5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Concessions POS System
A POS (point of sale) system is crucial to every business, especially when it comes to concessions. It’s the one thing that every paying customer interacts with at some point when buying a beer or a hotdog. It’s also one of the easiest ways for a business to keep track of its cash flow, inventory and customer data.
A quick Google search of the “best POS system for concessions” will yield an overwhelming amount of results (we know — we’ve done that). That’s why we want to save you the trouble by creating our own list of five key factors you need to consider before choosing a POS for your concessions operations.
1. Ease of use and depth of system
This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s one of the first things all business owners should seriously consider. There are POS systems with granular features designed for businesses with a lot of merchandise or a massive customer base. If your concession stand isn’t serving a huge number of customers, maybe getting a really complicated POS system isn’t worth the money and effort.
It’s important that you and your staff members can easily learn how to use the hardware and software. Struggling to learn the deep features and data extraction can only be counter-productive. Therefore, we recommend always requesting a demo when choosing a POS system and see if you can learn to use it yourself. Make sure all its features are intuitive and actually help your business.
Another option available within several POS systems is remote or onsite training provided by the software manufacturers, such as Posim, which gives users simple, easy-to-understand training across the entire platform. Keep this in mind as you weigh the benefits of each system you’re considering.
When it comes to POS systems, there are fundamentally two types of costs that you’re going to encounter. The first is the upfront cost: how much does the software initially cost? Some POS systems require you to purchase more licenses (from a popular POS system like QuickBooks) so you can outfit all your devices — computers, registers, scanners, etc. — with software.
You also need to take into account the cost to maintain a POS, which are sometimes leased out month to month. A system with a low initial installation cost might have high monthly payments. This might be a better option for a concession stand, which won’t necessarily see business every single day. For example, ShopKeep lets users simply buy a single user license per month and use it as they see fit.
3. Features & Integrations
Just like no two businesses are the same, no two POS systems are the same. Some are created for heavy traffic retail, while others are made with mobile food ordering in mind. Features across the countless POS systems vary widely, from granular inventory tracking to cost assortments for food. It’s important that when you are choosing a POS, you need to carefully pick the features that serve your business needs the best — with a comprehensive enough reporting dashboard to give you data and insights.
Similarly, many third-party software providers offer niche integrations to beef up the POS systems. MuleSoft is a popular integration for restaurant POS systems, that allows users to manage important tasks and in-store sales. So, if you can’t find a solution, make sure you pick a POS that allows outside integrations. You might not need a perfect POS but can instead modulate one to your needs with other outside solutions.
Today, security is at the forefront of many people’s minds. With account breaches from large retailers like Kay Jewelers, Target, and Marriot Hotels, customers are becoming more and more cautious of where they lay down their credit and debit cards.
And it is your duty as a business to protect your customers as well. It’s important that data encryption is included in your POS so that you can shield sensitive data. Additionally, look into POS systems with application whitelisting, which is a protocol that only allows certain devices and applications to run your system. This prevents hackers from gaining access to your system on an unauthorized device.
5. Cloud or Onsite System?
As mobile technologies continue to advance, the capabilities of “the cloud” continue to grow and grow. Now, you can save huge swaths of information — from photos to songs — on the ubiquitous platform. When it comes to POS systems today, there are really two main options you have to choose from: cloud-based and onsite systems.
An onsite system is the typical image in our head when we think of a POS system. It’s a piece of software that is installed on numerous onsite devices such as computers, registers and barcode scanners. It requires an IT professional to maintain, and the business owner updates the software as they see fit.
Instead of onsite systems, more and more businesses are choosing a cloud-based system. This is particularly helpful for retailers with a crucial mobile aspect. Cloud-based systems allow you to access all your data and conduct all your operations on-the-go with a smartphone or tablet.
There are many such companies that offer cloud systems. One exciting company is FanFood, a mobile ordering application for concessions at live event venues of all types. FanFood allows users to order food and drinks on their phones, and either have them delivered to their seats or to an express pick-up window. Fans can pay for their orders on their phones through a secure integrated POS system, and concessionnaires can see a comprehensive reporting dashboard of their sales data and customer data.
The company charges no revenue share, charges a relatively low licensing fee and the system doesn’t require regular maintenance at all.
You can hear more about FanFood from other existing venue managers.