As technology advances the world of point-of-sale (POS) systems, it can be difficult for small business owners to parse through all the buzz and find a system that suits their unique needs. For example, although modern POS systems allow retailers to do a lot more than process payments, some business owners just want something straightforward, while others might be looking for additional features that allow them to take payments while out in the business world.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why more than 70% of POS systems are over two years old.[1] Leading with archaic payment technology is not only a detriment to your workflow; it could be costing you money. The average mobile transaction value is expected to increase 40% by 2027.

Here are 10 must-ask questions when considering which POS system works best for your small business needs:

1. Will you need on-the-go payment features?

The ability to take orders and payments while on-the-go is something that tends to be more suited to certain business models, like food trucks, for example, or clothing companies that frequent trunk sales or expos. If your business happens to be a roaming one, take that into consideration when doing your POS research and look for one that works well with travel.

2. Would you like something specifically suited to your industry needs?

These days it’s easier than ever to find a POS system that’s customized to specific business categories like retail, restaurant, service providers, etc. The benefit of these systems is that they usually offer the ability to customize for your specific needs — like a way to better manage inventory, improve the flow of orders at your restaurant, or the ability to take orders and payments as servers move around a dining room — along with taking payments. They may come with a heftier price tag for the added convenience, though.

3. Are you planning to introduce a customer loyalty program?

Building out a customer loyalty program is a solid business strategy, especially considering that 68% of consumers[2] said they would join a customer loyalty program for brands they like, and over 60% of loyalty programs make most shoppers more loyal to a brand. Searching for a POS that allows you to easily track purchases and reward customers that spend frequently at your business is one of the best ways to get started.

4. How much are you willing to spend on your POS?

POS systems run a wide range of prices, according to the 2024 Forbes POS pricing guide.[3] Depending on your budget and what you want out of your system, you’ll pay anything from $0 to $200 per month for POS software and $0 to $1,200 for hardware, with lots of pricing options in between. Things to keep in mind when researching different prices — besides your overall budget and the bells and whistles you want — include elements like the product rating, sales processing and payments, business reporting, customer and staff tracking, and returns management.

5. Would you like to connect your POS system to your e-commerce site?

If website sales are a big part of your business — or you are purely web-based — then finding a POS system that seamlessly and intuitively connects with your existing e-commerce site should be a high priority. If this is the direction you’re headed, also consider finding one that works on your existing hardware, whether that’s Android or iOS, and that links online and in-person sales, if applicable. If you’re just getting started, there are also options that offer their own e-commerce capabilities to get your feet wet.

6. How much technical support do you need?

Whether you’re totally new to the POS system or have been using one for years, it’s always helpful to find an option that offers stellar — and readily available — customer and technical support. The last thing a small business needs is to have their payment system crash in the middle of a big sale. Easily accessible support, 24/7, can help with that.

While you’re considering the technical support you might need after implementing the system, also consider what help the vendor offers during implementation. Especially if you’re new to POS systems, finding one that offers comprehensive onboarding and training programs can save you and your employees a lot of time and headache.  

7. Do you need multi-store or omni-channel capabilities?

The ability to connect all your data within one system — from store to store, if applicable — can be the difference between seamless integration and spending hours each week connecting the dots. The right omni-channel option — which works best for businesses like contact centers, for example, where employees are taking payments from customers and then processing them onto a client — should offer options for both traditional phone calls and chat sessions. Whether online chat is an option that you currently provide or not, if it’s something that you have in the future, the immediate integration will be worth it.

8. How will card processing fees factor into your decision?

Each POS vendor comes with its own set of rules regarding credit card processing fees, and they are something to keep in mind. Those that offer flat fees, for example, may make it easier for you to factor into the overall cost of implementing the system. Either way, for small businesses, absorbing card processing costs can put a big dent in sales. On the other hand, passing them along to the customer can make for some angry clients, especially if this isn’t commonplace within your industry. Do a little research on the different fees offered and decide how much a higher fee might factor in with a cheaper option that you were considering.

9. What would make my employees happier?

This doesn’t have to be a rhetorical question — go ahead and ask. Your employees will be dealing with the POS just as much, if not more, than you are, so ask around to see what pain points they would hope to eliminate or alleviate with the right POS system. For example, if you have an on-the-go business or tend to have internet issues in your brick-and-mortar store, consider looking for a POS that is equipped to work offline, as well as online.

10. If my business grows, will my POS system grow with me?

For all the effort you’re putting into finding the right POS system right now, it would be handy if whatever option you went with offered the ability to upgrade as your business grows. Systems that offer á la carte services and apps that you can easily add onto existing POS structures are sure to make your life a little easier down the road.

The best POS systems do so much more than collect money. (Although collecting money is essential, particularly as payments are increasingly important to the customer experience.) If you’re looking for a better way to manage and view your data, track inventory, and keep customers happy, putting in the effort to find the right POS system for your needs will be well worth your time.

PNC Merchant Services offers three POS systems that could be perfect for your small business. Learn more about what they have to offer here.