When you think of business point-of-sale, you probably think of hardware and software intensive systems that include many components. Receipt printers. Specialty monitors. Cash registers. Pole displays. Dedicated POS software. But for many small businesses, the cost of all this hardware and software can be out of reach.
So developers started questioning the paradigm for point-of-sale, thinking about online applications that could exist on servers in the cloud, and creating products that wouldn't require as much of a financial investment, but would do the same job. And a new class of online POS systems appeared. Here are some of the newest offerings, including Zing Checkout, Pose, Imonggo, and Vend.
Online POS With Some Social Media On the Side
Billed as a "simple web-based point-of-sale system that believes in promoting your business online," Zing Checkout offers online POS for brick and mortar stores plus a social media component. But instead of requiring a lot of POS hardware and software, Zing uses just an Internet connection along with a computer (PC or Mac), a tablet, or a smart phone. No specialized display screens needed.
Products can be added to a customer's order both manually or using a bar code scanner. Multiple options give retailers the ability to sort and organize store inventory using product categories and attributes. Various reports track profitability over time, displaying the most popular products, and showing trends. Reports can be exported using Microsoft Excel and other common formats.
As with many web-based offerings, Zing Checkout presents both a free and a premium pricing option. And there's no extended contract to enter into, so you can cancel at any time.
The free option limits the number of products, transactions, and users, along with types of reports and additional customization. Probably the greatest advantage of choosing the $49 monthly premium online POS package is the ability to accept credit cards in addition to cash.
But the most unique feature of Zing Checkout is the integrated social media connections. In addition to providing a social listing page allowing you to move between the online point of sale interface and your business or personal pages, Zing offers your customers the ability to tell their online friends about purchases, thus increasing referrals.
A Web-based Cash Register
Calling themselves a "web-based cash register," Pose (note the positive SEO benefits in the name) is another recent entrant in the online POS field. Seemingly geared toward retailers without a permanent location, everything about the service lends itself to access at festivals, shows, stalls, and booths. Even someone selling T-shirts on the nearest corner. All that's needed to get started is a reliable Internet connection and a display screen.
Despite the cash register description, like most other web-based POS, this offers much more. There are inventory and supplier management tools, custom product categories with photos, customer management tools, including a database tracking visits and purchases, integrated credit card purchasing, the obligatory reporting features, and employee management tools.
Currently in beta, they offer a very simple pricing structure. Try the service for 30 days, but continuing past that first month requires the ongoing $49 fee, no contracts needed.
Incorporating Credit Card Processing Along With Online POS
With the tag line, "Not Just a POS," Imonggo is a self-described web-based retail management solution. Offering the ability to help operate and manage hundreds of retail stores, the online POS service hopes to serve as a jack of all trades for businesses with room to grow.
Notably, Imonggo offers credit card processing with no additional software needed. The online POS acts as the terminal in conjunction with Internet credit card payment processor, Authorize.net.
The company promises a simple fee structure, with no setup costs, no minimum contract, and no cancellation fees. "Imonggo Free" can be used for a single store with less than a thousand products and the same number of transactions each month. The premium version runs just $30 a month, unlocking additional functionality for larger retailers.
Runs While Online and Offline
The final web-based POS entrant is Vend. Touted as a "retail web-based point-of-sale and inventory management software you will love to use," Vend solves the problem of a lost Internet connection by providing both on- and offline performance. If for some reason the connection is interrupted, the program continues to operate, offering automatic data synchronization when the Internet is restored.
Vend integrates with existing POS hardware, including bar code scanners, cash registers, and receipt printers. The service also connects seamlessly with Xero, an online accounting system for small businesses, and Shopify, an e-commerce solution, that offers the option of opening an online storefront to go along with your physical store.
Use the web-based POS on a trial basis for up to 60 days, then choose from three pricing levels, based on the number of registers needed. The middle tier called "medium," and described as the most popular level, runs $69 a month, while "small" and "large," cost $39 and $99 respectively. As with the other online POS systems, Vend requires no long term commitment, and offers the flexibility to switch from one plan to another at any time.
While online POS solutions may not be the answer for every business, the low start-up costs, flexibility, and ease of use are sure to attract plenty of interest from the small business community in the near future.
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