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The 9 Most Common Types of POS Systems

Summer Nguyen | 01-07-2021

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For every business owner, POS systems are considered the core of the business. Having a good retail POS for your business is the first step to success. But not everyone understands POS and its advantages, or what retail business needs POS. So, let us guide you through the definitions, benefits and help you choose the right one for your business.

What is POS?

Point of sale (POS) refers to the place where retail transactions are made. A POS includes cash drawers, receipt printers, card swipers, barcode scanners, and more.

POS is an essential feature for any businesses that sell products/services, whether online or in-store. It does more than just ring up sales, it could also help with inventory tracking and data analysing.

Investing in retail POS systems is the first step to success for your business. But what exactly are its benefits?

Advantages of the POS system

Save Time

Thanks to inventory management of retail POS systems, you would be able to keep track of products easily. Or when a customer needs information about a specific item, you could quickly check it in POS, therefore reduce waiting time for customers and improve the quality of customer service.

If you run multiple stores and want to keep track of their outlets and warehouses at the same time, then the POS system is a must-have. With retail POS, you could operate the business from anywhere and at any time. All you need to do is access to the POS on your device(s).

Level-up customer service

A retail POS system could save all your customers’ information which enables you to offer excellent service to loyal customers. It allows you to know what each customer’s favourite products are, so you could adapt them to create offers and promotions for your customers. By this, they would feel special and well treated by your brand.

Produce reports automatically

A retail POS system could give you an overview of your business. It could save information about your financial situation, inventory and sales status. It could analyse and produce reports based on this information so that you could plan on your future move.

From the reports, you could clearly see which products are the most profitable and which one the least. With this knowledge, you could develop a sales strategy. Also, the system could provide in-depth analysis about customers’ buying behaviour. This would allow your brand to adapt their needs without having to waste hours and hours of manual research work.

Bring in a seamless shopping experience

A POS system that integrates with inventory management and loyalty program modules like Magestore POS solution, helps retailers bring seamless and full-featured experiences to both online and in-store customers. For example, the status of products would get checked and updated in real - time in order to respond to customers as soon as possible, preventing the situation of customers accidentally purchasing items that are out-of-stock.

9 common types of POS systems

There are 9 main POS systems that are used by businesses today, each with unique features and benefits. This list type provides a general overview of the different types of POS systems for businesses to make informed decisions when choosing a POS system that matches their needs.

Desktop POS system

This type of system runs on laptop or desktop computers, either on a browser, an app or an on-premises system. It is usually connected to a cash drawer, a barcode scanner, a card reader, so it performs just like a typical cash register.

Desktop POS systems are suitable for businesses that have high volume, for example, restaurants, fashion stores, book stores, grocery stores, salons and spas.

Mobile POS systems

Smartphone and tablet POS services offer a convenient solution for processing payments on the go, with the ability to manage basic inventory and customer information. This option is particularly advantageous for those who require mobility and do not handle extensive inventory. The application is often free. The fees are associated only with payment processing.

Besides, these POS apps are versatile. It can work with portable receipt printers or allow the direct emailing of receipts to customers from within the application.

Tablet POS systems

The popularity of iPad and Android POS solutions comes from their features, including minimal upfront investment and the convenience of using tablets that you own. Certain tablet POS services are free when correlated with credit card processing, while others require a nominal monthly subscription fee, affording users the freedom to select their own credit card processor.

Moreover, these services extend support for compatible hardware, such as barcode readers and cash drawers.

Terminal POS systems

These are terminal POS systems that are used in most retail stores. They are stationary and require a dedicated space. They are more expensive than mobile and tablet POS systems, but they offer more features and are more reliable.

These systems offer a convenient means to control employee internet access, as they can be customized to only run POS software. In restaurants, these solutions showcase adaptability by seamlessly integrating with various devices, including tableside Wi-Fi portable devices, kitchen printers, and patron tablets for ordering, as well as online ordering.

Cloud-based POS systems

Cloud-based POS systems keeps data safe on remote servers. They have the capability to be accessed from any location with internet connection and are compatible with all devices. They are more affordable than traditional POS systems and offer more features.

A notable advantage of using cloud-based POS system lies in the convenience it offers to store managers, enabling them to access the latest sales data or inventory reports from their personal phone or laptop. Typical examples of cloud-based POS systems, including Vend and Lightspeed.

Online POS systems

The application of online POS systems offers outstanding advantages for businesses. You can use your own hardware with the significantly reduced startup costs.

Moreover, the seamless accessibility of these systems from any device and location ensures unprecedented convenience. For instance, a small business owner with limited resources can efficiently manage transactions using a standard PC, minimizing overheads. This adaptability is especially advantageous for low-volume, high-value sales systems.

