What is a POS system?
A POS system is designed to do a few basic things: accept payments, provide sales analytics, manage inventory, and collect customer data. However as time goes on, POS systems are becoming more advanced, and much more useful than businesses first thought.
They now go far beyond these essential operations. Now you can increase sales with loyalty programs, streamline your business processes, and synchronize your in-store sales activity with your ecommerce sales.
The aim of any POS system is to make life easier and optimize your workflow. Retail-tailored Digital Operations Platforms like Brightpearl, with its integrated POS solution, take it a step further and offer useful features such as real-time data, gift cards, offline mode, flexible fulfillment options, refunds and returns management, and advanced product search.
How POS systems have changed over the years
When we think of POS systems, we typically think of all the hardware that comes with it: tills, cash registers, scanners, and so on. With the astronomical growth of online shopping, though, modern POS systems are now very different.
As well as providing hardware for physical stores, POS systems are used for online transactions. They can synchronize offline and online activity to create an accurate overview of a whole business in real-time. This is most useful for businesses with both offline and online stores. Without such a conduit between the physical and digital, information and data can be misconstrued, and businesses may end up missing out on key data and inventory updates.
Mobile POS systems are also widely used, particularly for smaller businesses that don’t require a lot of hardware to take payments; such as cafes. The widespread use of POS systems means many stores across the globe are streamlining their business processes and improving productivity.
Reasons businesses need a POS system
1. Reduce human error
POS systems take a lot of pressure away from employees and retail managers. They can analyze sales activity and automate many processes.
What’s more, they can also minimize the risk of human errors. Certain tasks that were previously done by your staff can now be done via the POS system, such as taking orders manually. Payment processing like this can be subject to human error. These mistakes are harmful to customer satisfaction, resulting in bad customer reviews, which are costly to the company. According to Brightpearl’s Rise of The Review Culture report, retailers spend on average $10,000 each year dealing with negative reviews.
That’s one reason why POS systems are great for business, because it means that your business is no longer being exposed to potentially harmful errors. Plus, POS systems can also be a deterrent for theft because it keeps check of incoming and outgoing cash.
2. Improves customer experience
One of the most important parts of a retail business is keeping customers happy. It’s not enough to have great products – you also need to provide great service. A POS system is a vital part of this. By having updated inventory levels available, staff can quickly check the availability of products and let customers know.
This is particularly helpful for businesses with multiple locations. It may be that they don’t have the item in stock at one location, but can either send the customer to another location or order it for them. Rather than customers feeling frustrated or unable to find a product, they’ll leave satisfied, either with the product or information on when/where it will be available.
A POS system can help in other ways, too. Information, such as order history, can be fed into a CRM (customer relationship management) system. You can use this to provide a more personalized service, especially for marketing emails or future communications.
This data has another use, too. You can see which products are the most popular, which can help with inventory planning. A POS system and an inventory management system go hand-in-hand. Employees can even reorder items straight from the shop floor via a computer or tablet.
A POS system remembers data from thousands of customer inquiries, whether it’s from in-store or online shopping. In future, if customers encounter any problems, issues can be resolved much faster thanks to the data gathered from previous customers.
3. Provides an omnichannel experience
When selling on multiple channels, especially online and offline, it’s important to offer customers an omnichannel experience. This means you need all your sales channels to talk to each other.
For instance, if a customer finds a product through the web store, they may want to see it physically before making a purchase. In fact, it’s reported that 80% of buyers will make the trip to a physical location if they see an item is immediately available. For sales like this, you’ll need to sync your online and offline inventory in real time. Or if a product is not available in store, you’ll need to tell the customer if the product can be found and fulfilled through other channels. Another great option is to offer BOPIS service or in-store returns for items bought online
With 80% of shoppers deciding to not make a purchase due to bad customer experience, it’s important to make the experience as seamless as possible for them.
4. Provides analytics and real-time data
Another reason why businesses need a POS system is to gain insight into customer activity through analytics. Using a POS system will allow you to gather data from your business over time, which can then be utilized to your advantage.
This data can bring about changes to business processes. For example, if you notice more customers are purchasing at the end of the month, you can introduce discounts at the beginning of the month to make sales more consistent.
In addition to this, once you have collected more data, you’re also able to have better control over inventory. The POS system will give an overview of best-selling items and most popular seasonal items. Therefore, you can order more accurate amounts of stock for online and in-store, because you’ve been able to predict future trends and customer behavior.
