The last thing any business owner wants to worry about is whether the point-of-sale (POS) system is working. For a seamless POS experience, it’s important that you choose a good system, and that you maintain it properly. By proactively maintaining both the hardware and the software as outlined below, you can avoid the headache caused by malfunctioning hardware and software.
1. Choose POS software with excellent customer service.
Every system will have the occasional glitch or hiccup — the key is to choose a company that will work with you to alleviate these problems as quickly as possible. You can get some feel for this as you shop around to choose a merchant services company. Does the sales person call you back promptly? Do they offer generous amounts of information, or do you have to ask a million questions to get the information you need? Regardless of the rates they offer, if the service provider isn’t helpful or doesn’t reliably return your calls, choose another company.
2. Back it up.
Even though you’d like like to think that your servers are immune to the catastrophes others have experienced, you absolutely must back up your data regularly. Create a regular system for backing up your data, and make sure you have an employee who is accountable for ensuring that the process is completed each day.The back ups should be stored separately from your servers, ideally on tapes which will be kept off site. USB drives or CDs could also be used. Keeping them offsite is crucial; even if there’s a serious disaster, you’ll never lose all your data at once.
Once you’re regularly backing up your data and storing it offsite, be sure that you are testing those back ups regularly. Use them to restore the data about once a month, making sure that the retail software can be read and used. Don’t let the work of backing up regularly go to waste by failing to test the data.
3. Keep your hardware clean.
Don’t underestimate the damage that can be caused by mistreating POS hardware. The hardware gets heavy use, and is dropped and spilled on with some regularity. By taking the time to clean and maintain the equipment, you can avoid service interruptions. The hardware should also be replaced in a timely manner as it becomes outdated. If you’re having trouble finding someone who can repair or troubleshoot your equipment, chances are it should be replaced.
4. Purge old data.
Just like your personal computer, your POS system can get bogged down when its full of old, useless information. Help it perform its best by regularly purging the data that’s no longer needed. This could include customer information, reports, items, receivables, or products. Don’t be tempted into thinking that the software will somehow manage this on its own — this is something that needs your attention. Just be sure to back up your data first!
After exerting the effort it takes to choose and set up a new POS system, don’t let it fail due to lack of maintenance. If you take care of hardware and software, and work with your service provider when things get dicey, your system will serve you well.
Tony Alvarez writes for Merchant Maverick, where you can find comparison charts, as well as reviews for services such as Chase Paymentech.