Thursday, June 2, 2011

Upgrading POS systems with a Merchant Cash Advance

For most retailers, restaurant owners and even service providers, like hairdressers, or some travel agencies, installing or upgrading a point of sale (POS) system is a mandatory part of doing business. At their most basic, POS systems are used to balance the cash drawer, process credit cards, run reports, count inventory, print electronic checks, act as a time clock for employees, and control theft. Advanced systems can be used for even more sophisticated processes, including developing target marketing strategies, tracking supplier purchases, and analyzing sales of each inventory item. Indeed, a POS system customized for your business’ needs is more management tool than cash register.

Here’s a quick overview of the three basic kinds of POS systems and a checklist of individual elements of all POS systems to use when considering a Merchant Cash Advance (or any other funding) to upgrade your business’ system. Remember that each comes with a seemingly endless combination of features and add-ons, so it is important to know what your business can handle and what it needs to bring in more revenue.

Standalone ECRs – Because data collection is limited to each electronic register, this system is best used by small independent retailers with a limited number of register sites. ECRs are the least expensive of the POS systems, yet they provide many helpful features, including automatic sales and tax calculation; calculation of change owed to the customer; sales report generation; capacity to sort food stamps and trading stamps (through programming of function keys); and scanning. This may be enough for your business. Using a Merchant Cash Advance to upgrade an ECR system is great idea if your business is generating additional sales or if it needs to, say, monitor the buying patterns of existing customers.

Network Systems – For larger businesses, network or ECR-based point-of-sale systems feature multiple terminals arranged into a primary/secondary configuration. One ECR in the store, equipped with extra memory capacity, serves as the primary terminal and receives data from the secondary terminals. These systems give businesses the capacity to manage storewide data and transmit it to main frame systems.

Controller-Based POS Systems – The top POS systems are controller-based systems in which each terminal is connected to a computer-the "controller" of the system-which receives and stores all sales, merchandise and credit data. It then checks all data from the terminals for transmission errors and reformats the data for use by the headquarters computer.

Picking a System for Your Business

It may be best to keep the existing software-based POS system or even move to a web-based package, especially if your business is mobile. When looking to use a Merchant Cash Advance to build sales and save time and money, look at the following:

Hardware – This includes a PC or module, display, keyboard and mouse, high-quality cash drawer, barcode scanner, credit card reader, receipt printer and label printer.

Inventory and other features – How quickly can your employees locate items in the system? Quickness here speeds and enhances the checkout process for the business and the customer. Check out additional built-in options for layaways, multi-payment plans and gift certificates.

Customer tracking and labels – Why not track customer's lines of credit so that they can buy now and pay later? Stored customer information can also speed up shipping by having labels with a customer's address all ready to go. Most POS systems will print shipping labels, but only select systems will also do price tags, shelf tags and customized labels.

Employees and security – Choose a system that has multiple levels of security access and password protection. Most POS systems can be used for clocking in and out, tracking commissions and employee hours.

Help and support – This is probably the most important element to consider for your business. The best manufacturers provide training through videos and manuals, but providers should also offer technical help through FAQs and online tutorials, as well as 24/7 phone and email support. Aside from learning how to use them, POS systems can have issues just like any piece of equipment, so find a company that offers excellent tech support and a warranty.

Get What You Need Quickly

One of the benefits of a Merchant Cash Advance is that it is a very quick method of obtaining working capital – sometimes in as few as 72 hours. This speed-to-funding can be leveraged by the business, which is especially helpful when upgrading and improving essential parts of your business.

The way a Merchant Cash Advance works, your business gets the lump sum of capital needed right away. You can spend that on whatever purchase you need for the business. Then over time, the remittance is handled through your credit card processor and normal sales activity. (Learn more about how a Merchant Cash Advance works.)

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