Image of a shop owner taking a customer's payment using an iPad and cloud-based payment dongle.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based POS Systems For Retail

17 Nov 2016 by Diana Rose Brandon

If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’re getting ready for Small Business Saturday 2016, the upcoming annual event created by American Express in 2010 to promote businesses like yours. For those still unfamiliar, Small Business Saturdays are held every Saturday after Thanksgiving, helping to launch the holiday shopping season and seriously boost shopping at small and medium businesses across the U.S. With spending reaching $16.2 billion on Small Business Saturday 2015, you need to make sure you’re ready for the flood of interest before hopping on the bandwagon.

Before you swing the doors open on Saturday, let’s make sure you’ve got your bases covered. Technology has been in the news a lot lately, and not for the best reasons. Remember the breach a few weeks ago that shut down internet service for much of the U.S.? It was caused by a hack that turned unsecured devices into an army of internet page requestors, effectively overloading a main Domain Name Server (DNS) company. The unsecured devices were mostly inexpensive surveillance cameras, routers and other common connected devices you may be using right now. And, along with many of the applications and services you’re using, they’re probably in the cloud.

Small and medium businesses cybercrime bar chart
Bar chart showing: 25% of survey respondents believe cybercrime is a "major threat" to Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs), 46.2% believe cybercrime is a "moderate threat," 26.92% believe it is a "minor threat," and 1.9% believe it is "not a threat at all."

 

If you think you’re “too small” to be of interest to hackers, think again. According to UK firm Towergate Insurance, 82% of Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) believe they aren’t a target for attack as they have “nothing worth stealing.” Cybercriminals know that because of this mindset, small businesses typically don’t prioritize security efforts. And since they also often have fewer resources, SMBs are much more appealing as targets for criminals than are  large corporations that can make it much more difficult to get in. So let’s do a run-down on both the cloud and security measures that can help keep your smaller company thriving.

Point of sale in the cloud

Business cloud computing is a great option for small and medium companies. Cloud-based solutions save money on hardware and software costs, usually requiring very little upfront investment. And they give you great flexibility, allowing your team to work more easily from anywhere – whether that’s from a second location or with a customer on the far end of your store. Cloud-based solutions have transformed the retail environment away from legacy models and allow retailers to meet new customer expectations.

Within just a few years, cloud-based Point of Sale (POS) systems for small business have become an industry standard. Moving to the cloud offers newer, less expensive POS systems for retail. They can save valuable floor space by getting rid of bulky cash registers. And, like other Software as a Service (SaaS) programs, the retailer automatically gets the latest versions without the cost and hassle of an update that may compromise business operations or data.

For retailers with multiple locations, the ability to centralize data and run reports that cover the entire business provides critical insight into the entire company. And cloud-based POS systems, especially when used from mobile devices, improve the customer experience anywhere there’s Wi-Fi service; their efficiency saves customers time and frustration, leading to greater loyalty rates and happier patrons.  

POS security

It won’t matter how efficient your business is if everyone’s data gets lost or stolen. As we’ve discussed, breaches can cost a midsize business a lot more than just money – it can result in loss of trust, credit and more. Those things can effectively put a smaller company out of business. Cloud-based POS systems offer more security.

Using cloud based technologies makes it impossible for physical theft of your server because you don’t have one. All data is encrypted and stored off-site, and provided with added layers of redundancy, protecting it from any calamity. It also frees business owners from needing the technical expertise of hosting and maintaining an on-site server. You don’t need to add the responsibility of “Chief Security Officer” to your already extensive list of daily operations duties.

Imagine having to search for malware and viruses on your own? No, thanks. With a cloud solution, virus scans are run simply and remotely. With cloud-based POS systems, customers’ card information is encrypted and stored in the cloud – not in your POS system – rendering certain types of viruses ineffective. Cloud-based technologies place most of the responsibility for security on the provider, which already has the expertise and resources needed to keep your data secure.

Lastly, you’ll still be able to access your cloud-based POS system offline. In the event that your wireless connection or electricity is interrupted, you’ll be able to conduct business as usual. Your data will sync when the lights go back on, saving you time and costly mistakes from re-entering the information manually.

Tie it all together

Consider this scenario: It’s Small Business Saturday 2016. Your customer walks into your store and already has a smartphone in hand. She’s using your store’s Wi-Fi to research the items she wants to buy. When she’s ready, your employee processes the order from an iPad without the physical barrier of a counter or asking the customer to wait in line. Because she’s saved time, she takes a few more minutes to pick up those earrings she saw a minute ago! You’ve now provided a best-in-class experience and built the loyalty and trust of the customer. When all of the components work together – your cloud applications and a secure POS system – your business can thrive with the best of the big companies. Talk about a successful promotion because of an advanced technology strategy.