Traditional POS systems require proprietary servers and client machines, which are expensive to acquire, difficult to maintain, and prone to security issues, which merchants must diagnose and repair while suffering costly downtime and inconvenience for their customers. And for all that, they pay hefty upfront and monthly fees to their old-style POS provider.
Fortunately, there is another way to significantly reduce or eliminate these problems while gaining the advantages of more convenient transactions, seamless integration of your customer portfolio across the organization, lower costs and higher security. That is why businesses are switching in droves to cloud-based POS services.
Access Business Data from Anywhere on Any Device
Cloud-based POS systems offer something that traditional POS systems are simply not capable of doing. Because the system’s data is stored centrally and accessed via the Internet, all stakeholders in the enterprise get real-time access to crucial business information including customer demographics, sales, returns and inventory, which can be correlated to internal and external market trends at any time.
Furthermore, cloud-based systems are device-agnostic. Your business data is accessed via the web browser of your choice or a free cross-platform application that runs on a wide variety of devices including tablets, smartphones, PCs and laptops. No longer is the business chained to proprietary applications from their traditional POS provider for which costly licensing fees must be paid.
Anywhere you can access the Internet, you can keep tabs on the internal dynamics of your enterprise and gain access to vital business information and analytics that help you make informed, timely decisions.
The best cloud-based POS systems do not require that you swap out the investment you have already made in your POS hardware, scanners, printers and cash register software. They will work with those seamlessly. Furthermore, cloud systems are especially adept at enabling tight integration with all the other existing business workflows within your organization.
Any department can be granted access to customer and transactional data. Accounting can instantly keep up with sales and purchase returns to update inventory or oversee the business supply chain. Marketing accesses the same pool of information to monitor sales campaigns and guide customer reward programs such as loyalty programs, gift cards and promotional events.
The benefits of cross-integration that a cloud-based POS architecture provide can be enjoyed equally well by both bricks-and-mortar operations and those selling via a B2C website.
Worry-free Upgrades, Maintenance and Performance Adjustments
Complicated, manual upgrades of both hardware and software are a thing of the past with cloud-based POS systems. The POS service provider invisibly ensures that your servers are backed up, configured and maintained continuously without you having to lift a finger. Any software upgrades due to OS service packs, bug fixes, virus patches or feature improvements are all handled by the POS provider at the remote server site. Updates to client-side software are minimized and infrequent and only require a few clicks at most if auto-updating is not turned on.
The POS provider also keeps track of your business’ growing hardware, storage or performance needs and alerts you to possible service upgrades well in advance of when your enterprise might be impacted. This eliminates last-minute surprises or the frog-in-boiling-water syndrome of traditional POS systems that almost imperceptibly grind to a crawl over time as your business outgrows them.
Reduced Costs and Improved Forecasting
Rather than incurring enormous upfront costs for hardware, proprietary PC application licenses and other “add-ons,” cloud-based POS systems operate on a pay-as-you-use model in which you rent their service on a monthly basis in which everything is included.
This aspect not only avoids annual upgrade fees of 18-20 percent charged by traditional POS providers but makes it easier for your business to forecast ongoing costs of the POS system. You also have the flexibility of switching providers in a competitive Software-As-A-Service market.
Cloud-based POS client-side applications are not brain-dead web apps that simply display whatever the back-end server dishes up. The best services provide apps that complete transactions in a timely fashion without inconveniencing customers. These automatically sync with the remote server according to Internet or server load. The best services have sufficient offline capabilities to keep going even during outages, so your business is never interrupted.
Furthermore, with traditional POS systems your business is subjected to higher risks due to system crashes, data corruption or virus attacks that must be diagnosed and repaired on-site, which probably results in a costly stoppage. Complete re-installation of your traditional POS software is not an uncommon consequence. On the other hand, cloud-based POS providers back up your business data and workflow with redundant storage and servers, so negative shocks to your revenue and customers’ satisfaction are completely avoided.
A cloud service’s business reputation critically depends on being able to provide the highest levels of security for their clients and their business-critical applications. All data that flows to and from POS hardware and business devices is protected via the highest-grade 128-bit SSL encryption. Server data is sequestered and regularly backed up to protect its integrity. POS cloud providers also provide top-notch physical security and world-class virus detection and protection.
With a traditional Windows-based POS system, significant damage may be incurred to the system and customer data well before an infection is even uncovered. Furthermore, on-site POS systems are subject to physical attack, theft, accidents or weather calamities.
Thus, there is an insurance benefit to using a cloud-based POS system not the least of which is that Visa, MasterCard and AMEX all absorb the costs to customers of a compromised credit card only if the merchant uses the latest POS technology.
Traditional POS merchant systems are subject to frequent renewal due to both hardware and software breakdowns. Most of these can be traced to high costs, flagging system performance and malfunctioning, outdated software. Since it is so costly to repair such systems and merchants are loathe to repeat the experience with the same old-style POS approach, most are now evaluating the many advantages of cloud-based POS services.
Cost reductions and the ability to forgo time-consuming in-house maintenance, upgrades and performance issues are compelling reasons enough to switch to cloud-based POS services. Additionally, anytime-anywhere access to sales data, the flexibility to use any portable, mobile device plus the assurance that business-critical data is secure and always available make cloud-based POS systems the most logical, cost-effective approach.