Setting up the right point of sale (POS) system for your business is essential to tracking and optimising your sales. Let’s take a look at the different types of POS systems so you can consider which might work best for your business.
What is a POS system?
POS stands for ‘point-of-sale’, which is the interface for exchanging money between you and your customer – traditionally a cash register.
A POS system is what registers the price of an item and is equipped to take payment and issue a receipt. Today, POS systems combine both hardware (like card readers) and software (like inventory management) to not only process sales, but integrate other associated business operations.
Square’s POS system overview is a great introduction to what a POS can look like.
Benefits of a specialised POS system
POS systems have evolved significantly to add value to your business. As well as accepting a multitude of payment types, POS systems today also run on software that gathers more customer data, has more detailed sales reporting, and staff and inventory management capabilities.
Modern POS systems should be seen as a tool to increase efficiency, provide you with more insight about your business operations and support you to make more sales.
Types of POS systems
Devices for POS systems
Choosing the main device you’ll use to set up your POS system depends on how you want your customers and staff to interact with your business.
Desktop POS systems will appear like a traditional cash register, and operate on a computer or laptop with an app and additional hardware as needed, like a barcode scanner or receipt printer. Desktop POS systems are used in high volume businesses like restaurants, grocery stores, retail stores and salons.
Mobile POS systems are based on a phone, and can be attached to a card reader. Mobile POS systems are portable and enable you to take payments wherever you are. It is highly popular with small-scale businesses, like street vendors, market-sellers and freelancers.
Tablet POS systems operate similarly to mobile systems but give you the opportunity to better display your products. If you have a large product range, or a brand that relies on aesthetic or sells highly detailed products, tablets make ordering and purchasing easier for both your staff and customers.
Hardware for POS systems
Typically, a front-of-house POS will include a cash drawer, a printer for receipts and a monitor to run your software. You’ll also need a card reader like Square Reader or terminal like Square Terminal for taking card payments.
Square’s hardware store lets you choose the equipment you need, or purchase a full kit if you’re just starting out. You can add an iPad if you need a monitor, and add accessories like a barcode scanner and printer paper.
Software for POS systems
There are different types of POS software for different types of businesses. Retail stores and restaurants have very different products and customer experiences to manage, for instance, and this is reflected in the specialty software available for each.
Retail POS systems
Here are some capabilities that Square for Retail POS software especially has for both online retail and brick and mortar retail stores:
- Website builder so you can create a professional website easily without designers or developers
- eGift Cards so you can offer a dollar-value worth of your product as a gift
- Instagram integration to allow customers to make a purchase right from your Instagram page
- Automatic sync of all your in-store and online orders, items and inventory
- Barcode scanning that allows you to quickly sell products, and track inventory as it sells as well as when it gets delivered and checked in to the store
- Facilitation of exchanges and returns in a single transaction
- Sales reports by product and vendor so you can reorder what’s working for you
- Profit margin and cost of goods sold reports to see which types of sales are driving your revenue
- Employee roles with multi-level access and timesheet reporting
- Integrated payments so you can accept card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, gift card and more on the same system
You can check out the full list to see all the features of Square for Retail.
Restaurant POS systems
For restaurants, cafes and hotels, Square’s hospitality POS software (Square for Restaurants) includes:
- Menu management to highlight best-selling items and popular add-ons for quick service and to prompt up-sell opportunities
- Online store for easy item selection for your customers for take-away orders
- Bulk additions for efficient menu changes, including adding taxes, so you don’t have to manually make edits per item
- Advanced discounts for promotions like happy hour or lunch specials
- Reports for sales data and menus to monitor trends and identify top-selling times
- Table management and timers to organise floor plans when big parties book, and to see when tables are about to turn
- Shared settings to keep your hosts, waitstaff and bartenders on the same page about bookings and orders
- Course management to get the meal pacing right for the kitchen and servers
You can check out the full list and demo videos to get a feel for how each feature works.
Integrations for POS systems
Linking up the systems you already have in place with your POS is essential to build a powerful system. You can use Square’s POS integrations to plug into your current business operations set-up:
- Link to your accounting software, like Xero, and automatically import your sales, refunds, and transfers.
- Connect your online store like WooCommerce or Big Commerce
- Link your marketing efforts to your sales by integrating your customer email software, like MailChimp
Because there are many ways to configure a POS system, it’s important to do your research around what’s available, and getting clear about what are your ‘must-haves’ and your ‘nice-to-haves’. Use Square’s guide to choosing the right POS system to help you get started on building the perfect POS system for your business.