Shifting to a mobile point of sale (POS) system can be a decision marked by excitement and anticipation – small and medium business owners often envision speedy sales workflows, captured business leads, and effortless inventory tracking. Javelin Strategy and Research predicts that mobile POS sales will hit up to $5.4 billion by 2018, based on current adoption rates. However, mobile POS systems are a not a “one size fits all” solution. Retailers must ensure that their new point of sale fits their own unique industry, budget, inventory management, and staff needs. Here are the main factors to consider before committing to a POS solution.

1. Industry Considerations

There are different POS systems that specialize in various retail and service industries. For example, restaurants won’t fare well with a system that doesn’t adjust for tips. And a bicycle shop will find little use for a food service point of sale system that doesn’t manage inventory. Make a list of industry-specific solutions, and then begin to compare their pros and cons.

2. Licensing Costs

Retail leaders can get so excited about setting up a new system, that they fail to take an inventory of their future POS stations. How many devices will need to access the system? Are you factoring in other store locations? Software licenses can cost your company thousands of dollars. Read the fine print and find out the total licensing costs for the devices you wish to enroll. Keep an eye out for license bundle specials, since these promotions can save you quite a bit.

3. Inventory Management

Choose a system that is designed to live track your type of inventory. Some systems have robust accountability features, allowing you to scan inventory during counts and track loss. Be wary of systems that require a high level of manual input.

4. Hardware Requirements

Retailers can save a considerable amount of money by using their existing mobile technology with a POS system. However, these savings can be nullified if your technology is on the cusp of obsolescence, or if these devices are not actually compatible with your new system. Scrutinize the hardware requirements and prospective costs before committing to a new system.

5. Set Up Assistance

Is your new system a “plug and play” experience, or does it require extensive tech know-how? Or will a POS company rep need to make an on-site visit to link your cash drawers, receipt printer, and server to your mobile devices? Depending on how involved this process is, you might to ask prospective system companies about their setup options.

6. Training

Just how long will it take for your employees to become acquainted with your new POS system. There are many intricacies to returns, various payment types, and inventory adjustment that your staff members must become familiar with. Does your POS solution come with training materials and instructor options, or will your company be completely accountable for staff training?

7. Local vs. Cloud

Self-reliant companies who want to store and maintain all of their POS data locally should search for systems that operate on a local server. These setups generally require increased in-house IT involvement and accountability, but you won’t have to rely on an external system to perform transactions. On the flip side, cloud systems reduce your in-house tech responsibilities, since your staff won’t have to worry about maintaining and protecting a local server.

8. Support

Finally, your company must have a clear idea of where to turn for support. Retailers can suffer from product loss when their POS systems are down, even for just a few minutes. Choose a point of sale system with clear support channels that operate during your business hours.

Making the leap to adopt a mobile POS system can help your company improve overall productivity, cut down on inventory shrink, and build stronger customer relationships. However, your future POS solution should be tailor-fit to your needs. Incorporating these factors into your purchase decision can help ensure a smooth conversion experience.