Small businesses POS Systems
Small business POS systems are an excellent way to improve efficiency, whether you own a shop, restaurant bar or market stall
So much more than just a till, a POS (point-of-sale) system can help you and your small business in a myriad of ways – such as by handling card and cash transactions, offering flexible payment methods, tracking your inventory, and aiding communication between staff.
Incredibly popular within the retail and hospitality sectors, and sometimes referred to as an EPOS (electronic point of sale) system, there is a wide range of companies offering such a product and service, all with various different features and price tags – so picking the right one for your business is crucial.
While the process of shopping around for the right solution for your store, restaurant bar or market stall might feel overwhelming, thankfully, help is at hand.
Below, we have listed the different types of small business POS systems and have also provided product examples for each to help you make the best possible purchasing decision.
Still unsure of the difference between a traditional cash register and POS system? This video explains exactly what POS is, and what it can offer your small business:
Important factors to consider before purchasing a POS system
No matter what the size of your enterprise, a POS system will have features that will be able to considerably enhance both the day-to-day performance of your in-house staff, as well as your long term planning and projections.
However, each added feature will likely come with an increased initial cost as well as any further maintenance fees.
So, it’s best to have a very good idea of what exactly your business needs now, as well as in the immediate future, before you go ahead and place your order.
Here are some important factors to consider before purchasing a POS system:
- Initial setup cost
- Payment processing costs
- Hardware costs/rental fees
- Software costs/rental fees
- PCI compliance
- Mobility for staff (servers in restaurants etc)
- Alternative payment methods (Apple pay, Android pay, contactless cards etc)
- Cloud storage options
- Ability to securely store consumer analytics and data
- Ability to track sales made by staff
- Inventory management
- Integration with third party software
You can get more information on what to look for in an EPOS system, by downloading your copy of the ultimate guide to EPOS for small businesses.
Small business POS software features
As mentioned in the video above, you’ll likely be purchasing both hardware and software features in your POS package – and what kind of features these are, will largely depend on what sector you operate in, though the size and sales strength of your business will also be important to judge.
Though there are many small business POS software providers to choose from, there are likely to be a number of functions that are the same across the board.
Some of these functions are listed below, though it is important to remember that you will need to speak to suppliers for more detail on what they can specifically offer.
- Product selection: Till systems allow staff to select the right products or services to charge for. Product selection is an important part of all POS software, no matter the industry, though is particularly popular in the services sector.
- Order management: This function will vary massively depending on your industry. Restaurants can use POS software to take orders and specify requirements; retail staff can use POS software to order stock for customers or specify various specifications.
- Stock management: POS software will help your small business to manage stock effectively, automating various stages in the process.
- Cross-terminal use: Most POS softwares can be used on a number of terminals or hardwares. If you need your POS tethered to one location, this is possible; if you need to use an iPad POS, then this will also be a possibility.
- Sales reporting and analytics: Aside from helping you collect cash and chuck out change, a good POS system should provide you with insightful sales data that you can analyze and use for stock control and in-store promotions.
- Customer management: Keep track of your best customers and their spending habits so you can create loyalty programmes around their patronage.
- e-Commerce: Some POS systems can sync with your website or eBay account, giving you a more streamlined and integrated sales process.
- Access to support and customer services: While you’ll likely receive initial training on your POS machine, even the smallest mishap can leave you or your employees in big trouble if you don’t know how to rectify the situation. So, immediate and constant access to EPOS customer support could prove vital.
As the list above is by no means exhaustive – if there are any features that you think you might require, then you should speak to a supplier today to compare options.
Free small business POS software
POS software is also available from some suppliers for free, though these options are not likely to provide all of the features that you may require.
When you use free POS software, you leave your company open to a range of issues; primarily, you will suffer from a lack of features, but secondarily, you may also suffer from higher security risk than you might find with paid-for small business EPOS.
If you are wary of your budget then a better option than free POS software might be to look for a cheaper option. The section below contains a little information about some of the cheapest POS systems available.
Cheap POS systems
Often a small business without point of sale experience will aim to find the cheapest POS system possible to limit spending. Though this seems like a good idea, it is important to remember that POS is an investment – the better the software, the better the results.
Though it can be difficult to say which provider offers the cheapest POS systems, it is possible to provide information about some competitive plans. Many point of sale providers sell their services to different sized businesses, and this often means that smaller budgets can be met as well as large budgets.
