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Updated Apr 19, 2024

9 Benefits of Switching to Cloud-Based POS Software

Cloud-based POS software can improve your business's customer service, increase efficiency and stay competitive.

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Sean Peek, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
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Whether you’re new to the idea or have been considering it for months, switching to cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) software is one of the smartest moves a small business can make. The right cloud-based POS system can improve customer service, increase operational efficiency and help you stay competitive. 

When you choose cloud-based POS software, you gain more flexibility and can access your data from anywhere. We’ll explain how cloud-based POS software works, share its benefits and highlight top cloud-based POS platforms. 

What is cloud-based POS software?

A point-of-sale (POS) system is a combination of hardware and software that allows businesses to accept and process customer payments. When a POS system uses cloud-based software, retailers gain numerous advantages, including increased accessibility and accuracy and detailed inventory management capabilities. 

Traditional (non-cloud) POS systems are typically onsite installations; businesses can only access their information from that location. In contrast, cloud-based POS systems store data remotely on third-party servers, making your critical sales information broadly accessible. 

Here’s an illustration of cloud-based vs. traditional software: 

  • Cloud-based software: When you save and store digital files in an iCloud or Google Drive account, you can access them from anywhere on any device when logged in. This is similar to how cloud-based POS software works.
  • Traditional software: If you saved a Word document on your computer, you could only access it from that machine unless you copy and transfer the file to another device. This is similar to how traditional POS systems work. 
Did You Know?Did you know
Mobile POS systems are cost-effective, cloud-based platforms that allow businesses to process transactions from anywhere.

What are the benefits of cloud-based POS systems?

Cloud-based POS systems have numerous benefits businesses don’t get with traditional POS software, including the following.

1. Cloud-based POS systems improve accuracy.

Many small businesses struggle with unrecorded sales and inaccurate inventory. Staff members must spend more time reconciling mistakes than helping customers and closing new sales, inhibiting business growth and profit. A cloud-based POS system can fix this problem. 

Traditional cash registers rely too much on human input. Mistakes are bound to happen, especially during busy times. In contrast, POS systems take the guesswork out of making sales and allow your company to achieve an otherwise unattainable level of accuracy. Furthermore, because the data is hosted in the cloud, it will be accurate and updated no matter which device you use to enter and view it.

2. Cloud-based POS software provides valuable insights.

A high-quality, cloud-based POS system does more than scan items quickly. It also gives your business the data it needs to grow and maximize profits. All purchases are tracked and recorded, so all customers’ past purchases — online and in-person — can be viewed and analyzed.

Businesses can create detailed POS reports with insights that help them track successful products and services and create targeted marketing based on demographics, customer buying habits and more. Meetings can be held anywhere to discuss sales and customer insights with stakeholders because all data is accessible remotely with cloud-based POS systems.

FYIDid you know
Must-have POS system features include built-in CRM tools that help you create specific, targeted promotions and rewards programs based on your customers' buying trends.

3. Business owners can control cloud-based POS software remotely.

You can control your cloud-based POS systems via your mobile device. You don’t have to be present in your store to know what’s happening, make adjustments, run reports and more. 

Say you want to open another business location or are concerned about how one store performs when you aren’t there. A robust, cloud-based POS system with comprehensive reporting can help you handle tasks remotely. You’ll also be able to stay on top of sales, employee management, product inventory analysis and more. You can even generate store sale comparison reports to juggle your various locations while on the go. 

4. Cloud-based POS systems ensure consistency.

Due to human error and other factors, a product may end up costing more at one store location than another. POS systems eliminate this problem, thus guaranteeing improved customer care and a company reputation for integrity. 

Maintaining consistent pricing is a professional function, and a POS system is the best way to achieve it. With cloud-based POS systems, you can check whether pricing is consistent across stores without traveling to other locations.

5. Cloud-based POS systems make promotion management easy.

Promotions are essential to many small businesses to attract and retain customers. However, organizations often struggle to keep track of the terms, duration and specifications, especially when it comes to short-term promotions and multiple discount coupons. Improperly tracking promotions leads to lost sales and potentially unhappy customers. 

POS systems allow small businesses to track all promotions and offers easily. Your cloud-based POS software can help determine which efforts were popular, profitable and provided the best customer care.

6. Cloud-based POS systems help you manage inventory.

Inventory consistency is crucial. However, managing inventory without a cloud-based POS system can be a nightmare, especially for companies with brick-and-mortar and e-commerce stores

Quality cloud-based POS software supports accurate, efficient inventorying. Depending on the product, you can sort merchandise by type, class, item description and more. When visiting vendors or suppliers, you can even pull up your inventory data on your preferred device — thanks to cloud hosting, it’s all at your fingertips instead of tied to specific hardware. 

7. Cloud-based POS software helps you spot trends.

Cloud-based POS software empowers you to identify trends in your business’s sales. For example, you can determine which demographic groups are interested in specific products or product characteristics. 

