How do you know if a cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) system (also known as web-based POS software) is right for your business? Here’s the low-down on what to expect and how the benefits compare with a traditional server-based POS.
What does “cloud POS” mean?
When used in the context of computer software, the word “cloud” is just a fancy way of saying “Internet.” When a product is hosted in the cloud, it just means the software and data are stored and accessed on the Internet and not on your device.
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What is a cloud POS?
A cloud POS (point-of-sale system) system lets you process payments through the Internet, without requiring clunky and expensive servers, or pricy software that requires an upgrade every few months. With a cloud-based POS system, all payment transactions and updates are processed online, rather than on your local computer. This means that by using Square’s cloud-based POS software, your transaction and sales history are also securely stored in the cloud.
Rather than being tied to a countertop setup like a traditional point-of-sale system that runs on a desktop computer, cloud-based systems can run on any device — including tablets and smartphones. This is ideal for mobile businesses (like food trucks and home repair services). It’s also good for brick-and-mortar businesses looking to speed up lines with the ability to take payments from multiple points.
In addition to making sales anywhere, from any device, you can also access your POS from wherever you are and manage your business remotely. Sign up free here.
Cloud-based POS systems vs. server-based POS systems
With many distinct advantages, it’s no coincidence that so many small and medium-size businesses are choosing web-based point-of-sale systems over traditional server-based ones.
By taking credit card payments with a web-based POS system, your business eliminates the need for bulky, expensive server systems and a costly upfront software license. There are generally no annual maintenance or support fees.
And because software updates are as easy as updating your app, you can rest easy knowing you’re taking payments with the most current, secure version of your web-based POS software. Having these solid security measures in place is crucial to keeping your business and your customers’ sensitive credit card information safe.
Square’s cloud-based POS software also eliminates the need for payment card industry (PCI) compliance audits. We have a team of PCI experts that completes annual Level I audits so you don’t have to. We also use tokenization and robust data encryption to keep your customers’ card information safe.
The chart below outlines some of the benefits of Square’s cloud POS compared with a traditional server-based POS.
|Square (Cloud POS)||Traditional POS|
|Free software?||Yes - Square Point of Sale, our basic POS, is always free||No|
|Always updated?||Yes - with a cloud POS it’s easy to update the app so you’re always running the latest version||No - software is static and you have to buy a new version in order to update|
|Access data from anywhere?||Yes - check your sales data from your desktop or mobile device||No|
|All-in-one solution?||Yes - software, POS hardware, and analytics||No - you need hardware rentals, merchant accounts, etc.|
|Easy-to-read analytics (Learn about POS analytics)||Yes - Square’s graphs and data can help even if you’re not a numbers person||No - reports may be confusing and dense to sort through|
|Omnichannel reporting - can you sell online and in-store?||Yes - Square seamlessly integrates with e-commerce apps like BigCommerce and Ecwid||No|
|Work offline, without Wi-Fi?||Yes||Yes|
|Enter payments on your laptop/desktop?||Yes||Yes|
|Enter payments on a mobile device or tablet?||Yes||Yes|
|Term commitments||Never||Sometimes - traditional solutions may charge for maintenance or service contracts.|
|PCI compliance fees? (Learn more about PCI compliance)||Never||Usually an extra cost|
10 benefits of using a web POS
Square offers a secure, easy-to-use and affordable web-based POS. Here are the top 10 reasons Square’s cloud POS system helps you run your business more efficiently and effectively.
- No hidden fees. When you take payments with Square, there are no term commitments. Additionally, Square Point of Sale (our free web-based POS solution) has no monthly SaaS or cloud POS fees.
- Less downtime. No Wi-Fi? No problem. Use Offline Mode to take secure credit card transactions that are processed automatically when you’re connected again (within 24 hours).
- Accept payments on any device. Take credit card payments with a smartphone or tablet using a card reader. Key in payment info on a computer using Virtual Terminal. Or let clients pay when it’s convenient for them with Square Invoices.
- Easy app integrations. Run your whole business through your web-based POS. Integrate with the e-commerce solution you already have. You can use leading third-party accounting and tax software that connects seamlessly to Square.
- Check sales analytics from anywhere. You can look at sales analytics from multiple locations right on your smartphone. However you choose to accept payments, you have all the sales data in one place, accessible from wherever your day takes you.
- Easier inventory management. Manage your inventory free from anywhere and make sure you always have the right amount of stock on hand.
- You can build a custom POS. If you need custom cloud-based POS software, developers can build you a tailored system with Square’s Point of Sale API.
- Cloud POS systems are more secure. PCI compliance and payment security is our problem, not yours. Your data is secured in a robust data center using tokenization, and it’s never stored on your device or locked in your personal server room, which could be hacked or viewed by an employee.
- No costly software upgrades or IT maintenance. Maintaining your own data server on your property is costly and time consuming, and it takes up precious space. With web-based POS software you don’t have to worry about any of this.
- Easy to get started. No need to wait for a lengthy merchant service review process — sign up online for a free account or open a new location in minutes.
No mobile device?
Now you know the benefits of a web-based POS system for taking payments and making it easier to run your business. Get started with Square today.