E-commerce continues to contribute and drive growth for economies around the globe. As consumers demand more options for satisfying a hunger for a more enjoyable life, businesses are set to continuously profit as long as they can supply the demand. In addition, with the prevalence and greater ease of access to high-end mobile technologies, advanced distribution channels and startups pushing the limits providing new and innovative product ideas daily, there has never been a better time in history for retailers. The fact that total e-commerce sales are set to hit a new global record this year at $1.5 Trillion, is a clear indication that businesses equipped to satisfy customers in this new age of commerce stand to profit big time.
However, simply having an online store or traditional walk-in shop is no automatic guarantee for massive success as consumers are not only demanding more from a modern shopping experience but also expect to benefit from businesses that deliver their products via systems that guarantee safety, deliver results in real-time making the buying experience a breeze. Achieving this, from the merchant’s perspectives, relies heavily on business processes and software and hardware that are proven to deliver and an understanding of what makes consumers spend. In fact, more businesses are attesting to the evolving retail landscape as more than half in an industry survey indicated that they’re planning to implement mobile point of sale technology with iPads for in-store use.
To point you in the right direction for modernizing your online and offline retail activities, here are 6 powerful point of sale management apps and services to give your business a boost to current times.
Vend is a POS software and hardware provider that focuses on getting businesses up and running in as little time as possible while handling the bulk of the technicalities.
They’re a cloud based provider that allows any retailer, regardless of whichever operating system or hardware they’re running to better manage their entire business in the cloud. Through features such as centralized inventory management, integration of payment gateways, management and creation of interactive loyalty programs, an iPad Point of Sale system and APIs that allow retailers to connect with popular services like Quickbooks and Xero, they provide a complete out of the box solution for retailers in any industry.
Vend sets their cloud POS system apart by offering a service that doesn’t only focus on accepting payments but also provides an integrated client relationship management tool for managing customer relationships as retailers acquire them through sales and rewarding loyalty programs.
Vend is perfect for both the small and nimble retailer and the multi-chain behemoth.
Square is another nimble, Android and iOS ready, cloud based POS software provider built for speed, accuracy and accountability for the modern retailer. After downloading & creating a new account with Square, merchants can begin processing cards in as little as a few minutes and will provide their proprietary card reader for free; offering a truly plug and play experience. There’s no restriction here, however, since their software is compatible with industry standard cash drawers, bar code scanners and printers.
Square provides an aesthetically pleasing experience for merchants with simplified and clean in-app options and features to manage the basic transactions typically found within small retail based operations.
Square’s selling point is their easy and free setup and simplified usage for small retailers who simply want to get the job done with collecting and accounting for payments. Coupled with facilitating direct deposit transfers of earnings to PayPal and Chase they’re a sure win for the small retail shop.
Lightspeed has been in the POS business for a while and is one of the more seasoned players. The system is built for iPads but also allows access via any web browser. And though it’s a bit pricier than the average cloud POS provider, they do offer a full suite of features not typically found in a basic product with client support with a history of going above and beyond the call of duty. Their decentralized configuration approach allows merchants to access sales and inventory data & settings from anywhere they have access to the internet ensuring that mobile merchants are not tied to a single location.
The developers have gone the extra mile to provide a full feature set for high-end retailers with extensive inventory tracking with the ability to build complex matrices to account for multiple permutations of product styles, the ability to track and charge for labor costs, API integration with other services and customer relationship and profile tracking with sales history and monitoring lines of credit.
Lightspeed is suitable for the high-end retailer looking for a complete business solution and might be a bit overwhelming for small shop owners.
ShopKeep, is an iPad focused POS system built for quick service restaurants, coffee shops, food trucks, cafes and the like; the small to medium sized business owner with a need for more control over data while still being nimble and efficient. It’s a cost-effective alternative to the barebones approach offered by Square, for example. The service has no initial startup costs except for hardware and anyone with an iPad can download the app and begin a 30-day trial immediately. While the service integrates with common hardware, they offer merchants a hardware package which includes an iPad, stand, printer, APG drawer, and an iDynamo card reader.
ShopKeep is a cloud based solution best suited for smaller businesses that don’t require a high number of product SKUs in their inventory system and is great facilitating frequent small changes to orders on the fly as is typical in the food service industry.
Shopify has been in the e-commerce business for a while with a solid foothold in offering a powerful suite of web-driven features and templates for businesses interested in operating online stores. They recently entered the mobile commerce space with a strong offer of linking your online sales via your website with their POS system. This powerful convergence of online retail with the traditional storefront not only expands their reach but creates an appealing and sophisticated service for merchants.
The service takes moderate advantage of the iPad’s capabilities and runs seamlessly with common POS hardware in the marketplace. However, any merchant lacking interest in online sales may very well skip Shopify’s POS service entirely.
With a focus on the web, there are built-in tools for merchants to optimize their sites for search engines, integrate social media, fully construct & maintain a web store, maintain blogs, track visitors and customers and integrates with third-party fulfillment services such as Amazon, for example.
The average retailer will, however, find Shopify a bit pricier than other standard modern POS providers but that is accounted for since the service is strictly geared towards merchants seeking to maximize online sales potential while running cohesively with an offline storefront.
Breadcrumb, purchased by discount and coupon giant Groupon in 2012, presents their product as a match made in heaven for restaurants and bars; as their name suggest. Although the service may seem pricier than one would expect, they make it up by offering a truly personalized and feature-specific app that food-based merchants would not find with the typical POS provider in the marketplace. Put simply, it’s built to help restaurants and light retailers find success in their niche without the fluff and unnecessary bulky features.
The Breadcrumb POS keeps hardware & setup extremely simple, integrates seamlessly with iPads and takes about 5 minutes to get setup. Upon signup merchants are sent a free proprietary reader and the system integrates with standard readers, printers and cash drawers. The iPad camera also functions as a built-in barcode scanner, a useful and surprisingly uncommon, feature in mobile POS. The app offers table, menu and tabs management, gratuity, basic reporting, transaction history, receipt customization and tips and an offline capability in case of network outages.
In addition to the fact that it’s easy to use, merchants especially may find their lives made a bit more interesting with the inclusion of Groupon deals integration. Special promotions can be scanned & tracked along with any other bits of customer and transaction data, allowing merchants to easily track Groupon’s impact on their business.
To conclude, the vast selection of modern cloud POS service providers shows that commerce is set to continue to grow. Your best chance for survival, growth and achieving maximum efficiency is by adopting systems capable of crunching the numbers in real-time, those that guarantee availability to your customers while giving you the flexibility and personalization you require for your particular business.