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Types of POS (Point of Sale) Systems: Explained

Published June 20, 2024 Business
Types of POS (Point of Sale) Systems: Explained
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“Quick summary” Every business owner must make the important decision to choose the right point of sale (POS) system. POS systems are essential in facilitating sales transactions, managing inventory, and managing customer relationships. However, with numerous options available, making the right choice can be daunting.

In this blog post, we will discuss different types of POS systems to help you find one that suits your business needs. But first, let’s understand what a POS is and why your business needs one.

What's a POS System and Why Does Your Business Need?

What's a POS System and Why Does Your Business Need?

The Point of Sale (POS) system is a digital solution that streamlines transactions, organizes inventories, and gives you insightful information on your sales and customer preferences.

A Point-of-Sale system consists of a perfect combination of hardware and software that enables you to deal with customer transactions promptly. You can consider it as a digital register for recording your sales transactions. And here is why having a POS system for small business will change everything:

1. Effortless Transactions

Cash registers are prone to human mistakes and require manual calculations, which consume much time. These inconveniences, however, do not exist when using a POS system. With a POS system, you can scan items through a bar code scanner, perform automatic computations for taxes and discounts, and select customers' favorite payment methods, all within seconds. Accordingly, this results in shorter queues, quick checkouts, and satisfied clients.

2. Data-Driven Decisions

As stated above, good point-of-sale systems generate a lot of precious information regarding sales over time, customer demographics, and product popularity. This data can be used to identify selling trends, optimize pricing strategies, and make future decisions about new product lines. Just imagine having precise knowledge concerning your most valuable items so that your inventories can be adjusted accordingly.

3. Enhanced Security

Traditional cash registers have always been more vulnerable to theft and human error. Point-of-sale (POS) machines are fitted with strong passwords that protect transactions or financial credentials from hackers. Furthermore, these devices come with all sorts of audit trails, which are crucial in case one wants to inquire about fraudulent activities by tracking transactions that have not been accounted for.

4. Improved Operational Efficiency

The POS system covers the whole store operation, from managing employee schedules to evaluating their performance. With these systems, you can easily streamline your workflow, saving time for serving more customers and focusing on development aspects.

5. Scalability for Growth

As your business expands, your POS system should grow with it. Most brands offer modular designs, enabling you to add features whenever necessary. That is why, no matter how large or 'small' a business might become, it will need a virtual terminal that allows it to engage in other operations as it expands its customer base.

Thus, to thrive the modern-day competition, you need to invest in a good POS system. With different variants available in the market, you should select the best POS system as per your business requirements. Let’s discuss some of the popular types of POS system.

Types of POS Systems

Types of POS Systems

POS systems range from traditional desktop system to advanced cloud-based POS system. Here’s a detailed information on each type of POS system that might help you to make an informed decision.

Tablet POS System

Tablet POS System

A tablet-based point-of-sale system offers a combination of mobility and functionality using tablets as the primary interface tool. Package customers purchase items at checkouts while restaurant servers take food orders at their tables using touchable screens rather than keyboards.

Tablets can be transformed into fully-fledged cash registers or sales points by including gadgets such as barcode scanners and receipt printers or enabling functions such as table-side order entry. Such devices may also be suitable for companies seeking an equilibrium between cost-effectiveness & capabilities.

Desktop POS System

Desktop POS System

These are the traditional workhorse desktop POS systems you see at retail counters. They usually consist of a computer monitor, keyboard, cash drawer, receipt printer, and barcode scanner. They offer good functionality for inventory management, client tracking, and reporting features. The only disadvantage is that they are heavy and difficult to move around.

Mobile POS System (mPOS)

Mobile POS System (mPOS)

If you want something that can be used on the move, then mPOS is what you should go for; this works via smartphones and tablets. As such, these operate like any other ordinary mobile device terminal since they use apps downloaded from various sources, becoming a kind of mPOS.

For example, if your business moves things or sells products outside temporary structures like fast food outlets and farmers' markets, these are ideal because they are easily carried around. However, their functionality might be compromised compared to full-size desk machines.

