If you’re reading this article, you probably run a store and are contemplating breaking up with your POS system provider. You may feel like your current system is unreliable or is holding you back—your needs aren’t being met and you’re thinking about moving on.
But even if you’re disappointed by your partner, parting ways can be painful. After all, you’ve already invested time and resources into your current POS system. Are your reasons for moving on good enough?
We’re here to help make that process easier. Keep reading for signs that it’s time to switch POS system providers, and tips on how to make the move to Shopify POS with confidence.
Not all POS systems are created equal
In this day and age, it’s not enough to just sell products in your store. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that selling online is critical to running a thriving retail business.
POS systems need to support shoppers who discover, research, and buy products using a mix of online and social channels and in-store experiences. However, not all POS systems were built to provide an omnichannel shopping experience. Sure, you can find an ecommerce platform that integrates with your POS and vice versa, but these integrations can cause irreparable problems.
For example, before switching to Shopify, Mister Zimi used separate systems for online and in-person selling and experienced a “cataclysmic” inventory count issue during a major sale. Because the shop’s inventory didn’t update as quickly as online sales were processed, it oversold products. The team had to spend countless hours finding out which inventory they oversold, issuing refunds, and managing damaged customer relationships.
When ecommerce platforms and POS systems don’t play well off of one another’s capabilities, it makes for a messy experience for customers and creates more administrative work for retailers. Keep this notion top of mind as you read our tips.
18 signs it’s time to switch POS system providers
Need a sign that it’s time to switch POS systems? Here are 18 to help you decide if you should take the leap.
1. Your POS system is hard to use
If your current POS system is unintuitive to use, it’s probably slowing down checkout and staff training, and obstructing access to helpful features. If serving customers, accepting payments, or managing inventory feels more cumbersome than you’d like, it may be time to look elsewhere.
Elph ceramics co-founder Sophie Rankine says that with its user-friendly system, “teaching new staff how to use Shopify POS is really easy. It makes onboarding new staff less stressful, since it’s so simple to look up products and prices, check in-store pickups, and process sales.”
2. Your physical stores aren’t connected to your online store
When your small business' point-of-sale system and ecommerce platform don’t work together, it becomes more painful to keep inventory synced and understand your customers’ preferences—and it’s next to impossible to offer flexible order fulfillment options like in-store pickup. As a result, you may be missing out on opportunities to unify your sales channels and let customers shop however is most convenient to them.
After integrating its POS and ecommerce platforms, bicycle company tokyobike was able to fuse the in-store and online shopping experiences.
“Sometimes we’ll have customers who are interested in things that we only have in-store,” says Juliana Di Simone, tokyobike’s Partner in America. “So if you need a new set of wheels we don't have on the website, we can easily email a pre-loaded shopping cart to a customer with items that are only in the store, and they can complete that purchase as if it was an online sale.
It’s impossible to think of retail as separate from ecommerce. This idea of unified retail is the future.
3. Your growth is stunted by costs
Your POS may actually be sabotaging your business’ growth. If you have to pay per POS terminal, then you’re likely paying more than you have to whenever you want to hire more staff or open another retail store.
A more cost-effective alternative is paying per store location and having unlimited terminals. This ensures you pay one upfront cost per store location and can equip your staff with as many POS registers as they need to serve customers efficiently.
💡 PRO TIP: Paying per register is usually more expensive than paying per location—even for merchants with multiple store locations. Do your due diligence when researching POS system pricing plans to ensure your POS provider will support your growth without breaking your budget.
4. You have issues managing your growing team
Managing staff can be a retailer’s most time-consuming task. Your to-do list includes everything from creating schedules and monitoring performance to ensuring you have the right number of employees working each shift. Fortunately, a best-fit POS system can help retailers schedule and manage their staff more effectively.
For example, your POS system’s reports should show you the number of transactions processed at your store for a particular period. This data helps you spot peak busy hours and recurring lulls, and build staff schedules accordingly. With Shopify POS, merchants can also use apps like Homebase or ClockedIn to pull up timesheets and help staff clock in and out of their shifts faster.
Your POS system should also let you easily create unique staff logins for each employee. When logged in, the POS system tracks each employee’s activity in the POS system and ensures they only have access to the tools they need to do their job. This helps store managers see how many sales store associates process each day, monitor cash register activity, and more.
