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Small business POS Systems

We review the most popular POS systems and point of sale software to help you decide what type of EPOS system is best for you

So much more than just a till, a POS (point-of-sale) system can help you 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.

One in five payments in the UK were contactless in 2018, according to research published by UK Finance.

The UK ranks as the third most cashless country in the world – only eclipsed by Canada and Sweden – based on how aware people are of alternative payment methods, and of what smartphone payments options are available to them. 

Incredibly popular within the retail and hospitality sectors, and sometimes referred to as an EPOS (electronic point of sale) system, there are a wide range of companies offering such a product and service, all with various different features and price tags – so picking the right one 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. 

We’ll provide you with the factors to consider before purchasing a POS system, and compare the best EPOS systems in the UK. We’ll also take a detailed look into EPOS software, highlighting free and cheap packages you can use, and delve into the hardware features and different types of POS systems. 

Below, we have listed the different types of POS systems and have also provided product examples for each to help you make the best possible purchasing decision.

In 2018, the worldwide POS terminals market accounted for $62.34bn. And between 2019 to 2025, it’s expected to register a [CAGR] of 7.8% according to data published by Grand View Research.

Important factors to consider before purchasing a Point of Sale 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 – how much it will cost to install the system
  • Payment processing costs – how much it costs to process transactions
  • Hardware costs/rental fees – the amount you pay to buy or rent the physical devices
  • Software costs/rental fees – charges for purchasing or renting software packages
  • PCI compliance – the set of 12 security requirements used worldwide for processing card payments
  • Mobility for staff (servers in restaurants etc) – how easily it can be used on-the-go
  • Alternative payment methods (Apple Pay, Android Pay, contactless cards etc) – can it support ways of paying, in addition to traditional credit and debit cards?
  • Cloud storage options – data that can be stored virtually, meaning it can be accessed remotely, only requiring an internet connection
  • Ability to securely store consumer analytics and data – vital information about customer behaviour and purchases
  • Ability to track sales made by staff – monitor all transactions that go through the system
  • Inventory management – keep track of stock levels
  • Integration with third party software – use it in combination with other systems your business uses for operations
  • Business size – ensure it matches the capacity of your business, both now and in the future
  • Industry – check for any sector-specific features, or if the provider specialises in your industry

Read our dedicated page on point of sale system costs to find out more.

Dee Thaya describes the process of choosing an EPOS system for his London-based restaurant, FlipSide:

“There were many other companies chasing our business, but we decided on Lolly, and its support and aftercare has been extremely good.

“Customers really like it, we’ve had very positive feedback on their use of LollyServe and have seen around a 20% uptake in customers since installation.

“We met with an array of EPOS solution providers, large and small. Lolly's system was superior on every count, both front and back of house. The implementation from the Lolly team was equally as impressive – making our lives easier so we can get on and focus on quality food. They have a driving passion for new EPOS technologies and better customer service – bringing the future to the present.” 

Compare small business POS systems UK

A number of POS systems are included on this page, with various functions available.

The best point of sale systems for small business we cover are:

  • Nobly POS – Good for working without wifi
  • EPOS Now complete POS – Good for growing businesses
  • EPOS Direct Mobile System – Good for mobile or off-site businesses
  • VendHQ Mobile System – Good for pop-up businesses
  • EPOS Now Retail System – Good for retail businesses
  • Casio V-R100 – Good for retail businesses
  • Revel retail POS system – Good for high-stock retail businesses
  • First Data retail – Good for in-store promotions in retail businesses
  • TouchBistro Restaurant and Hospitality POS System – Good for hospitality businesses
  • Lightspeed hospitality POS – Good for restaurants, bars and clubs
  • The Good Till Co hospitality POS – Good for coffee shops, bars and restaurants 
  • PointOne hospitality POS – Good for restaurants, nightclubs, pop-ups and market stalls
  • iZettle Pro – Good for bars, cafes and restaurants
  • iiko – Good for food and drink businesses

Nobly POS

Good for: Hospitality businesses

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: iPad POS software; hardware available

Third party (card machine) integration: Paymentsense, Barclaycard, SumUp, iZettle

Pricing

Available upon request.

Nobly POS offers an iPad based POS system, with prices offered on a quote basis. 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 to grips with the system, as it’s already running on hardware they are likely accustomed to. It also includes an inbuilt customer loyalty scheme.

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 wifi. 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.


