good pos

Searching the right POS system

In between developing the growth strategy and marketing our products, the upcoming F&B startup that I was working for had a small itty-bitty bit of work: Selecting and deploying their POS system.

At first, it seemed like a trivial exercise. I am a tech-purist and love open-source/ Silicon-Valley inspired based DIY (do-it-yourself) software versions. So I quickly installed the demo version of Quickbooks (by Intuit – a company I’ve admired since long). A few easy configuration-master steps later, I was ready. Or so I thought.

Point of Sales software for India

The challenge in F&B POS (and I’d argue in every other sector) is not in setting it up. It’s in ensuring it runs like clock-work everyday and gives you actionable analytics. This is where I lost faith in Quickbooks. If I were at the store the whole day, I’d have happily solved minor problems as they arose. But my employees – as good as they are – did not give me the confidence.

And so I employed my second survival tactic: ask the experts! I checked-in with a few friends in the retail services industry and asked them to name the top-5 POS systems that they might have heard of / know of. A few calls later, I had a good list of 10-12 software products to get me started.

Step 1 was to go to their websites and see the look and feel of their product description pages. If a firm doesn’t expend resources in making a decent website, it will probably not give me the kind of “attention to detail” that I’m looking for. This step alone cut down my list of 10-12 to 7.

Step 2 was to create a simple 7 column excel dashboard (I have a cut-off of 7 for columns to avoid analysis-paralysis) to track my progress and to draw comparisons across software products (a not-so-final version of this dashboard is attached as Exhibit 1).

Step 3 was to reach out to all the vendors and take in an online demo of their software. I’d keep my ears open for understanding how the company started and what its history was, any unique USPs that they offered and the existing client list.

Exhibit 1

POS DashboardEmailContactDemoClientsFeaturesService LevelsPrice
Go FrugalYYYUS Pizza/Pizza CornerGood overall, Chennai basedXXX
Breakaway VisionYYYDominos/FaasosGreat for deliveriesGood but Delhi basedXXX
PaceYYNCCD, Oriental, Goli Vada Pav, Jumbo KingInteresting software, different pricing modelModerateXXX
ShawmanYYYAromas, Taj HotelsGood all round s/wResponsive, lagged deploymentXXX
DytelYYYTheobroma, Le15, Moshe’sInterestingResponsive, quick deploymentXXX
QuickbooksYYYUS basedDIY s/w-NAXXX
IS HospitalityYYNXXX

Step 4 was to negotiate on pricing to the extent I could. A key tactic to use here is to not ask them for price – instead, set the “anchor” by mentioning what you’d like to pay ideally (which is obv. Lower than what you think their pricing is). This automatically creates an “anchor bias” in their minds and weakens their negotiating position.

Once your dashboard is all set – you’re almost done. The next key step is to understand what the true vision of your venture is and what are “must-have” and “good-to-have” features and services in your software. Note how I used the phrase “features and services” and not just “features”. People often do not place enough importance on the “Services” aspect of a purchase. Things do not always go to plan (esp. on visual basic and SQL based software products like these) and as and when issues arise in your software, your vendor should be around to help. I did this check by asking for 1-2 references from existing customers and then engaging them in a general 15-20 minutes in a general conversation. Most of the information comes out in these informal conversations.

This is clearly a difficult step. But the following tips might help:

  1. 70% of product features overlap across all the POS software products.
  2. Key is to figure out what the differentiating USP of your venture is: Is it home-delivery? Is it over-the-counter (OTC) sales? Or is it more table-capacity management?
  3. Once you understand your key USP, it is fairly easy to skittle down this list of 7 to around 2-3 vendors who are strongest in that segment. Thereafter, you should focus on price and service differentiation.

Figuring out the right supplier is obviously a very personal and subjective decision. I hope this small note based on my personal experience will help you figure out what the right framework to choose a POS system supplier is. I cannot underline enough the importance of choosing the right POS system for your venture – it is truly the backbone of collecting customer insight, running analytics and ensuring that there is no leakage in inventory.

While I’m not an expert on the topic, I’d be happy to help you with questions. Please feel free to shoot me an email at: Ankur.gulati85@gmail.com if you have any more questions on this.

Ankur Gulati

Btw, do see how some of the other restaurants are using Exotel along with their POS solutions for their delivery, and fine dining outlets.

AUTHOR: Vijay Sharma

Vijay Sharma, Co-founder at Exotel, is known for his extremely driven, straightforward and tactful nature. A hustler at heart and an excellent recruiter by profession, Vijay is the perfect blend of hard work and fun.

24 Comments
  • RT @Exotel: What is a good POS (Point of Sale) solution for Indian businesses? by @vc_in_india : Searching the right POS system http://t.co…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @Exotel: What is a good POS (Point of Sale) solution for Indian businesses? by @vc_in_india : Searching the right POS system http://t.co…

    July 9, 2013
  • How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.co/7sZTabs5Af

    July 9, 2013
  • How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.co/7sZTabs5Af

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @Exotel: What is a good POS (Point of Sale) solution for Indian businesses? by @vc_in_india : Searching the right POS system http://t.co…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @Exotel: What is a good POS (Point of Sale) solution for Indian businesses? by @vc_in_india : Searching the right POS system http://t.co…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • RT @vijaysw: How does a software buyer decide what he wants? In this case POS s/w by Ankur Gulati @vc_in_india – great insights! http://t.c…

    July 9, 2013
  • We are making Tablet Menu for Restaurants at http://www.eRestro.com
    Our intention is to integrate with all major PoS systems. What I have learnt in the process is that POS system vendors are very closed and are restrictive to third party integration.
    Which POS systems as per your thoughts are the most popular and “easy” to integrate with? I know Micros is popular but boy do they make it hard to integrate with 🙁

    December 12, 2013
    • Hey Abhishek,
      Let us know if we can help, we have well defined APIs for third party applications like CRM, Tablet Menus, HRM etc.

      January 6, 2014
  • We are making Tablet Menu for Restaurants at http://www.eRestro.com
    Our intention is to integrate with all major PoS systems. What I have learnt in the process is that POS system vendors are very closed and are restrictive to third party integration.
    Which POS systems as per your thoughts are the most popular and “easy” to integrate with? I know Micros is popular but boy do they make it hard to integrate with 🙁

    December 12, 2013
    • Hey Abhishek,
      Let us know if we can help, we have well defined APIs for third party applications like CRM, Tablet Menus, HRM etc.

      January 6, 2014
  • Glad to see a nice guide on POS buying and resonating with similar problems happened the inception of Posist Technologies.
    Though this is a shameless plug but i could not resist commenting. Felt bad as the comparison chart did not feature Posist point of sale, i guess this is enough reason for us to do better at SEO and online marketing and be more discoverable.

    @Ankur : i will be glad if you can checkout http://www.posist.com and let us know what you think about it.

    January 6, 2014
  • Glad to see a nice guide on POS buying and resonating with similar problems happened the inception of Posist Technologies.
    Though this is a shameless plug but i could not resist commenting. Felt bad as the comparison chart did not feature Posist point of sale, i guess this is enough reason for us to do better at SEO and online marketing and be more discoverable.

    @Ankur : i will be glad if you can checkout http://www.posist.com and let us know what you think about it.

    January 6, 2014
  • Its true that search right POS system is little bit difficult if you see it as a customer point view.

    February 21, 2014
  • Its true that search right POS system is little bit difficult if you see it as a customer point view.

    February 21, 2014

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