The ultimate resource on POS systems.
When you’re looking for the best small business point-of-sale (POS) system, it’s important to understand what kinds of tools you will need to run and grow your business. Modern POS systems do more than just offer flexibility when processing credit card transactions, they improve a merchant’s chances of success by providing them with the tools to streamline business processes.
Your POS system requirements will vary depending on your type of business, the types of sales you make and the tasks you need help with. For example, a dance studio may have different needs than a restaurant, and a small business POS system that works for a home repair professional might not work for a retail shop.
As a small business owner looking for a POS system, cost (initial and ongoing monthly POS costs), PCI compliance, security and ease-of-use should be top-of-mind when choosing the best POS system for your small business.
There are thousands of point-of-sale systems (POS systems) available in the market today. As a payment processing company first and foremost, we are POS system agnostic. Our primary goal is to help our customers identify their needs. We have developed the following POS System Guide to help merchants make the POS buying process simple.
Before we begin, it is important to understand there are many methods of credit card processing today, including POS systems, such as:
The processing technology built into the POS system.
A device that interfaces with payment cards to make electronic funds transfers — the most traditional payment processing method today.
Payment processing from any browser using a payment gateway; some features are very similar to that of a POS system.
An easy, online transaction meant to extend your reach to your customers online.
Mobile Payment Processing
Technologies that allow merchants to use mobile devices to accept credit and debit card payments – accept mobile payments using our app and accept payments and manage inventory anywhere your business takes you.
Table of Contents
What is a POS System?
A point-of-sale system (POS for short) lets you ring up sales and accept payments. It’s like a cash register with a brain, and it can be broken down into three basic components:
A POS has hardware that allows you to accept payments. If you’re getting a new POS system, you should make sure it accepts all forms of payments including: cash, credit cards (especially EMV chip cards) and mobile payments (such as Apple Pay). If it makes sense for your business, your POS system should also print receipts, store cash in cash drawers and scan bar codes.
POS software is like your command center — at a basic level, it allows you to find items in your inventory library and ring up customer sales. More robust point-of-sale solutions also feature helpful tools such as: sales reporting, inventory management and more.
POS systems can also take care of routing funds to your bank account after each sale.
Important Factors to Remember When Selecting a POS System:
- Initial setup cost (time and money)
- Payment processing costs (e.g., % of sale + charge per transaction)
- Other monthly processing fees (e.g., PCI compliance fee, chargeback fees)
- Equipment costs/rental fees
- POS software fees
- PCI compliance (i.e., how you process payments, connect your systems and manage customers’ data securely)
- Level of mobility
- Ability to accept EMV chip cards
- Ability to accept NFC payments like Apple Pay, Android Pay and contactless cards
- POS software features (e.g., invoices, ability to store customer data safely, inventory management, customer loyalty programs, appointment management)
How do I know when I need a POS System?
If you want to accept credit and debit card payments and have a streamlined system for tracking sales, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a POS system built for small business. Even very small businesses benefit from a good POS system.
Unless you have a solid system for recording each sale electronically, it’s hard to have an accurate understanding of what you’re selling. Basically, the more data you have about your business, the better able you are to make informed decisions. Plus, having a small business POS system helps your business appear more legitimate, which is especially important if you’re just starting out.
Popular POS Features
Some common must-have POS features that small business owners seek include:
The ability to record and analyze sales data within the POS System can help you make informed business decisions.
The ability to log purchases and keep in touch with customers is extremely beneficial.
The ability to manage quantity of stock within the POS system to determine when and how often to reorder inventory is an attractive feature.
Some small business owners want their POS system to provide clock in/clock out tools and manage scheduling and payroll.
Frequently Asked Questions About Small Business POS Systems
1. Do I need to pay a monthly fee for POS software or to use a POS system?
There are many components that can influence the cost of a POS system. We recommend you define what your needs and desired processes are first — this will help you compare the various POS systems equally.
2. What alternatives to a POS system can I use?
If you feel you don’t need a point-of-sale system for your small business but still want to securely accept credit cards, there are a few other credit card solutions:
Mobile Payment Processing
Mobile payments are regulated transactions that take place digitally through your customer’s mobile device, rather than the customer paying for items or services with cash, checks or physical credit cards. They are secure, quick and convenient, hence the growing trend.
