Best Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems & Software. The point of sale (POS) or point of purchase (POP) is the time and place at which a retail transaction is completed. At the point of sale, the merchant calculates the amount owed by the customer, indicates that amount, may prepare an invoice for the customer (which may be a cash register printout), and indicates the options for the customer to make payment. It is also the point at which a customer makes a payment to the merchant in exchange for goods or after provision of a service. After receiving payment, the merchant may issue a receipt for the transaction, which is usually printed but can also be dispensed with or sent electronically.
To calculate the amount owed by a customer, the merchant may use various devices such as weighing scales, barcode scanners, and cash registers (or the more advanced “POS cash registers”, which are sometimes also called “POS systems”). To make a payment, payment terminals, touch screens, and other hardware and software options are available.
The point of sale is often referred to as the point of service because it is not just a point of sale but also a point of return or customer order. POS terminal software may also include features for additional functionality, such as inventory management, CRM, financials, or warehousing.
Businesses are increasingly adopting POS systems, and one of the most obvious and compelling reasons is that a POS system eliminates the need for price tags. Selling prices are linked to the product code of an item when adding stock, so the cashier merely scans this code to process a sale. If there is a price change, this can also be easily done through the inventory window. Other advantages include the ability to implement various types of discounts, a loyalty scheme for customers, and more efficient stock control. These features are typical of almost all modern ePOS systems.
POS can be used to be no more sophisticated than a standard cash register, but oh, have the times changed. Today, your typical POS system comes fully loaded with all kinds of features and gadgets, including inventory tracking and reordering, customer retention programs, and employee management tools.
The Types of POS Software
There are 4 main types of POS software:Mobile POS software
This software is cloud-based and comes as an app on your smartphone or tablet. It’s usually compatible with a receipt printer and a credit card swiper, but not as powerful as a full terminal POS system. It’s ideal for sole traders such as plumbers or mobile food cart owners.Tablet POS software
The tablet version is similar to mobile POS software, but offers more features and capabilities. You could use tablet POS software to manage a large and complex retail businesses with multiple locations, including inventory tracking, employee time tracking, payroll, and accounting. They are compatible with many POS hardware solutions to form a complete POS system for any situation.Terminal POS software
This is a fixed POS software with full back-office capabilities. It can be cloud-based or on-premise. Terminal POS software is best suited to large retail or online stores, spas, malls, and other brick and mortar businesses.Self-service or unattended POS software
This is designed to be used in kiosks and outdoor units where it’s not practical to post an employee. It is often integrated with another POS system nearby, like to provide an extra sales point in busy grocery stores, coffee shops, or food trucks. It can be cloud-based or on-premise since it’s not used with a mobile system.
You’ll also find POS software designed for the unique needs of specific industries, such as restaurant and hospitality businesses, apparel retail, financial services, academia and education, and pharmaceuticals POS software.
The costs of your POS software will vary depending on the type of software you choose. Mobile POS software, such as a smartphone app, can begin at $50 per month, while more complex software can reach several hundred dollars monthly. When you buy POS software, you’ll usually need to pay an upfront purchase price, plus an ongoing monthly or yearly payment processing fees.
Other factors that may affect the cost of your POS software plans include:
- How many features you add
- Any hardware included
- Number of integrations
- Your operating system
How to Choose a POS System Provider
Choosing a POS system provider depends on what kind of business you’re running, how long you’ve been operating, and the scale of your operation. Finding the perfect system provider, though, takes some more research.
Here are some questions, organized by category, that can help you choose the right POS system provider:
Hardware and Features
- What features do I need?
- What devices are needed to process payments?
- What hardware do I need? If you need a lot of items, a provider that bundles hardware options together with the software is a better bet, but if you’re going to be using your existing iPad, you’ll need something different.
- What kind of receipts are generated?
- Does the POS system integrate well with my existing business apps?
- Is it easy to set up and use? If it’s more complex, does it offer training?
- How good is customer service?
- Do I want to save money upfront or keep my monthly costs down?
- How does payment processing work? What kind of hardware is offered by the POS company? Some POS companies offer technology unique to the brand, while others simply offer iPad rentals.
- Is the pricing plan transparent?
- Are the payment processes cloud-based or more suitable for in-person transactions?
- What analytics does it offer and what metrics can it check? Make sure that the ones that are most important to you are included in the package.
- Does this POS system provide assistance for inventory management? If yes, it’s valuable to see whether there is help with product visibility, inventory, purchasing and replenishing, storage, analyzing inventory and orders, or multichannel tracking.