With separate employee logins, you can also easily reward staff who are exceeding expectations. You can see who makes the most sales and who isn’t on track to meet their sales goals.
5. You can’t control staff permissions
When you can’t give employees access to certain actions in your POS, like approving returns, that can slow down operations and create more work for managers. Conversely, if your system doesn’t let you restrict anything, staff could abuse the system and give unauthorized discounts, for example.
💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can assign staff different roles and permissions to set boundaries on what store associates can do when logged into your POS without manager approval—like changing a product’s price or applying a custom discount to a sale.
6. Your checkout is slow
If it takes more time than you’d like to ring up a customer and process a sale, it may be time to look for another POS system. Slow checkouts keep customers waiting, which can lead to abandoned sales and a poor shopping experience.
Oftentimes, checkout gets slowed down when store staff need to serve more than one customer at a time. Even if they manage to juggle serving multiple customers, they need to re-enter the customer’s items in the POS system at checkout to complete the transaction. The result is an inefficient and repetitive checkout experience that leaves both store staff and customers feeling like things could have gone smoother.
💡 PRO TIP: Saving and retrieving carts is the easiest way to serve multiple customers at once and keep checkout moving fast. Order details–including items, discounts, and order total– are saved so you can complete checkouts without re-entering items into your POS system.
7. You need to manually reconcile payments
If you’re accepting payments through a third-party payment processor, you’re likely spending more time and money processing payments than you need to. You may also be exposed to human error and lengthy end-of-day processes for reconciling sales in your POS with sales from your terminals.
Having fully integrated payments means your POS system speaks directly to your card reader. Instead of manually entering transaction totals and recording payments in your POS, it’s done for you automatically.
Another benefit of integrated payments is that you no longer have to juggle multiple contracts for your POS and payments provider. Everything is taken care of in one place, and you can track payouts for online and in-store purchases from the same system you use to run your business.
With Shopify, for instance, you don't have to manually enter and reconcile online and in-store purchases. Payment processing is integrated with your POS system, so you can accept and all popular payment methods and track payments from Shopify admin.
8. Transaction fees are hard to keep track of
Some POS systems make their payment processing fees a mystery. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?
Wrong. Without transparency, you can’t know how much of your profits you’re giving away in fees. This knowledge can help you find a payment processor with more favorable pricing.
💡 PRO TIP: Shopify Payments is included in all Shopify POS plans, no sign up or setup fees required. Accept all popular payment types, control your cash flow better, and pay the same pre-negotiated rate for all credit cards, starting at 2.4% + $0.
9. You can't accept contactless payments
More customers than ever are using their smartphones to pay at checkout—whether through a service like Apple Pay and Google Pay or credit cards that support tap payments.
A McKinsey study found that only 28% of transactions in the US were using cash in 2020, and cash transactions will likely continue to decline in popularity moving forward.
Contactless payments are undeniably convenient for shoppers and retailers. For customers, the tap-and-go option allows them to leave their physical wallet at home and pay with their smartphone. For merchants, the speed of contactless payments helps them take payments faster and keep queues under control.
If your point of sale system’s hardware doesn’t support digital wallet payments, you’re potentially leaving money on the table. While almost all POS systems can accept and process payments via cash and credit card, not all accept near-field communication (NFC), or “tap” payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay, tap debit/credit cards, etc.)
It’s also difficult for retailers to offer these convenient payment options for customers on their own. Dealing with banks or payment providers means you’ll need to sign lengthy contracts, pay exorbitant setup fees, and figure out confusing payment rates.
Rather than trying to detangle these complicated options, look for a POS that provides low transaction rates, predictable fees, and has hardware that supports contactless payments.
10. You can’t serve customers wherever they are
If your POS system is fixed to the checkout counter, you can’t meet customers where they are in your store. With a mobile POS system, any smartphone or tablet becomes a checkout point, which facilitates line busting and a smooth shopping experience.
A portable point-of-sale system also makes it easier to sell at pop-up shops, shows, and other temporary events.
11. Your POS software can't be customized
Every store has its own unique needs. If you can’t customize your POS software to meet your needs, doing basic business functions may take too long. You may even forego some critical processes because they slow transactions down too much.
With Shopify POS, you can customize the POS’ functionalities and workflows by yourself—no coding or expensive consultants needed. There are hundreds of apps that plug in seamlessly to help you build the tech stack you need to run your business, and you can also build new services and add to your customer experience with ease.