Identifying trends is particularly valuable when meeting with potential business investors. You can wow them by pulling up vital trend data on the spot via your cloud-based POS system.

8. Cloud-based POS software speeds checkout and service.

Small businesses, in particular, suffer from slow checkout lines. Customers don’t enjoy waiting in line while a cashier types in the description of what the person ahead of them is buying. However, POS systems speed checkout significantly, allowing cashiers to ring up customers quickly. Additionally, cloud-based POS systems provide quicker access to product information so sales personnel can help customers more efficiently.

With a cloud-based POS system, all sales information is backed up to the cloud, so losing valuable data is no longer a concern.

9. Cloud-based POS software includes multiple tools. 

Business and marketing technologies are advancing rapidly. Keeping up with the competition often means buying the newest technological advancement in a particular area, which can get expensive. 

Investing in a cloud-based POS system cuts costs because it provides many essential business tools in a single package. It also saves time because you don’t have to shop around for the best service in each area. One high-quality POS system can perform all the functions you need. Even better, cloud-based POS software can be updated much more easily than traditional POS systems.

FYIDid you know
POS system costs typically include software maintenance and updates in your monthly service charge.

What is the difference between cloud-based and traditional POS systems?

Here are the biggest differences between cloud-based and traditional POS systems:

 

Cloud-based POS systems

Traditional POS systems

Setup

Software is ready to go, and no updates are necessary.

Systems are typically installed onsite and may require periodic updates.

Data storage

Data is stored in the cloud and can be accessed through your mobile phone.

You can only access your data onsite.

Integration

Easily integrates with other software you use in your business.

Systems can’t be easily integrated with the rest of your business software.

Cost

Systems typically come with a monthly fee that varies by plan.

Installation and monthly maintenance fees are likely.

Security

Since your data is stored in the cloud, you’re vulnerable to cybersecurity risks.

Since the data is stored onsite, you’re less vulnerable to security breaches.

What are the top cloud-based POS systems?

Many of the best POS systems are cloud-based and can provide robust features and functions for retailers, restaurants and other businesses. Here are a few of our recommendations:

Toast

Toast is one of the best restaurant POS systems available. This cloud-based POS system offers three all-in-one solutions and three digital ordering plans. One of Toast’s most remarkable features is its tiered plan options, which allow each restaurant to choose the best ordering and delivery features, including contactless delivery, curbside pickup and the iOS and Android Toast TakeOut apps. 

Toast also integrates with popular food delivery services like Uber Eats, Postmates and DoorDash. While Toast is cloud-based, it also can function offline, so you can keep working even if you lose your internet connection. Read our full Toast POS review if you run a restaurant that needs a POS or delivery solution.

Clover

Clover provides the hardware and software businesses need to accept customer payments and manage inventory and online ordering. The software is fairly intuitive and easy to use, and you can set up permissions that allow employees to perform specific functions within the software. The software also integrates with other popular business apps.

Customer support is available 24/7 by phone or email, and you can access live help on the company’s website. Read our Clover review to learn why this platform is an excellent option for restaurants and retail stores. 

Cake

Cake’s restaurant POS software offers a slew of excellent features that set it apart from competitors. When you decide to use the software, Cake provides an implementation team to walk you through the entire process. 

You can offer online ordering with the option for contactless pickup or delivery. You can also offer your customers tableside ordering, QR code payments and self-service kiosks. Our Cake review details how this platform will help your restaurant operate more efficiently and move customers in and out faster. 

Shopify

Shopify is an excellent option for e-commerce businesses looking for ways to accept payments and manage inventory. The service is scalable, so you can start small and add more features as your business grows. Shopify is also one of the few POS systems offering free trial services to new customers. Check out our comprehensive Shopify review to learn more.

TouchBistro

TouchBistro has numerous restaurant-specific features like customizable menu dashboards, ingredient-level tracking and table management tools. You can add features like online ordering, customer loyalty programs and reservations.

TouchBistro also makes it easier to track employee performance and attendance. Our TouchBistro review explains why this software is a great choice for full-service restaurants, bars, coffee shops and breweries. 

Jamie Johnson contributed to this article.

author image
Sean Peek, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Sean Peek co-founded and self-funded a small business that's grown to include more than a dozen dedicated team members. Over the years, he's become adept at navigating the intricacies of bootstrapping a new business, overseeing day-to-day operations, utilizing process automation to increase efficiencies and cut costs, and leading a small workforce. This journey has afforded him a profound understanding of the B2B landscape and the critical challenges business owners face as they start and grow their enterprises today. In addition to running his own business, Peek shares his firsthand experiences and vast knowledge to support fellow entrepreneurs, offering guidance on everything from business software to marketing strategies to HR management. In fact, his expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes and with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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