Across all industries, point-of-sale (POS) systems are a commonplace tool that helps businesses to efficiently process transactions and manage their day-to-day operations. POS options for businesses range from simple mobile payment processors to those that can manage large multilocation businesses. POS systems offer features that make running your business easier, plus those like loyalty programs and discounts make POS systems attractive to customers.
POS systems facilitate transactions, allowing customers to make a purchase and pay applicable sales tax. A POS is often thought of as an internal store terminal. However, virtual POS systems are often used for online shopping.
Top restaurant POS systems are replacing traditional cash registers quickly because of their convenience and ease of use. POS systems can also be mobile, which allows payment to be made where the customer is, such as at their table in a restaurant. POS tablets for restaurants are becoming popular in the food service industry to facilitate payment processing and inventory management.
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Our review of TouchBistro shows more about how restaurants use POS systems.
To help you decide which POS system might work best for your company, here is a brief description of each as well as a few suggested businesses for which they are suitable.
Smartphone and tablet POS services can process payments and manage some inventory and customer information. In most cases, the app is free in exchange for payment processing. The best payment processors will send you the credit card reader for free. This is a suitable POS option if you do not manage a lot of inventory and you need to be mobile. Most will work with a portable receipt printer or you can email receipts to your customers directly from the app:
iPad and Android POS solutions are increasingly popular since they require minimal upfront investment and you can often use a tablet that you already own. Some tablet POS services are “free” with credit card processing; others require a low monthly subscription fee but allow you to choose your own credit card processor. Many support compatible hardware such as barcode readers, cash drawers and tablet stands. Some are rather simple applications; others can manage complex inventory situations and track employee time:
Terminal POS systems are the type you are used to seeing at the counter. While they are hardware- and software-based, most still require access to the internet and might even use cloud-based software. They are often sold as all-in-one solutions that include barcode scanners, cash drawers and such. Many of these services provide 24/7/365 support and cloud backup.
These systems make it easy to restrict employee internet access since they can be configured to run only the POS software. Restaurant solutions can integrate with tableside Wi-Fi portable devices, kitchen printers, patron tablet ordering and online ordering. Retail POS systems can include extensive inventory tools, label printing and e-commerce integration. Some are “free” in exchange for paying for credit card processing:
With an online POS, you can use your own hardware, which might be a PC or tablet. Another advantage is the minimal startup costs. PC solutions cannot replace the convenience of a touchscreen; however, if your business has low-volume, big-ticket sales, it may prove speedy enough to suit your needs. Low-volume business also makes the use of a standard printer feasible. You can log in to online solutions from anywhere, using any device:
Most kiosk POS systems are specialized solutions for a specific purpose. For example, you may offer a self-service kiosk for patrons to purchase movie tickets or to manage parking space time and payments. Another helpful option is setting up a few kiosks in your large retail store to let your customers look up pricing and product availability. Other non-POS uses include patient check-ins and human resources (HR), such as accepting employment applications. In some industries, mobile apps might replace some popular uses, such as check-ins and product lookup or even ticket sales:
If your business sells its products in more than one online or in-person location, you’ll benefit greatly from multichannel POS systems. This type of POS system integrates all your sales across your online store, social media pages and storefronts. As a result, you’re less likely to run out of stock, because your inventory for one sales route isn’t synced with that of your other channels:
With open-source POS systems, you can customize your POS software interface to function exactly how you please. You’ll need software engineers to make this happen and since software engineers often charge high rates, open-source POS can be expensive. However, it may be the only option for larger businesses with one-of-a-kind POS needs.
The biggest change in POS systems over the past few years is the affordable options for small businesses (or even microbusinesses). Small companies no longer need to deplete their startup funds on an expensive POS system. While large operations may still require a sizable upfront investment, there are now more portable and Wi-Fi options available so you can better serve your customers. Once you have defined your needs and set your budget, you can discover the best POS option for your business easily.
Software is one of the main components of a POS system. Software always has a front end and a back end. The front end is where transactions are processed. The back end gives you access to analytics, sales figures, inventory and other relevant information.
The other half of a POS system is hardware. A device to process transactions is a necessity. This can be a mobile phone, tablet, touchscreen or PC monitor. Most businesses also use a cash drawer, similar to a cash register. If your priority is POS hardware, check out our review of Clover.
You may also need a barcode scanner. Most businesses use a receipt printer, although email receipts are gaining popularity. Card readers are also essential equipment for your POS system. You’ll need an internet connection too, of course, which often requires a router or modem.
Rare is a POS system that works without a hardware add-on, such as a card reader or barcode scanner.
A POS system offers numerous benefits for businesses, enabling them to streamline their budgeting, effectively manage stock levels and boost revenue. These benefits include:
Loyalty programs are a great incentive for customers to return to your business instead of a competitor, as they foster positive relationships and provide customers with valuable discounts and rewards.
Businesses can benefit from employing any of these best POS systems, which boast standout features ranging from expansive catalogs to bill-splitting technology:
Unlike many POS systems, Toast offers commission-free online ordering, allowing businesses to save money on orders, thereby reducing costs for customers and increasing their profit margins.