“When we were switching POS systems, we needed a system that helped us keep up with the rapid changes in the retail industry,” says Allen Springer, owner of The Wine Connection. “We wanted our next POS to be flexible and let us add new features and functionalities. Shopify and its App Store helps us do that.”
💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify, it’s easy to customize your POS system and extend its capabilities. Find apps in the Shopify App Store, to help you do anything—from counting foot traffic to appointment booking and beyond.
12. Your reporting is siloed by sales channel
Not all POS systems are created equal when it comes to reporting. Oftentimes, POS systems can only report on store data, forcing you to go through the time-consuming process of exporting data and building spreadsheets to get a unified view of physical and online store performance.
If your POS system’s reporting and analytics is inaccurate, incomplete, or difficult to access, you can’t have a complete understanding of how your business is doing. And if you can’t track store performance, then you may not be aware of opportunities until it’s too late to take advantage of them.
💡 PRO TIP: Only Shopify POS unifies your online and retail store data into one back office—from customer data to inventory, sales and more. View easy-to-understand reports to spot trends faster, capitalize on opportunities, and jumpstart your brand’s growth.
13. You need to manually reconcile inventory
If you have to frequently count stock to update quantities on your ecommerce platform, it’s probably time to look for a new POS system. Think about how much time you could be saving with a POS that updates inventory quantities instantly as you process sales, returns, or exchanges, online and in-store.
“The amount of times I count inventory is close to never,” says Sophie Rankine of elph ceramics, who uses Shopify to sell everywhere.
Since all our data is centralized, we never have to worry about whether the inventory levels we see on our back end or in our POS system are accurate. We know shoppers are seeing accurate inventory quantities when they shop online, too.
14. Your customer data is fragmented
With customer data, you can build stronger relationships with customers, and increase repeat purchases and lifetime spend. With customer acquisition costs on the rise, customer data helps fuel your retention marketing and lift revenue without breaking your budget.
“Shopify’s unified customer profiles have helped our email marketing significantly,” says Sophie. “Now, we can send emails to shoppers and draw attention to products that reflect what they like with confidence.”
We know we have enough inventory to support demand for the products we market, and that we aren’t sending three of the same email to one person as a result of disconnected customer profiles.”
15. Your POS hardware takes up too much space
Many legacy POS systems run on bulky hardware. If you have a small store or are running a pop-up shop, your POS could be taking up precious space. You’d be better off finding a POS software that runs on sleek, portable hardware that doesn’t take up much room on your counter.
Shopify POS, for instance, can run on any iOS or Android tablet or smartphone. This enables you to serve customers wherever they are in the store, accept payments, and prevent congestion at checkout.
📌 GET STARTED: Looking for new point-of-sale hardware? Head to the Shopify POS hardware store to shop for hardware designed to help you check out customers at the counter, curbside, and everywhere in between.
16. You can’t get support when you need it
Technical difficulties are inevitable with technology, but if you can’t get support during your time of need, then it might be time to break up with your current provider.
With Shopify, you can count on our support team to be with you every step of your journey. Whether you need help with your website, POS system, or payments, you can get it all from one source. Our team is ready to help your business tackle any challenges.
17. It’s difficult to manage cash flow
You’re making sales online, in-store, via social media, and elsewhere. If your POS system doesn’t help you make sense of how much cash is coming in and when, it could be making your business more difficult to run.
💡 PRO TIP: Shopify Payments comes with every Shopify plan. Get a complete view of your business finances, know when to expect payouts, track in-store and online sales and payments, and manage your money where you run your business.
18. Customers can't use gift cards both online and in-store
Gift cards are getting more and more popular. In fact, the value of the gift card market in the US was $160 million in 2019 and is estimated to reach $221 million by 2024. This growth is partly due to rising adoption of gift cards by Millennials, as well as the increasing demand for digital gift cards (eGift cards) that shoppers can redeem both online or in stores.
But not all POS systems allow shoppers to use eGift cards in-store or to use physical cards online, which is frustrating for customers. Ensure your POS system gives customers the flexibility to pay for purchases with gift cards wherever they choose to shop.
💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can sell physical and digital gift cards that can be redeemed both in store and online. Sell physical gift cards in store, email digital gift cards to customers, and let them redeem their gift card wherever they prefer to shop.
Things to consider before switching POS system providers
If you identify with any number of the pain points we just listed, it’s time to find a new POS system. Follow these steps to find the best POS system for your business and ensure a smooth transition.