The providers below all offer cheaper POS software and systems to suit small businesses. Take a look below or fill in the form at the top of this page to receive a free quote.
Small business POS hardware features
While hardware features can be bought first and POS software then purchased and integrated at a later date, if you’re buying a till from scratch you’ll need to consider what hardware features you’ll need also.
Some hardware POS features include:
- Touchscreens (either all-in-one units or terminal add-ons)
- Barcode scanners
- Credit card readers
- Cheque readers
- Cash drawers
- Receipt printers
- PIN pads
- Electronic cash register terminals
- Off-the-shelf personal computers
- Mobile phones
- Checkout scales
Different types of small business POS systems
Once you have worked out what exact POS features your business will require, you should then have a better idea of what type of actual system you’ll need.
Generally, POS systems are divided into four categories; complete all-in-one, mobile, retail and restaurant, and hospitality.
While they’ll all share basic features, with the exception of the all-in-one system which will contain everything, each POS system will offer components suited to particular industries and operations.
For example, restaurant and hospitality systems will place a big emphasis on speed so kitchens and bars won’t experience a backlog of orders or keep customers waiting for their order, while a retail system will have special features for in-store promotions and consumer loyalty points.
The four different types of small business POS systems are:
- Complete all-in-one POS systems
POS systems are comprised of various components: you’ve got the software, the touchscreen, the scanner, and more. This is where things can seem complex for the small business owner. However, it is possible to both hire and buy complete all-in-one POS systems.These systems combine everything you need from your small business POS system in one handy package. You won’t get confused by needing to organise add-ons, or selecting which parts you need or don’t need.
The main benefit of the complete all-in-one POS system is that you get everything provided in one package, either on a plug-and-go basis, or with installation provided. Usually training or instruction is included, as is maintenance and upgrades depending on your supplier. The downside is that you may be paying ‘over-the-odds’ for elements you don’t need, and may not use.
- Mobile POS systems
Sometimes you’ll see Mobile POS systems referred to as mPOS, meaning mobile point of sale. These systems utilise a smartphone or device to effectively perform the same functions that a cash register or EPOS system would do.These systems are useful when you need to be able to deliver payment functionality right to the customer’s hands, for example in a restaurant. They usually include receipt printing and will link to your small business POS software and integrate with inventory management, stock control, etc.
The benefits of a mobile POS system are that they can enable you to get payment from your customer wherever they are, as long as you are connected to the internet or mobile network. This can create a more personalised sales service. Additionally, it hugely speeds up the logistics of the paying process. There won’t be any queues with impatient customers, and it’s therefore also harder for customers to attempt to leave without paying.
On the downside, customers can sometimes be concerned about the security of their payment. Connection failures can also sometimes be frustrating.
- Retail POS systems
A retail POS system is one specifically designed with retail businesses in mind. A typical system will include the computer, cash drawer, touch monitor, receipt printer, scanner and software. In addition, it should also include a debit and credit card reader.Fundamentally, a retail POS system could include the best POS software for small business, as well as the hardware needed. It should reduce errors, as well as allow valuable sales analysis.
The disadvantages are similar to other POS systems in that you may have problems with connectivity, and initial outlay can be high. Choose the right system and you can mitigate these.
- Restaurant and hospitality POS systems
Restaurant and hospitality POS systems, designed specifically for the industry, differ significantly from those designed for retail.
As such, it can be immensely valuable for restaurant and hospitality businesses to select such specific systems, as opposed to businesses in other sectors, they need to operate accurately at speed.A specific restaurant and hospitality POS system will streamline the process between ordering and kitchen staff, as well as billing. It will also make management and accounting considerably easier.
As with other POS systems, the disadvantages tend to come down to technology and connectivity issues – hence it is worth choosing your small business POS system carefully.
Find out more about the prices and charges involved with these types of POS systems by visiting our point of sale system costs page.
Compare small business POS systems
A number of POS systems are included on this page, with various functions available – the list below can take you to the relevant section.
- Nobly POS
- EPOS Now complete POS
- EPOS Direct Mobile System
- VendHQ Mobile System
- EPOS Now Retail System
- Casio V-R100
- Revel retail POS system
- First Data retail
- TouchBistro Restaurant and Hospitality POS System
- Lightspeed hospitality POS
- The Good Till Co hospitality POS
- PointOne hospitality POS
Nobly POS offers an iPad based POS system that comes from £49 per month or a £468 yearly fee. This system is more focused towards the hospitality sector, such as bars, coffee shops and restaurants.
