Your point-of-sale solution is a vital part of your company. It enables you to perform payment transactions, streamlines and automates your business, helps you market yourself and create ultra-useful reports. Enhance its benefits by protecting yourself against making common mistakes that can dull your POS system’s effectiveness.
Making a Rash Decision
One of the worst errors you can make when it comes to choosing the right credit card processing for small businesses is to jump the gun. Many entrepreneurs leap at the first POS hardware and software they see, failing to realize that they may be contracting with a particular merchant account provider with questionable practices. For instance, you might be paying elevated processing charges or be forced to contend with account freezes or early termination fees.
Making an impulsive POS decision might also land you with a company that has shoddy customer service or does not provide adequate upgrades or training on new equipment. To protect yourself against this distressing fate, do your homework. Talk to your peers about what systems are working best for them, and ask your prospective merchant account provider if you can test out the system before you buy. If something seems wrong about a particular product, move on to one of the other excellent POS products on the market.
Installing It Without Guidance
POS solutions have numerous settings that, if improperly calibrated, could cause you to pay higher fees. If your system has inventory capabilities, you’ll want to be sure things are set up correctly at the start, or you may need to re-input all the data again down the road. Consequently, it makes sense to ask your POS provider to set up the system for you in advance, so you can enjoy optimal performance and cost effectiveness when it’s on your store counter.
Failing to Plan for Breakdowns
However well-maintained it is, no system is immune to breakdowns. As Murphy’s Law predicts, these catastrophic failures always happen at the least opportune times: during the holiday rush, when you are critically short-staffed, etc. That’s why it makes sense to have a backup option.
If your system is web-based and uses WiFi to process payments, be sure to have a “hotspot” connection that can be readily employed to process credit card transactions in the event that your main system goes down. Another option is to have a secondary system handy for times like this. It could be a virtual option or even a mobile system on your smartphone if you’re really in a pinch.
Violating Your Merchant Services Contract
There are many ways you can go against the contract you signed with your merchant account provider, often unintentionally. Regardless of the root cause of the breach, it can end up meaning that your account is frozen, or you may be rendered unable to use your POS.
Minimize the chances of this happening by first carefully reading the contract you are about to sign. Ask your merchant provider any questions you have. After becoming an active customer of the account provider, review the contract at least annually to keep aware of its terms. For the most part, you will remain in good standing with your provider if you stay within the monthly credit card processing limits specified in the contract and minimize chargebacks.
Failing to Keep Your POS Secure
Small business POS systems are often targets of fraud, especially if ignorance or laziness leads to lax security. Make sure your system always meets PCI-DSS compliance standards: Upgrade software to the latest security patches; provide each person to whom you give access a unique ID; encrypt your WiFi network; choose strong POS passwords; keep your POS software restricted from customers and staff without administrative privileges.
Failing to Take EMV Cards
The old-school magnetic stripe credit cards are quickly being supplanted by the new Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) cards, which encrypt transactions and are much more secure. Even so, many small businesses have dragged their feet about upgrading their POS systems to accept so-called chip cards. If you are one of them, your reluctance is leaving you open to fraud since criminals are now targeting the security loopholes in magnetic stripe systems. Should you become a victim of fraud, you will be on the hook to pay the costs, and that could be a financial nightmare for virtually any small business.
Under-Using Your POS
Your POS is a great deal more than a glitzy cash register. If you are only using it to process customers’ debit and credit card transactions, you’re missing out on some game-changing capabilities. These include being able to generate sales reports, developing a customer database from which you can easily build a loyalty program, tracking your inventory, managing your employees and payrolls and conducting e-commerce.
If you suspect that you are not employing your system to its full advantage, it’s time to have a long chat with the company who sold it to you. Ask that a representative provide you training. Then integrate what you have learned into your business model.
Having a modern POS is a lot like hiring a bright new employee. It might take a little while to get to know them, but once you do, you will wonder how you ever functioned without them. Taking full advantage of the capabilities of your POS system can have long-term positive effects on your business, your profits and the satisfaction of your customers. Don’t wait another day to harness this power.