People outside this industry like to think the flower business is simple but it’s not. You are running a retail business, a delivery service, and manufacturing a highly perishable product. It is a highly complicated and very unique business – and you need a POS system designed especially for it. If you use a POS system designed for general retail you will always be cheating yourself. Otherwise you will always be frustrated.
If you can’t use the merchant service provider of your choice it is a trap. The POS vendor will promise you their designated provider has the best rates, but they’ll actually be charging you a much higher rate and kicking money back to the POS company. This extra is charged on the gross value of all your credit card transactions and can cost even small shops hundreds of dollars er month. You need a system that lets you choose, and change, merchant services providers as you please.
There was a time when computer hardware was hard to find and it made sense for software vendors to provide it. Those days are long past. If a software vendor wants you to buy hardware it’s because they are charging far more than market value. Choose a system that lets you use any hardware, preferably hardware you already have.
As soon as you hear the words “contract” or “agreement” you need to run in the other direction. When was the last time you had to sign a contract for any other software? If a POS system is any good the vendor knows you will stay with it because you want to. A contract just means they need to lock you in because you will want to leave. Don't fall for it. And remember – a big up-front payment is just as bad as a contract because you won't be able to walk away from it.
POS systems that come from wire services require wire service membership – you can’t quit the wire service and keep using the POS. Unless you are truly happy with a wire service, the membership fees, the directory advertising charges, the selection guides etc. and have every intention of staying with them for years you need an independent system.
The only acceptable answer is “yes, and let me show you how easy it is”. If the system won’t automatically send different types of print jobs to different printers/sources it is useless to a florist – every time you take an order you will have to manually select the receipt printer and click “OK” to get the receipt, then select another printer for the worksheet, and another printer for the enclosure card.
The only acceptable answer is “yes, absolutely, let me show you how easy it is”. Customers often want to have multiple orders in a single a sale. A husband orders Mother's Day flowers for his wife, mother, and mother-in-law, a hopeless romantic wants flowers to be delivered every day of their anniversary week, or a real estate agent orders flowers for multiple clients. These people expect a single payment and a single receipt.
If a POS vendor says you that you don’t really need that, or insists you should just enter multiple sales and “merge” them, or suggests you ring them in separately but charge to the same account…. you need to be very afraid. If they can’t show you how easy it is to enter multiple orders you should run away.
Enclosure cards might be your single most important piece of branding in the flower business… long after the flowers have died those cards are often kept as keepsakes, and referred to when ordering flowers for someone else. They have to look good! Make sure your POS system lets you customize the font, size and style to create attractive cards that reflect the personality of your store and the nature of the situation.
Florists know how to make things look good. They know how they want to represent their brand. And that includes the receipts, invoices and statements they send out. Remember – often the customer won’t ever even see what they bought, and the receipt or invoice you send them is the best way to prove that you provide quality. If you don’t have control over the look and feel over your documents you won’t have control over your brand – make sure the vendor shows you exactly how much control you have.
Your POS should allow you to integrate with any of the best florist-specific ecommerce platforms on the market, and have an API for connecting to the rest. If they force you to use their own website platform they’re being greedy, and hoping that you will settle for a mediocre website and POS in order to deal with just one vendor. There is also a good chance that they are trying to sell you a website that is merely pretending to be a POS system…
A few years ago vendors that weren’t having any success selling ecommerce websites realized they could call those websites POS systems and trick some florists. It’s easy to spot these systems – you are basically entering orders into your website on behalf of your customer. Reporting is usually weak, there is no printer automation, very few back-end features, etc. Why would you settle for this when there are real POS systems out there for you?
Nobody wants to think about security until it is too late. Ask your vendor to demonstrate how their system secures access to certain features and functions. Have them show you how their system prevents a junior employee from running reports with all your financial information, or how it prevents a designer from exporting all of your customer data. If it is not clearly bulletproof you need to look elsewhere.