Best POS Software for Your Business

Technology is changing faster than commerce can keep up!

There are many advancements in technology that can help your business run more efficiently, saving you time and money.

Using the right POS (Point of Sale) system can help your business thrive.

Our Top Picks for POS Software Platforms

What is POS Software?

A point of sale (POS) system is the hardware and software used to accept payments from customers. Traditionally, a POS system may have just included a cash register.

In the modern marketplace, POS software is the background program that is used to enhance the capabilities of the register.

It can help you manage your inventory, keep a digital sales history, collect details about customers’ personal information like emails, and even manage your staff.

POS software also connects to your ecommerce store if you have one, which integrates your business seamlessly so you can see a complete picture of your sales.

Why Would I Want POS Software?

Some businesses function without POS software, but they may be missing out on unique perks that can bring them more business and streamline their operations.

Inventory Management

Managing inventory is a time-consuming part of any business that sells products. When you use POS software, you reduce the amount of time staff dedicates to this chore.

When purchases are made, the system will automatically update your inventory records. Likewise, if returns are made, the item will become automatically available in your inventory again.

Additionally, if your POS extends to an online platform, the inventory management features will prevent sales from occurring when something is out of stock. It will also notify your customer when the item will be in stock again.

The right inventory management system will also notify you when products are low so you can have ample time to reorder them.

Finally, a POS system will allow your staff additional time to dedicate to other necessary activities like assisting customers.

Integrated Accounting

Clean accounting records are another challenge for most businesses; especially those with high sales volumes.

Many POS systems integrate with existing accounting programs like QuickBooks, Xero, or FreshBooks. The POS will update records in real-time, eliminating the need for a bookkeeper to do it at a later point.

Accept More Forms of Payment

Credit cards and debit cards are among the most popular forms of payment.

Accepting these payments and other less common, but emerging forms of payment diversifies the options available to customers.

Traditional card readers may only have the ability to swipe cards using the magnetic strip. This is outdated and considered a higher risk type of transaction.

By using updated hardware/software, you can accept:

  • EMV Chip Cards: These small computer-like chips embedded in many modern credit cards create a unique code for each transaction. This type of transaction makes it harder for thieves to steal credit card information.
  • Contactless Payments: Similar to chips, some cards are equipped with RFID (Radio frequency ID) which allows a card's information to be transmitted if simply placed near a terminal’s reader. This is a more secure method versus the traditional magnetic strip.
  • Digital Wallets: Tap to pay, digital wallet platforms like Google Pay and Apple Pay are also gaining in popularity and allow the customer’s phone to act as the card.
  • Gift Cards: If your business traditionally issued and tracked gift cards using pen and paper, adding an upgraded POS can allow you to offer both digital and physical gift cards that can be managed digitally.

Customer and Sales Analysis

Most POS software allows business owners to analyze customer sales data at a level they have never considered before.

After gathering a period of data, your POS can generate reports with information like:

  • Average dollar transaction
  • Which employee sells the most
  • What period is most popular for sales
  • Which products sell the fastest or slowest
  • Percentage split of online vs. in-person transactions

Having access to this data informs your business decisions for the future and allows you to change your marketing strategy as needed. It can also help you identify the weaknesses and strengths of your business.

Beyond analyzing sales patterns, you can use your POS to manage customer information.

You can quickly make a database of customer email addresses to utilize in promotions. Using a phone number to identify customers for rewards programs will lead to repeat customers.

Offering clients a discount on their birthday is another piece of customer data that helps generate sales.

Security Upgrades

In general, magnetic strip technology is considered much less secure than newer chip or tap to pay technologies. By upgrading your POS, your transactions are more secure.

Credit card fraud is consistently increasing so it’s important to keep your business up to date with the latest in security protection.

What Type of Hardware Does a POS Need?

There are endless options and configurations available for businesses.

