“First, do no harm.”
Most people are familiar with this well-known adage as it relates to medical care, but it applies as well to our use of technology. Unfortunately, many businesses find themselves dealing with POS system problems that leave them wondering whether the products are doing more harm to their bottom line than good.
The last thing retailers want to see is a long line of fidgety customers waiting to complete their purchases as a store employee wrestles with a recalcitrant POS terminal. Barcode scanners that won’t scan, mobile POS devices that won’t connect to the network, and employee work schedules that employees can’t access are some of the glitches that can wipe out the productivity and efficiency gains that businesses expected to realize from their point of sale systems.
If persistent POS system problems cause you and your staff to do more troubleshooting than selling, it may be time to find a more reliable replacement.
POS System Problems are More Common Than Many Believe
A survey of retailers conducted by Accelerated Concepts in 2018 found that 81 percent of the businesses experienced at least one network outage in the past year, and 82 percent state that network downtime had a negative effect on customers. In addition, 87 percent of the retailers surveyed had to wait up to four hours for support after a network crash, 72 percent lost sales due to an outage, and 61 percent were unable to process credit cards while their network was down.
Research firm Gartner reports that the average cost of network downtime for all industries is $5,600 per minute, which is more than $330,000 per hour in a range from $140,000 to $540,000 per hour, depending on the characteristics of the business. The impact of an outage is made worse by the lack of a backup connectivity solution; Accelerated Concepts found that only 20 percent of retailers have a backup network link in place.
Computer vision vendor TechSee notes that a network crash is only one of the many components of a POS system that can fail, leaving retailers scrambling for a solution. POS systems combine complex hardware and software applications in ways that make them particularly vulnerable to technical failures. For example, the constant use of mobile and stationary POS hardware makes the devices prone to wear and tear, including component failures and a lack of memory. Incompatibilities and other glitches cause POS applications to conflict with operating systems and other software, especially when integrated with accounting, inventory tracking, and other back-office apps. Mobile software is especially susceptible to hackers and other security problems.
How to Avoid POS System Disasters
Many of the most common glitches affecting POS systems can be prevented, or at least minimized, by taking these steps ahead of time:
Make Sure Your POS System Works Offline
Loss of a network connection should never cost a retailer a sale. Yet many retailers find themselves locked out of transactions when the internet goes down. That’s why it’s imperative to ensure your POS system has an offline mode that is able to process credit card and other sales without a live network link. The offline mode should also allow inventory to be tracked and all sales records to be accurately synced once the connection is restored.
Use a Cellular Phone Network as Your Connection Backup
Have a 4G or 5G cell connection standing by in case the store’s fixed-line broadband service fails. Test the backup regularly to ensure that the POS system switches automatically to the cell network when the standard connection goes down. A product such as the Pronto 4G/WAN Router PC31 serves as an optional internet connection through a cell data plan by providing Ethernet and WiFi links for all POS and other devices.
Have Hardware Replacements On Hand
One of the greatest benefits of using mobile POS terminals is their ability to step in when a standard POS terminal fails. The mobile approach is more efficient and less clunky than having an old-style cash register and scanner on hand just in case a POS terminal goes south. Whenever you implement a new piece of hardware or software, always have at least one contingency plan ready for the day it stops working unexpectedly to ensure that transaction processing and other critical processes can continue uninterrupted.
Ensure Your POS Vendor Provides Responsive Support 24/7
Despite a retailer’s best efforts to be prepared for any contingency, there will be times when solving a problem requires outside assistance. It’s unreasonable to expect a retailer to put operations on hold for hours to connect to a support line. Make sure you work with a POS vendor who offers 24/7 support as part of the overall package. This is especially critical considering the trend toward omnichannel operations that allow customers to purchase items at any time and from wherever they are.
Don’t Let POS System Problems Interrupt Your Business
In a perfect world, a retailer’s POS system would be invisible to customers and employees alike. The system would be so easy to use that both parties to the transaction can focus on what really matters: meeting the customer’s needs as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you find yourself battling with POS system problems on a regular basis, it may be time to start shopping for a replacement that offers the reliability and usability you and your customers have come to expect.
When you partner with talech for your retail technology needs, we devote our time to identifying your business challenges. We use this information to provide you with an innovative POS solution that levels the playing field. Reach out to us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your valued POS partner.