What Is POS Software?
Point of Sale (POS) software is primarily used by restaurant, brick-and-mortar and eCommerce stores to complete sales transactions, including processing payments. It can also be used to track and update inventory and manage customer and employee information. POS software comes in an array of options from the simplest processors to complex cloud systems to meet the requirements of various types and sizes of businesses.
POS software can be used anywhere goods or services are sold, but you can choose on-premise, cloud-based or mobile POS or a hybrid version that combines various combinations of the three. On-premise POS typically uses a stationery terminal and can be both software-based and hardware-based with add-on devices like cash drawers, barcode scanners and credit card processing machines. Cloud-hosted POS is a web-based system you can use with your existing POS hardware and can be accessed from anywhere. Mobile POS is also an on-premise solution, but it utilizes a handheld terminal that you can carry around and use throughout the establishment.
Benefits of POS Software
POS software benefits small-business owners who struggle to track and record daily sales, monitor and order inventory and manage customer and employee information. Large businesses can also benefit for these reasons and because a networked POS system lets them operate terminals located in different stores and sync all the data into one centralized system. POS software makes everything more consistent, accurate and convenient. Key benefits of POS software include:
- Streamlining business operations
- Improving in-store and online sales
- Speeding up transactions
- Boosting customer service
- Managing inventory across all online and offline locations
- Automating ordering
- Optimizing record keeping
- Improving financial reporting
- Providing sales metrics
- Enhancing shrinkage security
- Tracking staff performance
- Adapting to business needs with customizations
Analytic data provided by POS software can be especially useful by providing you with insights that help guide you in making important business decisions. POS systems can also enhance data security and PCI-compliance when processing credit and debit card payments, adding an extra layer of protection for your business.
Must-Have Features for POS Software
POS software can come with a wide array of integrations and features, depending on the specific needs of a business. The most important third-party integration is with credit card processing companies to facilitate payments. To ensure consistent and consolidated reporting, you must have POS software that integrates with your other business processes, including accounting, CRM, Enterprise Resource Planning and marketing systems. If you want to sell your products on-premise and online, your POS software must also integrate with eCommerce platforms. Key features your POS software must have include:
- Multiple Payment Methods
- Inventory Management
- Low Stock Notifications
- Auto-Order Capabilities
- Searchable Customer Database
- Order Histories
- Loyalty and Promotion Programs
- Employee Reporting
- User Accounts and Permissions
- Barcode Scanning
- Returns, Refunds and Store Credit Capabilities
- Mobile Registers
- Customer Facing Displays
- Robust Analytics and Reporting Capabilities
Other must-have features include pricing transparency and customer support. While some POS software providers charge a flat one-time or monthly fee for their software, many have numerous hidden fees that can drive up the cost. It’s important to get a complete list of all fees to ensure you know the exact cost of a product. Support after the sale is vital for any product that could cause problems with the fluid operation of your business. Look for POS software companies that provide 24/7 customer service to ensure you can get the help you need, anytime you need it.
The Cost of POS Software
There are two common pricing options for POS software: one-time purchases or monthly subscriptions. Although it can be a huge upfront cost, you may prefer to purchase your software’s license all at once. Only one company on our list strictly sold their software as a one-time purchase and offered a range of $299 to $699. Keep in mind, most companies who sell software straight out will charge upgrade fees that can add up each time you need to update to the newest version.
Most companies offer monthly subscriptions with varying costs based on the number of features included. Nearly all subscriptions are per register/per month, but sometimes, the charge for extra registers is lower. Low-cost options in our list ran between $19 and $49 per register/month. Higher cost options started at $69 and went up to $125. Lower cost subscriptions usually only include the most basic features that typically only work for start-ups or small companies with limited stock. Unless you’re purchasing an all-inclusive software, there may be various additional fees to add premium features.
Very few POS software companies offer a completely free version, and it’s unlikely a free version would include all the components you must have. One company offers an unlimited free trial, but they didn’t list the included features. Most of our companies offer free demos to try before you buy, and some offer a free trial ranging from 14 to 30 days.