5 Types of Point of Sale

The POS options available to businesses range from payment processors that can manage large multi-location businesses down to small mobile ones. Here is a brief description of each as well as a few suggested businesses for which they are suitable to help you decide which POS system might work best for your company.

1. Tablet POS

iPad and Android POS solutions are becoming more and more popular, since you can often use a tablet you have and they require minimal upfront investment. Some tablet POS services require a low monthly subscription, and you can select your own credit card processor, while others are completely free with credit card processing. Many support compatible hardware such as barcode readers, tablet stands, and cash drawers. Some can manage complex inventory situations and employee time tracking, while others are rudimentary applications.

Tablet POS systems are good for mobile vendors, gift shops, quick-service restaurants, juice bars, coffee shops, small retail stores, salons, professional services, small theaters, pizzerias, sandwich shops, ice cream parlors, and art galleries.

Tablet POS systems are best for smaller to midsize businesses like the above because they’re usually cheaper than a local server POS.

Tablet POS Selection Criteria

There are few different criteria you should use to compare platforms if you’re a retailer looking to switch to a tablet POS system. These include price, support, customer feedback, and functionality. Price is always a top factor to consider when choosing a solution. You need to pay attention to fees and other costs depending on how many stores you own.

Each platform will have core functionality that all retailers need like inventory count, product lookup, and fast checkout. It’s the extra features like customer management and reporting that determine your business’s success. To see if a platform can be trusted, always look to a company’s current users.

Your tablet POS software should be able to integrate well into the long-term vision of your business. It will need to integrate with your accounting software or an e-commerce store in case you decide to take your business to the next level.

Finally, you need reliable support, because the software won’t always work optimally.

2. Mobile Point-of-Sale

Mobile POS services can manage some inventory and customer information and process payments. The app is usually free in exchange for payment processing. You’ll get a free card reader from most payment processors. This is a suitable point-of-sale option if you don’t have a lot of inventory to manage and you need to be mobile. Most providers will offer a portable receipt printer. Receipts can be emailed to your customers directly from the app.

Mobile POS systems work best for fair or event vendors, street vendors, freelance or contract works, farmer’s market vendors, contracted professional services, music merchandise vendors, mobile services, daycare providers, lawn care services, and limo services.

3. Terminal POS

Terminal POS systems are those people normally see at the counter. While they are software or hardware-based, most still require Internet access and might even use cloud-based software. They are often sold as all-in-one solutions including cash drawers and barcode scanners. Many services also provide cloud-based backup and  24/7/365 support. The former also makes it easy to limit employee Internet access because they can be configured to run the POS software alone.

If they’re used in restaurants, they may be integrated with kitchen printers, tableside Wi-Fi portable devices, patron tablet ordering, and online ordering. Retail versions can include e-commerce integration, extensive inventory tools, and label printing. Some terminal POS systems are “free” in exchange for credit card processing payment.

Terminal POS systems are best for very busy retailers, such as full-service restaurants and grocery stores, but also for spas, boutiques, salons, antique stores, and bookshops or magazine shops.

4. Self-Service Kiosk POS

Usually, self-service kiosk POS systems are specialized solutions with a specific purpose. For example, you may offer a self-service kiosk to manage parking space payment and time or for clients to purchase movie tickets. Another useful option is setting up a few kiosks in a big retail store for your clients to check pricing and product availability.

It’s also possible to use these systems for patient check-ins and human resources. Mobile apps might replace some popular uses such as ticket sales, check-ins, and product search regardless of the industry.

These POS systems are recommended if you are a grocer or in ticket sales, selling transportation passes, doing patient check-ins, or in human resources or parking.

5. Online Point-of-Sale

You can use your own hardware – a tablet or PC – with an online POS. Another benefit involves minimal startup costs. PC solutions cannot replace the convenience of a touchscreen, but they could prove fast enough to suit your needs if your business is low volume and high-ticket-price. Low volume also makes the use of a standard printer viable. You can log into an online POS system from anywhere using any device.

Online POS systems are best for small retailers, salons, art galleries, small cafes, consignment stores, pet groomers, and high-ticket retailers.

Cloud-based POS systems can be run on any device that has web access. This means that tablets can be used as cash registers, as per our first group. It is easy to carry a tablet around stores, pop up shops, and event floors. You can sell wherever your customer is. What is more, cloud-based systems can improve the effectiveness of your store operations. You can access sales data anywhere and at any time. The software is very simple to update. Cloud-based POS systems are easier to integrate with your other retail systems such as accounting, your ERP, or your e-commerce store.


The biggest recent change in POS involves the affordable options available for micro and small businesses. It’s no longer necessary to invest big money in costly POS systems. There are now more portable and Wi-Fi options available to ensure quality customer service even though large operations may still require a sizable upfront investment. It shouldn’t be hard to discover the best POS option for your business once you know what you need and have set a budget.

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