Multichannel POS systems

Multichannel POS systems

Integrating a multichannel POS system across your online store, social media pages, and physical storefronts offers various advantages. This approach reduces the risk of stockouts, as inventory in different sales channels remains synchronized.

For instance, when a product is sold online, the inventory levels automatically update across all platforms. This reduces the ability to run out of stock in any one sales route. This seamless integration ensures efficient inventory management and enhances the overall customer experience.

Open-source POS systems

Businesses can benefit significantly from operating open-source POS systems because they offer a distinctive chance to customize software interfaces according to specific operational requirements.

Although this customization is advantageous, it may come with expensive costs, particularly when you need software engineers for implementation. However, this open-source POS system could be your strategic solution for larger businesses with unique POS needs.

Self-service kiosk POS systems

This type of system setup is often similar to a desktop POS, but with extra security, in that way all transactions would be one-ended and risks would be prevented. A self-service kiosk POS allows customers to shop and purchase products by themselves, without assistance from employees. The main intention of a self-service POS is to make operations more efficient while saving money and manpower of businesses.

Examples of self-service kiosks POS could be found in movie theatres, where customers are able to schedule and purchase tickets by themselves. Or in grocery stores, where customers could check the price and checkout products on their own. Self-service retail POS is commonly used for parking, patient check-in, ticket sales, etc.

What retail businesses need POS?

With a variety of POS systems in the market, the trick is to find the right POS for your business.

1. Hospitality businesses - Restaurants, bars

This type of business requires a number of specialized features in the POS system. When looking for a good POS, make sure to look for the one that is easy to change the menu, communicate with the kitchen/bar with printed kitchen tickets. Restaurant POS even has the ability to split bills and keep open tabs for customers. Installing a POS could help increase profits and take out the stress of managing a restaurant/bar. For hospitality businesses owners, what you need is a POS that could efficiently manage your business. Must-have features include:

Inventory management: Though this is an essential feature, it is still one of the most struggling details in order to run a restaurant. Managing inventory could take up a massive amount of your time and create room for miscalculations, which could lead to mixed - up or late orders.

The best POS would help prevent this issue, keeps track of inventory and sale so you could make orders in time.

Customer data: POS systems these days really take customer data into account and make sure to keep its value. Customer profiles and their purchase history would all be saved in your POS. With the information, businesses would be able to create a more personalized experience for customers, like recommendations for a dish/ a wine. Customers would feel valued, as if they are being treated like VIPs. And in turn, referrals of your business and reputation would get skyrocketed.

Order management: Using tablets to take orders is the new favourite at restaurants for customers. A great POS is the one that makes complicated meal orders easy, so that you could create a superior experience for your customers.

Retail POS suggestion:

  • Desktop POS for quick service restaurants/bars
  • Tablet POS for high-traffic restaurants/bars

2. Retail stores - Grocery stores, fashion stores, book stores, coffee stores

Retail businesses are organizations that sell merchandise. If you own a retail store, look for a POS system that offers inventory management and is able to connect to receipt printers and barcode scanners. This kind of business requires a specific type of POS with features such as:

Multiple payments: Opt for a POS not only accept cash and cards but mobile payments as well. Or maybe a split tender option in case your customers want to spread their payments across multiple platforms.

Inventory management: This component would help you keep track of your products and point out which product best and which don’t. It could also track sales and stocks.

Retail POS suggestion:

  • Mobile POS for small stores
  • Self-service kiosk POS for high-traffic stores

3. Service-based business - Spas, salons

In this digital era, it is important even to salons and spas to have a sophisticated POS system. It could act as your marketing and branding manager. With integrated technology, your POS will ensure interaction with your customers in various ways. Some features needed for your POS are:

Appointment management: Today, almost every customer book appointment before they visit a salon or a spa and they expect to receive prestigious services. Modern businesses use online appointment scheduling to make it easier for customers to book their appointments without having to book through a receptionist. A decent POS system should have this feature for easy removing, editing and adding information.

Customer relationship management (CRM): This shows how a business deals with customers from pre-purchase through to purchasing and post-purchase. It helps businesses turn leads into customers, customers into return customers, and return customers into frequent customers.

Retail POS suggestion:

  • Desktop POS for medium traffic shops
  • Tablet POS for high-traffic/ small size shops

In summary

By now, we hope you already know all about retail POS systems, what it could do and what business needs retail POS. With that being said, your job now as a business owner is to find the most suitable POS for your business.

At ConnectPOS, we have one of the best cloud - based POS software, with advanced technology and device compatibility, promise to be the perfect choice to elevate your business. Contact us today for your free trial.

Author bio: Cece T. - a Content Marketer at ConnectPOS, technology and fintech enthusiast.


Marketing Manager of Mageplaza. Summer is attracted by new things. She loves writing, travelling and photography. Perceives herself as a part-time gymmer and a full-time dream chaser.

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