Retail technology is evolving, and the fast pace of the industry means businesses need to evolve with it. Cloud technology has made a variety of processes simpler, allowing businesses to streamline their payment processing, inventory control and other functions. Before the cloud provided a new world of possibilities, retailers and merchants were tethered to traditional cash registers, server maintenance, and complicated software installations.
This new breed of technology allows you the freedom to manage every aspect of your retail business in one central location, or from anywhere you like. Traditional POS systems rarely include free customer and technical support, and locally-installed software does not update automatically. In contrast, cloud-based solutions are updated and issues are resolved, usually before you even know there is a problem. Cloud POS systems are the future, but before you purchase one for your business, it’s important to ensure that it will work the way you need it to. Here are the top five things you need:
1. Offline Functionality
The internet is a wonderful tool, but if you’re using an internet-based POS system, you may occasionally experience connectivity issues. When evaluating cloud-based software, it’s important to understand just how much functionality you retain if there is a service interruption. You might not have the ability to access company information when you want it. Can you make a sale? Can you access inventory? Such concerns may have a number of retail organizations tethered exclusively to traditional Windows-based registers.
One of the great benefits of taking your POS to the cloud, after all, is unlimited mobility. If your store is busy, and you have a tablet available, virtually any available employee can become an additional register. Hand them an iPad and improve the checkout experience for your customers.
With Erply, the challenge of internet reliability is addressed by always storing some information locally on the browser. This means that even during an internet outage, users retain access to the point of sale software. You can process sales as you normally would, and once internet service is restored, the data will sync to the cloud.
2. Data Security
Choosing a POS to the cloud offers businesses a substantially lower cost of ownership, as well as a number of risk reductions: No servers to maintain or replace, and no valuable store space taken up. No time-consuming upgrades, and no risk that a mistake might be made during an upgrade (what if you forget a register?). Nobody to train, who could be doing some other important thing you need doing, and who could suddenly leave. The benefits are hard to argue.
But it’s a trade off. Your company’s data is one of the most valuable assets you have, and the security of it should always be a top priority. Businesses may hesitate at the idea of putting all their data in someone else’s hands.
At Erply we own and maintain our own servers in multiple locations across the world, always ensuring that your data doesn’t cross borders unless it’s supposed to. Each hosted server maintains strict keycard protocols, security protocols and 24-hour surveillance. All credit card information is stored in a third party PCI compliant network. Access to customer data for all accounts requires secure protocols, and passwords are all encrypted.
3. Growth Capability
As your business grows, so does the demands of your POS system. This means both the need for dedicated server space, and a sophisticated level of functionality and adaptability. As your business grows, you may need your POS provider to expand your storage space, or even build a personal server center. But you may also discover that you’ve developed your own particular business rules and workflows. Cloud providers often tout simplicity and ease of use as a major selling point, but what happens when you outgrow those streamlined workflows and features?
To accommodate the unique needs of every client, Erply developed a powerful retail integration API, which allows businesses to structure their businesses exactly the way they need to. You can integrate with virtually any other software. Your developers (our ours) can build custom solutions for an expanded accounting, ecommerce, warehousing, stock replenishment systems, whatever is right for you.
4. Depth of Features
While a Cloud POS needs to be flexible and adaptable, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t skimp on out of the box functionality. Every business needs accommodation for basic functions like transactions, inventory management, and reporting. But then what? How do you grow your business?
Take CRM as an example. Larger companies have used database and customer relationship management software to track customer relationships, manage sales and marketing campaigns, track customer response and deliver efficient overall service. Smaller companies could rarely afford to purchase CRM software in addition to a POS and inventory systems.
Erply’s built-in CRM allows data collection that provides consistent familiarity with customers regardless of which employee is working. Erply’s CRM enhances loyalty tracking, and with CRM management, all employees can be aware of a customer’s needs and preferences. Erply also puts a customer’s purchase history at your fingertips, which helps process returns and exchanges.
The cloud makes things easier. The burden that’s lifted by choosing cloud-hosted software, POS or otherwise, is fairly straightforward. But that doesn’t mean that everything going forward is going to be easy. Using any software, cloud or otherwise, means that some user in your organization will eventually have a question about something. What support options do they have?
Is there a useful database of feature information that users can access for quick self help? Are there intuitive tutorial videos? Is it easy to get ahold of a live person for more intricate questions? Is there a higher level of support appropriate for the needs of enterprise retail organizations?
An example of a tutorial available at Erply Learn.
The move to cloud POS solutions is not just a passing fad. The technology continues to evolve, becoming, smarter, faster and more secure. As long as you do your homework and assess the features most important to your business, you can rest assured that your business will be better off in the cloud.