This article content is provided with our sponsor, Bank of America Merchant Services.
Cash management systems have evolved over the past century, from the bulky Incorruptible Cashier1, that launched the National Cash Register Corporation in 1884, to the early point of sale systems of the 1970s and ’80s that relied on a mainframe system to process sales entered through “dummy” terminals. In the 1990s, the development of personal computers brought the ability to process information to store counter tops and revolutionized how small businesses recorded and tracked sales. Today’s mobile and touch screen technologies have expanded again the possibilities.
Small businesses now have hundreds of hardware and software options in relation to POS systems. On the low end, an electronic cash register secures cash and produces daily sales reports. POS systems that offer increased functionality, such as inventory management, sales tracking and built-in customer loyalty programs, come with a higher initial cost, but add value with reporting and analytic features.
“Payment needs and options differ based upon the business profile,” says Bank of America Merchant Services2 Product Delivery Leader, Jonathan Sepulveda. Different industries have different needs, and the choice of POS system should reflect this.
“Retail and restaurant businesses should consider point of sale systems that offer support for mobile payments and chip cards, while also providing other business functionality. Mail order businesses will benefit most from ‘virtual terminal’ software, allowing key entering of a card number.”
“Internet businesses or hotels will need a ‘payment gateway’ product to enable card processing with their online shopping cart or hotel management software. Traditional stand-alone credit card terminals are also a solid option for small independent hotels. Businesses that are mobile, often service businesses such as appliance repair, can benefit from mobile point of sale apps and card readers that can be used with a standard smartphone or tablet.”
A new category of POS devices harnesses tablet-based technology to provide user-friendly POS solutions for small businesses. They are cloud-based, allowing the business owner to access data when away from the store, and they may be customized to meet a business’s unique needs. Examples of these include the Clover®3 system, which may be customized similar to the way smartphones are customized, by downloading apps from an app market4, and the Toast®5 system, which is designed specifically for restaurants.
“Not only do they provide the latest in point of sale payment capabilities,” Sepulveda says of these tablet-based systems, “they offer robust business management functionality intended to help a business run more efficiently. This [functionality] includes support for business needs such as scheduling, labor management, inventory management and loyalty offerings, among others.”
1 “Cash Register- James Ritty,” About.com Inventors. [http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blcash_register.htm]
2 Bank of America Merchant Services. [http://merch.bankofamerica.com/Home]
3 “Clover® Station,” Bank of America Merchant Services. [https://merch.bankofamerica.com/cloverdetailspage]
4 Applications available in Clover App Market from the third party developers provide third party services. The Clover Go mobile payment acceptance device does not include access to the Clover App Market.
5 Toast. [http://pos.toasttab.com/]
This article was written by Gillian Burdett of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.