EPOS Now complete POS

EPOS Now complete POS

Good for: Retail businesses – more systems can be added as required

Business size: S, M

Includes: Touchscreen terminal, retail software, receipt printer, cash drawer

Third party (card machine) integration: Paymentsense

Pricing

Initial setup cost: –

Hardware costs/rental fees: Available to buy for £1,199 or £47 a month (complete system, including hardware, software, installation and training)

Payment processing costs: –

Software costs/rental fees: Available to buy for £1,199 or £47 a month (complete system, including hardware, software, installation and training)

The retail solution from EPOS Now 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 options for small business that’s available for the retail market. You get a customisable dashboard with useful reporting, which integrates to a back office management system. The system offers barcoding and stock management. A booking system is also available.


EPOS Direct 

EPOS Direct

Good for: Mobile or off-site businesses;  retail, cafes, delis, takeaways, restaurants and bars

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: Mobile tablet, a thermal printer, a cash drawer, and Emperium EPOS software.

Third party (card machine) integration: VeriFone chip and pin solution

Pricing

Initial setup cost:  

Hardware costs/rental fees: Combined cost, see below

Payment processing costs: – 

Software costs/rental fees: Combined cost, see below

EPOS Direct offers three different POS packages: the stylish POS, the EPOS ED19 (which is new for 2019), or the all-in-one POS. The ED19 is the cheapest of the three, priced at £1,199 or £23.99 per week over 12 months. Following the same pricing structure, the all in one is available for £1,699 or £34.99 per week, while the stylish POS costs £2,299 or £44.99 per week.

All systems feature a touch screen display. EPOS Direct systems are marketed for retail, cafes, delis, takeaways, restaurants and bars. 

EPOS Direct’s recommended option is the stylish POS system. The major selling point for this one is that it can work offline. The package also includes a touch screen display, a cash drawer, a thermal receipt printer, and is ready to use. Online training and a dedicated account manager are also provided.

Whichever system you choose, 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.


VendHQ Mobile System

Vend HQ Mobile System

Good for: Pop-up shops, market traders or food vans that sell at events or have stands at trade shows

Business size: S, M

Includes: Real-time inventory management, reporting, 24/7 online and phone support

Third party (card machine) integration: Paymentsense, Windcave, PayPal, Square, iZettle, SumUp

Pricing

Initial setup cost: – 

Hardware costs/rental fees: –

Payment processing costs: –

Software costs/rental fees: Lite £49, pro £69 (per month, billed annually). Enterprise solutions available on a quote basis

VendHQ has 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 (billed annually), and ideal for a small business with up to £15,000 monthly turnover.

As a customer you get everything you need in the box, and can be up and running in just a few minutes. Suitable for business owners who’ll be selling on the shop floor or even at a trade show or an event, VendHQ uses an iPad technology-infused mobile system that 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 24/7 online or via phone.

This system isn’t a package as such, so you may need to add a cash register, or Xero accounting, for example, for an additional cost. However, you can take a pick-and-mix approach to what you need.


EPOS Now Retail System

EPOS Now Retail System

Good for: Retail businesses – more systems can be added as required

Business size: S, M

Includes: Touchscreen terminal, retail software, receipt printer, cash drawer

Third party (card machine) integration: Paymentsense

Pricing

Initial setup cost: –

Hardware costs/rental fees: Available to buy for £1,199 or £47 a month (complete system, including hardware, software, installation and training)

Payment processing costs: –

Software costs/rental fees: Available to buy for £1,199 or £47 a month (complete system, including hardware, software, installation and training)

The retail solution from EPOS Now 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 options for small business that’s available for the retail market. You get a customisable dashboard with useful reporting, which integrates to a back office management system. The system offers barcoding and stock management. A booking system is also available.


Casio V-R7000/V-R7100

Good for: Retail businesses

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: Water and dust resistant display screen

Third party (card machine) integration:

Pricing

Contact provider.

The Casio V-R7000 and V-R7100 systems been designed specifically with retail use in mind.

The terminals include a 15.6-inch widescreen LCD display and work on an Android platform. The terminals have an IP53 rating, meaning they are resistant to dust and water. 

Printers and cash drawers can be connected to the terminals. In addition to the central terminal, there is the option to include a shop support system for managing sales, or tools to help assist managing multiple stores.

Additionally, the terminals have a sleek and stylish design, and are compact.


Revel retail POS System

Good for: Retail businesses with lots of stock

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: Inventory control and stock management

Third party (card machine) integration: Braintree, Stripe

Pricing

Initial setup cost: Contact provider

Hardware costs/rental fees: Contact provider

Payment processing costs: Contact provider

Software costs/rental fees: Contact provider

The Revel POS system offers multiple features, including the option to create a loyalty programme, manage multiple locations, as well as offline functions and flexible payment options. It also offers inventory control, stock management, customer account management, 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.