Self-service Kiosk POS System

Self-service Kiosk POS System

Customers who prefer not to be served are increasingly using self-service kiosks. Such machines are used in fast food places, grocery stores, and ticketing boxes. Touchscreen terminals help streamline services, reduce queues, and improve customer service efficiency. However, such a system is expensive to buy as it requires heavy capital investments, and the suitability of this tool for all business types is not guaranteed.

Multichannel POS System

A multichannel POS system is a game changer in today's omnichannel retail environment. These enable your physical store to work alongside online sales channels. With features like click-and-collect, inventory synchronization across all platforms, and centralized customer management, they allow seamless cross-platform integration.

Multichannel POS systems can provide a unique shopping experience across all channels, regardless of where the transaction was made.

Cloud-based POS System

Cloud-based POS System

Retailers consider cloud-based POS systems a game changer because they can be used anywhere and remotely managed on any device with Internet access.

They update automatically and integrate smoothly with other business tools. This allows flexibility in operations, cost-effectiveness, and an efficient platform to streamline activities.

Omnichannel POS System

Omnichannel POS System

While going beyond multichannel systems, these omnichannel point-of-sale systems provide integrated consumer experiences. Not only do they merge channels but also marketing efforts, customer loyalty programs, and data analytics. This might not be easy without an omnichannel approach that involves joining up your marketing campaign with your loyalty program and sharing information about purchase habits.

It gives you a 360-degree view of your customers, allowing for targeted campaigns, personalized recommendations & easing the purchasing process. Therefore, an omnichannel point-of-sale system will most suit retailers aiming to offer a world-class customer experience.

Portable POS System

As a result of their design, which allows them to be operational even in areas with slow or no internet connections, portable point of sale (POS) systems have the upper hand over other similar products available on the market today. It is ideal for home deliveries of goods and services. With great portability but possibly minimal features & limited inventory management capabilities towards completion

To invest in the future of a business, you have to choose the right POS system. Knowing the different kinds of systems and what they can do for your company will enable you to make the best decision to boost its prosperity and development.

A detailed comparison of top POS systems

This comprehensive comparison can help you to quickly figure out the best suitable POS system as per your business requirements.

Specifications Desktop POS System Mobile POS System (mPOS) Cloud-based POS System
Features Robust features for inventory management, customer tracking, and reporting. Basic sales processing, mobile payments. All features are accessible from any device, including automatic updates, and integrations.
Price Higher upfront cost for hardware and software. Lower upfront cost may require monthly fees. Typically, subscription-based monthly fees.
Ideal for Established retail stores with high transaction volume. Businesses needing on-the-go sales (food trucks, pop-up shops). Businesses of all sizes seek flexibility and scalability.
Pros Powerful functionality, ideal for complex inventory management. Highly portable, perfect for mobile businesses. Cost-effective, accessible from anywhere, integrates with other tools.
Cons Bulky hardware, limited mobility, high upfront cost. Limited features compared to desktop systems, may require an internet connection. Reliant on internet connectivity, may have monthly fees.

Now, you should also know the innovative features of the POS system that you need to incorporate into the system to make the most of the investment.

Must-Have Features of an Ideal Point-of-Sale System

Must-Have Features of an Ideal Point-of-Sale System

It is essential to have a smooth sales process that facilitates convenience to your customers. Although POS systems are not new, selecting one that perfectly suits your business can be confusing. It is necessary to know what features are important among them. Here, we take a look at some key features that make up an ideal POS system:

User-Friendly Interface: Keep it simple! A point-of-sale system should be simple and easy for you and your employees to learn how it works. Minimal training requirements and an intuitive user interface will ensure faster onboarding, fewer mistakes, and more effective workflow.

Seamless Sales Transactions: The main purpose of any POS system is to facilitate efficient sales transactions. Choose a system with fast checkout options such as barcode scanning, a product lookup feature, and multiple means of payment (credit or debit cards; contactless payments). Split tenders, sale discounts, and customer refunds are also crucial for smooth running.

Inventory Management Powerhouse: Stock is the lifeblood of any retail establishment. An ideal point-of-sale system must have powerful inventory management tools. These may include livestock tracking, low-stock alerts, and reorder point-setting mechanisms. Complex ones may also cater to product variant management, serial number control, and multi-location stock handling.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Building strong customer relationships is vital for business growth. An ideal POS system should allow you to collect customer details during checkout, creating a centralized customer database. This database would thereby allow loyalty programs, targeted email marketing campaigns, or personalized recommendations based on purchase history.