Nobly’s POS back office logs all sales and stock information, and then presents business owners with the data, letting them make informed decisions about menu changes and stock updates. Working off an iPad, staff will find it easy to get grips with the system as it’s already running on hardware they are likely accustomed to.
One of Nobly’s main selling points is its ability to work offline, making it great for businesses on the move, such as food trucks, or establishments with unreliable Wi-Fi. Customers can decide which hardware they will need for their business — usually depending on their size — and Nobly will provide. These can include iPads, tills, receipt printers and card machines.
- Price: From £49 a month
- Good for: Works without Wi-Fi
- Features: iPad tablet, inbuilt customer loyalty scheme
EPOS Now complete POS
Included in its package is a touch screen terminal with either retail or hospitality-specific software, alongside a thermal receipt printer, a secure cash drawer, and installation and configuration services.
Founded only in 2011, EPOS Now positions itself as being affordable, simple, and scalable, and has already achieved an extremely high level of positive feedback, in thanks to its excellent user support – ranking in top position on consumer review website Trustpilot.
- Price:£1,199-£1,400 to buy/£10 a week to rent
- Good for: Most businesses, though may include more than some smaller firms need
- Includes: Touchscreen terminal, retail or hospitality software, receipt printer, cash drawer
EPOS Direct Mobile System
EPOS Direct offers a mobile POS that is a complete package retailing for £799 excluding VAT. It’ll take up less space than a regular till and is marketed for retail, cafes, delis, takeaways, restaurants and bars. Its major selling point is that it doesn’t need an internet connection.
Integrated in the system is on-the-move scanning, sales, and stock checks, making life on the shop or restaurant floor easier. Training for life is included as part of the package.
For your outlay you will receive everything you need to get up and running with mobile payments quickly, including: a mobile tablet, a thermal printer, a cash drawer, and Emperium EPOS software. Emperium is highly regarded as being a global leader in POS software for small business.
- Price: £799 to buy
- Good for: Mobile or off-site businesses
VendHQ Mobile System
VendHQ hase a scalable mobile POS system which is ideal for small businesses that are seeking to grow. It offers a range of packages, the most basic of which is just £49 per month, and ideal for a small business who only need one register with up to three users in a single outlet.
As a customer you get everything you need in the box, and can be up and running in just a few minutes. Sutible for business owners who’ll be selling on the shop floor or even at a tradeshow or event, VendHQ uses iPad technology-infused mobile system can accept a wide range of payments. There is also some integral reporting which can be useful for managing your business, while support is available in the form of guides and videos.
This system isn’t a package as such, so you may need to add a cash register, or phone support, for example, for an additional cost. However, you can take a pick-and-mix approach to what you need.
- Price: Starter £49, advanced £59 and multi-outlet £129 a month
- Good for: Pop-up shops, market traders or food vans that sell at events or have stands at tradeshows.
- Includes: Inventory management, customer profiles, priority phone support
EPOS Now Retail System
The retail solution from EPOS Now is available for £1,199 and comes as a package with everything you need, including the terminal, receipt printer, secure cash drawer, installation, configuration and training. Notably it comes with the specific EPOS Now Retail Software.
This is undoubtedly one of the best POS software for small business options available for the retail market. You get a customisable dashboard, with useful reporting, which integrates to a back office management system. The system is incredibly secure and offers excellent inventory management with streamlined stock ordering. You can even manage staff performance and hours by having them check-in and out at the beginning and end of their shift.
- Price: £1,199-£1400 to buy/£10 a week to rent
- Good for: Retail businesses – more systems can be added as required
- Includes: Touchscreen terminal, retail software, receipt printer, cash drawer
Casio V-R100 is available on a monthly basis for £49.99 per month. It has been designed specifically with retail in mind.
The package includes a straight-forward operating base with retail POS software working on an android platform and an integrated full colour touch screen. The entire terminal is splash-proof and hard-wearing.
The receipt printer is thermal and integrated to the main unit. In addition to the central terminal, managers can use the Casio Cloud Suite to change prices, access stock reports, analyse sales data and much more.
Additionally, all of this data can be accessed remotely. A big selling point is that this system is compact.
- Price: £49.99 per month
- Good for: Retail businesses
- Includes: Splash-proof touch screen and access to the Casio Cloud Suite
Revel retail POS System
The Revel POS system is an omni-channel platform that connects your stores to your online shops, warehouse and more. It is excellent for inventory control, stock management, managing customer accounts, and reporting.