5. Payments are secure
For customers, knowing that card payments are secure is very important—whether buying online or off. With so many scams on the internet and elsewhere, it’s vital that you can assure your customers their money is absolutely safe when they make a purchase with you.
A good POS system will process payments effectively and securely, which means credit card processing should always be safe. It should also never store sensitive data such as customers’ debit card details.
By using a POS system, your business can save time and money. That’s because a POS system can help your business become more efficient in many areas, such as sales and processing orders. Intuitive POS systems can automate tasks that may otherwise take up an employee’s time, boosting productivity and benefiting the customer.
6. Allows you to remotely manage the business
When you operate physical stores as well as online stores, it can become difficult to manage your business remotely. A POS system can help with this, because it stores information and data and lets you access it at any time.
Cloud-based POS systems are particularly useful for managers who are working remotely. Managers can access store information from anywhere, whenever they need it. Some POS systems even come with a mobile phone app to make communication even easier.
Adopting a cloud-based system will also mean you’re ahead of the curve, as many businesses start to switch to this way of working. Software updates are also automatic, allowing you to access the latest features every time you log in.
7. Increases business efficiency
A good POS system can improve the functionality of your business. It can eradicate the need for paperwork, saving more money and time. It also enables you to more efficiently manage bills and orders, as well as produce sales figures for each day. Thanks to barcode scanners and card readers, it can speed up processes that may otherwise take employees hours each day.
Essential POS features to look out for
1. High level of security
Whether you have physical stores and online stores, or just an online store, making sure you invest in top tier security is crucial. Having a POS system with a high level of security is important for both you and your customers. When choosing a POS system, ensure the software is compliant with the latest industry standards and regulations.
For example, accessing your Brightpearl system requires an account ID, username, and password. Additionally, the back-office Brightpearl administration area is over a TLS encrypted connection, and you can set up your account so that it can only be accessed from approved IP addresses.
2. Integrated accounting
One of the latest features of a POS system is integrated accounting. Nowadays, POS systems can integrate with various third-party apps to improve your user experience. Apps like Xero and Quickbooks are ideal for this. Consider a POS system that can seamlessly integrate with these apps if you want to minimize manual bookkeeping tasks and data entry.
3. Ecommerce capabilities
If your business has both a physical and online presence, you need a POS system that can bring the two together. It needs to be able to communicate with your online sales channels. When comparing these systems, you should also consider what devices they work with. For example, does your POS system need to be compatible with iOS and Android, or just one?
4. Payment integrations
Different customers have different preferences for how they pay. A POS system needs to be capable of handling these options, integrating with a variety of payment providers. It’s no longer enough to support only standard debit and credit cards. Instead, a good POS system should support options like Paypal Here, iZettle, and Google Pay.
5. Customer loyalty programs
When choosing a POS System, ensure that it has customer-focused features. Gift cards and loyalty programs are great for improving customer satisfaction, so you should opt for a system that can deliver this. This is an example of Brightpearl’s POS system interface, showcasing offers and promotions that are available at a store.
6. Gift Cards
Sometimes, customers want to buy a gift but aren’t sure what to get. Rather than losing out on a potential sale, offering gift cards can ensure they spend money with you. A good retail POS system needs to have the capability to sell and redeem gift cards.
7. Advanced fulfillment options
We noted earlier that one way to improve the customer experience is to help them find the product they want, even if it’s at another location. Advanced fulfilment options allow merchants to check inventory across all stores and warehouses, rather than limiting it to their own site. This decreases the chances of lost sales, as stock can be ordered either to a physical location or the customers home.
8. Access real-time data
You can take the guesswork out of sales activity with a retail POS system. Choose a system that lets you access real-time data whenever you want. It can also allow you to track daily, weekly, and monthly sales. This data can be useful for customer behavior analysis as well as for future performance reviews.
9. Maximum flexibility
You don’t want to be tied in to a POS system that doesn’t work for your business. So, invest in a system that gives you maximum flexibility. That means monthly subscriptions that you can opt out of, a variety of third-party apps to choose from, and POS hardware that you can buy upfront.
Flexibility is also about the options you have during a sale. Imagine you’re half way through a transaction, only to find out the customer has left their credit card in their car. If there’s a large queue, you’ll want to serve the next customer. However, this can mean deleting the transaction and starting all over again! Instead, a good POS system should allow you to be flexible, letting you pause and retrieve it later.
