When many people think of a cash register suitable for a small business, they don’t picture a touch screen system. Instead, they picture the old-fashioned cash register, complete with a cash drawer and manual buttons, that has been a longstanding machine used for facilitating sales.
However, the best cash register for small businesses is often a point-of-sale (POS) system instead.
We’re going to focus on why a basic cash register is insufficient for small businesses and why a POS system is a much better choice to help your business succeed. We’ll look at the pros and cons of each, so you can make a fully-informed decision for your small business.
Cash registers have been around since the late 19th century. After discovering the technology used to count the revolutions of a ship’s propeller, a saloon owner in Ohio named James Ritty created a machine that could keep track of his sales. He patented the machine in 1879 and called it Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier. This first cash register didn’t include a cash drawer — it only tallied totals from each sales transaction.
After Ritty sold the rights to his invention, John H. Patterson founded the National Cash Register Company in 1884 and popularized this machine with business owners all over the nation. The cash register has long been a staple piece of technology for business, both big and small. Today, many small businesses still rely on traditional cash registers to facilitate transactions.
Modern cash registers are electronic, but they still fulfill the basic functions of earlier cash registers. Electronic cash registers consist of a cash drawer, a small display screen and buttons the cashier can press to add up dollar amounts, assign sales to particular departments and calculate change. Some registers will also print a basic receipt.Cash registers are essentially calculators designed for sales transactions attached to a drawer to keep cash secure.
So, how does the traditional cash register compare to a POS system? A POS system takes advantage of modern technology to expand greatly on the basic capabilities of a cash register. Like a basic register, a POS system includes a cash drawer. POS systems vary, but with an all-in-one POS system, you can also expect additional integrated hardware, such as:
These components are typically all separate for businesses that use cash registers. At a glance, one of the most significant things that sets a POS system apart is that it features a touch screen, which no longer limits cashiers to a set of manual buttons. Now, cashiers can access multiple menus and options to fulfill a range of functions. Because of this advanced hardware, a POS system is sometimes called a touch screen cash register, but POS software is capable of doing far more than just facilitating sales transactions. It may also be able to:
It’s easy to see how a POS system offers far more capabilities than even the best cash registers. If you want to upgrade from a standard cash register, a POS system is the modern solution that your small business needs.
Now that you know the difference between a cash register and a POS, you may be wondering which of these options is the best choice for your small business. As with almost any comparison, there are pros and cons to each option. Let’s start with the advantages of cash registers and then look at the disadvantages of this more basic option.
Digital cash registers do have some advantages compared to POS system, including:
Cash registers also come with their share of cons compared to POS systems. Here are some of the main disadvantages to consider:
Now that we’ve covered the pros and cons of cash registers, let’s focus on POS systems. POS systems offer many benefits, but we’ll hit the highlights with six significant advantages that a POS offers compared to a cash register:
Despite all of these advantages, purchasing a POS system does have some potential disadvantages, including:
As we’ve seen, cash registers are extremely limited in their capabilities compared to POS systems, which do far more than just help you ring up customers. In light of the advantages POS systems offer, it should be clear that they are preferable for any small business that can afford them. Even if you’re worried about the cost, you should still consider investing in a POS system for a few reasons.
There are many reasons to invest in a POS system, but we’ll focus on three main reasons why you need a modern POS system instead of a basic cash register:
Customers today are often in a hurry and expect the checkout process to be efficient. That’s why retailers are always on the lookout for ways to speed up checkout time. Using a POS is an excellent way to do this since it integrates hardware and uses cutting-edge software to offer a seamless checkout experience. No more punching in discounts or getting frustrated over errors. A POS makes it quick and easy to facilitate sales in a way that shows customers you’re committed to the best technology has to offer.
A POS system also gives you valuable tools to help you manage your business, from employees and inventory to promotions and more. These are all major aspects of management, so if you don’t have a POS to help you, you’ll find yourself relying on outmoded methods or software options that may work well on their own but aren’t integrated. A POS allows you to view data and make changes all in one place, so you can manage effectively, either on-site or on the go.
