What Is a Point-of-Sale System and How Do I Choose One?

Congratulations. You’ve refined your business idea, found a location and you’re nearly ready to make some sales. Next up? Time to choose a point-of-sale (POS) system. Here are some questions to consider.

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What is a POS system?

A point-of-sale system is basically the hardware and software that you need to take payments and process sales or returns. In its simplest form it’s a way to track your day-to-day cash flow. Traditionally this would have involved the ka-ching of a cash register and a handwritten receipt. But as retail outlets have digitized, a lot of options have appeared, including computer monitors with cash drawers, bar code scanners, receipt printers and customer displays — all taking up precious real estate in your store. Now you can use your tablet or phone as a point-of-sale system that links to apps and replaces the clunky computers of yesteryear.

What kind of POS works best for your business?

Think about what you will be using the point-of-sale system for in your business. Do you have a restaurant and need the ability to split bills and link to kitchen ordering software? Do you run a boutique where you need to process gift cards and check your inventory? You should consider all these possibilities when searching for a point-of-sale system.

How do point-of-sale systems work?

POS systems have developed into sophisticated units that can process sales and refunds, handle gift cards, create receipts, produce historical sales data and keep track of stock inventory for you. When choosing a point-of-sale system, make sure to find out what it offers in terms of security, additional costs, user-friendliness and additional features such as sales data reports and compatibility with other systems like payroll or accounting apps.

Square’s point-of-sale app is free to download, runs on Apple and Android platforms (on smartphones or tablets), and can be paired with Square Reader for processing credit card payments. The point-of-sale system includes options for tipping, split tender and electronic receipts all in one place, with the added ability to check sales and inventory data in real time with Square Dashboard.

Still trying to choose a POS system? Get your questions answered by tweeting @SquareCanada.