Upgrade to a Cloud-Based POS: The Complete Guide

So, what is a POS?

Well I’m glad you asked.

To best understand the benefits of upgrading to a cloud-based POS system, you first need to know the definition of POS. POS is an acronym for Point-of-Sale. When asked to describe a POS system, the first image to come to mind for many people is a cash register. Point-of-sale means just that; it’s the point where you finalize the sale. Looking through a wider lens, a POS includes everything from the barcode scanner to the credit card processing terminal. It is, in reality, a computerized network. All of the hardware and software communicate through one central server.

OK, that sounds good but why do I need one?

Once you understand the basics of what a POS is, it’s easy to extrapolate the necessity of having one. The goal of your business is to generate sales. To do that, you need a point of sale. For retail companies and restaurants, it’s nothing less than an essential part of your business.

Cloud-Based vs. Traditional POS 

You know what it is.
You understand why you need it.
Now the struggle begins

How do you decide what type of POS to use? While there are hundreds of different POS systems available to retailers, they all fall under one of two categories: cloud-based or traditional. The distinguishing factor centers on how the hardware and software are networked. For the sake of illustration, think of a traditional POS like the days when homesteads had to dig and maintain their own wells on the property in order to have access to water.

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traditional POS is networked to a central computer (read: a server), most often on the premises. All of the scanners, cash registers, credit card processing, and receipt printers communicate via the central computer much like spokes to a hub.

A cloud-based POS is networked to the cloud. The cloud is a system of servers maintained by a third party off-site. It relies on the Internet rather than a collection of wires for communication. Going back to the water illustration, a cloud-based POS is more like modern homes in developed countries that rely on a utility company to find, treat, and transport running water to their house.

Great! So, what are the main benefits of using a cloud-based POS?

At first glance you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Both types of POS use a central computer. There are, however, vast differences between the two. For starters, when the server is on the company premises, the company is responsible for any updates, repairs, maintenance, and security. Without a competent IT department, your company could face costly downtime in the event of an electrical surge or security breach. In the cloud, a third party shoulders those responsibilities.

Of the top 10 risks retailers reported facing, the following six are at least partially addressed by using a cloud-based POS:

1. Damage to Reputation / Brand
2. Business Interruption
3. Failure to Innovate / Meet Customer Needs
4. Distribution or Supply Chain Failure
5. Technology Failure / System Failure
6. Crime / Theft / Fraud / Employee Dishonesty

In addition to the IT support benefit, cloud-based POS systems also provide increased flexibility, more thorough information management, better security, and an integrated omni-channel presence.

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Increased Flexibility 

A cloud-based POS uses the Internet instead of hard wiring as it is more flexible. For example, the iPad POS system synchronizes your information across multiple stores. The iPad has the mobility advantage compared to traditional POS systems. With this, customers they can check out anywhere in the store where an employee has an iPad. This cuts wait time in lines and boosts profits in the long run because you’re able to serve more customers. It also provides consistent data across multiple locations. Additionally, if your business is mobile, like a pet grooming service or a food truck, a cloud-based system can travel with you. Such mobility significantly broadens the possibilities for your business. Why be tethered when you can roam free?

Information Management 

A cloud-based POS seamlessly streamlines multi-site communication. Small businesses with more than one location can have up to twice as much information to manage. When that data sits on a central computer at each place, somebody has to collate it and analyze it as a whole. On the cloud, all of the data is merged in real time and accessible from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. Inventory, sales, and other analytics are all found in one location: the cloud.

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By tracking and analyzing the data, you’re able to determine what needs to happen to make your store perform better. Good information management leads to more successful business decisions. Cloud-based POS systems synchronizes information about your customers across multiple locations. You can use this data to build customer relationships that go beyond purchases. According to Retail Information Systems, “A good Point of Sale system provides valuable data on how customers shop, so retailers who have been using these systems to collecting customer data should take the next step and challenge their system for loyalty programs, cross channel capabiliJes, and replenishment programs based on the intelligence they already hold about their customers’ preferences and order history.” Call customers by name. Suggest other products or services that might be beneficial. Customize your loyalty program. Customers are more likely to shop where they feel known. Get to know them and use the POS as a tool.

