Modern point of sale (POS) systems are so much more than just cash registers. Today’s POS systems can integrate with various hardware devices and back-end applications such as your accounting, customer relationship management (CRM) and inventory management software – simplifying your business’s operations.
Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a new POS solution to replace your existing system, choosing the right POS software and hardware can be challenging. Different businesses need different things from their POS systems – a brick and mortar retailer will have different needs to an online store or busy hospitality business.
The right POS system and setup will streamline your operations, provide a seamless customer experience and allow you to run your business efficiently 24/7, wherever you are.
What is a point of sale (POS) system?
A POS system is the combined hardware and software a business uses to process transactions. It lets you calculate the amount owed by a customer, accept payment, and provide a receipt or invoice for their purchase.
What POS hardware do I need for my business?
Quality POS hardware is an investment in your business. Your point of sale system should support you to process sales efficiently and securely while providing administrative value by linking to your back end.
It can be tricky to know what POS hardware will be best for your business, particularly if you’re a start-up or micro business. Sector-specific POS solutions like Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants have been developed for exactly this reason.
Generally, you should look for POS hardware that offers good flexibility, simple usability, easy to read displays, and the ability to integrate features to support future growth. Popular POS hardware components include:
- Barcode scanner. A POS with a barcode scanner is a must for busy retail stores. Barcode scanners make the checkout process quick and easy, reducing transaction times and allowing you to serve more customers. Depending on your business, you might choose to use a countertop scanner and stand to support hands-free scanning or a Bluetooth barcode scanner that lets you scan on the go.
- Receipt printer. Paper-based receipts are becoming less popular with customers – particularly for low-value purchases. Sending digital receipts via email or SMS saves you the cost of receipt paper rolls, but it’s a good idea to have a traditional receipt printer integrated with your POS as a backup.
- Scale. If your business prices products according to their weight, you’ll need a POS system with a scale. Supermarkets, butchers and bulk food stores are some of the businesses that rely on integrated POS-with-scale systems.
- Kitchen/order printer. Save time and minimize lost or incorrect food orders with a thermal countertop printer that integrates with your POS. Specialist hospitality software solutions like Square for Restaurants let you seamlessly sync orders from your website and online delivery partners with your POS. Print kitchen order tickets from an ethernet or USB model, or use a wireless LAN kitchen printer to avoid running messy network cables at the counter.
- Cash drawer. With more and more Canadians preferring to use electronic payment methods, many businesses are considering going entirely cashless. Going cashless has both pros and cons; think about the approach that best suits your business when deciding whether to include a cash drawer as part of your POS.
- Customer-facing display. You might choose to manage sales from a countertop monitor or opt for a tablet to give you mobile flexibility. Standalone displays are one option for a customer-facing display - for instance in POS systems like Square Register, there is a screen facing the employee and a fixed customer-facing display. However, solutions like the Square Stand allow you to swivel your iPad to share with your customers.
- Card reader. In Canada’s increasingly cashless society, a reliable card reader that supports contactless payments is a business essential. Square’s payment solutions allow you to accept contactless and chip payments using Square Reader, Square Terminal, Square Register, or turn your iPad into a POS system.
What should I look for in POS software?
Getting your point of sale hardware sorted is only half the battle – for a seamless POS experience, you’ll need the right software too. Look for point of sale software that offers:
- Online capability: 2020 taught us to expect the unexpected. Even if you have no plans to sell online, opting for POS software that gives you ecommerce functionality is a good idea. An online store is a simple way to expand your reach – you can sell only digital products like downloadables or eGift cards if you don’t want the hassle of arranging shipping.
- Inventory management: Modern POS solutions make inventory management easy, allowing you to view sales and stock levels, create low-stock alerts and more. For advanced inventory management, tools like Square Point of Sale let you sync your POS with software partners including Shopventory and SKU IQ. For event more sophisticated inventory management, learn more about our Square for Retail point of sale software.
- Staff management: Many POS solutions allow you to perform team management tasks like timecard reporting, break tracking and system permissions via your point-of-sale terminal.
- Customer management: A quality POS system will allow you to create customer profiles and view their sales history and behaviours. If you want to take it to the next level with a loyalty program, Square Loyalty lets you enrol and reward customers directly from your POS.
- Integration with external apps: Regardless of where your business is at today, POS software that talks to your accounting software, booking system and shipping app will make any future expansion more straightforward. The Square App Marketplace lets you sync all your business apps to support seamless operations from your front to back end and beyond.
How do I get started with Square Point of Sale?
Square Point of Sale is a customizable POS system built to support businesses of all shapes and sizes. It’s simple to set up and use, offers advanced functionality and flexible hardware configurations, and there are no setup or monthly fees. Visit the Square website to create a free account and start selling in minutes.