Finally, when customers are pleased with the checkout experience they have at your business, and you leverage data to make smart decisions about what products you carry, when you run a sale and more, you can expect your sales to climb. If your POS system comes with loyalty software, this can encourage more repeat business. A POS system is a financial investment, but for many small businesses, it could help you become more profitable.
Cash registers may have been a cutting-edge piece of technology back in the 19th century, but today, they pale in comparison to the capabilities offered by a POS system. The best small business cash register isn’t just a cash register. It’s a modern all-in-one POS system, complete with all the components you need to facilitate sales and help your business succeed. The POS+ from National Retail Solutions is designed with small businesses like yours in mind, so it’s an excellent option to consider. Request a free quote today, and see how you could see your business grow by bringing your point of sale into the modern age.
If you’re used to disappointed looks on customers’ faces when they see a “cash only” sign, it’s time to add credit card processing as a payment option at your small business. National Retail Solutions has all the tools and services you need to make this possible. Though credit card processing can be a bit complicated, it doesn’t have to be a source of stress. We’re going to explain why you should accept credit cards, what equipment you need to do it, how it works and what options we offer.
If your small business doesn’t currently accept credit cards, you may wonder whether adding credit card processing is worth the investment. After all, credit card processing involves adding equipment and allowing a little bit of every credit card sale to go toward fees. Let’s talk about why every small business can benefit from accepting credit cards.
In brief, small businesses should accept credit cards because consumers want and expect them to. If you aren’t sensitive to the preferences of your customers, you could lose business. In a 2017 survey, just 12% of consumers said they preferred to pay in cash. Most people find debit and credit cards to be more convenient and preferable to cash. Here are a few reasons many consumers prefer to use credit cards over cash.
One reason your customers may prefer using credit cards is that they offer more security than cash. To pay with cash, you have to carry money around with you, which can make some people feel vulnerable. Whether you fall victim to a pickpocket or accidentally leave your purse or wallet in a public place, you could lose your cash in the blink of an eye.
In either of these scenarios, if you only had credit and debit cards in your purse or wallet, you could call your bank to freeze or cancel them. If someone has already made purchases using your cards, you can report these charges as fraudulent, and not have to pay them. If someone spends your cash, there’s nothing you can do, unless you somehow manage to track the person down.
Credit cards are also more convenient for most people. Rather than having to keep track of how much money you have on you, with a credit card or debit card, you always know you have access to your funds. You also don’t have to take the time to count out bills or change, which tends to speed up the checkout process. If you don’t have exact change, you’ll get change back, which can be a nuisance to some people.
Coins jingle around in pockets or get lost in the bottom of a purse and weigh it down. Even folded bills take up more space than a credit card. Some people prefer to forego a wallet or purse altogether and carry their phone with an attached sleeve for holding a few ID and credit cards. While you may be able to cram a couple of bills into your phone sleeve, it’s much easier to stick to cards in this instance.
Another advantage of paying with credit cards is that it allows a person to keep better track of their spending. Every time a person swipes, inserts or taps their card, whether it’s to buy a sandwich or a sofa, it creates an electronic log of those charges. With cash, you would have to keep track of your spending manually by making entries in a notebook or in your phone, or keep paper receipts for every transaction to compile a payment history.
Credit or debit card users can check their payment history online anytime and can use these records to help them budget and keep track of their finances. Digital spending records can also be helpful when it comes time to file your taxes, especially if you lose track of receipts.
Paying with a credit card also helps a person build their credit history. Even if you’re exceptionally responsible, if you pay for things in cash, you won’t establish a credit history lenders and others can use as proof of your responsibility. If you faithfully make your credit card payments on time, you’ll steadily build a positive credit history that results in a high credit score.
Achieving a high credit score is essential for several reasons. In today’s world, your credit history comes into play whenever you need to take out a loan, whether it’s to finance a new vehicle or take out a mortgage on a home. Your credit history can even influence your insurance premiums.
