Six things to look for in a cloud-based point of sale

Choosing the right cloud pos

By Andre Nataf, Senior Vice President of Heartland Point of Sale

When choosing a cloud-based point of sale, it’s important to know that not all are created equal.

Maybe you currently have an on-premise restaurant POS and want to make the move to cloud. Or maybe you’re already using a restaurant cloud POS, but it’s not delivering what you were promised. Don’t make the wrong purchasing decision because someone calls you nonstop to tell you “they know what you need because they come from the restaurant industry.”

Here are six things to look for in a cloud-based POS that will help prevent buyer’s remorse.

1. Know the true cost of what you’re buying

With a cloud-based POS system, you pay a monthly subscription. This software as a service (SaaS) model lowers acquisition cost by not requiring you to make an expensive, upfront hardware purchase. Software should be automatically updated at no additional charge. However, the monthly fee isn’t the only thing to keep in mind. Know exactly which features are included in the package you’re signing up for. You might find that a feature you thought would come standard is a pricey add-on or only available on a premium plan. Also, be wary of companies offering lower rates if you commit to a year or more. If you are unhappy with the POS solution, breaking the contract can come with steep fees. For example, breaking a contract might still commit you to paying the full fees of every transaction you would have made if you were still using the POS.

2. A cloud POS should integrate with multiple processors

In addition to the monthly subscription, know how much you’re going to be spending on processing fees. Your cloud POS should support independent credit authorization. This gives you the option of choosing a payment processor that is competitively priced and transparent. Beware of POS systems that come with a mandatory payment processor. They often charge more for flat rate processing and hide fees in merchant statements. You can save money per transaction by choosing a processor that offers you interchange-plus pricing.

3. One size doesn’t fit all — it only fits the seller’s business model

Every restaurant is different, and therefore has specific and unique needs. Do you need a solution that supports table service, quick service or bar? Do you want to boost revenue through online ordering? Do you want to improve guest interaction? Do you want to cut costs? Is the wait at your restaurant so long that guests leave to eat next door? It might seem like a no brainer, but make sure you know what business issues you want to solve and what business opportunities you want to pursue. Compare these to the features a cloud POS offers to ensure it checks all your boxes. Ask for an in person, physical demo. Additionally, inquire if the cloud POS uses open application programming interfaces (APIs) so you can seamlessly integrate with complementary third-party software apps. Do your due diligence on solutions claiming to be “one size fits all.” The diverse nature and demands of your restaurant will likely be better served by a tailored cloud POS solution that can both meet your every need and flexibly scale.

4. You can never have too much security

A cloud POS is more secure than an on-premise POS as long as it provides end-to-end data encryption, tokenization and EMV authentication. This significantly reduces your risk of fraud and chargebacks, and your customers won’t have to worry about stolen card information. Also consider using a processor that offers the added benefit of a breach warranty to further protect your business. Security is not an area you can afford to skimp on.

5. Don’t shut down because the Internet goes down

Choose a cloud POS that continues to work offline when the Internet goes down. This ensures you can still do essential functions such as taking orders and processing payments. Orders and credit card information is simply queued until your connection is restored, allowing your business to operate as normal during an outage. This requires a fully redundant solution that is built on apps running on local devices that back up data to one another regardless of Internet availability.

6. Customer service shouldn’t keep you waiting

Investing in a new cloud POS is a big undertaking. Remember you’re not just choosing a POS you are also choosing a POS provider. Practically every company boasts about its customer service. But while many companies claim 24/7 service, it often comes at an added price, or simply means you can email support and get put in a queue. Check and see if the company’s live chat service actually sets you up with a local representative. Partner with a local dealer that has a proven track record of providing POS solutions to the restaurant industry – one that is responsive, reliable and provides high touch training and support long after your purchase. A dealer living in your community is far more valuable than a remote help desk. A dealer will configure and install your cloud POS and be your support, consultant and advocate for life.

If you’re investing in the right cloud POS system, all of these capabilities, and more, should be at your fingertips. Your POS should do everything from processing transactions and tracking customers’ purchasing habits to managing digital signage content. It should provide access to real-time analytics on a smartphone, and track sales performance, employee time and attendance and inventory so you to make smarter, data-driven decisions.

The fact that not all cloud-based POS systems offer these things is a reminder that it is your responsibility to thoroughly do your due diligence: talk with local dealers, get in person demonstrations, read reviews and look at cloud POS ratings.  

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