- Know your contractual obligations
- List your current POS system’s shortcomings
- Assess your future needs
- Explore payment processing rates
- Look out for hidden fees
- See other POS systems in action
- Ask other merchants for feedback
- Determine if you need new hardware
- Try a free trial
- Understand the migration process
Know your contractual obligations
Are you currently in a contract with your POS provider? Don’t let that deter you from shopping around. If you find the right solution for your business, contact their sales team to see if they’ll buy out your contract.
List your current POS system’s shortcomings
What’s missing from your current system that you want in your new POS? What features in your current system can’t you live without? Do your homework to ensure that your new POS provider has the features you need.
Assess your future needs
Think about how you want your business to grow and how your new POS can support you. For example, if you want to open more stores, you’ll need to hire more employees, access to capital, and more POS terminals.
In this case, it would be best to look for a system that charges per store, rather than per register, and lets you create unlimited staff accounts. This will ensure you equip staff with enough POS terminals to serve customers without breaking your budget.
Explore payment processing rates
Credit card rates are a huge part of your operating costs. If a POS provider offers integrated payments, read the fine print and understand additional fees for hardware leases or annual fees.
Additionally, think about which types of payments you want to accept in-store and online. Consider the fees associated with these transactions and how an in-store payments processor will work with your ecommerce platform.
Do you need to use separate payment processors for in-store and online payments? What are the fees associated with each payment type? Do you have visibility on payouts and how much you’re spending on payment processing?
Take this time to think about what’s important to you and ensure your next POS system provider can help.
Look out for hidden fees
Product limits, staff limits, ecommerce integrations, additional POS terminals—these are all places that POS providers may hide additional fees. Be sure to understand which features come “out of the box” and which may increase your monthly costs.
💡 PRO TIP: To get a complete view of how much a POS system costs, consider subscription costs, hardware costs, and ongoing payment processing fees.
See other POS systems in action
POS providers offer free demos to show off their capabilities. Book several no-strings-attached demos to see what’s out there and get a sense of their features and how easy they are to use.
Ask other merchants for feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask fellow shop owners which POS system they’re using and how they like it. Merchants will be more candid than POS provider sales executives and can point out shortcomings you should be aware of.
Dustin Kroft, founder of home goods brand Kroft, found his new POS system after asking a fellow retailer to show him how their Shopify POS worked.
I asked a few questions about Shopify to learn how the POS works, and the store owner gave me a live demo. It looked so easy to operate. I basically learned how to use the system in five minutes.
Determine if you need new hardware
Will your existing hardware work with your new POS provider? Luckily, many modern POS systems are cloud-based and offer iOS and Android apps that make it easy to switch software while keeping your existing smartphones and tablets.
Before you switch to a new system, see if you’ll be able to use your existing hardware or if you’ll need to buy new tools. If the latter, make sure you can afford the investment into new hardware.
Try a free trial
Don’t buy it before you try it. Take advantage of a free trial to see if the POS you’ve chosen lives up to its promises.
💡 PRO TIP: If the POS provider doesn’t let you try the product before buying, it’s likely the product is difficult to self-learn. This may lead to spending more time with customer support than running your business.
Understand the migration process
Once you’ve selected your new system, you’ll need to migrate your sales, inventory, and customer data from your old POS to your new one. Your new account manager or onboarding specialist should help make this process as easy as possible.
When you’re ready to make the switch, schedule yourself a moving day to focus your attention on cleaning your data and preparing to import it to your new POS. Some businesses may consider hiring an agency that specializes in migrating data across POS systems.
Next, create a training schedule for staff so they have a chance to get used to the new system. Reach out to your POS provider for training resources to help staff get up to speed.
Finally, you should expect to maintain both your old and new POS system for a small period of time. It’s a good idea to maintain your old POS system for the length of your return policy so you can still process returns while you make the switch.
📌 GET STARTED: Are you thinking about moving to Shopify POS? Use our migration tools to securely migrate products, inventory, and customer information from your old POS system to Shopify.
Choosing the right POS system for your business
A POS system is the most important part of your retail store’s tech stack. It should help you make decisions with confidence and simplify day-to-day operations for you and your teams.
But as more customers demand seamless experiences between in-store and online shopping, more businesses are making the move to systems that can help them sell everywhere and manage all sales channels in one place.