A Detailed Guide on Point Of Sale Systems (POS Systems): Everything You Need To Know

Any merchant who transacts in the offline world (like brick-and-mortar stores or even mobile businesses) needs a modern point-of-sale (POS) system. The right solution will enable you to ring up sales with ease, as well as manage the various components of your business.

But what exactly is a POS system and how do you select the right solution for your business?

To answer that question, we’ve put together a guide on all things point-of-sale. Below, you’ll learn why POS systems are essential, what features to look for in a solution, and the top POS software in the market.

Let’s get started.

What is a POS system?

A POS system is a solution that facilitates in-person transactions by enabling merchants to ring up sales.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Today, POS systems go beyond simple sales processing capabilities. Most modern POS solutions are designed with advanced features such as:

  • E-commerce integration capabilities
  • Contactless payment options
  • Mobile POS abilities
  • Reporting and analytics

For many users, the POS is the central hub for their business operations. Everything is tracked and monitored, including customer management, payment processing, and inventory management. As such, merchants are increasingly using POS software to run their businesses. So much so that the POS software market is expected to hit $18.1 billion by the year 2027.

What is a POS system used for?

As a small business owner, you are probably used to doing everything yourself. However, wearing the hat of CEO, marketing manager, accountant, and all these other roles can become overwhelming.

With overwork being the most common cause of burnout for business owners, now is the time to learn how to work smarter, not harder. A POS system offers a great stepping-stone for this quest.

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With the right POS system, you can streamline or automate many tasks, including:

Ringing up sales

The primary function of a POS system is to ring up sales. As such, point-of-sale solutions typically come with a sales screen or monitor where cashiers can add products to the sale.

In addition, POS systems often connect with your payment processor, allowing you to accept credit cards, and other methods (e.g., contactless and mobile payments).

Inventory management

Most modern POS systems can also track and record inventory movements. So whenever you make a sale, the system updates your stock levels accordingly.

You can easily monitor things like restocking, returns, and sales with the right POS technology.

Tracking business financials

Modern POS systems can integrate with existing accounting systems. Thanks to this capability, your tax preparation needs are simplified significantly.

Reporting and analytics

Many point-of-sale systems also come with reporting and analytics capabilities so you can track your sales, product performance, top customers, and more.

All that data can then be used to make more informed decisions in your business.

Supervising employees

Many POS systems have employee management capabilities, enabling you to monitor sales per employee, staff activity, and more.

The types of businesses that use POS systems

Point of sale systems are seen throughout multiple industries. Chances are, if you own a business, you have probably used this type of system at one point or another. Some of the industries that use POS systems include:

Retail

POS systems are a staple at retail stores that sell physical goods. Below are a few examples of the types of business that benefit most from point-of-sale solutions:

  • Clothing and shoes
  • Electronics
  • Food
  • Pet supplies
  • Entertainment
  • Beauty supplies
  • Alcohol
  • Tools
  • Home goods

Hospitality

You will likely interact with a POS system when you go to a restaurant or stay at a hotel. Some of the other businesses in the hospitality industry that utilize a POS include:

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Travel agencies
  • Coffee shops
  • Flight attendants
  • Wedding services
  • Chauffeurs and drivers
  • Housekeeping
  • Valets

Consumer services

Consumer services include any situation where you receive a service instead of a physical product. For example, you have received consumer service if you get your car washed or your hair and nails done.

Some other businesses that fall into this category include:

  • Salons and barbershops
  • Spas
  • Therapists

What should merchants look for in a POS system?

As you can see, POS systems are used in multiple industries and offer many benefits. Now that you know how beneficial it can be, it is time to explore what type of POS solution your business needs. Some factors to consider when evaluating a POS system include the following.

Ease of use

Setting up a POS system should not require an engineering degree. Instead, you should find one that is user-friendly. The system also needs to be easy enough to use that you don’t have to constantly refer to your manual or call for help from tech support constantly.

Integrated payment processing

Finding a POS system that provides integrated payment processing will help you streamline all payment transactions. That’s because the payment processor and POS system will exchange all needed data automatically.

If you don’t have a system with payment processing, you have to enter customer debit card and credit card information manually. That means each time a sale is made, you have to spend more time keying in the information, which then opens up room for human error.

Hardware considerations

The type and size of your business will dictate the type of hardware needed. Your checkout process also impacts your needs. Having a cash drawer, credit card reader, and iPad or Android tablet is beneficial if you have a small retail business.

