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POS Systems: A Quick Guide

Point of sale (POS) systems are computerized systems – including hardware as well as software programs – for making, processing, and recording sales. They are generally used in places such as retail shops, grocery stores, hotels, restaurants, casinos, and stadiums. 

POS systems are more than just a cash register. Old-fashioned cash registers act essentially as “cash safes” used to keep paper transactions safe. With the advent of computerization and the necessity for credit card processing capabilities, POS systems have become the best way to record and manage cash, check, and credit card sales.

60% of retailers have POS systems that are at least 5 years old; of those, 35% of those have systems older than 10 years; that according to Aberdeen Group, February 2008. Those retailers are losing out on the many new functions available with computerized POS systems, including new software integration capabilities and the management of both online and on-site sales.

Types of POS

It is widely recognized that all retail establishments with more than $250,000 in yearly sales should have a POS system to track and manage inventory. These systems range from the very simple to the highly customized software and hardware setup. Most POS system developers focus on making their systems easy to use and functional.

There is a large variety of POS systems available for businesses in the retail sector, and many systems can be customized to your business’s unique needs. For example, a restaurant POS system will have different requirements and functions than that of a jewelry store.

Simple retail boutiques may only need a cash register, receipt printer and card reader, whereas other businesses may need a full service solution to manage and track sales. Some systems come complete with specialized POS hardware end equipment. Many new systems are comprised of software installed on a desktop or laptop computer in conjunction with USB peripherals (handheld scanner, credit card reader, etc).

Learn more about POS terminology in our Buyers Guide.

Business Benefits

Beyond simply processing retail sales, business POS systems can record sales information, manage inventory, and store customer data.

Your POS system can track and process inventory and sales reports that make managing your business easier.  With more accurate inventory reports, for example, you can prevent over-spending from ordering too much product, as well as ensure that you always have enough of a product in stock. If you’re a restaurant owner, restaurant POS systems can help optimize the ordering process, thereby preventing spoilage and allow your cooks to be more efficient.

Do you need more from your POS? There are a variety of other benefits.

Software Integration

The newest POS software can connect and share information with a number of software platforms that your business uses. When your POS is integrated with your current sales and customer tracking software, you can automatically keep track of your accounts and customer relationships. With better sales tracking, you can manage your marketing campaigns and customer support processes more effectively.

Many POS systems can integrate with your CRM software to help you manage customer information more easily and accurately. The customer data stored by your POS system can help you improve both your marketing plans as well as your customer service. For example, by integrating your software platforms, you can easily send out a promotional email to all of your customers who have purchased a certain type of item in the past six months.

Looking to expand your business to sell on a retail website or through a mobile app? You can manage your on-site, online, and mobile sales through a single POS system that tracks your inventory and sales in a single interface.

Find a CRM system that integrates with your POS at Resource Nation.

System Costs

Before purchasing a POS system from the many options available, you need to do some research to determine which features your business requires. The cost of installing a system for your business will depend on the features you need, so be sure to choose a vendor that provides those features and is experienced in servicing businesses in your industry.

The costs associated with a POS system are minimal in comparison to the benefits it brings to your business. POS system can do everything: from quickly processing on-site and online sales to providing a comprehensive inventory report whenever you need it.

Read more about POS costs in our Buyer’s Guide. Don't forget to check out our vendors for credit card processing, as well.