- Does this POS system have integrations for eCommerce, email marketing, or social media? A POS system can provide real time information to better customer experience.
- Is it simple to scale up as your business grows?
Here is a List of Best Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems & Software
- Price rangeStarts from $999 per license + $99 per user per month + separate price per module
- Best forMid-sized and large retailers
- Mobile CompatibilityYes
Oracle NetSuite is a unified business management platform comprising a suite of ‘modules’ including SuiteCommerce InStore, a point-of-sale solution. SuiteCommerce InStore provides your salespeople with all the tools they need to help them assist and engage shoppers. It includes enhanced customer profiles, order and inventory management, and dynamic merchandising–allowing you to fulfill customer preferences at the point of contact.
SuiteCommerce InStore ties your POS system seamlessly to all your operational business systems, eliminating the need for integrations between separate systems. Its touch-tablet user interface and responsive design deliver user-friendly digital tools across any device.
Installation fee: N/A
Contract length: Starts at 1 year
- Suite of tools to help sales associates assist and engage shoppers
- Natively connects to your business systems, eliminating integrations
- Accessible via cloud, lowering your software costs
- POS is only available with complete package
- No free trial
- Price rangeStarting at $99
- Best forQuick-service restaurants and bars
- Mobile CompatibilityComing September (est.)
Curv is a modern online ordering system for restaurants and similar establishments. With Curv, you can take food orders through your website and other platforms while also managing your in-house orders, all through a single, modern POS system. You can also edit your menu using your computer or smartphone and keep on top of how your restaurant is performing through Curv’s useful statistics.
Many restaurants will find Curv’s integrated system for online ordering, payment processing, in-store POS, and employee scheduling appealing, particularly if they’ve tried juggling all these moving parts themselves. And Curv’s commission-free, transparent pricing is another persuasive reason to give it a shot.
- No commission fees
- Streamlined, user-friendly interface
- Easy onboarding process
- Focused only on restaurants and bars
- Requires the use of specific hardware
Square Online Store
- Price rangeStarting at 2.5%
- Best forSMBs that experience low-volume sales monthly
- Mobile CompatibilityFully compatible with iPad and mobile devices
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you are already more than familiar with Square. It’s unquestionably the most well-recognized POS system on the market today, and that’s not surprising. Offering no monthly fees and impressively low rates, Square is a favorite for low-volume businesses looking to save money. You can pay a flat rate of 2.6%+$.10 for swiped transactions and 3.5%+$.15 per keyed transactions. In case you aren’t in the know, those are really good rates.
Square isn’t just a cheap meal ticket, either. The iPad POS system is fully loaded with features like an Ecommerce platform, inventory management, and virtual payment terminals. Square is also mobile-friendly, comes with an API for developers, and tons of third-party integrations. While it’s not a good option for high-risk industries, Square is ideal for just about any other type of business, including at-home services, food industries, and retailers.
Installation fee: From $29
Contract length: None, pay as you charge
- Huge reputation for quality and affordability
- Easy, flat-rate pricing structure
- No monthly fees and free chip readers
- Not great for high volume merchants
- Doesn’t work with high-risk industries
- Price rangeFrom $9 per month for POS only + hardware costs.
- Best forBusinesses looking to integrate their online and physical retail systems
- Mobile CompatibilityiPhone, iPad, and Android
Shopify is one of the leading online retail platforms. They’ve taken that expertise and created an easy-to-use retail POS system. If you’re already using Shopify for your online store, then their POS system is a great choice for providing a smooth shopping experience for your customers, both in-person and online. With an established Ecommerce platform, Shopify’s dashboard allows you to manage all the products you sell across all locations, linking in-store and online sales.
The Shopify POS app works on both iPad and Android. You’ll have to purchase the card reader plus any barcode scanners, printers and cash drawers you might need, but this does help keep the monthly costs down as leased hardware costs are not incorporated into your monthly bill. If you’re not looking to sell online, the Lite package presents a cost-effective way of accepting card payments. If you want to unlock all the features on offer, the monthly subscriptions can get expensive, but for larger businesses, the smart inventory management and omnichannel tools are worth the investment.
Installation fee: $49
Contract length: Month-to-month or yearly, two-year, or three-year plans
- User-friendly, modern UI
- Integrates with your online Shopify store
- Detailed analytics and reporting
- Higher tier plans are expensive
- Additional hardware costs
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