Your Guide to Building a POS App


Cloud and mobile point-of-sale (POS) solutions are taking over the industries all at once, from entertainment to hospitality to retail. Although ready-made solutions are affordable, they are too limited to meet all your business needs.

Today, we’ll cover the prospect of developing a POS application from scratch, starting with the planning phase. But before you go looking for a POS software development company, check out four crucial elements of the app you need to iron out first.

Hardware Support

Unlike other business software solutions, POS applications cannot operate without a plethora of hardware. It’s not just cash registers you need to think about, but also credit card terminals, barcode printers and readers, receipt printers, employee and customer-facing displays, mobile devices, and self-service terminals. Pulling a dozen pieces into a seamless system can be challenging, especially if you do not specify the desired hardware support from the project’s onset.

In the coming years, cloud-based and mobile POS solutions will come out on top. The self-service market that saw a meteoric rise in 2020 and exceeded $28 billion will expand further. It is expected to surpass $68 billion in five years.

Businesses and SaaS vendors can capitalize on the market predictions now, when the self-service checkout, kiosks, and vending machines haven’t taken over the retail and hospitality markets.

User Hierarchy

User Hierarchy

Devising the all-encompassing feature set for a POS application should not be a priority when you start working on a system requirements specification (SRS). Instead, consider the variety of users who will interact with the app. Implementing access rights and user levels is crucial for any POS app.

For instance, a client-facing restaurant system should enable access to the menu, order options, as well as payment capabilities. But the same system will require a different set of access rights and a separate interface for the wait staff and kitchen employees. Restaurant managers, admins, and owners may need three individual hierarchy levels.

Regardless of the business niche or market, point-of-sale applications should have a robust architecture, as well as a clear set of access rights and security features. This is to prevent unauthorized access across the hierarchy levels. You’ll need an experienced business analyst and developer on your side to analyze the SRS and come up with a solid foundation for your app. Still, the architecture should be flexible enough to withstand scaling.

Once you have a list of all user roles, their needs, requirements, and rights, you can start working on the feature sets for each user level.

Feature Set

On the surface, a point of sale application is as simple as a paper ledger for keeping track of sales. However, as an automated solution, it comes with an endless array of perks, from receiving payments to accounting to long-term planning.

  • Checkout and payment. Any POS app’s core functionality is about generating receipts and accepting different types of payments, including cash, credit cards, gift cards, etc. The functionality for returns, refunds, and store credit can be added too, if necessary.
  • Inventory management. Ideally, a POS solution should support stock import and tracking. Thus, whenever a product is sold, the remaining stock numbers are automatically adjusted. Adding alerts and analytics can further enhance functionality, preventing overstocking and shortages.
  • Employee management. A POS app isn’t intended to replace other solutions. Still, it can keep track of timesheets, calculate wages, generate staff reports, and manage permissions. A training mode can also be an invaluable asset for new employee onboarding.
  • Customer management. While POS software will not replace a full-scale CRM (customer relationship management) system, it should have the basic features. These include client profiles to manage personalized offers and loyalty program perks.
  • Analytics and reports. Automated sales reports are a piece of cake for a proper POS system. These reports are crucial for making data-driven tactical and strategic decisions, including stock variety and promotions.

Third-party Service Integrations

Third-party Service Integrations

At first glance, a POS application may seem like the only software solution your business needs. But, it cannot replace a CRM system or your payroll application. So, before the development starts, you need a comprehensive list of all apps your business uses or intends to use. The list may include the software you bought, licensed, or leased, as well as subscription services and proprietary code. With the big picture in front of you, decide which integrations are truly necessary.

A CRM and email newsletter service should be at the top of the list to support client loyalty and extend the customer lifetime value. If you employ hundreds of employees who need to stay in touch throughout the workday, consider integrating the POS app with an internal instant messaging app. And payroll software integration will make your accountant’s life easier.

But there’s a downside to third-party service integration. It will add a few extra weeks to the development process, broaden the scope, and bump up the expenses. It’s up to you to decide whether the upfront investment is worth the increased operational efficiency.

The Bottom Line

Creating a POS application is a challenging but rewarding task. A tailored point-of-sale solution can address multiple business needs. The best way to plan a POS development project is by outlining the hardware requirements and user hierarchy before deciding on the feature set. Third-party integrations are also a valuable consideration for businesses that use multiple apps to automate daily operations.

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