Finally, some consumers prefer to use credit cards because, unlike cash, credit card transactions can reward customers with perks like cash back. The cash-back model typically rewards consumers by giving a certain percentage of the cost of each purchase they make back to them. For some cards, this percentage will differ based on what they’ve bought — such as fuel, groceries, restaurants and so on.
Some cards reward customers through programs where they can accrue points by making purchases. Once the cardholder gets to a certain number of points, they can earn a reward like a gift card. Another popular reward system is for travelers who can earn airline miles or other travel discounts by using their credit card.
Hopefully, everything you’ve read so far has convinced you of the need to include credit card processing as a payment option at your business. If you want to maximize your business and please customers, you should give your customers the option to pay with a credit card. So, how can you get set up to accept credit cards at your business?
There are ways to manually enter credit card numbers on a computer, like consumers have become accustomed to doing on e-commerce sites. However, manually entering information is an inconvenient and inefficient way to process credit cards. The best way to process credit cards is with a suite of equipment that works in concert to make the checkout process as quick and convenient as possible.
Before we discuss the other pieces of equipment that can assist in the process, let’s focus on the essential piece of equipment you’ll need: a credit card reader.
A card reader is called such because it reads the information embedded in a credit or debit card, either through a microchip, magnetic strip or both. This device is what customers interact with. They insert or swipe their card when prompted and confirm the amount of the payment. This card reader initiates the process of authentication, which we’ll discuss more in the next section.
Merchants should make sure they have a card reader that is capable of reading EMV chip cards, since these cards are becoming increasingly popular over the traditional magnetic stripe cards you swipe. According to credit card giant Visa, three-quarters of U.S. storefronts now have the necessary equipment to process EMV cards.
The trouble with magnetic stripe cards is that the information they contain never changes, so getting the details once is enough for someone to copy it and use it for fraudulent charges. EMV cards prevent fraud by generating a new code each time a person uses it to buy something. That way, information from one transaction won’t be useful to someone wanting to commit fraud by using it repeatedly.
EMV chip transactions take a bit longer than purchases with other credit cards, but they’re still fast, at about 15 seconds for a typical transaction. No matter what type of card a customer is using, a card reader makes it easy for them to share their payment information so their bank can deposit payment into your business’ bank account.
Small business owners who want to embrace a fully modernized checkout experience that makes it easy to process credit card payments should use a card reader as part of an all-in-one POS system. You can think of a POS as the brain that connects all the necessary components to facilitate a checkout process. An all-in-one POS system comes with all the components you need for checkout, already integrated to work together seamlessly. These elements include your card reader, along with these other essential pieces of equipment.
Now you know why credit card processing is essential and what equipment you need to facilitate these transactions, let’s talk about how credit card processing works. To the consumer, credit card processing looks like nothing more than inserting their card, seeing the sum on their credit card bill and paying it. A lot goes on behind the scenes, however, to make that transaction possible. We’re going to draw back the curtain and explain this process step-by-step.
There are three fundamental steps in this process: authorization, authentication and clearing and settlement.
The customer initiates this process by either swiping or inserting their card. The processor then reads the information on the card and sends it to the credit card network, such as Visa or Mastercard. This network acts as the go-between for the customer and their issuing bank.
The network sends the customer’s payment information on to their bank. The bank then checks to make sure the purchase is legitimate rather than fraudulent, and determines whether the transaction should proceed. For example, if the customer has already reached their credit limit, the sale won’t go through. The card reader should tell the customer at this point whether the system has accepted or declined their payment.
The process appears to be over at this point from the customer’s perspective, but the merchant still doesn’t have their payment yet. A process similar to the one above takes place, which can take up to several days, to make sure all is in order before the cardholder’s bank sends funds. The processor comes into play once again as it transmits the necessary information to the credit card association to settle the payment.
The funds that get transferred to the merchant will have fees deducted to pay the banks and processors involved for their part in facilitating the transaction. From a retailer’s perspective, they see a small amount of each credit card transaction withheld, typically around 2 to 3% for a retail store. This fee gets divided three ways, with the most significant chunk going toward paying the required interchange fee to the issuing bank.