First Data retail (now Fiserv)

Good for: Retail businesses who run in-store promotions

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: Customer loyalty features

Third party (card machine) integration: –

Pricing

Initial setup cost: Contact provider

Hardware costs/rental fees: Contact provider

Payment processing costs: Contact provider

Software costs/rental fees: Contact provider

First Data offer a retail EPOS system, called Clover, that is suitable across a range of retail businesses. Clover is available in a variety of forms, including the Clover Mini payment terminal, the Clover Flex all-in-one device and the Clover Station, a complete business system. The Clover Go allows mobile devices to accept card payments. 

A rewards programme, sales analytics and mobile gift cards are also available. Additionally, all solutions are offered with the Clover Security package to maintain security and compliance standards.


TouchBistro Restaurant and Hospitality POS System

TouchBistro Restaurant and Hospitality POS System

Good for: Hospitality businesses, though may include more than some need

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: Software; hardware is available through partners

Third party (card machine) integration: –

Pricing

Initial setup cost: Contact provider

Hardware costs/rental fees: Contact provider

Payment processing costs: –

Software costs/rental fees: £49 per month plus VAT for one licence (billed annually). Additional licences available at an extra cost – see TouchBistro pricing for more information

TouchBistro is a restaurant POS system which has been refined by need. It combines speed and agility, with industry-specific features like tableside ordering and table management to help you run your business effectively.

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 customers with images and menu displays.

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 branding.

As well as the interface of TouchBistro, the behind the scenes side of the system is useful too. You can use TouchBistro to manage inventory and staff schedules.


Lightspeed hospitality POS

Lightspeed hospitality POS

Good for: Restaurants, bars and clubs

Business size: S, M

Includes: Features that can help during busy periods and monitor staff sales

Third party (card machine) integration:

Pricing

Initial setup cost:

Hardware costs/rental fees: Contact provider

Payment processing costs:

Software costs/rental fees: The most popular plan starts at £59 per month (with an annual plan on a per store basis)

Lightspeed offer a range of monthly subscriptions for its 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 and are sent directly from the waiting staff to the kitchen. This means that staff no longer have to wait for an open terminal to complete the order, cutting down the time between customers ordering and receiving their food.

In addition to its software, Lightspeed can also provide hardware, which is available as a kit or individually so that it can be customised to your needs. Lightspeed’s hardware components range from printers to scanners and cash drawers.


The Good Till Co hospitality POS

Good for: Retail, food and drinks, sports and entertainment businesses

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: Third-party integration with brands like iZettle and Barclaycard

Third party (card machine) integration: Barclaycard, iZettle

Pricing

Initial setup cost: Contact provider

Payment processing costs: –

Hardware costs/rental fees and Software costs/rental fees: Starter packages (hardware and software) is available for £795. The Core POS Module is priced per screen costs £29 per till. Optional modules are available for £9 per month

The Good Till Co (also known as Goodtill) offer a tailor-made iPad hospitality EPOS software. As your package is completely tailor-made, this is a highly customisable option. Goodtill has an ‘excellent’ rating on Trustpilot.

The inventory management aspect of the software is great keeping track of light stock, as well as managing waste. It also offers clock in/out features to monitor staff schedules. Goodtill provides an online support portal, as well as email and phone support.


PointOne hospitality POS

Good for: Restaurants, nightclubs, pop-ups and market stalls

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: Fast transaction processing and tableside ordering functionality

Third party (card machine) integration: Fingopay, Paymentsense, Verifone, Global Payments

Pricing

Initial setup cost: Contact provider

Hardware costs/rental fees: Contact provider

Payment processing costs: Contact provider

Software costs/rental fees: Contact provider

PointOne offers an excellent EPOS solution for restaurants and other hospitality businesses, particularly marked out by its tableside ordering functionality. The cutting edge Android EPOS solution features touch screen technology, allowing for fast transaction processing as well as intuitive navigation for both front and back of house uses. It is integrated with contactless Verifone chip and pin technology.

PointOne comes on a modular basis, with a range of available ‘add-ons’ including stock control, cloud reporting, online ordering, caller ID, driver and dispatch management, as well as CCTV integration and more. This is a scalable system that can be designed and built to suit your startup’s particular needs.

The PointOne Android EPOS solution has been specifically designed with casual dining in mind.


iZettle Pro

iZettle EPOS

Good for: Bars, cafes and restaurants

Business size: S, M

Includes: iZettle Pro app 

Third party (card machine) integration: iZettle Reader 2 and other compatible card machines

Pricing

Initial setup cost: £0 (if using your own equipment). Alternatively, iZettle offers the Store Kit – Mini for £189 without an iPad, or £458 with a 32GB Space Grey iPad. Other kits for retail and food and drink businesses are available too.

