Choosing a Salon POS System: 7 Key Considerations

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10.01.2022 Business tips Features, Tools and Integrations

Choosing a Salon POS System: 7 Key Considerations

Set your spa, hair or nail salon up for success with a POS system.

You pour time and energy into providing top-notch services, visually appealing and comfortable amenities, and stellar customer service. Why ruin it with a slow checkout experience? Or, perhaps the question should be, why not elevate the customer experience with an automatically-applied loyalty discount at checkout — or streamlined appointment rescheduling, with an immediate text confirmation? 

The final interaction a client has with your salon is likely the one they’ll recall best. Regardless of how professional their in-chair experience was, if a client walks out the door frustrated or otherwise disappointed, they’ll remember. The right salon POS system will help ensure every client leaves feeling taken care of.

Keep reading to discover what to look for when choosing the best salon POS system for your business needs.

What is a salon POS system?

POS stands for point-of-sale. A POS system is a tool to drive business efficiency — whether that’s by streamlining inventory, creating customer profiles, tracking loyalty cards, or something different entirely. There is a wide variety of salon POS systems on the market, each with slightly different functionality. 

For more information about what a POS system is, read our blog

What a POS system should do for your business

At a bare minimum, a salon POS system should help your business keep records of client sales against customer profiles, track inventory levels, and manage appointments. Yet your clients have grown used to immediacy, and expect exceptional customer service in all aspects of their lives — and the best salon POS systems have functionality that will enable your salon to deliver. 

A trip to a nail or hair salon is an indulgence, not a chore. Perhaps moreso than with other businesses, your salon’s customers want to be made to feel special. A salon POS system can help you track customer’s preferences — whether they like a tea, coffee or juice on arrival; the level of blonde they’re slowly making progress towards; what products the customer has previously purchased. All of these things help to improve the customer experience, and show your staff have been paying attention.

Taking the time to choose the right salon POS system for your business will also have a measurable impact on salon operations. A powerful system can help salon merchants to reduce business costs, improve efficiency, and increase both staff and client satisfaction at the same time.

If your current POS can’t do the above, it might be time to assess whether it’s still the right fit for your business.

Most popular salon POS systems

There is a wide variety of salon POS systems on the market — from free tools, to lightweight systems, to all-in-one complete solutions. Which one’s right for you depends on the way you run your business, your growth goals, and your budget. 

When searching for the best POS systems for your hair salon, start by looking at well-known brands such as Lightspeed Retail Fresha and Vend — which provide robust functionality, specifically designed to support salons to run more smoothly. 

If you’re new to the world of POS systems, Fresha is 100% subscription free software that enables you to try out functionality such as appointment management and marketing tools, without a monthly fee or lock-in contract. Trialing Fresha is a good way to get comfortable with salon POS systems and what they can do for your business.

Or, if it’s the best POS system for a nail salon you’re after, try comparing Fresha with Vagaro — which is also available to trial for free. Basic nail salon systems will be able to take care of payroll, including commissions and bonuses, but robust systems like Fresha and Vagaro will also send push notifications to remind clients of appointments — helping to minimise no-shows. 

When comparing salon POS systems, keep in mind the way your business operates. What's right for one salon might not be the right fit for another.  

7 characteristics of the best salon POS systems

Here’s a look at what a modern salon POS system can do for your business. 

1. Track popular products

Many salons stock products and tools available for purchase, so clients can easily pick up their own supplies for home and keep themselves groomed in between appointments. However, whenever there is a retail element to business, there is a need for inventory management. 

Whether it’s hair dyes and toners, nail colours, scents, aftercare packs or tools, your salon POS system should enable you to determine exactly how much product is in stock at any moment in time (and, if you run a multi-location business, where it is stored). Some POS systems even enable you to arrange for products to be shipped directly to customers. 

If your current system does not enable real-time inventory management, and retail is an area of growth for your business, it is worthwhile looking for a system that does. A salon POS system with robust inventory functionality will support the scale-up of the retail side of your salon business in 2022. 

2. Improve your clients' experience

Every salon needs a POS system with customer management capabilities. It’s likely that a significant proportion of your clientele comes from repeat business or referrals — happy customers are the best form of marketing, after all. Gathering and storing customer data in your salon’s POS system will enable a swift, positive, and valuable transaction experience. 

