Point of sale (POS) refers to a single transaction between a merchant and a customer. It may also be referred to as point of purchase (POP). At this time, the customer identifies a good and/or service, or several goods and/or services that he or she would like to purchase. The merchant tallies the amount owing and prepares an invoice or bill for the customer. This invoice may be as simple as a printout from a cash register. The merchant then identifies accepted methods of payment, including but not limited to cash, debit, or credit. The customer makes the payment to the merchant in exchange for the goods or services purchased. Once the payment is received and approved, the merchant can issue a receipt indicating the transaction. Receipts have traditionally been printed, but today they may also be sent electronically.
Point of sale software and systems facilitate this transaction between a business and a customer. Some merchant refer to POS software as “retail management systems.” This is fitting because sales, and more generally transactions, are far from the only function that POS software facilitates. In fact, POS software may also facilitate inventory management, purchase order issuing, stock transfers, quotes and estimates, barcode labels, supplier records, membership systems, sales reporting, and other services. POS software may also serve to connect large retail outlets that have several locations, allowing them to identify inventory or stock at a different location.
A growing number of merchants have adopted cloud-based POS software, a recognizable form of software as a service (SaaS) in the cloud-computing model. This software is accessed through an internet connection, and requires a browser and login credentials to access a cloud-based user platform. Cloud-based POS software makes it easy to perform a transaction or other action using a portable tablet or even a smartphone.
Retail Point of Sale Software
Retail POS software has come a long way in recent years. Some of today’s most popular software products for retail merchants include:
- Lightspeed Retail. This software is designed for retailers who want to grow their business. Retailers can manage customer preferences, sales, and inventory, and they can conduct advanced analytics to identify trends.
- Revel iPad POS. Revel is a POS solution that can be integrated with QuickBooks accounting software. It can be used by any type of business, including those with one location and those with many locations. Features include integrated payroll, customer relationship management, and inventory tracking, among others.
- VendHQ. Vend HQ is a POS and retail management platform for merchants with brick and mortar stores. Features include customer tracking, inventory management, payments and transactions, loyalty incentives, and business performance analytics based on real-time data.
Restaurant Point of Sale Software
Restaurant POS software is designed especially for restaurant sales and management. Some systems may be compatible and/or customizable for both restaurant and retail services. The following are among the most popular restaurant POS software products:
- TouchBistro. TouchBistro can be used by both quick-service and full-service restaurants. It can help restaurant owners to reduce costs, improve customer experience, and enhance service.
- Lavu. Lavu’s POS system includes features such as comprehensive reporting, live sales figures, and staff management tools.
- Squirrel in a Box. This POS service is designed for businesses across the hospitality industry, and includes an easy-to-use interface, live editing of menus, flexible promotions management, options to manage up-time.