Hardware costs/rental fees: Varied – a range of accessories are available to buy through the iZettle Accessories store

Payment processing costs: With iZettle Go, the card transaction fee is 1.75% and the ecommerce card transaction fee is 2.5%.

Software costs/rental fees: The apps are available at the following rates: iZettle Go – £0 per month. iZettle Go – £29 per month (a 14-day free trial is available).

iZettle Pro offers a custom EPOS system targeted at bars, cafes and restaurants. It offers a cost-effective, space-saving system, with access to reporting and analytics. iZettle operates without lock-in contracts, offering your business greater flexibility. With industry-specific features that allow you to manage tables and payments, as well as being able to take orders offline and offer loyalty programmes. The iZettle Pro app has a training mode to help your staff use the system.


iiko

Good for: Food and drink businesses

Business size: S, M, L

Includes: Software (offered on a subscription model, hardware also available)

Third party (card machine) integration: Unknown

Pricing

Initial setup cost: Depends on if have hardware already or not

Hardware costs/rental fees: Available upon request

Payment processing costs:

Software costs/rental fees: Offered on a PAYG subscription model. Basic – £49 per month, professional – £69 per month, enterprise – £99 per month (price per till)

iiko offers EPOS software aimed at food and beverage businesses. Its systems offers all-in-one front of house features, allowing you to manage table, counter and delivery services, for example. Real time data is available for inventory management and its sales forecasting function uses AI technology, offering 95-99% precision. The iiko system also provides automated purchasing, suggesting products that need to be bought to meet demand.


At a glance: The best small business EPOS systems UK

POS SystemBest forPrice - totalPrice - multiple payments
Nobly POSBusinesses needing to work offline (without Wi-Fi)Available upon requestAvailable upon request
Epos NOW complete POSMost businesses, may have more features than a small business needs£1,199£47 per month
EPOS Direct Mobile SystemMobile or off-site businessesStarting from £1,199 Starting from £23.99 per week over 12 months
VendHQ Mobile SystemPop-ups, market traders, food vans, standsN/A£49 per month for the Lite plan, £69 per month for the Pro plan (billed annually)
EPOS Now Retail SystemRetail businesses£1,199£47 per month
Casio V-R7000/V-R7100Retail businessesContact providerContact provider
Revel retail POS systemRetail businesses with lots of stockAvailable upon requestAvailable upon request
First Data retail (now Fiserv)Retail businesses who run in-store promotionsAvailable upon requestAvailable upon request
TouchBistro Restaurant and Hospitality POS SystemHospitality businessesN/A£49 per month plus VAT for one licence (billed annually). Further licences are available with additional charges
Lightspeed hospitality POSRestaurants, bars and clubsN/AMost popular plan starts at £59 per month (with an annual plan on a per store basis)
iZettle ProBars, cafes and restaurantsCan connect to your own equipment.

Store Kit - Mini costs £189 without an iPad, or £458 with a 32GB Space Grey iPad.

Store Kit - food and drink costs £399 without an iPad; £668 with an iPad

Store Kit - retail costs £599 without an iPad; £868 with an iPad

Additional hardware also available.
App monthly costs: iZettle Go - £0 per month. iZettle Go Plus - £29 per month (a 14-day free trial is available).
iikoFood and drink businessesAvailable upon requestSoftware PAYG subscription costs: Basic - £49 per month, professional - £69 per month, enterprise - £99 per month (price per till)

Bella Middleton, founder at Norfolk Natural Living, describes the process of choosing an EPOS system:When we opened our first shop, the EPOS system was quite literally the last thing we thought about. It is funny how the actual system for bringing in money doesn’t seem like a priority – until you actually need to bring in money! 

“Our website is built on Shopify, who provide their own EPOS system. That’s the one we eventually opted for. Primarily because it meant that we only had to load up and stock-manage our products onto one system rather than loads of them. 

“Not to get too technical and boring but it also integrates reasonably well with the software we use to keep track of our raw ingredients (which is called Unleashed). So we always know exactly what we have in the shop and then how much we can make before it’s time to reorder ingredients.”

EPOS Software

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 POS software providers for a small business to choose from, there are likely to be some 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.

vend pos

An example of selling products using Vend

Here are some main, common features of POS software for small business:

  • Selecting products: Till systems allow staff to select the right products or services to charge for. Choosing products 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 multiple 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.
vend pos

This is what Vend’s retail dashboard looks like

  • 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.
  • Ecommerce: 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 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.