You’ll also want flexible discount options – the ability to discount depending on customer type, to add a custom amount off, or to accept vouchers. Having different ways of providing discounts is a great way to encourage customers into making purchases.
When you have a POS system that allows you this flexibility, it saves you from having to swap it for a newer model in the future. Also, ensure it has regular system updates so it always features the latest information and technology.
Why merchants are choosing Brightpearl POS system
Brightpearl POS systems are chosen by many organizations worldwide. This software isn’t a standalone POS, it’s an integrated element of Brightpearl’s overall digital operations platform. That platform also features warehouse and inventory management, order management, workflow automation, retail accounting, CRM, analytics tools, and much more. In short, everything you need in one smart, easy-to-use system.
There are many benefits to having an all-in-one retail solution. To start, all data is centralized into one system, which keeps everything in one place and avoids confusion across your multichannel stores. In addition to this, it enables real-time visibility on business performance, so you can make quick adjustments as and when they’re needed. A system like this allows you to have control over your whole business, which can be challenging for large organizations.
Other POS system features that retailers love include:
Brightpearl also offers many purpose-built integrations so you can customize your retail tech stack to better suit your business’s needs.
Not only this, but Brightpearl also has an open API, giving you more flexibility to customize your tech stack.
What do merchants have to say about Brightpearl POS?
Let’s take a look at what some businesses have to say about their experiences using Brightpearl POS.
Paper & Tea
“Brightpearl has had a very positive influence on the business. The fact that the POS is integrated with the back office and everything is all in one place, allows us to oversee how the business is doing day-to-day. I can’t tell you how essential it is, we built the business with Brightpearl as a core element.”
“With Brightpearl POS, the most important thing for us is that we can spend less time looking at the screen and more time looking at our customers. We can have a conversation with them, show them the jewelry and get them involved with what we do”
Grand Prix Racewear
“Brightpearl enables us to easily manage the full range of sales and inventory processes throughout the business and provides a foundation for sustainable growth.”
Cabbages & Roses
“Stock management was basically impossible; we’d have to manually decrement stock every day. We’d take a look at the closing balance from the night before, go through the sales and then calculate the new stock levels – and it was almost always wrong! It was virtually impossible to manage. We did a lot of things manually for the first nine months before we found Brightpearl.”
“Before Brightpearl, we were physically having to check what stock we had in the warehouse and sometimes things simply didn’t add up. Pricing was also a tedious task – to update prices across all of our sales channels meant someone having to go in and manually update each channel one by one. It just wasn’t an efficient process.”
How to choose a POS system for your business
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is it able to integrate with your existing software?
Businesses can be very particular about the software they use, and rightly so. Once employees are used to a certain system, it can be hard to adapt to a new one. So, by using point of sale software that can easily integrate with your existing tools, you’re making the process much easier. For the business, your employees, and ultimately your customers. What’s more, you’re centralizing all your information, saving time and money in the long-run.
2. Does it accept most payment methods?
From credit cards to mobile payments with Apple Pay, people like to pay in various ways. For some businesses that also operate in-store, this also includes cash. Therefore, you need a system that will accept most payment methods. It can also help if the system is compatible with both Android and iOS because some customers like to pay with Google Pay as well as Apple Pay.
3. Do you need a mPOS (Mobile Point of Sale)?
Not every business requires a mPOS, but if you do, pick a POS system that can offer this. There are several POS systems that can be accessed from an iPad or iPhone, which can be useful when you’re working remotely. This payment processor can sometimes be more applicable to smaller businesses, but many large retailers use mPOS systems for stock checks and online ordering for customers in-store, if an item is out of stock. You can also take contactless card payments through an mPOS.
4. Does it have reliable hardware?
When you invest in a POS system you want the hardware to last, especially if you’ve made an up-front investment in the equipment. So, before rushing into buying a POS system, check whether the hardware on offer is suited to your needs. For example, if the POS system is only available on iPad but you use multiple devices across your company, it may not be a good choice for you because your options are then limited. Ensure the hardware is going to work for your business’s functions.
5. Does it offer good customer support?
Even if you’re using a great POS solution, there’s bound to come a time when you need to contact the company for support. Choose a POS system that offers at least 24/7 email support, and phone support during key business opening hours. If you encounter a problem while a customer is waiting, but your POS system support isn’t available, this could leave your customer feeling frustrated and impact the rest of your day’s sales until you can get the problem fixed.