Get to know your customers by collecting their data at the point of sale. The next time they shop with you, you can find their details, preferences, and past product purchases with the click of a button. With the right salon POS system, you could easily see:

  • when the client is due for another appointment
  • their treatment history 
  • which products they have previously purchased

Yet the customer experience doesn't have to stop there. Continue the conversation after the clients leaves the salon, and keep them coming back with tailored communications based on their preferences and purchase history. You could even send out birthday discounts for your mailing list. 

A good salon POS will make it simple to build a relationship with your clients.

3. Run profitable promotions

Despite your best attempts, you may be left with additional stock that you need to clear before its expiry. Or, perhaps you’ve decided to stock another brand and near to clear the shelves before starting afresh. A great salon POS system will help you achieve this. 

If your salon stocks products available for purchase, it’s likely you’ll want to run a promotion at some point. The right salon POS system will enable you to launch a variety of deals — from storewide discounts, to multi-buy promotions, “spend-and-save” deals, and more. 

4. Streamline bookings

Nothing will eat into a salon’s profits quicker than missed appointments. A salon POS system can help solve common headaches such as no shows, last-minute cancellations, and overstaffed salons.

Some salon POS systems come with in-built booking functionality, whereas others integrate with purpose-built booking technology. Salon POS system Vend, for example, integrates with time scheduling platform Timely. 

In comparing booking functionality within your salon POS system, look for one that:

  • supports self-service, so clients can book their own appointments
  • sends automated text and email reminders
  • can easily reschedule appointments
  • works seamlessly alongside your customer loyalty program

5. Help make better business decisions

Data is key to understanding which areas of your business are generating the most sales revenue, and which might need a little attention. A good salon POS system will help you to identify those areas and make better business decisions. 

Modern salon POS systems include real-time data analytics features which can be used to create reports, drill down into past performance, and identify opportunities for growth.

For example, perhaps your salon has always been closed on a Monday. Yet the recent shift towards remote work has afforded your clients the ability to book lunchtime appointments, which can be seen in Zeller data. In 2021, midday was the most profitable time for beauty businesses across Australia. Perhaps opening for a few hours on Monday, and capitalising on your client’s newfound flexibility, is a growth strategy for 2022. 

Understanding your busiest times and days of the week will also help you to schedule employees, so business continues running smoothly — even during peak periods. 

Your POS system should also enable you to assess staff performance, and track whether any deals or specials were effective in generating revenue.

6. Complement your salon’s aesthetic

You’ve spent time and money creating a brand and designing your salon. Everything from your website, to your business cards, to your salon chairs and employee uniforms has been selected with care. 

So has your font counter — as it’s one of the first things a client sees as they enter your salon, and where arguably the most important interaction occurs: the transaction. The tools on your front counter should be selected with that same care and consideration, so that they blend in with the aesthetic of your salon — rather than stick out and draw attention.

The two main tools on your front counter are your POS system and EFTPOS terminal. Keep the design of your salon in mind when choosing a POS system. A clunky system will not only keep customers waiting longer, but will also signal a lack of professionalism. 

When it comes time to choosing an EFTPOS machine, Zeller Terminal is available in two colours: black and white. The terminal has been designed to complement any modern space, with a matte finish and curved edges. Plus, it’s fully mobile — so you can take payment from clients in the chair, or at the counter.

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7. A memorable final interaction

Most beauty businesses go above and beyond to offer their clients a great experience. It begins before a customer even steps into the salon; your business’s website and online booking platform serve as an introduction to your brand and signal to customers what they can expect from your business. 

You’ve likely already considered ways to remove friction in the booking process, and make it as easy as possible for customers to book in for a service. Equally, your staff are trained to provide exceptional service — and perhaps even offer a bottle of water or face wipe upon arrival at the salon. Yet the moments before departure are equally important, which is why a salon POS system is critical.  

With the right salon POS system, you can schedule a follow up appointment with the customer’s stylist of choice in just a few clicks — and have a confirmation message delivered to their inbox before they’ve even left the salon. You can also easily manage digital loyalty cards and apply discounts for returning customers, without requiring them to dig around for their physical card. 

A salon POS system that eliminates wasted time — and even delights clients with simplicity and elegance — is crucial. An efficient experience at checkout will help ensure your clients are leaving the salon feeling refreshed and taken care of, and they will take this feeling with them out into the world. 

Visit the Zeller Business Blog for more tips, guides and articles to help you grow your beauty salon business. 

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