Cheapest POS software for small business

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 companies, and this often means that smaller budgets can be met as well as large budgets.

These providers all offer some of the cheapest POS software and systems to suit a small business.

ProviderPrice
EPOS Now£1,199 total; £47 per month
EPOS DirectStarting from £1,199 total; £23.99 per week across 12 months
iZettle ProStore kits (without an iPad) available from £189; Go app available for free, Go Plus costs £29 per month, ith a 14-day free trial available

Take a look at our full list of small business POS systems below or fill in the form at the top of this page to receive quotes directly from suppliers – helping you to make the right choice for your business's needs.

Middleton adds:From a customer service perspective, an EPOS system is so important. It is tempting (when you first start out) to skip it altogether, to just use a basic card reader or even just take cash. The problem with that is it removes a layer of support for the staff on the tills. In turn, that removes a layer of support from the customers. It’s a knock-on effect that you can avoid by just using an EPOS system to start with. If a customer wants to know if a particular ingredient is in a product, for example, the person in the shop can just tap two buttons on the EPOS screen and tell them. It saves making phone calls or finding things on bottles. It just makes the whole thing a lot smoother. 

“The same is true for stock. “When will this be back in stock?” is never a good question because it means you have made a mistake with your stock control. But it happens, occasionally. And it’s great to be able to answer just by looking at a screen. Even better, we can take an order there and then and post the item to the customer once it’s in – it’s easy. 

“Then we hit the dreaded m word. Marketing. I won’t go too far down this road (because I could talk for hours about it!) but there is a common misconception that people don’t like being marketed to. Or that marketing emails just annoy people. Or that it is invasive to ask for somebody’s email address at the till. All of those things can be true if you are doing it wrong. If you get marketing – particularly email marketing – right, it is a real asset to the customer. 

“Our EPOS allows us to take a customer’s email address as they order. We don’t force people – just a friendly offer. Then, we automatically send them an email explaining more about the process of making the particular product they bought, along with advice for using it and other things they might consider pairing it with in the future. It’s all helpful stuff – never about selling. Having an EPOS and a good email marketing system (we use SendInBlue, though Klaviyo or even MailChimp would also work) that can work together opens up a whole world of customer service possibilities.”

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.

lightspeed pos

Lightspeed POS

Some hardware POS features include:

  • Touchscreens (either all-in-one units or terminal add-ons) – simply tap the screen to complete transactions or use the software
  • Barcode scanners – read codes on products. For more information, read our barcode scanner essentials article
  • Credit card readers – process card transactions with these devices
  • Cheque readers – extra security when processing cheque payments
  • Cash drawers – store cash safely and securely
  • Receipt printers – print paper receipts
  • PIN pads – allow PIN codes to be entered when processing card payments 
  • Electronic cash register terminals – for digital payment processing
  • Off-the-shelf personal computers – EPOS hardware for a set location
  • Tablets – mobile payment processing
  • Mobile phones – take payments wherever you are
  • Checkout scales – weigh items for accurate payment 

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 set-up 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:

1. Complete all-in-one POS systems – best for simple setup

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.

2. Mobile POS systems – best for taking payments on-the-go

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 and 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.

3. Retail POS systems – best for industry-specific features

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.

4. Restaurant and hospitality POS systems – best for specialist sector requirements

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.

Middleton continues: On that note, my biggest piece of advice to other founders is to think about the future. Some call this scalability. If you’re choosing systems now, you should make sure they will still be suitable a year down the line. Otherwise, you are going to waste a lot of time switching things over. Look at the way it integrates with other systems that you use now and systems that you think you might need in the future.”

Compare the best small business Point of Sale systems

To sum up, when it comes to choosing a POS system in the UK, you have to consider what your business needs specifically: 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, the customisation you'll want, and your budget. An EPOS system for a small business should bring with it a worthwhile return on investment.

And, with UK cardholders completing 1.5 billion transactions on their debit cards in August 2019, a 9.3% increase since August 2018, it reinforces how important it is for businesses to be able to accept card payments.

The best way to find the perfect fit is to request quotes directly from top suppliers based on your business requirements. Reduce the amount of time you need to spend researching EPOS systems – it only takes a minute to complete the quick and easy form at the top of this page to compare EPOS system suppliers

Bryn Glover
Bryn Glover

Editor

As Editor of Startups, Bryn runs content strategy and our annual campaigns. A lover of small business, you can find him writing about exciting entrepreneurs and UK industry trends.

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