A person is looking at a point of sale machine.
Running a business

The ultimate guide to choosing a point of sale (POS) system

Upgrading from a basic point of sale (POS) system or a traditional cash register is a lot like swapping out your printed map (remember those?) for a GPS before setting out on your next epic road trip. An upgraded POS system introduces innovation to your operations, streamlining day-to-day processes and liberating you from the constraints of more dated technology. 

What does this mean for your small business? Whether you're running a quick-service restaurant, a mobile pet grooming service, or a boutique retail store, the right POS system can redefine the efficiency of your operations and elevate your customers’ experience. 

What is a point of sale system?

A POS system is all about making the sales process easier and more efficient. It’s basically a technologically advanced cash register that’s capable of handling a number of payment methods, such as credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallet payments, rather than just cash. But today’s POS systems aren’t just about payments — these systems can also help manage sales and keep your business operations running more smoothly.

For example, they can connect with other devices, such as computers and inventory scanners, so you can easily keep track of what’s selling and what you have in stock. And thanks to technology, you can even turn a smartphone into a POS system with a simple credit card reader attachment, while cloud services let you manage your sales and inventory from anywhere. 

Common types of point of sale systems

When choosing a POS system, it’s important to consider factors like your business model and where you’ll be making sales. The best fit will depend on your specific business needs and setup. Here’s a breakdown of the three common types of POS systems:

  • Mobile POS. This setup turns any smartphone or tablet into a powerful sales tool. With a mobile POS system, you can process payments on the go, sync sales data with your business software, and track inventory in real time.
  • Ideal for: Businesses that prioritize flexibility and the ability to make on-the-spot sales
  • Terminal POS. The terminal POS system offers a reliable checkout solution for brick-and-mortar businesses, blending hardware and software solutions, including essential peripherals like scanners and receipt printers, to streamline in-store transactions.
  • Ideal for: Businesses that operate from a fixed physical location
  • Cloud-based POS. If you’re looking for a POS system that's scalable, a cloud-based POS, with its hallmarks of flexibility and accessibility, may be the ideal option. Accessible via both a terminal and a mobile app, these systems are perfect if you need the ability to log in and operate from anywhere, and they’re often cost-effective for scaling your business.
  • Ideal for: Businesses with a dynamic sales strategy that includes market venues, pop-ups, or online sales

Benefits of point of sale systems

Adopting or upgrading a POS system offers more than just a modern checkout experience for your customers — it’s a comprehensive solution that can transform your business from the inside out, impacting everything from customer interactions to your back-end operations. Key benefits include:

  • Speed and efficiency. Serve customers more effectively with shorter wait times, thanks to streamlined transaction processes.
  • User-friendly operations. Intuitive interfaces simplify sales tasks for your team, and the ease of use makes for more efficient training of your staff.
  • Variety of payment options. Cater to all customers by accepting a wide range of payment options, from traditional to digital. 
  • Professional image. Project a professional image with a modern POS system and send a signal to customers that you’re serious about providing top-notch service.
  • Improved inventory tracking. Update your stock levels automatically with every transaction so you have a real-time view of your inventory needs.
  • Error-free calculations. Reduce human error with a POS system’s automated calculations, and ensure accuracy in both pricing and sales taxes. 
  • Comprehensive record keeping. Detailed transaction records and reports make the accounting process and tax preparation smoother. 

How to choose a POS system for your business

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the functionality of your POS system can make or break your operational efficiency and customer relations. The right POS system can do more than process transactions — it can serve as the backbone of your business operations. Here are key considerations and top features to look for as you navigate your options:

  • Cost. Consider both upfront costs and ongoing fees to ensure the system fits your budget. 
  • Scalability and flexibility. Choose a system that’s adaptable and lets you easily add new features or terminals as needed.
  • Multi-user accessibility. This feature enables collaborative teamwork by allowing multiple users to access the system to share resources and information seamlessly.
  • Customer support. Look for providers that offer comprehensive support, such as training, updates, and 24/7 troubleshooting, to minimize downtime.
  • Integration capabilities. The system should integrate seamlessly with your existing software, such as CRM or accounting software.
  • Invoicing capabilities. With detailed invoicing features, you can manage sales, orders, repairs, and rentals effortlessly. 
  • Payment processing options. Ensure the system you choose supports a range of payment methods to accommodate all your customers. 
  • Security features. When it comes to protecting your data and your customers’ information and privacy, strong security measures are non-negotiable. 
  • Analytics and reporting. A system with robust reporting tools provides you with customizable reports and invaluable insights into sales trends, inventory needs, and customer preferences. 
  • Hardware needs. Assess whether you need a full setup with terminals and printers, or a more agile, mobile solution. 
  • Customer experience. Choose a system that improves the customer buying experience — for example, by offering faster checkouts or loyalty program management. 
  • Inventory management. Inventory features such as real-time updates on stock levels, push notifications, and auto-ordering simplify inventory management, reduce costs, and ensure you always have what your customers need.
  • Customer orders and management. A system that lets you offer additional shopping options, such as home delivery or in-store pickup for pre-purchased items, helps enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Order management integration. This feature gives you the ability to track the entire customer order process, from placement to pickup. 
  • Customer database and history. Build lasting relationships with this feature, which lets you easily access customer information and purchase history.
  • Sales and discounts management. Run promotions and apply discounts directly at the point of sale to personalize the shopping experience and encourage repeat business. 
  • Future-proof technology. Opt for a system that stays current with technology trends so you won’t need to replace or upgrade it too soon.

Seamlessly integrate your POS system with QuickBooks Online

Don’t let disjointed systems slow down your business’s potential. Integrate your POS system with QuickBooks Online to turn every sale into actionable financial data, and experience the ease of consolidated financial management and in-depth reporting.


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