We’re turning our attention to point-of-sale (POS) systems this week and our first pick for Best POS System for retailers with physical store outlets is ShopKeep. POS is a critical aspect of managing a retail operation and we went through a lot of POS solutions in order to select our winner in this category.
Why Did We Choose ShopKeep?
There were a number of different factors which led to our recommending ShopKeep as a POS solution for retailers including:
ShopKeep is already installed in nearly 20,000 small businesses and has been going for 8 years since its formation in 2008. You want a POS solution from an established vendor because you don’t want to have to switch out at a later date if that vendor falls into troubled times. It’s a lot of work maintaining a POS system and it’s work that you don’t want to duplicate if you can help it.
Value for Money
Many POS systems have a sliding scale for fees. You start with a small fee but when you need a bit more functionality or you want to expand the coverage of the POS system to multiple stores; the extras start to add up. With ShopKeep you get a single fee of $49 a month and that covers all their functionality for multiple sites and all your support costs too. There are no hidden extras with ShopKeep.
They also offer a nice hardware bundle that gets you all you need to get set up in a store (excluding the iPad you need to run ShopKeep on) for less than $1,000 which compares very favorably against similar bundles from other POS suppliers. We found that typically these can cost up to $2,000 so ShopKeep keeps your hardware investment costs as low as possible.
Ease of Use and Functionality
ShopKeep goes above and beyond the traditional POS system and there’s a ton of functionality available to retailers that want to get the most out of their POS investment. Fortunately, it’s all very simple to use and you can get started without too much effort invested in the set up.
- Credit card processing – you can use ShopKeep’s built in functionality or work with your own preferred processing supplier. ShopKeep claim that their rates are highly-competitive when you use their facility for card processing.
- Customer management – the POS system from ShopKeep allows you to collect customer data and then use that data for e-mail marketing. You can also report on customer data to spot trends in purchasing habits.
- Easy integration with 3rd party applications – you can integrate other systems relatively easily into ShopKeep as long as you are using well known 3rd party applications (such as QuickBooks)
- Employee management – your employees can clock in (or out) on the ShopKeep POS interface and you can take that data into performance management and payroll systems. It also allows you to report on specific items such as sales volumes so you can work out who the best sales people are.
- Fast checkout – you can process an item through the checkout through a variety of means including using the description, the image of the item and scanning its barcode. You can also configure the system to apply discounts and modifiers automatically.
- Inventory management – ShopKeep isn’t an ERP system but it does offer some reasonable inventory management tools to keep smaller retailers happy. It’s easy to enter stock and create stock keeping units (SKUs) and you can create automatic ordering thresholds as well as report on inventory levels.
- Report management – the inbuilt analytics suite for ShopKeep is both powerful and versatile and you should be able to quickly develop any kind of report you need for any given business situation
- Works offline – this is a big deal, ShopKeep doesn’t need to be online to function and when it’s reconnected to the internet – it automatically updates everything that’s been done while the system is offline.
When a system is business critical, as POS systems usually are, you need to be certain that you’re going to get the support that you need when things go wrong. ShopKeep’s support package is one of the most fully featured that we could find of any kind of software not just POS systems and that gives us confidence that should things not go as planned – help is just a call away.
As you’d expect they offer 24/7 telephone, chat and e-mail support but in practice; we found that while telephone and e-mail are constantly manned – the chat support may not be. So if you can’t get through on their website it might be best to pick up the phone.
In addition they provide video training, a knowledgebase, an FAQ list, a blog, a university, a small business guide (which covers far more than POS and offers some great general business support), social media support and community support.
Drawbacks of Using ShopKeep
It’s very clear that ShopKeep is not aimed at retailers running millions of product lines. There is a hard limit of 10,000 SKUs in the inventory management system. This may not be a big deal for smaller retailers but it does mean that there are retailers who will not be well-served by using ShopKeep.
The system is also iOS only and it only works on Apple iPads (and not all generations of the iPad at that). So if you’re looking for an Android or Windows based system; ShopKeep won’t cut the mustard for your business.
You may also want to dig a little deeper when it comes to pricing. We like ShopKeep’s fixed price, all you can eat, model but it’s certainly true to say that some retailers may be able to find a more competitive monthly deal on a pay-as-you-go or other basis. One thing we would encourage you to do is to weigh up the hardware costs in the costs of any given deal as that can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost of ownership of a POS system.
For those retailers with very limited numbers of card transactions you might want to consider PayPal or Square as an alternative and just pay a fee based on single transaction value.