As a retailer or business owner, maximum productivity and efficiency are essential to serving the valued customers that bring life to stores, restaurants, beauty salons, fashion boutiques and similar merchants. As a result, the need to streamline business operations becomes apparent when cash registers, manual inventory management, and slow checkout processes are causing customer dissatisfaction in the form of long lineups, frowning faces and abandoned purchases.
This blog article reviews what is a retail POS system and how one can revolutionize your business operations. Whether you run a small boutique, a bustling grocery store, or a pet store, a modern POS system can be a game-changer. We’ll explore the features, benefits, and top options available, so you can find the perfect payment processing solution for your unique needs.
POS systems: an overview
A retail point of sale (POS) system is a combination of hardware and software used by merchants to facilitate sales transactions, manage inventory, process payments, and perform various other functions crucial to their business operations. It serves as the central hub where customers complete their purchases and retailers manage essential aspects of their business.
The hardware components of a retail POS system typically include a computer or tablet, a cash register or barcode scanner, a receipt printer, and a payment terminal. These devices work together with the software so you can accept credit cards and create a seamless and efficient checkout experience.
The software component of a retail POS system is the heart of the system. It provides a user-friendly interface for conducting sales transactions, managing inventory, generating reports, and performing other critical tasks. Key features of retail POS software include sales management, omnichannel capabilities, inventory management, reporting analytics, and customer relationship management.
POS hardware for business
Retail POS systems can be broken down into two main components: hardware and software. First, let’s take a look at hardware, then we’ll review software.
Desktop (or countertop) POS terminals are ideal for retailers that need more robust and feature-rich solutions. Countertop systems generally include powerful hardware capabilities such as scanning barcodes, printing receipts, and accepting multiple forms of payment. Countertop terminals can also be integrated with other systems, such as inventory tracking, allowing you to keep better tabs on your business operations.
They’re more expensive, however, and take up more space.
Mobile POS (mPOS)
mPOS is a point of sale (POS) system that utilizes a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to process transactions. These systems include a mobile app and a portable card reader, which can be plugged into the mobile device’s audio jack or connected via Bluetooth. They’re designed to be lightweight and easy to use, with minimal setup and minimal hardware required.
Mobile POS systems also have their pitfalls. For example, they generally have fewer features than countertop systems, which may pose a problem for retailers that require more advanced functionalities like inventory tracking and reporting. Likewise, they aren’t as powerful as countertop setups, so they may not be able to handle high-volume sales as smoothly.
Credit and debit card terminal
Credit and debit card terminals can be standalone devices or integrated with a point of sale (POS) system. They typically include a card reader, a keypad, and a display screen. Some terminals also include a printer for printing receipts.
You’ll want to accept the latest payment methods, including contactless and mobile, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. For one thing, they’re more secure than traditional magnetic stripe payments because they use encrypted near-field communication (NFC) to perform the transaction. Furthermore, they’re becoming more and more popular among consumers.
Even with email receipts gaining popularity among consumers and business owners alike, the printed receipt remains a mainstay and, therefore, a necessity for retailers. These devices, like your cash drawer, can be wireless or connected to your POS by a USB input. Terminals also print receipts, but small mobile units, among others, will not.
This piece of hardware lets you scan items at checkout. Like the other devices, these can be wireless or connected depending on the make and model and your business needs. They can also make accurate inventory counts a breeze, and your cashier will appreciate them on those high-volume days.
Despite the shift to contactless payments, cash is still a popular payment method. As the name implies, the cash drawer is where you’ll keep the cash payments. It also provides an accurate record of all transactions. Cash drawers connect to your POS terminal wirelessly or through a USB port, and open automatically through the POS software.
Whatever POS hardware you choose, the main objectives should always be (1) optimizing the customer experience and (2) driving efficiencies and profits.
Lastly, ensure you choose hardware that’s powerful enough to run the software and functionalities you intend to use.
Retail point of sale (POS) system and software
Now let’s look at software, which is the foundation of today’s powerful POS systems. They feature business tools that will bring your business to the next level.
Retail point of sale (POS) systems and software have revolutionized the way businesses manage their operations. With robust features and capabilities, they streamline various aspects of retail management. Here’s a brief overview of the key functionalities offered by modern retail POS systems:
Sales management: Retail POS systems simplify and enhance the sales process. They provide a user-friendly interface for processing transactions, calculating prices, and generating digital or printed receipts. With features like barcode scanning and integration with payment processors, sales management becomes efficient, accurate, and seamless.
Omni-channel capabilities: In today’s retail landscape, offering a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels is essential. Retail POS systems enable businesses to integrate their brick-and-mortar stores with online platforms, creating a unified omni-channel experience. This integration allows customers to browse products, make purchases, and track orders both in-store and online.
Inventory management: Retail POS systems excel in inventory management, ensuring businesses have the right products available at the right time. They provide real-time tracking of stock levels, automate inventory updates, and generate reports on stock movement. This enables businesses to optimize their inventory, reduce stockouts or overstocking, and make data-driven purchasing decisions.
