Jan 24, 2023 Margaret Thacker

Cloud-Based Grocery POS System vs. Legacy POS System: Which is Right for You?

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but you can most definitely replace old technology with a newer one! 

While legacy point of sale (POS) systems served grocery stores for ages, cloud-based POS systems have ushered in a new era of features and benefits to help store owners streamline operations. 

Legacy POS systems are still common on sales floors for many retailers, but in the last decade, cloud-based POS systems have taken grocery stores and markets to new heights. If you're still using a legacy POS system, you might be wondering if it's time to upgrade from your current systems.

With over 25 years of experience in the industry, we're here to provide you with our expertise and knowledge. By the end of this article, you'll be able to make an educated, informed, and confident decision as to whether a legacy or cloud-based POS system is suitable for you. 

Are Cloud-Based Grocery POS Systems Taking Over?

In the past, grocery store POS systems have been clunky, manual, and time-consuming to use. People used paper documents, and eventually excel spreadsheets, to manually track important in-store data. This manual tracking included sales metrics, stock reports, purchase orders, employee time sheets, and more.

Enter today's technology — touchscreen hardware, software with all the integrations you can think of, and digital sales reports. Many past problems are solved with automation, algorithms, and code — all through the power of a digital network.

Whether you're currently using a legacy POS system or considering going that route, you must factor in some of the hiccups, obstacles, or struggles you might encounter. Cloud-based grocery POS systems might not be taking over by definition, but there are several benefits to using modern technology.

Legacy POS System 

A legacy POS system, referred to as a "traditional" POS system, uses a local network to store consumer data, transactions, and inventory. All critical store data is stored on local, physical servers. The hardware and software come from an era of durability and functionality. However, being predominantly manual, all features take time to perform, which can be costly when it comes to efficiency.

Legacy POS systems are also susceptible to outages, costing thousands of dollars and inconveniencing customers. To process credit card or debit card transactions, cashiers would have to use a manual imprint — meaning that, with legacy POS systems, you have to account for an entirely different way of processing transactions if you lose service.

Some grocery stores would even hire IT specialists in an emergency, but the time it can take to solve issues is never guaranteed.

In summary, legacy POS systems can be pretty restrictive regarding their capabilities. They do simple things well, but more is needed for most retailers now, and having multiple systems or platforms can quickly become a headache.

Pros

  • They don't require change - switching systems is a significant change, both physically and through training staff.
  • You know exactly where your data is stored, and can access it any time you need to.
  • Legacy POS systems don’t require a WiFi connection, so they work well in offline mode or if internet connectivity goes out. 

Cons

  • Local servers can be vulnerable to crashing and leaving you without service, and backups are necessary to avoid complete data loss.
  • Have a bug or need to update your system? This usually takes scheduling time for tech to come to your location(s) to fix or upgrade manually.
  • No remote access to your data, forcing you into late hours at the store if you need to work after hours.
  • Since your data is on-premises, YOU are ultimately responsible for safeguards to secure your data. It’s just one more thing on your plate. 

Cloud-Based POS Systems

A cloud-based grocery POS system means the software and data are centrally hosted on an online cloud server. Since the software is often proprietary, it is usually priced on a monthly or annual subscription basis. A cloud-based POS system keeps your entire database on a remote server instead of using physical hard drives for storage — but some systems do not use 100 percent cloud storage. 

One of IT Retail's first customers was a meat market that experienced regular service shutdowns every time their server was bumped or moved. Outages were widespread, and they could not accept credit card transactions every time service went down. Transitioning to IT Retail ensured they could operate smoothly, and any shutdown or service issues were dealt with quickly.

Cloud-based POS systems also handle all data backups and future upgrades. Any new software updates, feature improvements, or changes get pushed to your store automatically. No need for someone to come in and upgrade things for you manually. 

Platforms like IT Retail, MarktPOS, and POS Nation even have an offline mode that can be used in case of internet outages, ensuring that you will always be able to help your customers when necessary.

Cloud-based POS systems also offer significantly more options when integrating with scale technology and payment processing options. Flexible scale integrations mean you don't have to worry about not being able to scan or tender deli goods, bakery goods, and other high-ticket items. 

Outside of critical in-store operations, cloud-based POS systems also enable more payment options for your store. This means more flexibility for customers and a better shopping experience overall. 

One of the most significant selling points for cloud-based POS systems is price efficiency. Legacy systems require considerable upfront costs for hardware and software, followed up by additional charges for maintenance, service, and updates. 

This also includes lengthy wait times, service interruptions, and manual labor. Cloud-based POS systems get updated automatically, are serviced quickly, and only require a monthly or annual subscription with no upfront fees.

Pros

  • Cloud is cost-efficient and practical, ensuring that you have the most recent software and up-to-date technology.
  • There are significantly fewer service interruptions and outages.
  • More integrations and options for deli scales, optimizing your in-store processes that work together.

Cons

  • Security may cost more, as data is stored online.
  • Cloud-based POS systems rely on internet connectivity to send data back and forth to the cloud. A break in connectivity could hamper operations (though most cloud POS systems have an “offline mode” with limited functionality to keep basic operations running).
  • You’re reliant upon your POS provider for data security, so you must ensure they have the right credentials and systems in place. 

Impact on the Customer Experience

The type of system you have significantly impacts the customer experience. Legacy POS systems can result in outages, slower service, more manual labor, and a reliance on physical technology that can take hours to fix. This takes time away from stocking shelves, greeting and helping customers, and other activities focused on providing good customer service. 

With sensitive data stored on local, physical servers, data has to be backed up regularly in case of lost information or data during an outage. Legacy POS systems require more maintenance, taking you away from time you could spend with customers or analyzing data and sales reports. 

With a cloud-based grocery POS system, credit card payments and barcode scanning still work as expected, even if you experience internet shutdowns. When the internet comes back up, the system sends all offline transactions to the cloud and processes the payments as usual.

A cloud POS system also offers increased security for customer data, as you can customize what employees see when they log into their accounts, restricting sensitive information to only senior employees.

Cloud-based POS systems come with significantly more features that improve the customer experience. Flexible payments and integrations, not to mention online inventory management, can help you ensure shelves are stocked regularly. 

Cloud solutions are also less expensive and time-consuming, freeing you to spend your resources on attracting and retaining customers. 

Cloud-Based Grocery POS Systems: Why It's Time for an Upgrade

With technological innovation moving at lightning speed, groceries and markets should strongly consider upgrading their legacy POS to a cloud-based POS system.

A cloud-based POS system's most significant advantage is instant data access. You can log in and analyze your sales information anywhere, even from the comfort of your own home. Cloud-based systems help cut costs, especially for smaller grocery stores. They are also easier to learn and pick up, ultimately saving you time and resources in training up your store.

Your staff can pick up on it immediately, decreasing communication breakdowns, employee confusion, and chances of human error. Cloud-based POS systems are often customizable, meaning you can use what you need and get a solution that is custom fit to your business.

With over 25 years of experience in the industry, IT Retail has helped countless grocery stores and markets upgrade from a legacy system to a cloud-based POS. You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks (this is debatable), but it's always a good time to upgrade and improve your processes.

Ultimately, your POS system serves your customers, and having the best technology means you can provide your customers with the best experience. Upgrading your POS system is an investment that means a lot of change, but for those willing to buckle down and take the step forward, it can positively impact many areas of your business that will make it truly worth it.

If you're ready to make the change, get in contact with us!

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