Types Of POS Systems
There are many different types of POS systems on the market today, ranging from mobile POS systems to self-serve kiosks and beyond.
Understanding the differences between these 5 different types of POS systems is the only way that you can make the best decision for your business. That’s why we’ve broken it down for you!
So which will you choose?
The 5 Types of POS Systems
Touchscreen POS Systems
Touchscreen POS systems are the norm in most establishments these days. However, these types of POS systems aren't relegated to terminals.
Some also use computers, smartphones, and tablets. Of course, many touchscreen point of sale systems make use of one or many proprietary devices, which can be hooked up to other hardware to run a full system.
If you run a small restaurant, then having a touchscreen point of sale system is a good choice.
Associates are able to take customer orders using a touchscreen POS system and customers can easily place their own orders if you choose to operate your restaurant in that manner. The great thing about them is that, regardless of who you are, these touchscreen POS systems are wildly intuitive, making it easy to train new employees. Plus, when you consider how well connected the younger generation is to smartphones and tablets, the process looks even easier.
Touchscreen POS systems are well-suited for businesses that move at a fast pace, such as restaurants and retail stores. If you run a business that has a high employee turnover rate, being able to train fast is crucial.
The main downside to touchscreen POS systems is that they can be very expensive. Many of these systems cost anywhere from a few hundred bucks to a few thousand dollars. More often than not, you'll end up spending anywhere from $60 to $200 each month to keep your touchscreen software up and running.
There are many excellent manufacturers that make touchscreen POS systems, including TouchBistro, Upserve, Lightspeed, and Toast. See the top 6 brands over at our touchscreen POS systems article or see our best touchscreen cash register guide if that is more your speed.
Cloud-Based POS Systems
Cloud-based software is the new normal in a lot of ways. People don't have room for large servers to store away all of their company data these days, so they let their cloud-based POS software store the data away on a remote server instead.
If you're in the market for a POS system that has the ability to store away real-time transaction data so that you can view it from wherever you are in the world, then we highly recommend going with a cloud-based POS system.
All you need to access your data with a cloud-based POS system is an Internet connection.
Cloud-based POS systems are an excellent choice for any kind of business that has multiple locations, including hotels, retailers, and restaurants.
Small businesses that have several POS systems might even consider switching over to a cloud-based solution, as having a central database to sync all of your data and store it away can be extremely helpful. Essentially, you create a type of headquarters for your data storage. There are plenty of cloud-based POS systems that can give you an overall view of the way your business is running by giving you real-time updates on inventory. If you're a restaurant or retailer looking to keep track of your products, then this is where a cloud-based POS system becomes extremely helpful.
While all of your transactions will either take place in your store or online, all of the processing for those payments will occur in the cloud, meaning the payment processing is totally wireless. These types of POS systems must be connected to an Internet connection in order to run. Without an Internet connection, these types of POS systems are not able to sync any data to the cloud.
The great thing is that you can access this data from any compatible device once it has been backed up to the cloud.
With cloud-based POS systems, you typically get full-fledged, feature-rich software. Of course, as always, there are features that will end up costing you a little bit extra, though if you plan on expanding your business, then some of these features might be worth it in the end.
The majority of present POS system manufacturers make cloud-based point-of-sale systems, even though many of them also manufacture open source POS systems and legacy POS systems. If you don't like the idea of having to be in a particular location to access the data from your POS system.
We highly recommend cloud-based POS systems for those who want to have access to their POS software no matter where they are, including inventory information, reporting data, and sales analytics. There are some cloud-based point of sale systems out there for free, though many end up costing business owners around a few hundred dollars every month.
Mobile POS Systems
Mobile POS systems are excellent for merchants working in retail or restaurants, as they come with many excellent features that you need to run your business, yet are far more flexible when it comes to processing transactions, as you don't have to have counter space to do so.
Service providers, food trucks, on-the-go retailers, and other similar businesses, are great examples of merchants who would use this kind of point of sale solution.
Plus, if you're looking to process in-person and online transactions, mobile POS systems can deliver.
Mobile POS systems are a specific type of cloud-based solution, perfect for restaurants and retailers who want to enhance the customer experience by making shopping more convenient.
For example, if you use a mobile POS system in a restaurant, you can utilize tableside ordering. Customers never have to wait for the waiter or waitress to run over to the terminal or head over to the counter.
