Software as a Service (SaaS) has been made possible in retail billing by the advancement in technology and the coming of the age of cloud computing. Today, cloud based POS software are independent of platform, device or browser. Several companies have emerged such as vendhq in the US, verifone in France, or CirQ in India.
Traditionally, Cash Registers were the standard thing sought all over. Now, virtually every cash register is connected to a computer. Moreover, POS systems have expanded to provide other meaningful services in one place. But, in India, POS or point of sale have also been used for only one of the several functional parts of a point of sale management system. For some a POS may be only the POS – printer. Then some would consider the cash register as the entire POS. But for maximizing benefit from the use of technology a business should avoid keeping list of items in paper documents, automate re-ordering, track consumption of items, etc. which are provided by POS software under inventory management. For cloud based POS the real strength lies in the developers all over the world creating software applications for cloud based POS adding several functionality with time.
A cloud based point-of-sale stores data of user and transactions on a remote server. This avoids the risk of losing data by mistake, malware, or damage of hardware. They don’t even require to be installed on the system. Moreover the system is free for dedicating resources to other tasks.
Another benefit is that the security and update of software of the POS is vested to the vendor. Further as the business grows new hardware has to be added in traditional POS systems. As data size increases storage devices need to be bought.
An important advantage of a cloud-based POS is the instant centralization of data. This means data is centrally stored in one place despite transactions happening in multiple places, outlet or via different channels. It is highly beneficial in analytics or analysis of data to recognize customer behavior, their choices and track customer loyalty. This brings higher focus on the right areas to improve business and profitability. This adds additional ability to access data from anywhere. One needs to connect via internet with their credentials and access the data.
Cloud based point of sale systems lower start-up costs, as minimal hardware and software requirements are required. The payments are usually subscription based which means you pay only until you use the service. But one may also perceive this as a continual cost on the business. The decision making nevertheless vests in the business owner who should analyze and think far.
A problem with cloud based POS is that they may not work without the internet connection. But some vendors like CirQ Point of Sale provide facility to continue transactions offline and the data gets synced or updated once the connection returns.
POS even in a cloud will require a few hardware such as printers to print receipts, or scanners for scanning bar code. But retailers and restaurants can choose not to provide printed receipts for conservation of trees and new vendors of point-of-sale solutions provide facilities to send email or SMS receipts to customers. ATM’s have already implemented this concept and most consumers don’t take printed receipts. Also, with NFC (Near Field Technology) the devices running POS system can act as scanner for barcodes using their inbuilt camera or even become a payment card reader!
Nevertheless, adoption of point of sale software is going on at fastest ever rate in India. But if you choose the right kind of POS, it can cut down long term costs and hassles of operations. This can make retailers to focus more on their core business rather than spending energy and time in managing software and hardware.