The idea for cloud computing first emerged in the 1960s. Since then, this idea has become a reality and, in more recent years, has taken the digital world by storm. From storing your photos to accessing social media accounts to using webmail, cloud services have become an increasingly common part of many people’s lives.
The great news for small business owners is that cloud computing now has an important role in point-of-sale (POS) technology, and you don’t have to be tech-savvy to embrace this valuable technology. Cloud-based POS systems offer some significant advantages over legacy systems. We’re going to look at those advantages in this article so that you can choose the best POS system for your business.
How Does a Cloud-Based POS System Work?
Today, many business tools incorporate cloud technology, from phone services to email and much more. One of the most valuable tools you can enhance with cloud technology is your Point of Sale system. POS systems facilitate the checkout process, making it more efficient, and allowing you to collect valuable sales information that helps you manage your business.
If a POS system is cloud-based, the software associated with the system is stored in what is commonly referred to as “the cloud.” Though this is a common term, many people may be confused about what it means. Cloud-based systems use the internet to access software or data that is stored in remote data centers rather than on a hard drive or server located in your store.Cloud-based software allows developers to offer software as a service (SaaS) rather than as a one-time product. Because the software is kept on the software provider’s servers rather than on individuals’ computers, the provider can update the software as they find ways to improve it, and theses updates will automatically apply to everyone using the cloud-based software. This way you cloud-based POS keeps getting better each time a new software update is released!
For merchants, using a cloud-based POS system means that the data the software collects, including sales analytics, inventory tracking and more, isn’t tied to the physical POS terminals. Through cloud computing, merchants can view and manage their data remotely from mobile devices. This remote access would not be possible with a traditional POS system where the software is installed on the merchant’s local server. Moreover, the data is backed up in the cloud so if your POS system goes down the data is still retrievable.
What Types of Cloud-Based POS Systems Are There?
There are three types of cloud-based POS models. The main factor that separates them is the hardware used to access the cloud-based POS software. Let’s take a brief look at all three:
- Mobile POS: Mobile POS systems (mPOS) rely on mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, for access to a POS app. These systems can be a useful option for merchants with pop-up shops rather than brick-and-mortar locations. With a mobile system, you’ll have to add more hardware for accepting credit card payments, printing receipts and more.
- Online POS: Online POS systems also require you to use your own hardware. In this case, that hardware may be a desktop or laptop computer on your checkout counter. These systems may cost less than terminal systems, but you’ll have to purchase other hardware like barcode scanners, credit card readers and more.
- Cloud-based terminal POS: Cloud-based terminal systems use POS terminals that access the internet to run POS software. Using a POS terminal instead of a regular computer or tablet is especially helpful when integrating other types of hardware with the POS terminal, such as a barcode scanner or credit card reader. All-in-one systems will come with all of this hardware already integrated.
What Are the Advantages of a Cloud-Based System?
We’ve already started to see how a cloud-based POS system offers some unique advantages compared to traditional systems. Let’s take a look at these benefits in more detail:1. Remote Access and Integration
If you have a social media account or web-based email account, then you likely know that you can access it from anywhere by logging in on any internet-enabled device. The same is true for cloud-based POS systems. As with social media and webmail, you may be able to log in to view your data from any internet-enabled device. You may also be able to download an app that gives you easy access to your POS account.
Not only can you view your data, but you can also use the software to do things like reordering inventory, inputting promotional prices and more. This means you can access important information and manage your store from anywhere. It also means that, if you have multiple store locations, all your POS terminals will share data in real-time so that they remain seamlessly integrated.2. Automatic Updates
Another benefit we alluded to already is that cloud-based software enables automatic updates. Whenever software developers improve the software, the update will automatically take effect for everyone who uses the software. You are probably used to this feature on your phone. Smartphone apps can automatically update as developers improve their usability and fix any bugs that they discover.
Software that is installed once on your device and cannot access the internet, as is the case for on-site terminal systems, cannot be automatically updated. That means that, after some time passes and technology continues to progress, your POS system may become outdated. With auto-updates, you stay ahead of the curve with the latest and greatest software available.3. Superior Security
When your data is stored off-site and is accessible through the internet, you may be concerned about security. The reality is that cloud-based POS systems can be more secure than on-site systems. As a writer for the New York Times points out, your data may be safer in the cloud in the same way that money is safer in a bank vault than in your dresser drawer at home.
Banks use numerous layers of protection to keep your money safe. Cloud service providers also take special precautions that you wouldn’t typically take if you stored your software and data on your local server. If your local hard drive fails, you could lose all your data, but you don’t have to worry about this with a cloud service. Cloud services also have security measures in place to protect your data from hackers.4. Lower Upfront Cost
One of the marks of SaaS is that because it’s an ongoing service, it tends to involve a recurring fee rather than a substantial upfront cost. For cloud-based POS systems, this monthly fee typically ranges from $50 to $100, but you can pay a small fraction of that cost if you partner with National Retail Solutions (NRS). Our recurring fee is among the lowest in the industry.
