A point of sale system, or “POS”, is essentially an environment where you can handle a lot of the financial and administrative work of running your business. Within your POS you ensure that there’s enough inventory for your customers. You can also use your POS software to track sales trends, and handle transactions.
Having an effective system for payment processing goes a long way in making sure that you can continue to succeed as a business manager.
How a POS System Works
A POS system is a tool which allows your company to accept payments from consumers and track sales. Although it sounds relatively simple, there are a variety of ways to customize your POS depending on the POS providers you choose and your business plan.
A point of sale system in a small business environment used to refer solely to the cash register at a store. However, modern POS systems aren’t exactly the same. These tools are fully digital, which means that customers can checkout with your business virtually anywhere, with a POS app and a device or POS terminal that’s connected to the internet.
Here’s the basics of how a POS system works:
- A customer decides to buy your service or product. If you have a physical score, you’d probably use a barcode scanner to check the price of the item, then process your customer to the point of “checking out”.
- Your POS will calculate the price of the items combined with any potential tax, then update the information in your inventory management system. This ensures you know how many of an item you have left to sell.
- Your customer gives you their credit card or debit card (sometimes case, loyalty points and gift cards are necessary too). Depending on the nature of the payment, your customer’s bank must then organize the transaction.
- The sale is finalized, and the sale is officially processed. You may use a receipt printer to deliver a receipt, or send it to your customers digitally, through email or SMS.
The Hardware and Software of a POS
The hardware and software you use in your point of sale system will depend on your individual needs. Some companies use a lot of hardware with their online tech, while others prefer to stick to mostly software. While every point of sale system requires software, not all of it demands hardware.
If you have an online store, all of your transactions will take place digitally, so point of sale hardware wouldn’t be necessary, unless you ran the occasional pop-up shop. If you have a physical location, such as a café, or bar, then you’re going to need at least a register and a credit card system. Sometimes, you can process orders with a tablet or phone instead.
Here are some of the common pieces of hardware you might find connected to your POS:
- Cash register: Registers can help with processing and calculating customer transactions.
- Portable device: Tablets and smartphones can be a good alternative to using a standalone monitor, because you can take them with you to tables and individual customers.
- Card reader: Card readers allow your customers to pay securely for their goods by credit card. You can sometimes get card readers that take contactless payments.
- Cash drawer: Even if you accept payments through credit and debit card, it’s a good idea to have a cash drawer where you can store money that you may need.
- Receipt printer: Paper receipts show your customers exactly what they purchased, how much they paid, and so on.
- Bar code scanner: Bar code scanners read the details of an item so you can ring up the sale. These scanners are also helpful for checking the price of an item, or how many you have in stock.
The software solution for your point of sale system usually revolves around components that allow for payment processing. Every time a client or customer purchases something from you, your POS system can handle the transaction POS systems can deal with secure online payments, credit cards using magstripe technology, chip cards, card-not-present transactions, and sometimes even contactless payments. There are even payment processing systems for cash.
Other features of a POS software solution may include:
- Inventory management: Software for inventory management helps you to keep tabs on the products you have to ship and sell. Some software can also connect to your sales data to let you know when you’re running low on supplies.
- POS reports: These reports offer an insight into how much you’re earning and selling. Clear reports help you make better business decisions.
- Employee management tools: Tools for team management help you to track when your employees are available, and how well they’re performing. You can even use the software to support employees in checking in or out.
- Customer relationship management: The CRM tool in your sales system will help you to track information about what your customers buy and when they buy from you. This tech can help you to personalize your customer engagement strategy, and customer service.
- Receipts: Designed to make it easier to process refunds, receipts give you a trail connected to the purchased item. The receipts you give will also help your business to seem professional.
- Tipping management: If you run a service company where tips are encouraged, then you can access tipping tools in your POS to allow customers to add a digital tip during the checkout.
What are the Benefits of Using a POS system?
A point of sale system, or point of sale software, ensures that your customer can make payment for services and products they obtain from your store. Every time a customer buys something from your store, they’re part of a POS transaction.
The POS is a critical part of your company, where everything like sales, customer management, and inventory tools come together. There are many benefits to having a POS for your company, including:
- Better efficiency: When your cashiers have the right tools for payment processing, and you have the right software for managing your inventory, things run a lot more smoothly.
- Simplicity: A point of sale system like Square or other market leaders makes it easier to track all of your financial information in one place. You can even handle payments from an iOS or android smartphone in some cases
- Offline selling: POS solutions can come with POS hardware like a credit card reader or terminal. This means that you can make sales offline as well as online.
- Expanded payment options: Point of sale advantages may also include things like the ability to accept a wide range of payments, such as contactless payments from a mobile device, or EMV chip cards. This makes your retail business more versatile.
- Better insights: Most point of sale solutions give you valuable sales reports and insights into your selling. You can sometimes integrate with things like QuickBooks or ShopKeep to see more details about your customer information within your software.
- Better accuracy: Aside from keeping track of customer data, your retail POS system can also make it easier to track your expenses and incoming cash. This is valuable when it comes to handling taxes.
- Inventory management: Unlike accounting software and cash registers, your point of sale system comes with tools that show you exactly how much stock you have at any given time. This means you never run out of sales opportunities.
- Employee management: Many point of sales systems ensure that you can track things like employee schedules, and how many sales your team members have made. This helps with driving better outcomes for your business.
Aside from all of the exciting features of Point of Sale systems mentioned above, it’s worth noting that many software packages also come with various add-ons that you can use to build on your back office technology. For instance, you could use Google analytics to track how customers are moving through your website, or access tools for detailed receipts.
More detailed receipts could mean that you can design customer loyalty programs that allow you to deliver benefits and points to your customers when they buy extra products from you.
What to Look for in a Point of Sale System
Point of sale systems come in many different shapes and sizes. There are tools out there than can work with or without an internet connection. You can find POS solutions that simplify the process of taking mobile payment options, and solutions with software for purchase orders.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to getting the best POS system. Instead, you’ll need to consider which factors matter most to you. Are you looking for a mobile POS system that you can take with you to festivals and pop-up shops? Or do your business needs revolve around more traditional pos systems, like the ability to monitor your inventory and track sales?
Here are just some of the features to look for when finding the ultimate point of sale system.
- Comprehensive inventory management: Modern POS systems should always include plenty of technology for tracking inventory. You need features that show you how much of a certain item you have at any time so you can avoid purchasing too much from your suppliers. You should also look for tools that help you to identify which products are the most popular.
- Sales tracking and reporting: Sales tracking and reporting tools are other essential software options for your point of sale system. You need to be able to see what kind of customers are spending the most money with your company so you can adapt your sales and marketing strategies. It’s also important to track things like purchases, returns, customer preferences, supplier information, and so much more.
- Payment processor tools: Most point of sale systems will come with solutions to manage purchase orders, in-person payments, mobile payments, and more. You’ll need to think about what kind of transactions you handle every day to ensure that your point of sale system is properly attuned to your company’s needs. Don’t forget things like apple pay and Google pay if you’re going to be looking into contactless transactions.
- Task automation: Some point of sale systems have software options that go beyond the ability to track inventory and help boutiques process payments. A modern POS can automate inventory and purchasing reports, or automatically send receipts to a customer’s email address. Various automation features can make it a lot easier for you to run your business operations with as little stress as possible. You can even find point of sale systems that generate accounting and expenses reports and send them to your accountant for you.
- Rewards programs: A lot of point of sale systems make it easier to strengthen relationships with your customers through things like advertising at the point of purchase, and rewards programs. The ability to keep track of your most loyal customers means that you can deliver exclusive discounts and benefits to the people that spend the most money with your organization. This can even lead to things like referral programs and brand advocacy at a later stage.
- Ease of use: While it’s always a good idea to ensure that you have plenty of diverse features available within your point of sale systems, you also need to make sure that you can use the technology. Find out how easy it is to accept swipe and digital payments, and how comfortable you might feel managing your back-end and any inventory elements. The more confident you feel with the software, the better your business decisions are going to be.
- Customer management: Aside from allowing you to take payments upfront, or set up tabs for customers, your POS should also be equipped with features that help you to manage and support your customers in other ways. If there’s no built-in CRM technology to attach transactions to specific customers and keep track of a customer journey, make sure that you can at least find an integration option.
- Employee management: A point of sale system is about more than just taking card payments. Your store or restaurant POS system should also help you to keep track of employees. You need a solution that allows you to add new team members to your tracking system, share schedules with employees, and even the functionality to see who your best employees might be.
- Integrations: Today’s leading point of sale systems need to work well with the existing software and technology that you’re already using. Being able to align your software with your accounting tools and CRM technology means that you can access more valuable data and context for your sales.
Point of sale refers to the time at which a cardholder and a merchant complete a transaction. This is present in both online purchases as well as transactions carried out in traditional brick and mortar stores.
The point of sale (or POS) in retail industries uses a combination of software as well as hardware. This may include a manual or electronic cash register, scanners, weighing scales, touch screen terminals, and a wide variety of other bits and bobs.
An example of a point of sale in a conventional brick and mortar store is the scale used to weigh goods in a traditional grocery or candy store.
Marketers emphasize the POS for their products or services because consumers are often make buying decisions at POS locations. Physical stores have traditionally placed their POS at store exits to increase impulse purchases by customers leaving the store.
Whereas, department stores usually put a POS at varying locations through their shops. They’ve found this provides an opportunity to focus on customers looking for specific product types and to influence their purchasing decisions earlier on in the sales process.
The earliest POS systems were nothing more than written receipts, but retailers now prefer electronic POS solutions. These streamline the sales process, as well as allowing the merchant to collect valuable sales data.
A basic POS system might be nothing more than one cash register and the software necessary to collect sales data. These can be expanded and improved upon by using additional hardware, such as barcode scanners, card readers, or other software modules.
Depending on the software, merchants can track not only their sales but also inventory levels, gross revenues, profit margins, sales patterns and a whole host of other data points.
This data can then be analyzed to increase profitability and pinpoint areas of weakness within the sales or inventory process. Sophisticated software can even automate ordering and restocking, as well as helping entrepreneurs tailor their marketing campaigns so they're based on consumer behavior.
Top Point Of Sale Solutions For Retailers
If you want a Point of Sale solution that enables you to launch and market a digital store, then Shopify might be the perfect choice for you. With Shopify POS you can sell from virtually anywhere!
How Does It Work?
You need to have a Shopify store up and running to add their POS channel. Therefore, it's a natural fit for those who already have a digital shop with Shopify.
All you have to do is plug and play the necessary hardware to utilize Shopify POS (read our Shopify POS review). All in all, it boasts an incredibly simple design, just set and forget, and pick and choose the features that work best for you and your business.
The Benefits of Shopify POS
These days, keeping your customer's information secure is of paramount importance. You only have to look at the commotion GDPR caused, to understand what a big deal it is! With Shopify's built-in technology, you can ensure your customer's sensitive info is always kept safe and sound.
In addition to this, you'll be pleased to hear Shopify has the tools you need to sync and track your inventory. It doesn't matter if you’re selling in-person, online, or both- you can keep on top of your sales across numerous physical locations and online channels (digital marketplaces, social media, your online store, etc.)
Not to mention, Shopify's POS checkout system is pretty advanced. By this we mean, they accept all major credit and debit cards in addition to gift cards. This helps to ensure the checkout process provides a smooth and stress-free experience for your customers.
However, one of the best things about Shopify POS is that they give entrepreneurs everything they need to sell in numerous physical locations and from various digital channels (your online store, a digital marketplace, your social media platforms, etc.) This means you can reach your target demographic wherever they prefer to shop!
Last but certainly not least, Shopify POS provides users with access to 24/7 support– so it doesn't matter what time of the day or night it is, if you need help, you'll get your questions answered quickly.
Who Should Use Shopify POS?
It doesn't matter whether you're looking to occasionally sell goods in person (pop-ups, fairs, traditional markets, etc.) or whether you need a more robust system for a permanent retail store(s), Shopify POS provides a solution!
How Much Will Shopify POS Set Me Back?
Shopify offers a few price-packages to choose from, so hopefully one of these will suit your budget!
The Basic Shopify Plan
The Basic Shopify plan is best for smaller startups and new digital businesses- especially those who don't have any experience with in-person selling.
This is the cheapest of all the packages, and only costs $29 per month. With this package, you're entitled to support for up to two staff members.
You should note: you'll need a card reader and Shopify's POS app, to start selling in-person.
The Shopify Package
Now, this payment plan is best for business owners who want to open one physical retail store with a permanent cash drawer and receipt printer. Unsurprisingly, this is a little more expensive than the basic Shopify plan.
However, it's still reasonably priced at $79 per month and entitles you to support for up to five of your team.
You can also get a better insight into your business. The sales, customer, and marketing reports offered in this upgrade are fabulous- After all, knowledge is power!
The Advanced Shopify Package
This is the best option for those looking to expand their businesses- i.e. if you're looking to open and run two or more physical retail stores. You'll get support for up to 15 staff members, and you can access a plethora of selling tools- including more advanced reports.
Although this is the most expensive option- ($299 per month), you can enjoy Shopify's best transaction rates.
Square POS is one of the most valuable and popular point of sale systems on the market. The company has earned an excellent reputation over the years, thanks to it’s ease of use, and it’s ability to work successfully as an online and offline solution for payment processing.
Originally, Square was just a basic mobile payment system for companies that needed to take their business with them into the real world. However, today, Square can offer solutions for every kind of company, including a free website builder.
Square makes it easy to grow your business at a pace that suits you. The POS comes with everything you need to integrate with accounting software, take payments online and offline, and even create your own website so your brand can grow and evolve.
The solution is ideal for anyone who wants a quick way to sell online and offline, while keeping track of their entire sales background
How do I get Going with Square?
Signing up with Square couldn’t be easier.
All you need to do is choose the package that you want from Square, complete with any dedicated hardware that you might want with your service.
If you’re just taking online payments, then you don’t need to buy any hardware at all.
The Benefits of Using Square
Square’s POS is one of the most user-friendly tools for selling products online and offline that there is. The company integrates with a huge range of leading tools, which means that you have a more immersive environment for managing all of your information.
If you’re a small business owner, you can build a website with the Square service for free, which means that you can start selling online a lot faster.
Additionally, the Square POS is free to use, with only transaction fees to think about. However, you might need to handle things like premium add-ons on your own.
There are tons of ways to enhance your customer relationships with Square, including various payment options to suit your target audience, loyalty programs, and gift cards.
You can also store information about your customers if you need to, which means that they get to check out much faster the next time they decide to buy from you.
How much does Square POS cost?
The basic Square package is free to use, with best-in-class customer support, dispute resolution, real-time analytics and so much more. You pay a 1.75% card transaction fee for contactless, mobile, and chip and pin payments.
If you’re taking payments online, then you need to pay 2.5% which is the same for companies with virtual terminals and keyed in transactions.
The Square experience gets more expensive depending on what you want to add to your business. For instance, if you decide that you need a card reader, or a Square terminal, then you can add the hardware for an extra fee.
Square also has unique packages for retail companies and restaurants, as well as companies that need to book appointments. These come with more specialist features, but they also have a higher price tag.
Who Should Use Square POS?
Square might have processing fees to consider, but it’s still a great choice for any company that needs to take payments online and offline. You get everything you need to keep your company running smoothly, including employee management add—ons, and inventory control.
Over 20,000 retailers from around the world have enjoyed the benefits Vend has to offer.
In short, Vend provides an all-in-one system enabling users to manage their POS across numerous retail stores. The beauty of this software is that you can access it anywhere at any time via the cloud, which means you can even sell to your customers without using the internet!
Business owners selling in the following niches have reaped the rewards Vend has to offer:
- Fashion and Apparel Stores
- Homeware and Gift Stores
- Jewelry Stores
- Health and Beauty Stores
- Toys and Hobby Stores
- Sports and Outdoors Stores
- Shoe Stores
The Benefits of Using Vend
If you're anything like us, you'll be pleased to hear that Vend is incredibly easy to use- even the more advanced tools. This means you can access handy tech to support your business, without having to boast many tech-y skills!
You can choose from several integrated payments. Unlike other POS systems, you're not locked into using one specific payment provider. That way you're free to use whoever's offering the best rate. Alternatively, you can connect Vend's POS directly to your bank.
On the subject of transactions, Vend gives your customers the option of putting their favorite items on layaway or to pay for their goods via a split payment or credit they've accumulated on their customer account. With great ease, you can look up a consumer's balance via Vend's central customer database.
If you opt for Vend's Pro or Enterprise payment plans, you can use brandable gift cards. These are amazing for acquiring new customers and for boosting revenue- especially around holiday seasons. Did you know customers are likely to spend more than the value of their gift card?!
So, this is something you should capitalize on!
Plus, there are plenty of apps to choose from; these are fabulous for creating a more customized platform to suit your businesses needs. Below are just a few of the integrations on offer:
For many business owners, expert customer service is essential. With Vend you can enjoy award-winning support, around the clock! Vend's won the Customer Service award at the Stevie Awards four times! So, needless to say, they're more than equipped to handle any questions or queries that may arise. With a team of over 200 people located in numerous time zones, there's always someone on hand to help!
In addition to all the above, you can search for both products and customers with great ease- which saves a ton of time and effort! Just type your keywords into the search bar or use the barcode scanner. Alternatively, to find customers use either their name or telephone number.
Vend’s reporting features are also somewhat impressive. This kind of data works wonders for enabling business owners to make better decisions when it comes to managing stock and developing marketing campaigns.
Not to mention, if you boast any coding skills, you can craft your own custom extensions on Vend's API. That way you can craft a POS solution that complements and fulfills your exact needs.
Last but not least, you can add notes to your customers’ receipts. This is a simple yet incredibly effective way of boosting the perceived value of your brand. Whether you're providing care instructions, offering a special discount, or highlighting another targeted offer- customers love it when you go the extra mile!
You can also customize receipts with both your brand logo and website address. This works wonders for boosting traffic to your online store. Plus, depending on your business model you can opt to either email or print customers receipts.
How Does Vend Work?
All you need is a Mac, a PC or an iPad to hit the ground running. The program is ever so simple to use, so you'll be able to train your staff next to no time.
You can even create custom buttons using Vend‘s Quick Keys tool. This enables you to save popular products which then appear in the format of a button. Needless to say, this massively speeds up the checkout process and provides an all-around smoother shopping experience.
In addition to all of the above, you can pair Vend Display with the Vend Register iPad app so customers can see everything that's going on at the point of checkout. If transparency is a big part of your brand, this feature is an absolute must. Plus, using the same tools, you can also store customer details as you serve them at the till. This is one of the easiest ways for a brick and mortar store to build their email list!
Manage Your Staff
With Vend you can create user accounts for each of your staff, here you can register the level of access you've granted them on the system. That way you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that any sensitive information of yours or your customers, is kept safe, secure, and only seen by those who really need to access the info.
You can also track the performance of your employees, which also serves to boost accountability and therefore the overall standard of customer service.
Who Should Use Vend?
If you want to grow and scale your business, Vend's a fabulous choice. The software helps entrepreneurs to develop their brand quickly and cheaply. You can enjoy an increase in profits in no time whether it's adding new staff, installing a cash register, experimenting with different sales channels, or opening a new physical store. You can have everything synced in just a few clicks.
How Much Will Vend Set Me Back?
Just like Shopify, there are plenty of packages to choose from. All of the below bundles benefit from the following features:
- Secure cloud backup
- Integrated payments
- Automatic updates
- Unlimited products
- Unlimited users
However, as you can see, Vend's more expensive than Shopify:
The Lite Plan
If you're only a small retailer (i.e., you're running one physical outlet, one cash register, and generating no more than $20,000 a month), then your operations are probably more basic.
If that sounds like you, you could benefit from Vend‘s Lite Plan. This costs users $99 per month (if you opt for annual billing), or you can choose to pay a monthly fee of $119 a month.
You'll also enjoy the following benefits:
- A real-time inventory management system
- 24/7 telephone and online customer support
- Reporting features
- Access to the Xero Accounting extension
The Pro Package
This is best if you have an established brick and mortar store, or if you're a multi-store retailer. You'll be billed $129 per month if you choose to pay annually- alternatively, you'll be charged $159 for monthly billing.
With this package, you'll enjoy all the benefits of the Lite Plan. However, there are no limits placed on the amount of turnover you can generate.
You also get access to advanced reporting and analytics tools, all Vend's plugins and e-commerce channels, the use of promotions and gift cards, and API access.
The Enterprise Plan
This is the most comprehensive package of all Vend's pricing bundles- so it's better suited to huge multi-store retailers and franchises. However, you'll need to contact Vend directly to get a quote. This is a tailored package that works wonders for business owners who have six or more outlets using more than one cash register.
In addition to everything offered in the pro package, you'll also be assigned a dedicated accounts manager.
If you're looking for a POS System you can run from the convenience of your iPad, then Bindo might be the perfect solution for you. Just like Vend, this is a cloud-based system that enables you to manage your business and take payments efficiently from your customers.
You can enjoy over 300 features to help run your store- they offer everything from invoicing tools to time clocks.
Plus, you'll be able to peruse a wide array of hardware options after you've signed up. They have everything from barcode scanners to cash tills, for you to choose from (and all in an array of colors).
This is amazing for improving the visual strength of your brand. Alternatively, if you already have your own hardware, there's a good chance Bindo will support it. However, it's better to be cautious and contact them directly to see if your equipment integrates with their system.
How Do I Get Going with Bindo?
You can get up and running just three simple steps:
- Sign up for your free trial
- Set up your shop on Bindo's dashboard
- Download Bindo's app onto your iPad
It really is as simple as that!
The Benefits of Using Bindo
One of the best things about Bindo is their inventory management system. This instantly fills your library with all the info you need to monitor and track your stock. That way you can keep track of what locations have which merchandise- this is the kind of info you need to place stock orders on time!
With Bindo you can upload and edit your entire inventory in just a matter of minutes! You can assign product matrics, add taxes, transfer and reserve stock across all the locations you're operating in.
Bindo also has tools to help you manage your shifts. Their cash management features enable you to take a look at all your transactions after each shift and predict your earnings by the end of the day.
There are also plenty of resources for managing customer relationships. You can quickly create customer profiles at the point of checkout by capturing and storing their names, orders, and other personal info. This data is terrific for customizing your marketing campaigns.
You'll also have the option of providing customers with store and gift cards. Did you know that over 70% of gift card users usually spend more money than the original value of the card? In fact, on average an extra $20?! This is why you should take full advantage of this feature; you can even customize them with your company logo!
Other Advantages of Bindo…
Bindo enables business owners to offer a fantastic loyalty program; this works wonders for enticing new customers and for building rapport with current clientele. They offer a multi-tier loyalty feature which permits business owners to track how much their customers spend, and offer rewards as they seem fit.
As many as 69% of shoppers say they choose shops on the basis of what they can earn in loyalty rewards.
You can structure your loyalty scheme in any of the following ways:
- The number of orders,
- The number of visits,
- The number of products bought by a customer,
- The total spent,
This gives you the flexibility you need to tailor an award scheme to suit your businesses needs.
Easy Credit Card Processing
Bindo can accept as many as 99% of credit card processors, so there's a good chance your customers can use a payment method that suits them. Consumers want a smooth shopping experience, and being able to pay for their goods certainly falls within this bracket!
Plus, you can process these transactions safe in the knowledge that Bindo is PCI compliant. All sensitive info is kept completely safe and secure.
Ready to Find the Ultimate Point of Sale System?
A POS solution might seem a little complicated at first, but it’s actually a standard component that any business leader needs to run a successful store. You’ll need the right POS system to take payments from your customers, and it’s crucial to find something that’s agile, easy to use, and convenient. Think about things like whether you can:
- Accept different payment types, including card not present and contactless payments
- Integrate your POS with your existing software and technology (this saves money)
- Adjust your features to suit your budget and new requirements as your business scales
- Avoid signing up for a contract if you want to experiment with different providers
- Predict the costs each month with a useful purchasing structure.
- Access fantastic software for employee and customer management on the back end
- Use proprietary hardware that’s provided by the same company
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to choosing the ultimate POS. The best thing you can do is get out there and begin doing your research as quickly as possible. The faster you start experimenting with different tools and software, the easier it will be to make the right purchasing decision.