Reporting analytics: Retail POS systems generate comprehensive reports and analytics, offering valuable insights into business performance. These reports include sales data, inventory turnover, profit margins, and customer behavior. By analyzing this information, businesses can make informed decisions, identify trends, and measure key performance indicators.
Customer relationship management (CRM): Retail POS systems often include CRM functionalities to strengthen customer relationships. They allow businesses to capture customer information, track purchase history, and offer personalized experiences. CRM features enable businesses to implement loyalty programs, targeted marketing campaigns, and personalized promotions.
By leveraging the capabilities of retail POS systems and software, businesses can enhance sales management, establish a seamless omni-channel presence, optimize inventory, gain valuable insights through reporting and analytics, and foster strong customer relationships. These systems play a crucial role in modern retail operations, enabling businesses to thrive in a competitive marketplace.
Do I need a point of sale system in my retail store?
Yes. Implementing a point of sale system in your retail store is highly beneficial and recommended. Here are some reasons why you should consider using a POS system:
Streamlined sales process: A POS system simplifies and speeds up your sales transactions. It provides an intuitive interface for adding products to the cart, calculating prices, applying discounts, and generating receipts. This streamlines the checkout process, reducing waiting times and enhancing the overall customer experience.
Accurate inventory management: Managing inventory manually is time-consuming, inefficient, and error-prone. A POS system automates inventory management by tracking stock levels in real time. It updates inventory with each sale, provides insights into stock movement, and generates reports to help you make informed decisions about restocking and product management.
Efficient reporting and analytics: A POS system generates comprehensive reports and analytics that provide valuable insights into your business performance. You can access data on sales, inventory turnover, profit margins, and customer behavior. These insights help you identify trends, measure key performance indicators, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your operations.
Enhanced customer relationship management: A POS system often includes customer relationship management (CRM) features, which enables you to capture customer information, track purchase history, and provide personalized service. With CRM capabilities, you can implement loyalty programs, offer targeted promotions, and build stronger relationships with your customers.
Integration with other systems: Many POS systems integrate with other business tools and systems, such as eCommerce POS platforms, accounting software, and inventory management systems. This integration ensures seamless data flow between different systems, eliminates manual data entry, and maintains consistency across platforms.
Time and cost savings: A POS system automates various manual tasks, saving you time and reducing the likelihood of errors. It streamlines processes, eliminates the need for manual calculations, and automates inventory management. This efficiency translates into cost savings and allows you to focus on growing your business.
While there may be an initial investment involved in implementing a POS system, the benefits and efficiencies it brings can greatly outweigh the costs. For example, it helps you streamline operations, improve accuracy, gain valuable insights, and deliver a better experience to your customers.
Top retail POS systems
So what are the most common POS systems for retailers? There are several popular and widely used POS systems for retailers. While the specific needs of each business will vary, the following ones are commonly used by retailers:
Square POS: Square is a popular choice among small to medium-sized businesses. It offers an intuitive interface, decent pricing, and a range of hardware options. Square POS integrates with various third-party apps and provides features like inventory management, sales analytics, and customer relationship management.
Shopify POS: Designed for retailers with an online presence, Shopify POS integrates with the Shopify eCommerce platform, offering a unified system for managing in-store and online sales, inventory, and customer data. Shopify POS supports multiple sales channels, provides customizable hardware options, and offers reporting and analytics.
Lightspeed Retail: Lightspeed Retail is a feature-rich POS system suitable for retailers across different industries. It provides inventory management capabilities, including product variants, purchase orders, and stock-level tracking. Lightspeed integrates with various third-party tools and offers reporting and analytics.
Vend: Vend is a cloud-based POS system suitable for businesses of all sizes, with an easy-to-use interface and comprehensive inventory management, and supports multiple payment options. Vend integrates with popular accounting software and eCommerce platforms, providing retailers with a unified system for managing their operations.
Clover POS: Clover POS is a versatile system known for its broad hardware options and customizable software, catering to various industries, including retail and hospitality. Clover offers features like inventory management, customer management, and detailed reporting. It also supports integration with third-party apps for expanded functionality.
Toast POS: Toast POS is designed specifically for the restaurant industry. It offers features like tableside ordering, menu customization, kitchen management tools, and online ordering capabilities. Toast provides comprehensive reporting and integrates with other restaurant-specific systems.
These are just a few examples of the most common POS systems for retailers. Each system has its unique features, credit card processing rates, and integrations, so it’s important to consider your specific business requirements and evaluate which POS system aligns best with your needs.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to retail POS solutions and figuring out which is the best for your business. What should be obvious now, however, is that the POS equipment paired with cutting-edge software will streamline your operations and boost your bottom line.
What are the best POS systems? There’s never a one-size-fits-all solution, and the best system will ultimately depend on your business goals and industry. Whatever you decide, though, a few considerations are essential: your POS solution should align with your business needs, save you money, and scale with future growth plans.
Ready to make a move and learn how to use a POS system for retail? Get in touch with us by email, chat, or phone to book a free consultation with one of our Payment Experts. We’ll help you choose the right POS solution for your business, without spending hours comparing options.