Cloud-Based Convenience: No more hardware bulkiness and software limitations. Cloud-based POS solutions set new standards of convenience and flexibility. These systems are accessible via any device connected to the internet, enabling you to run your business from anywhere without installing expensive software. Cloud-based platforms have automatic updates, so your system is always on its latest version.

Technical Support: Regardless of a system's user-friendliness, it may occasionally develop technical hitches. The best POS system should be supported by reliable technical support. Seek a provider who offers many support channels, such as telephone, email, and chat online, which would guarantee you quick rectification of any issues that may arise.

When selecting the correct POS system, you are making an investment in your company's future success. When you prioritize these features, you'll have a solution that helps your sales team become more effective, optimize inventory control systems, and deliver valuable data to your business.

Finding the right POS System and Provider

We have looked at the key features of a suitable point-of-sale (POS) system, but this does not end there. Even after finding the ideal software from one of the leading companies offering such services, unless you find a suitable provider for your point-of-sale (POS) systems, it will fail, too.

It is important to note that apart from providing software that meets your needs effectively, these providers will advise on maximizing its potential throughout their lifetime engagements with customers. So, how do you navigate this landscape and find the perfect partner?

Know Your Needs

Before looking for providers, identify what will solve your business problems effectively. Professionalism in determining factors such as industry type, retail store size, the number of transactions being made, and how much money has been allocated for this purpose is necessitated. Considerations to take in:

  • Which features must I have to keep my store running smoothly (inventory management, customer loyalty rewards, reporting)?
  • Do I need a system that can be integrated with existing software (accounting, e-commerce)?
  • Will hardware like scanners and receipt printers be needed, or will everything be mobile-based?

Research and Compare

Now that you know your needs based on your systems provider analysis, research potential POS system providers. Use online resources, trade publications, and other small business owners' recommendations as leverage. Once you have identified several possible providers from the list who meet your criteria, get down into the details of their offerings by comparing them as follows:

  • Features and Functionality: Ensure the system offers the features you prioritized and aligns with your growth plans.
  • Pricing Structure: Compare upfront costs for hardware and software (desktop systems) or monthly subscription fees (cloud-based).
  • Security Measures: Evaluate their security protocols to ensure data protection and PCI compliance.
  • Scalability: Look for a system that can adapt and grow alongside your business.
  • Customer Support: Assess the level and accessibility of technical support (phone, email, chat).

Schedule Demos and Free Trials

Most POS system providers offer demos or free trials. These help you try out the system yourself firsthand before buying it, experiencing user-friendliness, and determining how well it fits into your team's workflow. Take this chance to ask questions about what you do not understand about these trials, such as when they are going to end and which features should never be left untested.

Seek Industry Expertise

Don't shy away from reaching out to professionals in the POS systems field or experts who specialize in POS systems consultancy services because they can help a lot. They can give useful advice on various products depending on your specific requirements, simplifying your decision-making process in this complex world of POS solutions.

Read Customer Reviews

Online customer reviews can be a treasure trove of information. Read what existing users say about the POS system and provider's service. Look for reviews highlighting strengths and weaknesses, focusing on aspects relevant to your business.


Acquiring the correct POS system is a long-term investment. Choose a supplier that encourages teamwork. Find a company that comprehends your business objectives, provides continuous backing and coaching, and is dedicated to seeing you flourish.

The perfect POS system is not one-size-fits-all. By taking the time to understand your needs, compare providers, and leverage available resources, you can find the right partnering POS system for your business growth in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

This is not always true! Cloud-based POS systems come with reasonable monthly charges; hence, they are available to businesses of all sizes.

It depends on your present system, though. Many POS providers offer the option of data migration, which allows you to move your information into the new system without any hitches.

The time frame for this can differ depending on the complexity of your particular software and the size of your company. Generally, cloud-based systems can be set up quicker than conventional desktops.

Some cloud-based POS systems offer offline capability. So, unlike others that rely on an internet connection only, you can still perform essential sales even when there is no internet. However, some functionalities may be limited until your connection comes back online.

The majority have flexible contract options. Start off with a shorter-term contract to ensure that it meets your needs before committing to longer-duration contracts.