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Compare the Top Rated POS System Brands - 2021 Best & Most Popular POS System Manufacturers

At their most basic level, point of sale (POS) systems let you process payments. Today's models, though, go well beyond running credit cards to include sales analytics, inventory management, and employee time systems. Truly robust offerings include integration with CMS software, marketing options for email and social media, and loyalty programs.

This page breaks down what to look for in a POS system, the types available, and the top dozen brands.

What Is a POS System?

A POS system includes both software and hardware. The software, of course, runs the system. It may be hosted onsite or on the cloud. You may choose from a wide array of features, depending on what you want the software to do besides run payments.

Basic POS hardware includes a cash register and typically a card reader. Today, this often looks like a computer or tablet, monitor and customer display, cash drawer, and receipt printer. As with software, you can add on features, such as a barcode scanner.

You can choose a universal POS system to use in any establishment that processes customer payments, or one designed specifically for your industry.

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Top 12 POS System Brands

  • Aldelo offers multilingual POS systems for restaurants, bars, and retail establishments. Their systems are user friendly yet still include robust features to help you manage your store and improve efficiency, all at a great price.
  • Clover POS systems are designed to streamline your restaurant thanks to advanced features. Their solutions include integrated, secure EMV chip payment acceptance as well as credit card and contactless payment options.
  • EPOS Now offers extremely robust retail POS systems. Integrated features include inventory and customer management as well as accounting tools such as payroll, purchase orders, and general ledger. The cloud-based software is compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows, Android, and iOS.
  • LightSpeed customers see an average revenue bump of 20 percent during their first year thanks to actionable analytics and a user-friendly interface. Staff take orders more quickly and with fewer errors. Plus, the cloud-based software allows you to customize your floor plan and serve customers anywhere.
  • Revel Systems' POS system uses a single dashboard that maximizes usability, security, and stability. Operation and customer channels are integrated on an iOS platform that operates on the cloud.
  • ShopKeep is a cloud-based POS system that saves you money by offering only the features you need to save time and grow your business. The software uses an iOS platform and customer support includes an online resource library. And, the company does not require a long-term contract.
  • Springboard Retail is designed for multi-store, multi-channel retailers so your customers receive consistent service whether they're shopping in-store or online. Advanced features include customizable analytics, purchase orders, and customer and inventory management tools.
  • Square works on both iOS and Android devices. This free system includes a magstripe reader for card-based payments. You can add on features as well, including inventory and sales tracking.
  • Talech POS systems are designed for retailers and restaurants. Features include inventory tracking, employee management, CRM tools, and discount applications. Analytics and reporting use real-time numbers.
  • Toast POS is designed specifically for use in restaurants. Features include loyalty reward programs, online orders, and gift cards, each designed to help you grow your business and improve the guest experience.
  • TouchBistro designed their POS system for restaurants, loading it with features for every type of eatery, from food trucks to fine dining. It works on iOS devices and the company's customer support includes setup guides and video tutorials.
  • Upserve is another restaurant-based POS system, designed to streamline operations both back and front. Software includes a variety of analytics.

Types of POS Systems

POS systems range from extremely basic to custom solutions with an array of peripherals. Options include:

  • Cash register: Some businesses need nothing more than a simple cash register.
  • Desktop: Also known as a tabletop or counter-mounted system, this is one of the more common POS systems. It includes a computer terminal (either single or multiple networked machines) plus a monitor or screen, cash drawer, receipt printer, and scanner. Most also include a card reader.
  • Mobile: Similar to desktop, except they use a tablet for mobility in lieu of a stationary desktop unit.
  • Cloud-based: The software for cloud-based POS systems is hosted on the Internet instead of onsite.
  • Custom-built: Design your POS system to fit your business's exact needs, choose only those features you'll use, and incorporate specialized applications such as scales or taxes.

POS System Features

There are a variety of features and functions available. Understanding what each offers helps you determine which ones are worth the cost of adding them to your software.

  • Inventory tracking: This may be the most popular add-on feature, since it allows you to see trends in your stock and know when it's time to order. Inventory updates may occur in real time or during end-of-day reconciliation. You can also incorporate e-commerce sales.
  • Collecting Data: The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to give them what they want. How do demographics like age and location affect sales? What times of day are busiest? Which items sell out quickly and which are more seasonal? These analytics help inform marketing efforts, employee scheduling, and stocking.
  • Generating reports: This is how you view and understand all of that great data. In addition, the system should provide reports on sales and cash flow.
  • In addition to add-ons, the best POS systems are easy to use, customizable, and, if it better serves your business, mobile.

  • User-friendly: In practice, this means that the controls are self-explanatory and require little training to get employees up and running. You also want it to be quick and easy to make programming changes, enter price changes for sales, and update inventory via a variety of methods, such as SKUs and photographs.
  • Customizable: You should be able to customize your system based on your industry as well as your business's particular needs. For example, restaurant POS systems should let you customize floor plans and menu items. Multiple industries benefit from the ability to add appointments or reservations. Talk to your vendor about customization options and which ones would benefit your site.
  • Mobility: Restaurants, food trucks, conventions, special events, and even retailers may benefit from mobile POS.

Additional POS System Considerations

When comparing systems and prices, look at the full contract and what it includes, starting with whether the provider requires an extended contract or allows you to go on a month-by-month basis. No-contract service is preferable, since you may face significant cancellation fees in the event you need to break your contract. Some vendors offer reduced pricing for customers who sign a contract. Other considerations include:

  • Cloud-based versus self-hosting: Each system has its pros and cons, but much depends on the Internet service at your location. If it is overly slow or unreliable, a cloud-based system may not be the best option. Otherwise, cloud is often preferred because it has a low upfront cost (typically zero, except for your hardware) and requires no maintenance or upkeep on your part.
  • Integration between system components: If your hardware only works with one brand of software, or vice versa, this makes future changes much more expensive, as you need to replace the full system instead of just the hardware or just the software.
  • Purchasing hardware: Avoid free systems, which tend to actually cost more than systems you pay for and definitely aren't as reliable. Purchasing is also better than leasing unless you are extremely prompt when it's time to cancel. Most lease terms only offer a 30-day fee-free cancellation window.
  • Scalability: You want the system to expand or contract along with your business's needs. This includes the ability to add staff or users, new apps as they become available, or even entire locations.
  • Customer support: At the least, you want customer support available when your business is open. But, you may also want live support reps after hours, especially if that's when you typically run reports.
  • Third-party payment processing: Flexibility here allows you to get the best payment processing rates possible.

Author: Angela Escobar

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