POS software is used primarily by eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores to conduct sales transactions. Such tools have the functionalities of both a computer and a cash register. With POS software, sellers can input orders, compute the cost and receive customer payments.
Transactions can easily fall through the cracks if you’re manually handling a high volume of payments each day, especially during the pandemic when most transactions happen online. If left unchecked, this can make for inaccurate reports, sales that are unaccounted for, and difficult bookkeeping. This is why many businesses rely on point-of-sales (POS) solutions to streamline everything from payment processing to inventory tracking. But, you might be wondering, what is pos software and how can it be of help to you?
In this article, we’ll explore what this software is, how it works, its features, and its benefits. We’ve also compiled some examples of popular POS solutions. Consider all these as guideposts so that when the time comes for you to choose POS software, you’ll be in the best position to make a well-informed decision.
What is POS software? POS stands for “Point-Of-Sale”, and POS software is what brick-and-mortar stores and eCommerce stores use to conduct sales. Think of it as your more advanced cash register combined with a computer (or even mobile computing device such as a tablet) where cashiers input the ordered products, tally the cost, and consummate the financial transaction. It can integrate other systems and software, such as accounting apps or eCommerce platforms, or connect with networks and databases to expand your business’ operational flexibility and capability.
The definition of POS software revolves around its main purpose – to process sales. However, point-of-sale software does so much more than that. Full-featured POS systems can handle inventory tracking, analytics, sales monitoring and reporting, customer data management, employee management, mobile connectivity, and robust integrations. POS software also comes in a range of options, from simple processors to complex cloud systems to meet the requirements of various businesses regardless of type (physical or online) and size (small, medium, or large enterprises). As businesses reopen in the new normal post-pandemic, POS software will be critical in helping businesses ensure public health safety as well as maintaining their economic viability.
There are three general classifications of point-of-sale software. These systems include:
Here’s a quick look at some facts and statistics of the POS terminals industry.
Source: Worldpay, 2021
Understanding what is POS software boils down to knowing what it does. From the key words “point-of-sale” – the time and place where a retail transaction takes place – a POS system is there to process that sale. It has been doing this since the first electronic cash register was built by IBM in 1973 which were store systems (essentially a mainframe computer) could control several point-of-sale registers. The system introduced the first commercial use of client-server technology, peer-to-peer communication, remote initialization, and LAN simultaneous backup. In 1974, McDonald’s restaurants were among the first to use microprocessor controlled cash register systems.
The first commercially available graphical POS software came out in 1986, which featured a colored touch screen widget-driven interface, and was installed in numerous restaurants in the USA and Canada. In the same year, IBM introduced its series of modular POS equipment with real-time multi-tasking and multi-user operating system. It was in 1992 that the first modern POS software came out that could run on Microsoft’s Windows platform.
POS systems have become one of the most complex software systems today because of the varied features required by different businesses or end-users. POS systems initially served the retail, wholesale, and hospitality industries hence POS software suites included functionalities aside from managing sales transactions such as inventory, stock counting, vendor ordering, customer loyalty, reporting modules, purchase ordering, stock transferring, quotation issuing, barcode creating, bookkeeping and accounting. And for practical purposes and to maximize the system’s usability, each of these modules is interlinked.
Today, POS systems are used in just about every business of service and selling. They are utilized in healthcare management, goods and property leasing, equipment repair shops, ticketing offices (ex. cinemas and sports facilities) and many other operations. POS software capabilities have also been expanded to process monetary transactions, book and allocate facilities, keep customer service records, track goods and processes (ex. repair or manufacture), invoicing, and monitoring of debts and outstanding payments.
As you can see, POS system is the jack of all trades of your business; which is why POS systems are built for reliability, high and consistent operating speed, remote supportability, and rich functionality to meet various demands and requirements of a diverse group of users.
There are two major components that comprise a POS system – the hardware and the software.
The POS software brings with it an array of features and functions to manage many aspects of your business operation, foremost of which is to keep track of sales so you can view how many items were sold and how much money came in. You can generate daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly reports without worrying of your figures since POS software are designed for high degree of accuracy.
As we’ve mentioned in the preceding section, a POS system is built for rich functionality and that is handled largely by the software component. It can automatically check and update your inventory every time a product is sold, so you’re always in the know if stocks are running low and if a reorder of supplies is needed. You don’t need to do manual inventory count which is inefficient and inaccurate.
You can integrate your POS software with accounting systems to create comprehensive financial reports. You also get the convenience of producing error-free tax reports. One particular beneficial area that POS software provides is managing your employees especially if you employ several of them. The system can monitor their log in and log out times and keep track of the hours they rendered work. There are many more benefits that you can read on in the next section.
How does POS software work? Depending on functionalities and capabilities that come with it, POS software works to provide you the functions you need for your daily operations in a simplified and streamlined manner.
A POS system is literally the workhorse of your business. It can provide you plenty of benefits. Here are some them:
There are several advantages that can result from adopting POS software but they can be summed up in three parts: efficiency, accuracy, and consistency. These are all important in running your retail or selling business. We’ll explore each.
POS software can have as many features depending on the requirement of the end user and the industry it will be used for. Some POS software comes as integrated modules in comprehensive ERP software packages, while others are sold as standalone solutions. However, there basic functionalities common to POS systems such as the following:
There can be a wide disparity when it comes to the cost of POS software. Some basic platforms can go for a couple hundred dollars, while others can set you back by four figures. The good thing is that POS software prices have gone done because of the following: the availability of affordable subscription-based, cloud-hosted platforms; the many competing products and choices of plans offered by vendors; and the ability of POS software to work with existing or third-party hardware. Just to give you an idea of the pricing range, below are examples of cloud POS platforms and their rates.