Processors will use one of these models to determine their fees.
Choosing a credit card processing company to facilitate your credit card sales, both with equipment and ongoing processing services, is a crucial decision. Choosing the wrong partner could result in paying unreasonable markup fees or finding hidden charges on your bill. National Retail Solutions keeps things transparent and offers two pricing options for credit card processingso you can choose the best fit for you.
Regardless of which rate plan you select, you can usually expect to receive your funds within just 24 hours, which is a valuable perk for keeping your cash flow more current. We understand how critical it is to have access to your funds when you need them.
According to Business News Daily, if you own a small business, it’s essential to find a credit card processor that specializes in businesses of your size, since otherwise, you may face credit card processors who don’t understand your industry and expect you to generate at least $10,000 in revenue every month. While NRS has a custom rate option for businesses that create this much in credit card sales, we also cater to smaller businesses with our flat rate.
At NRS, we understand the unique needs of payment processing for small businesses, and believe size shouldn’t keep you from having the best technology to facilitate sales and help you manage your growth. That’s why we offer payment services, such as our card reader and processing services, that make it possible to accept not only all major credit cards, but also mobile wallet apps, EBT and eWIC.
Money isn’t the only element you should consider when choosing a partner for merchant services. In a past blog post, we discussed three critical factors to consider when selecting the best payment system for small businesses.
When you partner with NRS, you get these valuable qualities and more.
The world of credit card processing can seem complicated and confusing, but credit cards are here to stay. If you want to make it easy for customers to do business with you, you should know how to find the best credit card processor to supply you with the equipment to accept all forms of payment.
Consider making a smooth transition into modern technology with the easy-to-use, all-in-one POS+ from NRS, and be sure to count on NRS for all your payment processing needs. When you work with NRS PAY for credit card processing, you may be eligible for a complimentary credit card reader! To get started, request a free quote today.
If you want your small business to succeed, you should pay close attention to how you’re managing your inventory. We’re going to explain what inventory management is, what it looks like for different types of small businesses, why it’s important, and how you can do it effectively. Strategic inventory management that uses the right tools, especially a POS system with inventory management software, can help you run your company more efficiently and will keep your customers coming back for more. Focusing on improving your inventory management is one of the best ways to grow your business.
Inventory consists of the products you plan to sell. If you own a small manufacturing business — which includes businesses like bakeries or boutiques where you sell handmade goods — then your inventory also includes the ingredients or tools you use to create your end products. For example, in a bakery, inventory would include the baked goods currently on sale as well as your flour, eggs, sugar and more. Inventory is more straightforward for most retail stores. It’s the stock you have in your backroom and on your shelves.
Inventory doesn’t manage itself. That’s why inventory management is a critical ongoing task for many businesses. On the most basic level, managing your inventory means you keep track of what inventory you have in stock and know when you need to order more stock. Effective inventory management also involves paying attention to key performance indicators that let you know how various products are selling so you can make informed decisions about which products to carry in the future.
Inventory management looks a bit different from business to business depending on the types of products you sell and whether you use consumables at your business that you also need to manage. Let’s look at some examples of what inventory management looks like for just a few of the types of small businesses we work with:
Too many small businesses either have no method in place to manage their inventory or rely on poor, limited methods. This is a problem because inventory management can be a critical factor in shaping the success of your company. Before we talk about what could happen if you don’t manage your inventory, let’s focus on the positive results you can expect when you implement strategic methods of inventory management.
Managing your inventory properly leads to some great results. It will help you:
We’ve seen the positive results you can enjoy when you manage your inventory effectively, but you may still be wondering how bad it could be to run your company without an emphasis on inventory management. Here are some issues that are common to businesses that don’t properly manage their inventory:
Some companies still rely on manual inventory management tools. Typically, this means they maintain a spreadsheet on the computer. The spreadsheet should have columns dedicated to fields like the name of a product, the SKU and the quantity you currently have in stock. You should ideally adjust this number each time a product is sold or comes in. However, that’s an unrealistic goal for most, so what ends up happening is that the numbers on your spreadsheet are outdated most of the time.
