There are several types of point of sale systems that can be used in modern retail stores. A small mom & pop shop might use a traditional POS system, while larger retailers may need to use an integrated system.
What is a Point of Sale System?
Before we get into what makes up the different types of POS systems let’s talk about what a typical POS system does. A point of sale system is used in retail stores to process transactions by taking the items being purchased, their prices, and any discounts or coupons being applied to those purchases and using that information to print out a receipt for the customer. These systems are also used to track inventory so it can be restocked when needed.
Typically the person running the POS system will have a terminal connected to a cash drawer. The customer will tell the clerk what they would like to purchase and the clerk will take money from them and give them change as appropriate. Some systems can be programmed to do this automatically, which saves time and reduces errors related to incorrect calculations of sales tax or incorrect change given to a customer.
Types of Point of Sale Systems
There are a handful of different types of POS systems that can be used in business, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. These include:
Traditional POS System This is the most common type of point of sale system found in retail stores. It consists of hardware that is typically mounted to the side of a register. This hardware is typically an LCD screen with buttons, a cash drawer, and some form of credit card reader or keypad. The data entry portion of this system will use either an attached keyboard or some other type of input device that allows items to be entered into the system.
Integrated POS System
An integrated POS system is one where the hardware components are built into the register. This type of system has greater processing power than a traditional POS system and can be programmed to read barcodes or RFID chips that customers may use. Integrated systems often have touchscreen displays for data entry, larger screens to display advertising, and faster CPUs to process transactions.
The major drawback that users of these systems mention is that they are expensive to purchase and require high monthly fees for software licenses.
Hosted POS System This type of point of sale system operates off a remote server so it doesn’t need any hardware other than what the customer has on their computer setup at home or in the office. All transactions are stored on the remote server and the customer can access that data at anytime.
Mobile POS System
A mobile point of sale system is one where the hardware components are stored inside a portable computer like an iPad or Android tablet. These systems typically use touchscreens for data entry, though some may include conventional keypads as well. All processing for this type of system is done on a remote server that also stores the data.
These types of systems are typically cheaper to purchase than integrated systems and have less expensive monthly fees for software licenses. They can be less reliable due to their all-in-one design which makes them easier to steal or damage.