6. Does it combine offline with online?
Not every POS system is able to handle online sales as well as offline transactions. Some are only used in-store which can be great for smaller businesses who just require an iPad and internet connection. But if you’re a multichannel business, then you need to ensure your POS system is up to the task. This system will need to monitor stock levels, allow you to manage your inventory, and provide detailed customer analytics across the board.
15 best POS systems for retailers
POS is an integral part of Brightpearl’s comprehensive digital operations platform. It’s designed for omnichannel merchants who sell both online and offline and look to centralize all the post-purchase operations in one system, from order sales, inventory to logistics and accounting.
Square is an electronic point of sale (ePOS) system that allows you to take encrypted payments such as Apple Pay or chip-and-pin. This software is ideal for a physical business where salespeople aren’t always situated at the cash register, like in restaurants, for example.
The POS is ease of use; it takes quick payments either in-person or remotely. Brightpearl also integrates with Square, which is what then makes it work for large businesses that require real-time updates between their POS and Brightpearl back office. Here’s how it works with Brightpearl:
- Shopify POS
Shopify POS is a popular system for many retailers. It effortlessly glides between in-store and online. That means customers can buy online and pick-up in-store, and purchase in-store and have it shipped at a later date if stock levels are low. Businesses are also able to customize the checkout page, keeping the branding consistent across all channels.
Shopify has also teamed up with Brightpearl to automate and support the fulfillment and distribution of new hardware to businesses with physical stores. Their recently launched POS hardware collection includes a credit card reader and retail stand. By teaming up with Brightpearl, Shopify will be able to keep up with increasing demand and offer businesses a more efficient way of online shopping.
Toast is a POS platform largely used in the restaurant industry. In an environment as fast-paced as a restaurant, it’s crucial that staff have access to quick and reliable software to process payments easily. Customer satisfaction is a key focus, so tools that make the diner journey even smoother are ideal.
This software is definitely restaurant orientated, so retailers—especially larger ones—may struggle in adapting and scaling up the platform.
Vend is a POS system that works well for businesses with multiple outlets. You can manage your inventory and access real-time reporting. It features custom receipts, sales notes, and in-depth product search.
You can also integrate Vend with Brightpearl. This will automatically sync your inventory and orders between your brick and mortar store and ecommerce store. Both systems will also update one another when orders and returns are received. Integrating with Brightpearl is very much the best way to streamline your post-purchase operations.
- Epos Now
For those looking for an affordable, versatile POS system, Epos Now is a good option. It is used in both retail and hospitality businesses that require an easy-to-use system with a clean, simple interface.
Moreover, you can also use it as standalone software, or take advantage of over 80 integrations to customize it to your business’s needs. It includes powerful reporting and inventory management. However, it doesn’t offer advanced fulfillment options like other tools such as Brightpearl.
- Brilliant POS
Brilliant POS offers inventory management, reporting & analytics, and employee management. Though this system is used by many business types, it’s most popular with retailers, bars, and cafes thanks to its simple system and great features.
It does offer limited integrations, though not as many as the likes of Brightpearl, which may be an issue for larger businesses because that means it’s not as customizable.
Revel is a cloud-based iPad POS system that aims to deliver a great customer experience through easy-to-use software. They were the first iPad POS system on the market, and you can handle everything from transactions to inventory management on their system.
It’s simple to use, and supports both mobile order takers and self-service kiosks. However, some of their more interesting features require you to use the open API, which will cost more than the initial quote may suggest.
Tillpoint is another iPad POS system. Similar to Revel, it has plenty of features that retailers and restaurants find useful, but it is limited in terms of hardware. You can manage your inventory, purchase orders from suppliers, and manage customers and staff.
It also has a built-in timeclock and accounting system, which may be useful considering other integrations are limited with this software.
ShopKeep is a well-rounded iPad POS system. It’s got lots of useful, time-saving features for businesses who are looking for a more efficient way to operate. It also offers 24/7 customer support and community forums. However, it is geared toward small businesses, so may not scale-up well for larger retailers.
This software was specially built for retail businesses, but mainly those with a physical store. Acme is an affordable, simple system that works with all major POS hardware. You can also access the system from your mobile, which is useful for remote workers or salespeople on the move on the shopfloor.
It’s a standalone POS with limited integrations. So it may not be the right option if you’re looking to sync your online and offline sales channels, as well as centralize your back office operations in one system.
