If you're a retailer, looking for a point of sale system, read this article for some thoughts on how to shop the right way for such a system.
Retail POS systems are very complicated, after all, and can be very expensive. You want to be careful to invest in the right one.
Start by looking for the right software. This will determine the hardware you can buy. Try, if you can, to find software that's written for your specific type of store. For instance, if you have a clothing store, look for software that a lot of clothing stores are using. This software probably has the features you need already. Other clothing stores will have asked for them, and they'll already have been developed.
If you can't find industry-specific software that fits your budget, then look for general retail POS systems. This software may have the features you need.
Make a list of all the features you need, and then start visiting websites. Look at the features they mention on their sites, and make a list of the top 3 to 6 prospects. Try to get an idea of pricing, so you don't waste your time looking at software that's way out of your budget.
When you've completed your list, contact the companies and ask them for a ballpark price if you don't have one already. Tell them that you won't hold them to it, but you need to see if it's worth spending your time with them. If they aren't willing to give you a number, hang up and try another company. There are lots of POS companies out there.
If their system fits your budget, ask them for a demo. Don't let them waste your time with their standard spiel though. Tell them exactly what you're looking for, and ask them how their software can help you improve your store. Get a free retail technology education by asking some good, research-based questions.
Don't be afraid to bring in other people who will be using the software, such as managers, cashiers, or your accountant. These people will probably have questions for the company that you wouldn't think of.
After the demo, ask them for a quote. Tell them that you're talking to other POS companies, and that they'll have to be competitive if they want you to buy from them. At the same time, ask for some references. If they can't give you the contact information of any clients who will say nice things about them, this is probably a red flag.
Finally, when you get the quote, make sure that everything you need to use the system is actually included. A complete POS system includes hardware, setup, training, and support. Is all of this on the quote? Are there any other fees you'll have to pay over time to keep the system running?
Once you're content that you're getting a good deal, sign on the dotted line and enjoy your new POS system. Hopefully, you'll get a productive 5 to 10 years out of it.