Get Your Head in the Cloud: Why You Should Ditch Your Locally-Hosted POS

The point-of-sale system has long been the heart of a retail store as the system on which everything else depends. So, it’s understandable when retailers hesitate to replace this workhorse with something new.

However, the demands for a POS have never been higher:

  • Heightened customer expectation for a seamless shopping experience on and offline.
  • An increasing need to personalize customer interactions in order to gain their loyalty.
  • Consistent new innovations made in payment solutions.

Today’s point-of-sale solutions must help retailers recognize and reward customers. A POS must accept mobile wallets and comply with strict payment requirements, must move to where the customers are— whether shoppers are browsing the aisles or visiting a sidewalk event — and they must support omnichannel activities like click-and-collect or online returns with real-time access to sales and inventory.

Locally hosted POS applications were never written to do all that and adding those capabilities to these programs either costly or not possible. Cloud-based POS software’s ability to handle this and more (while staying lower cost) is why so many retailers are making the move to the cloud.

Here are 4 reasons to move to a cloud-based POS system:

1. Support Omnichannel Capabilities

Omnichannel has dominated retail industry headlines — and investments — in recent years, and for good reason. As the smartphone culture has taken hold, consumers have increasingly expected their digital encounters with a brand to be consistent with their experience in stores and with the call center.

A cloud-based POS uses open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for integration, making it easier for developers of other software like e-commerce, ERP, or accounting to integrate their software with the POS system. As a result, users of cloud-based POS systems can easily access the tools they need to achieve omnichannel capabilities such as real-time inventory and a 360-degree view of the customer.

2. Keep Up to Speed with the Modern Retail Age

The feature set of a locally-hosted POS system is locked in the day it’s licensed, with future upgrades costly and sometimes painful to implement. It’s common for retailers to avoid these updates, so their POS is unable to evolve with the needs of the market. As a result, locally-hosted POS systems tend to face these serious gaps in capability.

Cloud-based POS solutions typically deliver all of these omnichannel features: endless aisle, click-and-collect, up-to-the-minute multichannel reporting via any browser, email receipts, consistent consumer experience, return-to-store, and complete visibility to customer records from any channel. Retailers can change a price once and have it appear in every channel, facilitating the most accurate inventory reports possible.

3. Go Mobile

Mobile POS is giving retailers an edge. According to IHL, enterprise retailers using mobile POS solutions see sales growth that is 42% higher than those that do not use mobile POS. And retailers are catching on. According to a RIS/​Gartner study, 46% of retailers surveyed were looking to invest in mobile POS in the next 12 months.

Mobile POS gives retailers the flexibility to drive a more engaging customer experience. When the POS is mobile, retailers can take the transaction to the customer. This enables:

  • Clienteling, with associate and customer sharing a screen and accessing helpful data such as customer history, inventory availability, and access to multimedia product data.
  • Bringing the checkout to the customer, anywhere in the store.
  • Flexibility to travel for outside events from store-in-a-truck to tent and sidewalk sales.
  • Fast setup which is a great fit for pop-ups and other temporary retail locations.

4. Achieve Payment Compliance

Retailers face a lot of difficulty in achieving payment security and privacy compliance with locally-hosted POS solutions. Failure to be in compliance with PCI requirements leaves retailers vulnerable to breaches, penalties, and loss of customer trust.

In the cloud-based POS model, the software developer ensures the solution is compliant with PCI, EMV, PII, and other requirements. Because cloud solutions are built on an open, Internet-based platform, it’s easy to integrate new payment methods as they become available.

When you evaluate the features, look at the facts, and keep your eye on scaling and growing your business, using a cloud-based point-of-sale solution really is a no-brainer.

Ready to make the leap to a cloud-based POS but not sure how? Check out the guide to choosing the right POS to learn how to successfully implement a new point-of-sale system and the five key questions you should ask when assessing POS providers.

Shutterstock / Pavle Bugarski