The system is modular so you can choose which elements will suit your retail business best, without paying over the odds for things you do not need.
The Revel System aim to bring you a customised package, making this a fantastic option for any retail business.
- Price: £1,060 – £2,000 to buy/ £50-£100 per month
- Good for: Retail businesses with lots of stock
- Includes: Inventory control and stock management
First Data retail
First Data offer a retail EPOS system, called Clover, that is suitable across a range of retail businesses. Clover improves speed, reliability and accuracy. The system has been designed with retail needs in mind, allowing you to accept all major payment types and reduce staff and customer error. You are regularly provided with free software updates so that you can have peace of mind with regards to security.
Add-ons are available in the form of various apps. The interface is intuitive with touch screen technology, and you can select from a range of features to help your business.
Also available is the Clover Mini for when you need a smaller terminal to save counter space.
- Good for: Retail businesses who run in-store promotions
- Includes: Customer loyalty features
TouchBistro Restaurant and Hospitality POS System
TouchBistro is a restaurant POS system which has been refined by need. It combines speed and agility and doesn’t rely solely on the internet. Therefore, if the internet fails, your POS can still be up and running.
The nature of the system is such that your staff can be as mobile as they need to be on a restaurant floor, able to relay information, and send orders without errors. It’s even possible for your waiting staff to entice the customers with images and menu displays, as well as on the spot offers.
Unlike some POS systems that struggle with the intricacies of restaurant businesses, the TouchBistro system is flexible and customisable, allowing you to match the floorplan to your own venue and customise receipts with your own logo.
As well as the user-face of TouchBistro, the behind the scenes side of the system is useful too. You can use TouchBistro to manage inventory and staff working.
- Price: £899 or £100 a month for 12 months
- Good for: Hospitality businesses, though may include more than some need
- Includes: Mobile tablet, hospitality software, receipt printer
Lightspeed hospitality POS
Lightspeed offer a range of monthly subscriptions for their restaurant POS which is an all-in-one complete system. It is a mobile hospitality EPOS system which utilises cloud-technology. Orders can be taken tableside are are sent directly from the waiting staff to the kitchen – meaning staff no longer have to wait for an open terminal to complete the order which cuts down the time between customers ordering and receiving their food.
The Lightspeed restaurant EPOS also comes equipped with a high-tech restaurant management software which can be customised to your needs. You can also customise your system with their hardware components, ranging from printers to POS stands.
- Price: Monthly subscriptions start from £79 per month for a one terminal basic system
- Good for: Restaurants, bars and clubs
- Includes: Features that can identify ‘rush’ periods and monitor staff sales
The Good Till Co hospitality POS
The Good Till Co offer a tailor-made iPad hospitality EPOS software. As your package is completely tailor-made, this is a highly customisable option. Table management is excellent.
The inventory management aspect of the software is great for restaurant management and efficiency. Whilst predominantly operating on the cloud, it can also work offline without an internet connection. In its favour for UK customers, it is the only UK based hospitality POS software that provides online and phone support specifically in the UK.
- Price: Starter packages begin from £39 per terminal per month
- Good for: Coffee shops, bars and restaurants
- Includes: Third party integration with brands like iZettle and Xero.
PointOne hospitality POS
PointOne offer an excellent EPOS solution for restaurants, particularly marked out by its tableside ordering functionality. The cutting edge android EPOS solution features touch screen technology allowing for fast transaction processing, intuitive navigation, fantastic functionality and reliability. It is integrated with contactless Verifone chip and pin technology.
PointOne comes on a modular basis including a range of ‘add-ons’ including stock control, reporting, online ordering, caller ID, driver and dispatch management, CCTV integration and more. This is a scalable system that can be designed and built to suit your particular needs.
The PointOne android EPOS solution has been specifically designed with casual dining in mind.
- Good for: Restaurants, nightclubs, pop-ups and market stalls
- Includes: Fast transaction processing and tableside ordering functionality
Compare the best small business POS systems
The best POS software for small businesses is also reliant on the technology that goes with it. Look out for what your business specifically needs. If you’re in retail, with one shop, your needs are going to be significantly different from a restaurant with several branches. What is important is that you choose the right EPOS system for your particular type of small business.
You need to evaluate the level of support you need, customisation you are likely to need and want, as well as your specific budget. An EPOS system for a small business should bring with it a worthwhile return on investment.