Mobile POS systems are wonderful for event sales, including offsite retail events, festivals, and markets. They are also a great solution for food trucks that are constantly on the go.
The beauty of mobile POS systems is that they provide far more flexibility than a traditional POS system.
There are many POS providers out there, such as Square and Clover, that offer clients proprietary hardware to get their business up and running.
While there are many mobile POS systems that do not charge any fees, you can typically expect to spend around $60 monthly to own one.
The main difference between a POS app and a mobile POS system is that a POS app is only the software. A mobile POS system includes both the hardware and the software.
POS Apps are very similar to cloud-based POS systems in that they work on a remote server. The neat thing about POS apps is that you can work them with just about any mobile device. The beauty of a POS app is the ability to access information from wherever you are.
There are many apps that work on multiple operating systems, though some are either made for Android or iOS.
There are also POS apps out there that are exclusive to iPad devices.
Compared to a full-fledged POS system with a touchscreen terminal, POS apps typically have a simpler feature set. If you want to add additional features to your POS app, then you will most likely have to pay extra. When it comes to affordability, POS apps are a great choice. Plus, many employees find these apps extremely easy to use.
We highly recommend POS apps for businesses with smaller budgets or businesses that are just starting out, as these don't require as much of an investment and can generally fit the needs of a business owner that is just starting out.
POS apps are also great for those who don't have specific payment locations or for those who sell often at events that aren't in one location. We highly recommend looking for POS apps that come with specific features such as appointments and calendars, as these can help salesmen who work on the go.
If you run a casual cafe or restaurant, then you might consider going with a self-service kiosk POS system. These kinds of systems are even more exceptional if you have a very simple menu. The great thing about kiosks is that they can reduce the time that customers must spend in line.
We are starting to see these kinds of kiosks pop up a lot in grocery stores, most of the time paired with some sort of scale. They are even starting to pop up in some retail environments as well.
Shoppers now have the ability to make their own orders, which lessens the time that they have to wait around in checkout lines. Not only do customers get to control their experience more, but it also minimizes the necessary in-person contact, which is great in a post-COVID society.
The faster that you can get customers through the line, the more customers you can checkout.
Self-service kiosk POS systems are great for stores that can't afford to hire a ton of employees, as customers can go through the entire process themselves without asking for any help. At cafes and restaurants, self-service kiosks are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the fast-food sector. Many of these systems give customers the ability to process their own payments if they choose.
If you run a quick-service restaurant, we highly recommend looking into these types of POS systems. We also recommend this type of POS system for grocers, cafes, or markets that have ready-to-eat goods, as well as high-volume restaurants that want the ability to expedite turnover times.
You'll often spend anywhere from $50-$100 monthly for a single self-service kiosk, which is pretty affordable compared to other types of POS systems.
What To Expect In Terms of POS Features
Depending on what the particular POS system was made for, the features can vary. A retail POS system, for example, will likely come with some sort of inventory management feature that allows business owners to tracks product variants. On the other hand, a restaurant POS system might utilize some sort of customer tracking feature to help customers get through the seating and checkout process faster.
There are many cases in which you'll find all of the best features you need in the baseline subscription fee. However, many POS service providers will throw additional fees atop the baseline monthly subscription fee for these types of software features.
Some of the most popular POS software features include:
You also want to see what kinds of POS hardware come with your package. Some of the most popular types of POS hardware includes:
So, as you can see, a good POS system is able to do so much more than process transactions. A solid POS system should have features to keep track of your inventory, deal with employee management, track online sales, create loyalty programs, make gift cards, and more.
Beyond that, you should also make sure that your POS provider can provide you with some form of customer support, whether it is through live chat, phone calls, or email. While it isn't a sure thing that you'll deal with POS technical difficulties, you'll want to be prepared if a problem arises.
Final Thoughts - Finding the Right POS System For Your Business
As you can see, there are many different types of POS systems on the market today. As a small business owner, it is very important that you find the right POS system with the best POS software and hardware for your business. Your hardware and software needs might differ from the next person. It is important to ask your POS provider about the various hardware and software options
Every type of POS system has a time and place, so make sure that you explore the various features of the available systems to see which one meshes best with your business.