Consider how your customers make purchases and what features you would like to have. Some of the most common components are:

  • POS Terminal: POS software is usually loaded onto a device with a digital screen. This may be provided by the company but the software can be installed onto any tablet, smartphone, or computer with internet access.
  • Card Reader: This may be a standalone device or come attached to the terminal in some way. Card readers may use swipe, chip, contactless, or tap to pay technology.
  • Barcode Scanner: This can be attached to the terminal or to a handheld device that scans barcodes to communicate information like pricing and item descriptions. Barcoding also allows for efficient inventory tracking.
  • Cash Drawer: While credit card payments and other methods are gaining popularity, cash comprises 12% of sales. Having a secure, locked drawer that only opens when transactions are completed is important.
  • Thermal Printer: Just a few years ago, a survey showed that customers still preferred a physical paper receipt over a digital one by a 3:1 margin. A thermal printer eliminates the need to replace ink cartridges regularly.
  • Mobile Solutions: Payment processors may have handheld devices available so that your employees can process payments while on the move.
  • Weight Scale: A less common piece of hardware but one that may be essential if your pricing is based on the weight of products or estimated shipping costs.

How to Choose the Best POS Software for Your Needs

This article just scratches the surface of information to make an informed decision about POS software. The process can seem overwhelming at first!

Do a Self Assessment

To choose a system that fits your business, do a self-assessment about the current operating patterns of your business and anticipate how that may change in the future.

Where do most of your transactions currently take place?

What forms of payments do your customers need to have the ability to use?

Will your customers be using the platform or only your staff?

What does your inventory currently look like and how may it change in the future?

Thinking reflectively about where your business is currently and where it may be in the near future will help identify what features are critical and what you may want available for the future.

Ideally, your system should grow with your business.

Read Online Reviews

Real-world use often reveals issues that may not be apparent at a first glance or even after experiencing a demonstration. Search the internet to see what other users have to say about it.

This may include reading reviews about the company overall or about software operation.

You do not want to work with a company that has a boatload of complaints about their service or staff, but reviews can offer insights into functionality challenges.

Are there known issues and if so, is the company releasing software updates to address them?

Does a particular industry face a challenge if they use this software? Sometimes it is a great fit for one type of business but lacks severely for others.

Checking reviews may help you avoid pitfalls you wouldn’t have otherwise recognized.

Additional Tips & Considerations

Customer Service

Implementing a new system comes with some growing pains and a learning curve. Most POS software will offer a demonstration of the product so you can take it for a test drive even before you sign up.

Of course, you will never really get a true feel for how it functions until you implement it in your business, but you can tell a lot from a demonstration.

Many POS systems are intuitive and user-friendly but require some training. Find out what is available and what the company’s customer service looks like.

Are you able to access live help during business hours when needed? Maybe there are training videos your staff can work through.

Be sure to choose a company that will support your transition so you aren’t left not knowing how to use your software.

Data Portability

When choosing POS software, you should be able to import and export your data.

If you have been tracking customer data for some time, you don’t want to start from scratch. Many POS software can upload .csv or other types of files so you can pick up where you left off.

The ability to export your data is equally important if, for some reason, you need to make a change in your POS. Maybe your sales model wildly changes or your business grows and you need new functionality.

You worked hard to mine that data, so you want to keep it.

Cost and Contracts

Often businesses are hesitant to make a change to new technology for fear of unforeseen circumstances that make them regret their decision to make the switch.

If this sounds like you, be sure to review the contract’s fine print. Some processors are contract-free, while others may be month to month.

Hardware and software come with costs. Some may be recurring fees or lease payments, but POS systems are available for purchase outright.

Consider the investment needed to set up your system and how those costs will be offset because of long-term future savings and an increase in sales because of your new capabilities.

Recapping the Important Points

POS systems can be powerful, enriching tools for your business. Their features and capabilities can vary widely, but are not limited to:

  • Inventory management
  • Integrated accounting
  • Accepting a variety of payment forms
  • Analyzing customer and sales information
  • More secure transactions

When choosing a POS software for your business, consider the needs of your business and the habits of your customers. Take the time to research the hardware you’ll need.

Finally, find a company that will support software implementation, help you move your data, and do this all at a cost that makes sense to make the change worthwhile.

Taking the time to research and compare POS systems is critical. You will undoubtedly rely on your system every single business day.

By choosing a POS that fits your needs and is manageable for your business and customers, you’ll avoid the need to make a change because of something easily avoidable like a missing feature.

Our top picks for POS Software are: