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Jim Agger
 
September 23, 2014 | eCommerce , WineDirect Products and Services | Jim Agger

What to Look for in a POS System

At the heart of any winery business operation is the point of sale system, which handles all transactions and payments between customers and wineries. A retail POS is a critical component of running the business, and having a system that runs transactions quickly and provides a great customer experience will help a winery develop stronger sales and a lasting relationship with the consumer. Of course there are certain things to look for with a POS solution, especially with the rise of the cloud and mobile devices. This new technology will prove handy over the long term.

Dependencies on complexities
There are various systems out there which a winery can use in any setting, all dependent on the needs of the business. For the most part, what will likely suffice is a single standalone terminal, sometimes referred to as an electronic cash register. According to InformationWeek, it's more viable since you're likely selling the wine from the same place that you do production and tasting. Another option is utilizing a linked network, where multiple terminals are connected to a single "primary" station. This option is a little more flexible and useful if you have a large enough operation to need multiple terminals on the premises.

A third option, the controller-based system, runs like a network, but the primary station is usually a computer that collects data, generates sales reports and stores inventory similar to an enterprise resource planning system. If you sell wine online, you can also record sales and optimize the experience by creating an omnichannel environment: one where both the physical side of the winery and the online wine store function together to create a single customer service experience.

Then, there is the matter of picking the hardware to run the terminal. There are various card readers and computer-based terminals that can be used for optimal sales. More recently, though, retailers are turning to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones to deliver the same level of transactions in a much more personal way.  It also allows them to take the retail experience outside of the winery itself into places like wine-tasting events. Many of these devices use card readers attached via a dongle to complete transactions.

A good vintage of software
When using a tablet or computer-based POS solution, you may want to consider the software to install with it. There are a significant amount of software-based POS systems, so looking for something that works with your winery's needs is relatively easy. The main issue to consider is what features are available for use in transactions. Wine software can be a particularly useful tool, especially if you intend to sell direct-to-consumer both on-site and off-site, in order to properly handle state compliance laws.

More importantly, though, a critical feature that should be considered is where the software stores the data. Some solutions will store locally with a hub computer, which can be useful but inefficient. Many newer solutions serve as a software as a service, storing their data on the cloud. In this situation, wineries are able to access data anywhere they go on any device. This is particularly useful in an omnichannel situation, since you're able to find out which whites and which reds are getting more attention on the website at any given time. You can also find out what times of year are strongest for particular blends.

Along with this information, you'll want to know how you're securing your customers' data. There are options such as end-to-end encryption and tokenization, which provide different methods of completing the same result: keeping your transaction data and consumer's credit card information secure. A custom solution that takes into consideration all these options can make it much easier and more effective to sell wine to your patrons.

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