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Updated Oct 25, 2023

15 Top POS System Features

The best POS system will vary based on your needs and the customer experience you want to provide. Here are 15 important features to look for.

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Written By: Sean PeekSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
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With dozens of point-of-sale (POS) systems to choose from, each with varying features, you may have difficulty deciding which is the best POS system for your needs. Understanding the different types of systems, along with their respective features and benefits, will help you narrow down your options and determine the right POS solution for your business.

Editor’s note: Need a POS system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

Industry-specific POS features

Most POS systems are designed for a certain industry, so their features tend to fall into the following industry-specific packages.


The retail industry is one of the predominant users of POS terminals, which almost always integrate with inventory and accounting software. In addition to processing transactions, the POS system often supports customer loyalty cards, gift cards, gift registries and coupon redemptions. 

>> Learn More: 15 Essential POS System Features for Your Retail Business]

If you’re looking for the best retail POS system, check out our full review of Lightspeed. It offers robust e-commerce tools and can accommodate industries like apparel, electronics, health, home, decor, jewelry, sporting goods and liquor.


The hospitality and hotel industry needs to track guests as they interact with various services throughout their visit: the dining room, their guest rooms, golf or tennis lesson reservations, spa visits and so on. 

POS systems can also store guest preferences for amenities and housekeeping, allowing hospitality staff to anticipate guest needs rather than respond to requests — thereby raising service levels, customer satisfaction and loyalty. The POS software usually integrates with property management software.

FYIDid you know
If you need a great POS system for your hotel or hospitality business, read our in-depth Epos Now review.


Some of the first touchscreen terminals were used in the restaurant industry, particularly at fast-food chains. Today, they are the standard means to input and track orders, process payments and generate customer receipts. 

A growing trend in quick-serve restaurants is the use of text alerts to notify customers when their orders are ready for pickup. Even in some fine-dining segments, waiters use mobile devices to send orders directly from the table to the kitchen. The same devices notify waiters when orders are ready for delivery to the table.

If you’re in search of the best POS system for your restaurant, check out our TouchBistro review. Toast is another great option — in our Toast review, you’ll learn why it’s ideal for restaurants with online ordering.

>> Learn More: Best Restaurant POS Systems


In the grocery business, POS systems can be part of self-checkout lines and typically incorporate weight scales. Some systems also allow customers to use barcode scanners to record their selections as they place products into their carts, expediting the final checkout process.

If you’re looking for a grocery store POS system, consider Heartland POS. This comprehensive POS system is compatible with third-party hardware and payment processors. 


Professionals in the hair and beauty industry need to enter, modify and track client appointments and preferences in a system that can generate performance reports and loyalty profiles, as well as identify and correct workflow inefficiencies. The POS system also maintains an inventory of beauty products and compiles a database of customer emails to send appointment reminders, special offers and other notifications.

TipBottom line
If your salon needs a POS system, check out our review of Square. This top-rated POS system is customizable and even offers appointment-booking features, which not all POS systems do.

5 benefits of a POS system

A good POS system can not only help a business owner manage sales and inventory, it can also increase their business intelligence and marketing skills. Below are the five primary benefits of a POS system.

1. Increase store profitability.

POS systems can increase your in-store profitability by monitoring inventory and recording customers’ behavior. With this data set, you’ll be able to create more pointed and specific marketing campaigns and sell only the products that your customers buy. This encourages customers to return and helps you avoid holding on to a surplus of immovable products so your store is more profitable.

You can also use POS retail apps on your smartphone or tablet as instant access points, allowing you to sell and order from wherever you are, instead of being confined to a physical location.

2. Reduce administrative costs.

Once your POS system is operational, it will reduce the time you spend on administrative tasks, which can save you money. Your system will provide operating reports as well as buyer and inventory data, so you don’t have to collect that information yourself. Since POS systems can act as checkout stations, you’ll also spend less time on cashier duties and more time focusing on the business itself.

3. Manage inventory.

If your POS system comes with inventory management features that allow you to see your stock in real time, you’ll always know what you have on hand and what your customers are buying. This lets you make informed decisions about future inventory purchases based on buying trends and customer demand.

4. Improve your business intelligence.

If your POS system has robust reporting features, you can run reports that clearly and accurately streamline your incoming data so it is easier for you to understand. Then you can make informed decisions about your business. You’ll be able to dig into your sales data to identify your business’s trends around inventory, customer behavior, high-volume shopping times and budget lines.

5. Boost your marketing and loyalty features.

One of the most useful features of a POS system is how specific it can be about your customers’ buying trends. It can show you what they buy, how frequently they shop at your establishment, and how much they spend.

