Best POS Systems
Discover the benefits of using a POS system for your store. Find out how to select the right POS and learn more about several of the top systems.
If you are interested in starting up your own business, you must invest in a point of sale (POS) system. A POS system is used to charge customers for purchasing goods or services from your business. While there are many options to choose from, purchasing a POS system is typically easier than other business supplies because the system includes both the physical device as well as all the necessary software. POS systems come in a variety of different forms, with cash registers being the most recognizable.
Even if you do not operate a physical store, you still need a POS system to process your sales. With an online store, your POS system is entirely software based with no physical system. Instead, you install an app onto your phone or computer. These portable POS systems are convenient because they allow you to sell items outside of your store. If you are going to a performance or convention, you can scan customer payments without having to worry about dragging a physical system with you. Listed below is everything you need to know about selecting the right POS system for your business.
What to Look for in a POS System
One of the first considerations when looking at POS systems is how the system handles inventory. With a POS system, you upload your inventory into the system, with each item getting a unique code. When a customer makes a purchase, your system rings up the purchase by scanning the item and pulling the code, then totaling up the price.
Some POS systems use a simple inventory method, which is fine if you have a smaller inventory. Certain industries, such as clothing stores, want more customization. For example, you want to be able to set a base code for jeans, then individual pricing based on size or style. Other systems have seasonal options, allowing you to quickly change your inventory based on what you want to sell during a specific period.
Compatibility is important as well. You want a POS system that integrates with your accounting and finance software, allowing you to easily track your sales. If you run a physical and online store, make sure you select a POS system that has options for both store types.
Finally, consider the needs of your staff. If your system is too complex for your store, employees are going to struggle to learn the system, which may lead to pricing errors. If you have a larger staff, you want POS software that allows you to set up multiple user accounts.
Traditional vs. All-in-One POS Systems
POS systems are sold as either traditional or all-in-one units. A traditional system has multiple parts, such as receipt printers, magnetic stripe readers and a cash register. Most of the units built today are all-in-one, which means all the additional attachments are built directly into the main unit.
The biggest difference between the two units is price. All-in-one systems are typically more convenient because they are easier to set up and do not take up as much space, but are more expensive. They traditionally use monthly subscription services, while traditional systems have a flat rate. All-in-one systems are also easier to network, which is great if you own multiple stores. If you are just starting a business, a traditional system is typically fine to start with, but as your business grows, you will want to eventually upgrade.
Lightspeed is one of the most popular POS systems and is an excellent option for both small and large stores. It is especially popular among retail stores because it focuses on inventory tracking options. With Lightspeed, you can tag and categorize your inventory, creating subcategories for each of your products. You can also filter your inventory based on what stores carry which products. This makes it easy to manage different sales and promotions across multiple branches. You can also create discounts for select categories.
Another reason Lightspeed is popular is the customer support options. There are several options for tracking returns or exchanging products for store credit. You can also set up payment plan options or allow customers to put products on layaway.
While Lightspeed has many features, it is a pricier system. There are several account tiers available, with a basic account starting at $79 each month as of writing. Higher tiers include additional options, such as integrated accounting software or the ability to create loyalty programs.
Shopify is a newer POS system, largely designed for online stores. Shopify offers many other business software, making it convenient if you already use Shopify products, since they are all compatible. Because it focuses mostly on online sales, there are greater options for membership programs. If you already have a Shopify plan, it is free to add a POS system. A basic account costs $29 a month and supports up to two users. Higher tier plans support additional users and offer a few other perks.
Block, previously known as Square, is famous for being the first company to revolutionize all-in-one POS systems. Block uses a cloud-based system, making it an excellent choice for online stores. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access your system. All users are also provided with a free magstripe reader, which is a nice benefit if you are running a new business.
Block is highly customizable and has an easy-to-use interface. The company provides the first month free for all users, and there is no commitment to sign up for a paid account. The free account also includes all the features unlike other demos, which typically have limited services. This includes access to tools for inventory management, barcode printing, and stock forecasting. After your 30-day trial, Block costs $60 each month.