In addition to the ongoing monthly or annual fee, you’ll also have an upfront cost for the hardware you need to run the software. However, this cost tends to be lower for cloud-based systems since it’s offset by the ongoing fees. This is good news for small businesses who are concerned about whether they can afford a modern POS system. Mobile systems will typically cost the least, but these systems are only sufficient for certain types of retail stores and pop-up shops.5. Customer Support
With software that’s sold as a one-off product rather than as a continuing service, the software company’s job is done as soon as you make your purchase. They may have an online resource like an FAQ section to help you figure out how to use your new software, but they won’t typically give you the level of attention that you’ll receive when you opt for Software as a Service (SaaS). Part of the ongoing service you receive is regular updates, as we’ve already mentioned.
But that’s not all. You also gain access to customer support from expert representatives. Whether you need help with installation, training, replacing parts or figuring out features, the support team for cloud-based POS systems is there to help. Many of the small businesses NRS partners with benefit from our bilingual tech support. We’re dedicated to making sure you know how to get the most out of your POS+.
Small Businesses That Should Consider Using Cloud POS Software
Cloud-based POS systems can be helpful for just about any small business, from dollar stores to delis and more. Let’s look at four examples of types of small business that can benefit from adopting cloud POS systems:1. Convenience Stores
Independent convenience stores have the challenge of competing with larger chain stores. To do this effectively, they must capitalize on their unique strengths. Why do people choose to stop into a c-store instead of a big box store? Because they’re looking for convenience. One way your store can deliver on this expectation and keep customers coming back is by adopting modern technology that keeps the checkout process running smoothly. In addition, getting an all-in-one POS system with scanner, barcode and cash drawer integrated will insure everything works together seamlessly. Your customers will be impressed by a high-tech system that’s easy to use.
Cloud POS software with inventory tracking can also help you determine when to reorder products. This feature ensures a customer is never disappointed to find an empty spot on the shelf where the item they came in to buy should be. Inventory tracking can also help you make informed decisions about which products to carry. Since c-stores tend to be small, this feature is critical for ensuring you make the most of your shelf space and maximize sales.2. Supermarkets
When people come to the supermarket, they’re typically on a mission to find what they need and get home. Many shoppers are also concerned with finding the best deals and want to use coupons to help them save on their grocery bill. A cloud-based POS system makes it easy to keep up with sale pricing and to redeem coupons so you can offer discounts and automatically ring items up accurately without having to punch in discounts manually. If your POS includes loyalty software, that’s also a great way to offer promotions.
One reason you want to make sure you streamline the process of scanning items is to keep checkout lines moving so you never have a long line of impatient shoppers worried their ice cream will melt. One way to help keep checkout lines running smoothly is to make sure you schedule the right employees at the right times. Shift management is an essential task for supermarket owners, and a modern POS system can make this task easier.3. Tobacco Stores and Vape Shops
Another type of business that should strongly consider upgrading to a cloud-based POS system is tobacco stores and vape shops. As with any type of specialty store, it’s crucial that you carry the products customers are looking for, even the more obscure ones. This is what sets you apart from larger stores that carry a limited selection of tobacco or vape products. Inventory software on a cloud-based POS can help you refine your product offerings based on sales data so you can maximize sales and please your customers.
An all-in-one cloud-based POS can also remind you to ID customers, equip you to weigh loose-leaf tobacco products and help you keep up with loyalty rewards and special sales pricing. Finally, if you have multiple store locations, a cloud-based system allows you to make changes and see these updates immediately reflected across all of your POS terminals in all stores.4. Liquor Stores
Liquor stores can also benefit from having a modern cloud-based POS system. The features that tend to be most relevant to liquor stores are sales tracking, inventory management, customer loyalty programs, promotions and age verification. A cloud-based POS system can help liquor store owners with all of these aspects of their business.
Take customer loyalty, for instance. A customer loyalty program is an excellent way to encourage people to shop for their favorite bottle of chardonnay or bourbon at your store instead of at a grocery store or big box store. In place of the old punch-card method, a modern POS system can automate the customer loyalty process. It can also help you determine which products to carry so your store is known for its on-point product offerings.
The Best Cloud-Based POS System From National Retail Solutions
No matter what type of small business you run, if it involves a checkout process, then you can benefit from a cloud-based POS system. Cloud-based systems offer a modernized checkout experience for customers and a suite of useful management tools for business owners and employees. For the best cloud-based POS system, choose the POS+ from National Retail Solutions.
Our POS+ is not only cloud-based — it’s also an all-in-one system, so you receive all the hardware and software you need to facilitate the point of sale, manage inventory, offer promotions and more. What’s more, the POS+ is exceptionally affordable, making it an unbeatable option for small businesses.
If you’re interested in embracing cloud technology to help your business succeed, consider a cloud-based POS system. It will revolutionize the way you do business. To get started, get a free quote from NRS. With remote access and integration, automatic updates, superior security, a lower upfront cost and ongoing customer support, a cloud-based POS system is an asset to any small business.