Is a cloud POS (also known as web POS software) the right POS software for your business? And what exactly do these terms mean anyway?
Here’s the low-down on what these words actually mean and the benefits compared with a traditional server-based POS.
What is a cloud POS?
A cloud POS is a web-based point-of-sale system that lets you process payments through the Internet — without clunky and expensive servers, or pricy software that makes you buy a new version to upgrade. Cloud-based point-of-sale systems process all payment transactions and updates online, rather than on your local computer.
With Square’s cloud POS software, your transaction and sales history are securely stored in the cloud, too. Rather than being tied to a countertop setup like a traditional POS running on a desktop computer, cloud POS 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 create a cleaner, more modern register and speed up lines by taking payments from multiple points.
In addition to making sales anywhere from any device, you can also access your point of sale from wherever you are and manage your business remotely. Sign up free here.
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What does “cloud POS” mean?
When used in the context of computer software, the word “cloud” is just a fancy way of saying “Internet.” Cloud POS software is synonymous with “web-based Internet software.” 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.
Who Should invest in a web POS?
All businesses can benefit from a cloud POS for various reasons, depending on the industry. Here are two examples of how a cloud POS works at retail stores and restaurants.
Cloud POS for Retail
Inventory management is a typical challenge for retail businesses and employees can waste a lot of time trying to fix inventory inaccuracies by manually recounting merchandise at the store. A cloud-based POS system for retail can help businesses significantly reduce human error and improve retail inventory management through automation. Sales and inventory information is synced and stored electronically as soon as a payment is made, which allows for better inventory control at retail stores.
Cloud POS for Restaurants
Restaurants with multiple locations should also consider cloud POS. A cloud-based POS system for restaurants streamline and centralize your data across all of your locations. Business owners can access sales data and other valuable information from any store at any time, as well as perform standardized system updates for every location. Square’s restaurant POS system has this functionality plus other additional benefits to help you manage your business.
Learn more about restaurant POS systems and how owners and managers are innovating in our latest report on restaurant trends.
Cloud-based POS systems vs. traditional POS systems
It’s no coincidence that so many small and medium-size businesses are choosing a web POS. A cloud-based point of sale software has distinct advantages over a traditional server-based POS.
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 POS 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 solid security measures in place is crucial to keeping your business and your customers’ sensitive credit card information safe.
Square’s POS software also eliminates the need for PCI compliance audits. We have a team of PCI experts that complete 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|
*Merchants need to connect to Wi-Fi within 72 hours to complete the card processing.
11 benefits of a web POS
Square offers a secure, easy-to-use, and affordable web POS. Here are the top 11 reasons Square’s cloud POS system helps you run your business more efficiently and effectively. Sign up for a free Square account here.
- No hidden fees. When you take payments with Square, there are no term commitments. Additionally, Square Point of Sale (our free web 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 72 hours).
- Fast payments. Speed up your queue with mobile payments like Apple Pay, the fastest secure payment type. Process chip cards with Square in just 4.2 seconds — way faster than average chip speeds, which take between 8 and 13 seconds.
- Accept payments on any device. Take credit card payments with a smartphone or tablet using a card reader. Take over-the-phone orders by keying in payment info on a computer using Virtual Terminal. You can also wirelessly connect Square Terminal with Virtual Terminal to accept in-person computer payments. Or let clients pay when it’s convenient for them with Square Invoices. Learn more about Square payment processing fees.
- Easy app integrations. Run your whole business through your web 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 even check sales analytics from multiple locations on your web POS — 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. You can easily download and analyze records with data tools like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.
- Easier inventory management. Manage your inventory free from anywhere and make sure you always have the right amount of stock on hand. Streamline your checkout experience by setting up an item library of your goods, services, taxes, and discounts. Let your customers send receipts to themselves via email or text for every payment from your computer. You can also collect customer feedback with every receipt, regardless of how your customers pay.
- You can build a custom POS. If you need custom cloud POS software, developers can build you a tailored system with Square’s Point of Sale API.
- Cloud POS systems are more secure. Square complies with PCI requirements so our products are secure. 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 (that could be easily hacked).
- 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 with a web POS. 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, making it easier to run your business. Get started with Square today.