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A Guide to Modern Point of Sale Systems

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| By Natasha Dragun | March 29, 2021

Whether your business has physical or online sales, having multiple, flexible payment methods – including electronic and point of sale systems – is crucial.

The tools you need to integrate ecommerce and point of sale systems into your business.

Have you been ready to place an order in a cafe only to realise it only accepts card – and you left home with just cash on you? Perhaps you’ve queued in a store (physical or online) to make a purchase, but have walked away empty-handed as the business doesn’t accept your preferred form of payment? Many SMEs and sole traders across the country miss out on otherwise guaranteed sales because of limited point of sale systems or inflexible payment options.

At a time when there’s more variety than ever in products and services on the market, being flexible with your business’ payment methods makes sense – the more payment options you offer, the more likely you’ll appeal to a wide audience, and the more your customers will find it convenient to work with you. The easier you make it for people to work with you (and, hence, pay you), the more money you’ll have coming in. Since COVID-19 intensified the demand for contactless payments, diversification in this field has become even more prominent – and important. But don’t take our word for it.

A report from Square found that cash payments across the country dropped by more than half between January and April 2020, falling from 35% to 15% of all transactions. While there are some industries that still rely on cash more than others, many businesses are adjusting to include digital, contactless payment options as standard practice.

Not only do these electronic payment methods offer enhanced peace of mind, from a health perspective, but they are also incredibly secure and have the added benefit of linking back to accounting systems, streamlining business reporting as a result.

Digital in-Store Payments

What Is a Point of Sale?

Point of sale systems are a way to facilitate payments with your customers.

While there are definitely incentives to diversify your business’s payment options, getting rid of cash altogether might not yet be an option. For those looking to supplement cash payments and transition over to electronic, the place to start is with a PoS (Point of Sales) system. Think of these nifty modern systems as a way to facilitate payments with your customers – whether cash, card or digital wallet – and then do more complicated things behind the scenes, like track inventory, communicate orders and monitor buyer habits. Many PoS systems also link to accounting software, like Xero, which means you can automatically reconcile invoices and payments on the go, without hours of manual labour.

“The speed and simplicity of transactions going through makes PoS systems extremely popular,” says Anthony Hill, Head of Technology at Geeks2U. “You’re automatically shown if transactions are approved or declined, and funds go straight into your bank account. They’re also very secure, with lots of rules and regulations in place from banks to protect their investment. Being contactless adds an extra layer of security – you don’t have to even open your wallet and take out your card a lot of the time. They’re easy to set up, simple to use, and save time on the back end.”

SEE ALSO: How Smart Workplace Technology Can Boost Productivity

What Point of Sale System Is Right for My Business?

There are many types of point of sale systems to suit different business needs.

Depending on your type of business, there are a number of different PoS options to consider:

  • Terminal/desktop PoS: These are most common among businesses that would normally have a visible cash register on their counter. While some PoS systems in this category come with software/hardware bundles, many require the internet, and some are completely cloud-based, requiring a reliable online connection.
  • Tablet PoS: This is popular among smaller bricks-and-mortar businesses that often have a visible cash drawer, like standalone cafes and boutiques. Your tablet is portable and cloud-based (so a good internet connection is required), but can also be elevated on your counter using a universal tablet stand, and can then be connected to a chip-card reader. Specific add-on features can be tailored to different types of businesses: a retail store may require barcode scanners, while a restaurant may need a cash drawer. A terminal can also be connected, allowing you to process payments at various points around a facility – think waiters coming to your table to manage your bill.
  • Mobile PoS: Essentially, this is a PoS system that is for businesses that don’t have a permanent physical storefront. The systems are portable, installed on either a mobile phone or tablet and linked to hardware like the Square Reader for contactless and chip card payments. The Square Terminal also works well with options for swiping cards and printing receipts. Because this system is cloud-based, a good internet connection is required to ensure payments can be processed.

How Do I Set up a PoS?

The process for setting up your PoS system varies, depending on the type and size of your business. If you’re a sole trader or small operator, installation can be an incredibly simple process – one that requires you choosing the PoS system you want to go with, then completing an online questionnaire to determine your type of business and the functionality you’d like your system to have.

As your business grows, so, too, does the complexity of the PoS system required. Some PoS companies may offer step-by-step video tutorials or remote assistance to talk you through the set-up process; others may require the company to install it for you. Regardless of the process setting up hardware, you’ll likely need to spend additional time managing the software, adding inventory, creating menus and (if you have staff) training your employees to use the system.

SEE ALSO: How to Reboot Your SME for Business Growth

Online Payments

There are specific point of sale systems to handle online payments.

Ecommerce in Australia is booming, with Statista saying the Australia market is projected to reach $37.5 billion in 2021 and the total digital payment sector projected to reach $98.3 billion. “It’s especially popular in this day and age of social distancing,” says Anthony. “And even more popular because payment methods these days are so secure and simple to process.” There are various ways to allow digital payments through your website.

  • PoS system: If you have a PoS system like Square set up to manage in-person payments, you can also use Square Payments to process transactions online through your own website. If you don’t have in-person payments, you can still set up a PoS system that is strictly online only – it’s the same as having a Square Terminal, except you don’t need any hardware. Everything is managed through a third party, so you don’t have to worry about handling sensitive payment card data, whether Visa, Mastercard, American Express or ApplePay. You can email invoices, and reconcile sales through accounting software.
  • Credit/debit cards: According to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), the vast majority of Australians have a payment card. In fact in 2019, some 99% of people reported they held at least one debit and/or credit card, with half saying they held both. A Statista report showed that around 47% used credit card and 49% a debit card to make online purchases in the 12 months to June 2020.
  • Direct debit: Transferring funds directly to bank accounts remains a popular way to make purchases online, with the above Statista report showing that almost half Australians make online payments using this method.
  • Third-party online payment services/apps: Mobile payment apps – such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and PayPal – allow Australians to pay with their phones on the go without the need for a physical debit or credit card. It’s an increasingly popular way to spend, growing to 63% in 2020 according to Statista.

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