If you start from the ground up with a new POS system, be prepared to make a sizable investment especially if you need several POS terminals. In 2009, a complete POS system (hardware + software) cost something like $4,000 (for a single terminal). Fortunately, hardware parts today can be sourced off the shelf while the software component is the cheaper part of the POS system with many offerings you can choose from. Now you can expect POS systems to cost lower than figures eight year ago.
Toast POS is a Cloud- and tablet-based restaurant management solution Toast is designed to do away with your old POS while providing both control and business visibility. Made for US-based companies, the platform offers restaurant owners a single solution that has myriad functionalities that include POS, reporting, credit card processing, CRM, gift and loyalty, online ordering and labor and inventory.
TouchBistro is an iPad POS system designed by restaurant service staff to meet the specific needs of restaurants, eateries, cafes, food trucks, pubs, or any other food business. The platform can handle tableside orders, floor plans and tables, mobile payment processing, staff and scheduling, menu management, and inventory management right from your iPad. It offers cloud reporting and analytics, and 24/7 expert support from former restaurant servers, managers, and owners. It comes with food service specific features, superior ease-of-use, and advanced management capabilities, making it an ideal niche-specific solution for your restaurant.
Lightspeed Retail is a cloud POS system that is compatible with any device or platform. It streamlines day-to-day operations and can address point of sale requirements of businesses with single store or with multiple branches. With the software, you get inventory management tools, reporting features, quoting, ordering and invoicing tools, as well as jobs and timesheet capabilities. Other features include time-billing, appointment scheduling, and product creation. You can also smoothly switch functionality from management to sales in no time. If your business needs additional hardware, Lightspeed can supply you items such as barcode scanners, receipt printers, and cash drawers.
Vend is a POS platform built for iPad and is widely used by retail businesses for managing customers, sales, and inventory. It is a flexible solution that can be tailored to support add-ons such as mouse and keyboard or touchscreen. Likewise, you can customize the POS screen for access to popular items or processes. Vend is compatible with existing systems, hardware, and equipment such as receipt printers, barcode scanners and cash drawers. Operating the platform is as easy as activating your Vend account via a web browser on any desktop and mobile device and you’ll have a reliable POS system up and running.
Shopify POS is an iPad and iPhone-based POS service from leading ecommerce platform Shopify. The software allows you to manage your entire online and physical store business using a single unified platform. Users who subscribe to Shopify POS will receive a full POS system that consisting of a receipt printer, cash drawers, barcode scanner, and Shopify’s proprietary card reader (powered by Swipe). Shopify offers all the hardware through their website, but you can also use your own hardware and as long as they’re compatible, integration will be no problem.
Erply is one of the leading web-based retail systems designed to offer merchants everything they need to manage their businesses. Among its many features is a hybrid cloud POS system that you can run both online and offline. Data is auto-synced once the system is reconnected online and you will not lose data or miss capturing transactions that took place when the system was offline. Its iPad-oriented POS system can help you manage sale and inventory as well as handle multi-store operations. It also offers speedy product lookup where you can query products by code or name, scan barcodes, or choose a product from the inventory list and add it to the transactions.
Rezku POS is an iPad-based point of sale system designed for restaurants, cafes, bars, and other similar businesses. Its applications go beyond that of what you expect of a cash register or credit card payment tablet-based solution. With Rezku POS system, restaurant owners and managers are at the top of their inventory, finances, accounting, staffing, and other business processes.
Figment POS is a cloud-based platform built to streamline the check out and payment processes of various industries. It offers a a high degree of customization and flexibility to suit your various requirements. Selecting the right pricing option for Figment POS is easy as the platform offers industry-specific functionalities packages to better suit the nature of your business. It includes a pre-built packages for bakeries, bookshops, coffee shops, and more.
LimeTray is an intuitively designed cloud-based POS system that is designed to streamline and enhance one’s restaurant services. It is equipped with a comprehensive set of features to provide restaurant managers with full control over their operations while ensuring that they are able to deliver exceptional services to customers. LimeTray notably features a clutter-free design that makes it easy for managers to focus on their tasks. It also comes equipped with offline capability, advanced analytics, inventory management, cash management, CRM integration and other functionalities.
WooPOS is an intuitive point-of-sale software solution created for online stores who utilize WooCommerce as well as retail brick-and-mortar shops. Equipped with tools for inventory management, sales tracking, CRM, and employee management, this tool is ideal for businesses of all sizes who want to streamline their operations. It even offers a cloud-based interface that makes it easy to synchronize all your sales information in a unified database. To make things better, the platform also comes with built-in analytics solutions so you can generate reports on your sales performance without hassle.
If the core of your business is selling products, then POS software is a foremost requirement. As you have learned from the preceding sections, today’s POS system goes beyond just processing customer purchases and recording sales. It can help you manage a whole lot of tasks to make processes more efficient and save you time, money and resources which can drive the sales and growth of your business. So yes, POS is crucial and definitely for you, more so if you are a small business retailer who has to grapple with tracking and recording daily sales, managing customer information, monitoring stocks and inventory, looking over employee task and performance, and a whole lot of other things. Large scale businesses can also benefit from POS software since it is a networked system that can operate several terminals in different store locations. You can make your life easier and your retail or ecommerce operations more efficient with POS software and adapt to changing consumer behavior and market conditions brought about by the pandemic. What is POS software? It is the backbone of your selling business that you can’t afford not to have.
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