- Cashier Live
Cashier Live is a fair POS system for retailers who operate online and offline. It features inventory management, reporting, and 24/7 customer support. This software helps you quickly process sales while keeping an eye on your stock levels.
It’s available online or via an iPad and iPhone app. Android mobile device users, though, will miss out on this feature.
Much like Revel and Shopkeep, Bindo has been specially created for use on iPads and with cash registers for retail and restaurants. They don’t have pre-built integrations to connect the POS to the rest of your tech stack, but you can build applications via API. This may add extra cost and time.
Franpos is mainly focused on restaurants and small retail stores . Within this software, you can manage inventory, customer purchases, supplier orders, loyalty programs, and reporting. It runs on Android unlike many POS systems that are strictly iOS.
It has options for restaurants and retailers. It also has a ‘ghost kitchens’ solution, for businesses that have gone paperless and therefore menu-less. Customers can order online and have it delivered to their table. However, it’s more customizable through third-party apps. Unless you utilize the available integrations, you may feel limited with the features available when your business grows
- Heartland Retail (previously known as Springboard)
Heartland – previously Springboard – is a cloud-based POS system designed for multichannel businesses, so is good for those with multiple store locations and an online presence.
It’s focused on customer analytics and gathering data. Essentially, its aim is to help convert shoppers into sales. This software works on iPads, and APIs are available for you to add your own custom integrations. Unfortunately, their customer support is only open from 8AM – 9PM Monday – Sunday. Other systems such as Brightpearl offer 24/7 support.
Point Of Sale technology is essential for omnichannel retailers today
Many businesses have made the move online while maintaining their physical stores. This means that more than ever, a system that can unify the business is crucial. Inventory needs to be synchronized across all stores and channels to ensure stock levels remain balanced. This prevents over and under-selling, resulting in happy customers.
Sales visibility is also another reason why point of sale technology has become essential for retailers. You can check your real-time sales, as well as sales activity throughout the day. This enables you to keep track of your business performance and make data-driven decisions.
On top of all this, it allows staff to offer omnichannel customer experience. When customers enter a store and can’t find the item they like in their size, they can now head to a sales assistant and order it from another online or offline store where the stock is available. With an advanced POS, you can also offer BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In Store) and flexible returns services.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the different types of POS?
Depending on the retailers’ needs, POS systems available are:
Counter-based: The traditional kiosk with cash register, monitor, barcode scanner, and hardware to handle EMV card and contactless payments. This also includes the PC and receipt printer. These point of sale systems hold sales data and customer data, and you can access real-time information whenever you need it.
Mobile POS: Usually used as a restaurant POS system and by small business owners, the introduction of mPOS systems means employees are no longer restricted by wires. They can take payments and access information from anywhere in the store or location.
Online POS: This makes the checkout process easier, especially when you choose a system that works well on mobile – as many people like to shop from their tablets and phones. It can help you manage your inventory to ensure items don’t go out of stock.
Omnichannel POS: This is generally the preferred POS system, because it works for online and offline retail stores. Larger businesses that own multiple stores and use many channels benefit the most from these point of sale solutions because you can keep all data in one place. You can also gain customer insights, generate reports, and check stock levels.
- How much is a POS system?
The price of POS systems varies depending on your needs and company size. There are some POS systems that offer initial “free” hardware, but they may tie you into a contract for up to five years to recoup the cost of the system and transaction fees.
It’s best to shop around and compare prices in relation to features available. An all-in-one solution such as Brightpearl may be far more cost-effective in the long-run. It certainly means you can reduce your number of software subscriptions.
- Do I need to pay a monthly fee for POS software or to use a POS system?
Some companies may charge a subscription fee, and some may require you to make an initial up-front payment. If it’s a subscription-based service then you’ll be charged either monthly, quarterly, or annually. The price also varies depending on the number of features and the level of customer support available.
- What's the difference between POS systems and cash registers?
Cash registers can be part of a POS system, but on their own they are designed only to manage cash transactions. If you want a more sophisticated cash register, then it’s best to choose a POS system that can be used in conjunction with other hardware such as tablets, barcode scanners, and touch-screen monitors. A cash register can’t collect customer data in the same way that a POS system can, either.
- If I buy a POS system, does that make me PCI compliant?
Not in all cases. PCI compliance means you have to meet a number of requirements to show you are handling customer data safely and securely. When choosing a POS system you should definitely ensure it is PCI compliant. However, a PCI compliant POS system doesn’t guarantee that you’re a PCI compliant seller across the board.