. Engage Staff From the Start of the Selection Process

According to Calio, many business owners fail to realize that a successful POS implementation begins before the software has even been chosen. He stresses the importance of including and engaging the staff throughout the selection process.

Early on, Calio continues, business owners need to learn what pain points exist for staff across the entire operation. They should then use these pain points to create a detailed needs and requirements document that outlines all the features the new POS should have.

For example, if your kitchen staff is complaining about a lack of communication from the servers, your new system should include functionality that enables better cross-team communication, such as custom notes on kitchen tickets.

Creating this needs document will help uncover any previously unknown issues, as well as force vendors you consult to get very specific about their system’s features and capabilities.

“Talk to your people first, even if you think you know their pain points or their issues. Once you’ve got buy-in [from] your people, when the vendor comes in, you can give them the blueprint for how to best do the demo and, later on, [for] training.”

Dick Calio, R.J. Calio Consulting

2. Ensure Your System Has Five Key Capabilities

In a recent report, we identified the core features your POS system needs, regardless of your business type. Make sure that, if nothing else, the POS software you’ve selected offers these five essential capabilities:

Sales reporting and analytics

Offers newfound transparency into your business data

Inventory management

Automates tedious manual inventory counting and reordering

Customer management

Collects valuable customer information for loyalty programs

Employee management

Tracks employees hours, schedules and payroll

Checkout tools

Improves accuracy at checkout with scanning and auto-pricing

3. Train, Train, Train

Of course, once you’ve chosen the right system, you’ll need to train employees how to use it. Vendors may offer a variety of training options, from instructor-led courses to online resources such as knowledge bases and support forums.

Continuing the theme of engaging with your staff, Calio suggests that all POS demos and training options address the issues previously identified in the needs document. For example, if managers want more detailed reports from each server at the end of their shift, part of the training should focus on teaching servers how to create those reports properly.

“You tailor the training to meet the goals the POS [needs to] achieve,” Calio says. “And you make sure you’ve got a … really strong point person on staff.”

This point person, as Calio describes, should be a reliable staff member who can dedicate time to learning and understanding the ins and outs of the POS system.

“Probably half the phone calls that come into support desks [for POS vendors] are basic stuff that should be handled internally by a point person. That’s [also] the person who will train the new employees coming on,” he says.

4. Establish Guidelines for Mobile POS Usage

Proper training is even more important for businesses that want to use mobile devices to conduct point-of-sale operations, such as the iPad POS systems currently filling the market. Indeed, many retail and restaurant operators are transitioning from cumbersome, legacy POS systems to more agile mobile POS systems.

This is a big change—especially for restaurants that use their newfound mobility to take and send orders and process payments right at the customer’s table. Though there are operational benefits to using mobile devices this way (including those highlighted in our iPad POS report), realizing these benefits takes a lot of time and training.

As a part of the training, set up some initial best practices and guidelines that explain how you want your staff to use the mobile POS devices throughout your establishment. Be sure to update these guidelines often, as you learn what works and what doesn’t. And of course, make sure to allow extra training time for less tech-savvy staff members.

5. Set Up Security Measures From the Beginning

Aside from winning buy-in from and training your staff, there are some technical aspects that contribute to a successful POS implementation. Calio says security should be top of mind when implementing a new POS system—primarily in terms of credit card and customer history data.

One way to provide this security is to purchase a system that is EMV compliant. A study we conducted found that 78 percent of small and midsize retail businesses weren’t EMV compliant before the October 2015 liability shift. Compliance should be a top concern for all retailers, especially those with frequent high-cost transactions.

Another security measure your new POS system should have in place are safeguards to deter theft from your staff.

“You need some sort of auditability. In other words, [through alerts and dashboard notifications], I want to know when there are more than three ‘no sales’ or five voids during one shift,” Calio says.

As it applies to restaurants, these safeguards would notify you or the manager on duty if there’s a suspicious number of voids or “no sales” within a given time frame. While you’ll hopefully never have to experience it, these safeguards prevent your staff from giving away free food or drinks.


More than anything, you want your new POS system to elevate your operation and the customer experience you provide. It will very likely have the opposite effect if the system doesn’t satisfy all your needs or your employees aren’t on board. Likewise, without proper training and a point person to turn to for troubleshooting, your staff will likely struggle to get up and running with it.

So take charge, engage your employees early and often throughout the process and set your business up for success with your new POS.