When you understand who your customers are and how they shop, you can create specific marketing messages, loyalty programs and other incentives for them. This allows you to reward your best customers and enhance their experience, instead of losing money on general discounts.

POS hardware options

The type and number of hardware devices you need for your POS system depends not only on the physical size and location of your business, but also on your branding and marketing strategies. For example, retailers frequently employ “stores within a store,” where the idea is to capture sales immediately at multiple retail displays placed throughout a single store. 

This gives you the ability to capitalize on impulse purchase decisions, and cuts down on the long register lines at crowded exits that might discourage shoppers from coming to your store again.

The hardware necessary to set up POS stations is usually a combination of the following devices:

  • Tablets
  • Tablet stands
  • Mobile phones
  • Desktop computers or laptops
  • Touchscreens
  • Customer display screens
  • Kitchen display systems
  • Kiosks
  • Digital menu boards
  • Credit card readers
  • Personal identification number (PIN) pads
  • Receipt printers
  • Cash drawers
  • Barcode scanners
  • Scales
  • Coin dispensers

It’s increasingly common for these devices to function on mobile platforms, which allows more flexibility in the placement of the terminals as well as the environments in which they can function. In addition, web-enabled terminals allow for inventory tracking across geographically dispersed locations and for remote training, operation and diagnostics.

POS software options

Certain industries have different POS software needs. For instance, a restaurant has different requirements from a hardware store or a hotel operation. The size of your business also determines the type of POS software you need. A small mom-and-pop business has less complex requirements than a large chain.

In some cases, the operating system is proprietary, but there are also standard Windows and Mac offerings. The generally accepted industry standards for dedicated POS systems are the Windows-specific OPOS — or OLE Point of Sale, which uses the Object Linking and Embedding technology developed by Microsoft — and JavaPOS, which uses the Java programming language and can run on any OS platform.

A web-based platform, also called a cloud-based POS, is an increasingly popular choice because it is largely compatible with any operating system. Web-enabled POS systems can not only run on any computer with an internet connection and browser, but also frequently offer an app for smartphones and tablets, although these apps are sometimes platform-specific.

An additional advantage of cloud-based systems is that they run remotely from one or more secure servers, which eliminates the need to install and update software at the local level. In addition, the centralization of data provides a single repository that can be accessed across geographic and organizational locations via simple internet connection, which reduces operational overhead costs. 

POS service options

POS systems vary. Some are complete bundled packages of hardware, software and services put together by the original equipment manufacturer or a reseller. Systems can be leased or bought, and some are free to use if you sign a multiyear contract for payment processing.

Alternatively, you can buy POS software or subscribe to a SaaS plan to use with a computer, smartphone or tablet along with a card reader. With this option, you can usually choose to buy your POS hardware from either the software provider or a third-party vendor.

After-sale services may include basic onsite repair or remote telephone support, email support and upgrades. After-purchase care may run for a predetermined period or may require a service plan at an additional cost. Warranties usually run from one to three years, although some vendors offer lifetime warranties.

Additional services, typically arranged by the POS vendor through a third party, include credit card processing, cash advance and loan services, financing, remote backup and equipment leasing. 

The best POS systems

In addition to the POS systems highlighted above, here are some other excellent options to consider. 

  • Shopify: Shopify is an all-in-one POS system that offers the hardware and software needed to accept payments, track inventory, and manage customer data. The company provides two different mobile apps — one for processing payments and one for managing your back office. Both apps are available for iOS and Android devices. Shopify does offer a free trial, but it only lasts for three days. [Read our Shopify POS review]  
  • Helcim: Helcim has an intuitive interface, easy-to-use tools and transparent pricing. You can use the POS system to accept credit card payments, manage your inventory and send invoices. However, Helcim doesn’t offer as many third-party integrations as some of its competitors. [See our Helcim review]
  • GoDaddy: GoDaddy makes it easy to accept payments in-person, online or through pay links. You can track your online and offline transactions through one secure dashboard, and the company offers competitive payment processing rates. Plus, GoDaddy’s marketing and customer loyalty tools will help you find and retain more customers. [Look at our full GoDaddy review]
  • CAKE: CAKE was picked as one of the best POS systems for restaurants thanks to its durable hardware, menu management tools and advanced reporting features. Your employees can clock in and out using CAKE, and the software lets you evenly divide tips at the end of every shift. [Read this CAKE review]
  • Brilliant: The Brilliant POS system is the best option for managing employee schedules and tracking your inventory. You can use the software to modify employee schedules and manage payroll. And there’s no limit to the number of SKUs you can add, which makes managing your inventory a breeze. [Learn more in our Brilliant POS review]

Jamie Johnson contributed to this article. 

author image
Written By: Sean PeekSenior 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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