It isn’t just that information quickly becomes outdated. This manual method also allows plenty of room for human error. One study revealed that retailers only had a 63% accuracy rate when it came to inventory tracking. To make sure the information on your spreadsheet doesn’t get too far off the mark, you need to implement periodic checkpoints.
Manual methods of inventory tracking should always include manually counting your inventory periodically so you can update your numbers and minimize discrepancies between the numbers you’ve recorded and the reality of what you have in stock. Audit your stock monthly or, at the very least, quarterly. These periodic checks are a good idea no matter what methods you use to track inventory.
Remember that inventory management goes beyond just recording numbers. It’s about making decisions. If you’re managing inventory manually, you’ll want to implement a strategy like ABC analysis to help you make decisions about which products to reorder when. This technique involves categorizing your inventory into three classes. Popular products that generate around 80% of your revenue belong in Class A. Class B is for inventory that is marginally popular and accounts for 15% of revenue. Class C is for inventory that moves more slowly and only accounts for 5% of revenue.
To successfully implement a strategy like ABC analysis, you need to gather and analyze a lot of data. Consistently maintaining information on a spreadsheet and coming up with figures to know how products are selling will take up a lot of time. That’s time you won’t get to spend on other business tasks. So, while manual inventory management can be done, you’ll have to dedicate a significant number of work hours to it.
Any type of inventory management is better than nothing, but manual inventory tracking isn’t typically the best option, as we’ve seen. It requires a great deal of time and effort and is still limited. If you want to manage your inventory more effectively and with less effort, then you need to take advantage of modern technology.
There are many inventory management system options on the market today, but the best option for most small businesses is to integrate their inventory management with their point-of-sale (POS) system. If you’re unfamiliar with a modern POS system, you can think of it as a high-tech cash register that keeps track of inventory and does everything else to facilitate the checkout process. When your POS comes with inventory management tools, you don’t have to monitor inventory separately. Instead, when a cashier rings up an item, your system automatically subtracts one from the quantity you have in stock. It’s that simple.
When it comes to making restocking decisions, there’s no easier or more reliable method than using inventory management software for small businesses. A POS system with inventory management like the POS+ from National Retail Solutions will tell you at a glance whether a product is well-stocked, needs to be reordered soon or needs to be reordered immediately. Following these guidelines will help you keep items in stock consistently rather than reordering when you suddenly realize you’re out of something.
When you have software to track your sales, it doesn’t only help tell you how much you have in stock — it can also help you make strategic decisions about which products you should continue carrying and which you should potentially eliminate from your product offerings. You likely have a general sense of which products do well and which don’t, but you don’t have to rely on these general impressions when you have a POS inventory system for your small business. This system will deliver analytics that let you know exactly how each of your products is performing.
Inventory management is a critical aspect of your business. As we’ve seen, using the right technological tools to manage your inventory requires less time and effort, helps you keep items in stock and delivers the data you need to make strategic decisions. All of this leads to a thriving small business that carries the right items in the right quantities and keeps customers happy.
With the technological tools that are available today, there’s no reason to struggle with outmoded systems like spreadsheets. Inventory management software may cost more upfront, but consider all the money you’ll save by eliminating waste, saving time, never missing a potential sale and more. The best way to manage inventory is to use software that integrates seamlessly with your POS system.
The POS+ from NRS is an all-in-one system that features quality hardware and cutting-edge software, giving you everything you need to facilitate the checkout experience and to manage your inventory behind-the-scenes. The POS+ will also streamline other aspects of your business, including your customer loyalty program, so you can spend less time struggling with manual methods and more time watching your business thrive. To learn more about how NRS can help your business succeed, contact our sales team today for a free quote.Even with the rise of online shopping and grocery delivery, plenty of people still benefit from having a convenience store nearby. Running a neighborhood convenience store allows you to provide the community with the immediate purchases they need. If you decide to start a c-store, good preparation and planning can help you succeed. Think about these five aspects of business when opening a convenience store.