Which POS System is Best For Your Company
Point of sale (POS) systems are used to process business transactions. Learn more about POS features and how to select the right POS system.
If you run any business where you sell products to customers, whether it is a clothing store or a restaurant, you need a point of sale (POS) system. A POS system is what you use to ring up customers for their purchases. When discussing the POS system, manufacturers refer to both the physical device you use to scan purchases as well as the software the system runs on. The most common example of a POS system is a cash register.
Even if you run an online store, you need a POS system to complete your sales. Instead of having a physical device, online stores install POS software on a phone or tablet. These can also be convenient systems to use if you are selling items outside of a store, such as selling merchandise after a performance or during a convention. There are a few different variants of POS systems available. Which one you use largely depends on personal preference and your type of business. Listed below is what you need to know about POS systems and some of the top models.
Traditional or All-in-One POS Systems
While there are many types of POS systems to choose from, they are each classified as either a traditional or all-in-one POS system. Traditional systems refers to older units, which were sold in multiple parts. These units typically had receipt printers, cashiers, magnetic stripe readers for credit cards and a cashier. Today, the majority of POS systems are designed as all-in-one units, where all the attachments are in a single unit.
In most situations, all-in-one systems are better than traditional systems. All-in-one units are smaller and easy to store, and the touchscreen is more intuitive than other systems. Some smaller businesses still use traditional systems because they are less expensive, but typically upgrade to a more modern all-in-one unit as their business grows. If you own multiple locations, an all-in-one unit is practically a necessity. You can network all of your POS systems together, which makes it much easier to track sales and other financial information.
Another major difference between the two systems is pricing. Traditional units are usually sold with a base price. All-in-one units often use a subscription method instead, but there are a few units with flat fees.
Lightspeed is most frequently associated with small and large retail stores. Lightspeed is favored by retail stores because of the inventory tracking options. The system allows you to tag and categorize your items. You can also filter the items based on whether they are sold at a specific store. Once the items are cataloged, you can go into the system and make alterations to the price. This is an easy way to set up sales and promotions. Instead of setting individual sales, you can also create discounts based on product categories. It even allows you to set store specific sales.
Lightspeed also has a variety of customer support options for accepting and tracking returns or exchanges. There are even different options for setting up payment plans or placing items on layaway. Lightspeed was one an expensive POS system, but the price has significantly dropped in recent years. As of writing, it is $79 each month for a basic account. Additional account tiers are available, which include extra features like loyalty programs or accounting software integrated into the system.
Block was previously known as Square, with some stores still referring to it as such. Block is a popular POS system no matter what type of store you run. While Block wasn’t the first company to develop an all-in-one POS, the company is credited for revolutionizing the technology. It is especially popular among online stores because the entire system is cloud-based. This means, as long as you have internet access, you can run the entire POS system from a smartphone or tablet. When you sign up for a Block account, you are given a free magstripe reader to scan credit cards.
Like most other all-in-one systems, Block charges a monthly subscription fee. However, you are not required to sign any contracts, allowing you to cancel your account at any time without any sort of penalty. While there is no demo available, when you sign up with a new account your first 30 days are free, with no limitations on account features. After your first 30 days, you must pay a $60 monthly fee. All the payments are made directly through the Block app.
Along with POS services, Block also includes limited inventory management tools. There are also options for stock forecasting and printing barcodes.
Toast is unique among all-in-one POS systems. Instead of using a monthly subscription plan, Toast charges a flat fee, which is $799 as of writing. There are also small payment processing charges of 2.99 percent on each transaction. Toast received a resurgence in popularity during the pandemic because it was one of the first POS systems to adapt to contactless payments. It is especially popular in restaurants and bars, as well as clubs. With Toast, you can create an account for each store, letting you customize your menu and run separate promotions based on location. There are also options for digital stores and loyalty programs.
TouchBistro is another POS system aimed at restaurant and food industries. It has a number of restaurant specific features, such as tableside ordering and management. The app includes options for managing menus across different markets. There are also kitchen display screens and separate options for tracking takeout orders. TouchBistro includes a system for online reservations as well. TouchBistro allows you to purchase either an entire POS system or only the software. The software costs $69 each month, while a kiosk is $105 a month.
Shopify was built primarily for online stores. Shopify offers a commerce platform for digital stores, which seamlessly integrates with their POS system. Even if you do not use other Shopify products, their POS system is worth considering. Shopify has a number of systems for creating membership programs and running store promotions. If you already have an existing Shopify plan, you can add POS services for no additional charge, except for a small 2.9 percent processing fee on credit card transactions. A basic account supports two accounts and is $29 a month. There are several other tiers to add more store locations, with the more expensive being an advanced account for $299 a month.