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Security 

In light of all the news coverage about hacking and credit card fraud, you may be wondering about the security of a cloud-based POS. The cloud (and iPad POS systems in parJcular) actually provide better security for all of your customers’ and your business’ sensitive information. According to a Huffington Post article, “Well-designed cloud systems provide a much higher level of security through encryption and multiple backups. Put simply your data is better off in the cloud.” For a thorough discussion on how the iPad POS system works to prevent data loss, download Bindo’s white paper, iPad POS Security: The New Wave of Hacking and Credit Card Fraud.

Also within the realm of security, you should already be aware of the mandate in the United States for banks to provide EMV cards. The U.S. has been slow to adapt this technology and paid the price in terms of credit card fraud. “Annual costs of card fraud in the U.S. alone are estimated at $8.6 billion per year. Experts believe that figure will rise to $10 billion or higher by 2015, especially if the U.S. does not make significant progress with chip card adoption.”

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Around the world, it’s estimated that “70% of [credit card] terminals deployed outside the U.S. are today using the EMV standard.” These chip and PIN cards provide an added layer of security for the cardholder. By October 2015, all retailers in the United States need to be ready to accept these types of cards. It’s not just beneficial for your customers. “In October, 2015 the EMV imperative, also known as the Liability Shift, will place the burden upon retailers to have the appropriate payment processing systems in place to accept the EMV chip, or else be responsible for any fraudulent charges made in their stores,” reports Retail Information Systems. By upgrading to a cloud-based POS system, you can be ready before the deadline. Most likely you’ll need a POS upgrade for the cards anyway, so you might as well go all in on mobile POS.

Omni-channel Presence 

Global Web Index is forecasting that 2015 will be the year that smartphones will match PCs and laptops in regards to Internet users who own the devices. In 2014, 91% of Internet users owned a PC/laptop while 80% owned a smartphone.

Regardless of device ownership, a 2014 comScore report finds that mobile device usage has already surpassed desktop/laptop usage to become “the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for an astounding 60 percent of digital media time spent in the U.S.”

As mobile usage increases, so too does the tendency of consumers to use their devices to shop. Not only do they search for specific items, they also compare prices, locate stores, and check product availability. Lest you think they do all of this from the comfort of their own homes, think again. Nielsen reports the following statistic: “66 percent of smartphone shoppers check prices while in retail showrooms.”

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How does this information relate to a cloud-based POS? It’s indicative of the immediacy and urgency with which consumers shop. It points to the value of having an online presence. It relates to optimizing your customers’ shopping experience by integrating your online and in-store experiences. You need the cloud to make that integration seamless. The term for having accessibility in multiple marketplaces (mobile, online, and brick and mortar) is omni-channel. Retailers want to be found wherever customers are looking, and customers who have the world at their fingertips are increasingly expecting immediacy.

According to a commissioned study by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Accenture, 71% of consumers expect to view in-store inventory online. Seventy-three percent stated they are likely or very likely to visit a local store if the retailer provides in-store product availability information online compared with 36% of customers who would visit a store if no inventory information was available online. By managing your inventory and analytics with a cloud-based POS, you can integrate your mobile, online, and in-store platforms with ease. Having an omni-channel presence meets consumer demand for accessibility and immediacy while simultaneously providing a positive experience with your company.

In conclusion, cloud-based POS systems outperform traditional POS systems in flexibility, information management, security, and omni-channel synchronization. The cloud offers more for you and requires less from you, making the upgrade a logical decision.

Bindo’s Cloud-based POS System 

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Bindo offers an iPad POS system to address all your cloud-based POS needs. Because it’s run on the top-selling tablet, it’s mobile, portable, and flexible. The software is cloud-based, streamlining information management. In addition to the security of the cloud, Apple’s iOS has consistently proven to be more secure than other operating systems. As for an omni-channel presence, Bindo has Bindo Market. When you use the iPad POS by Bindo, you get free, instant access to the Market. This enables you to launch your entire inventory online with one click.

Don’t get left behind. Keep up with technology, consumer demand, and security mandates by using a cloud-based POS like Bindo.

Space Cowboy Boots in NYC upgraded to Bindo POS and never looked back:

A point-of-sale system like Square on steroids

Click the button below to download the Complete Guide PDF

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