The choice in point of sale systems (POS) can seem nearly as varied as the choice in retail shops. Like any other aspect of starting a business, you'll need to do some basic research to determine which system best suits your needs. If you anticipate a high volume of daily sales, such as a corner bakery, you'll want to look at different systems than if you're selling big-ticket items, such as furniture, and only expect a few sales each day.
Should I consider a traditional or mobile POS system?
Because your business is a startup and you're concerned about costs, take a look at mobile payment systems, such as Square. With Square in particular, you can get a card reader for free, and instead pay a 2.75 percent transaction fee for each card you swipe. Such a system can be handy if you're starting that bakery, and plan to sell your wares both at your shop and at local farmers markets.
Related: For Some Businesses, Square Register Can Replace Traditional Point-of-Sales Tools
On the other hand, a more traditional system might better fit your needs. You can search out companies that have a good track record with systems specifically designed for retailers. It also can be helpful to buy software and hardware from one company, and you can turn to that company for customer support. If you plan to get into eCommerce, some POS systems offer that option.
How much should I expect to pay?
A simple POS system might cost you as little as a couple thousand dollars. More complex systems can cost much more. You may be able to lease a system or pay a monthly subscription fee to get you started.
Are certain types of systems better for accounting and record keeping?
Systems can differ greatly on the types of features they offer for accounting, from inventory management to payroll integration. The site Retailsystems.com has a checklist of items you might need, or want, from a POS system. Deciding which features are musts can help you narrow down your choices.
Related: Three Steps for Getting Started in Mobile Commerce
Ryan Himmel, CPA and registered securities analyst, is the founder and CEO of BIDaWIZ.com, a professional network for small businesses and entrepreneurs to obtain trusted advice and services from a team of CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Financial Planners & Tax Attorneys. His team provides answers to the many finance and tax questions that small businesses encounter every day. Ryan has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fox Business and Crain's New York, among other publications. Ryan also regularly contributes to the community with his finance and tax blog.