More advanced equipment is available for larger operations, including barcode scanners, receipt printers, and terminals.

Inventory management capabilities

A small business owner may think they don’t need this feature. This is especially true if the retailer doesn’t carry many different items. However, it’s worth noting that inventory management is more than knowing how much stock you have on-site.

With this feature, you can track your inventory in real-time and avoid manually counting every item. It can also send you notifications or alerts if stock levels are too low and provide inventory reports. This will help you identify the extremely popular products and those that aren’t as popular.

Choosing a POS system with inventory management will help you plan and ensure you stay stocked in the products your customers order most.

PCI compliance

Payment security is a must-have feature. This is particularly the case for smaller businesses because these entities are victims of almost 43% of all cyberattacks.

All POS systems should comply with all data security standards set by the PCI (Payment Card Industry). It’s also wise to find a solution that will help you further safeguard customer’s payment information. Some of the features that make this possible include:

  • Data tokenization
  • End-to-end encryption

Employee management

POS systems featuring employee management capabilities can help you manage your staff each day and help you save money and time. With this functionality, your employees can clock in and out using the system. If you choose a more robust system, you can set limits that prohibit employees from clocking out before inputting their tip amount for their shift.

It’s also possible to set permissions based on different worker’s seniority and role in the company. This ensures employees can access the features they need and nothing else in the system.

You can also find systems that will split, pool, and track tips among servers. This eliminates having to handle this task manually.

Customer support

It doesn’t matter how tech-savvy you are. Having access to a POS system’s customer support team is invaluable.
Even if you don’t run into issues as you set up the system, it is still wise to choose a POS system that offers 24/7 support. This support may be offered via phone, email, or live chat.

Cost

The cost of the POS system is a factor that most businesses must consider. Most POS systems these days charge monthly or annual subscription fees, based on factors like number of users or outlets, size of your catalog, types of features, and more.

The top POS systems in the market

Getting to know the top POS system options is smart if you are ready to begin exploring your options. Our top picks include:

Vend

Vend is a point-of-sale solution made specifically for inventory-based retailers, so it’s an excellent option if you sell physical goods. Unlike other retail store and restaurant POS systems, Vend has an open retail platform and API. It integrates with virtually any payment processor and it can connect with leading eCommerce solutions including BigCommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce.

With Vend POS, you get a 14-day free trial, and the pricing starts at $99 per month.

NCR

NCR offers a smart, intuitive POS solution for various business types. It is easy to install and can integrate with other software solutions you are already using.

NCR POS starts at $79 per month. You can also choose a more advanced option that costs $149 per month.

Upserve

Upserve is a POS and restaurant management system designed to be an all-in-one solution for restauranteurs. In addition to point-of-sale capabilities, Upserve offers features like restaurant analytics, stock control, online ordering, workforce management, and more.

Upserve’s pricing starts at $59 per month and can go up to $365 per month.

Shopify

Shopify is considered one of the best e-commerce platforms around today. If you are currently using Shopify for your online store and online ordering, it makes sense to use Shopify POS for your offline operations. With this option, you can update and manage your inventory in real-time, manage transfers between locations, create customer loyalty programs, accept payments anywhere in the store, accept gift cards, and more.

The Shopify POS service is free if you have a Shopify plan. You will simply have to pay the processing fees.

Shopify services start at $29 for the basic plan and go up to $299 per month for the advanced option.

How to choose the right POS system for you

Every business is unique. It is important to consider what you need and want from the system before even before you shop around for a POS solution. There are numerous POS systems in the market, so it’s important to have clarity on your requirements, so you can set your sights on the right systems.

Create a list of all the features that you want to have. You can also discuss the ones used by other business owners who operate in a similar capacity—knowing what POS systems these people use can help you figure out the best POS and worst POS options available.

Once you have done this, it is good to begin looking at different solutions to figure out if the vendors provide the features and tools you need. Ability and usability are essential in any POS. You should consider this when you begin evaluating different system options.

And when you’ve narrowed down your options to 1 or 2 systems, take a trial or demo the software so you can see which system is the right fit.

By taking these steps, you can choose the option that best suits your business type and needs now and in the future.

To learn more about how the Stax all-in-one platform can help your business, fill out the form below to request a savings estimate today.

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