Virtual Terminal (Payment Gateway)
Essentially, a virtual terminal transforms your computer into a credit card terminal, allowing you to manually process payments right from your web browser. It is ideal for businesses that do not need an online store per say, but do need to accept remote payments through phone, mail or fax. A virtual terminal is great for taking credit cards over the phone or for remote billing.
3. What’s the difference between POS systems and cash registers?
At their most basic level, small business POS systems include credit card payment hardware and a system that sends the funds to your bank account. POS systems for small businesses can also contain software to help you run and grow your entire business, like detailed sales reports and analytics, marketing tools, customer relationship management, loyalty programs, gift cards, etc. Cash registers, on the other hand, are simply machines that record sales, give change and store money.
4. If I buy a POS system, does that make me PCI compliant?
Not necessarily. PCI compliance requires that you comply with a checklist of requirements designed to ensure sellers and organizations process cardholder data safely and securely to prevent fraud or data breaches. When choosing a point-of-sale system for your small business, you definitely want to make sure it’s PCI compliant. Remember though, just because your POS software or payment processor is PCI compliant, doesn’t guarantee that you are PCI compliant as a merchant. For example, imagine you get a PCI compliant POS system and card terminal. You might think you’re good to go, however, PCI compliance is about your entire payment ecosystem. How secure is your Wi-Fi network? Where do you store customer data? You can learn more about PCI compliance and standards here.
Best POS System for Retail
If you own a retail store, you likely need a small business retail POS system that offers inventory management and can connect to a bar code scanner and receipt printer. TransNational Payments’ point-of-sale system for small business retail stores can do this, and more. Below are some of the retail POS features and small business POS features you should look for:
Scan barcodes when products arrive and add them directly into inventory to save time. Create barcodes on your retail POS system and print labels on any printer to save money. Scan products to streamline customer checkout.
Utilize multiple variations such as size, color and style to track inventory and know what’s in stock. You can create hundreds of combinations and set price, cost and quantity for each.
Accept returns or exchanges with ease on your retail POS system — issue a partial refund or store credit and link store credits directly to customer accounts so you can access it if the receipt is lost.
Manage multiple locations across a single system.
Set up employee permissions and track hours or timesheets.
Order and Payments
Accept multiple forms of payments, split checks and apply tips.
Reporting and Insights
Automatically track revenue by product or employee.
Cash Drawer Management
Track your cash sales and manage your cash drawer.
Best POS System for Home Repair Businesses
If you run a home and repair business or if you are a HVAC, plumbing, electrician or contactor you need a super-mobile POS system for small business that allows you to easily take secure credit card payments at the job site, even if you’re in a remote location without connectivity.
Depending on your needs we recommend two different options:
- Mobile Point-of-Sale System
- Point-of-Sale System
Our mobile point-of-sale system is compatible with Android or iOS operating systems, utilizes a magstripe reader, which is small enough to fit in your pocket and plugs into the headset jack of your iOS or Android device. You can accept EMV chip cards or conduct card-not-present payments. Learn more about accepting mobile payments.
Our second option is a more robust POS system for home repair businesses, field service technicians, plumbers, HVAC and electricians. Below are some of the home repair, HVAC and plumber POS features you should look for:
Mobile Access for Technicians
Empower your technicians with mobile access to all work orders, service records, equipment history and warranty information in the field.
Manage Your CRM and Sales Processes
Enter leads, create proposals, collect down payments and sign documents on your favorite mobile device.
Manage Jobs and Track Employees
View a complete mobile dispatch board or view job progress and timesheet information while out in the field.
Process Work Orders and Create Invoices
Quote options, capture signatures and process credit cards.
View Your Financial Performance
Access key performance indicators, daily sales figures, cash flow and over 100 important financial data points.
Cutting Edge Software Features for Auto Shop Management
Our Auto Shop Software is a web-based management system. This allows your productivity to increase with no software to download and no upgrades to worry about- we manage all of that for you.
Access and manage your company information anytime, any place, and from any smart device. No more late nights at the office doing invoices.
We integrate with the majority of the industry applications and websites including Epicore, Carfax, NextPart, and many more.
Full Appointment Scheduling
Use our integrated Scheduling system and plan your day and schedule your jobs for best efficiency. You can separate appointments by technician, location or any other category you need. We even have an API to allow you to add appointment setting on your own website. Adds the appointment right into your schedule!
Quick VIN And VIN Explosion
With our QuickVIN service from Carfax, you can get your vehicle information using just the vehicle license number and state. No more long, tedious VIN’s to enter. Simply begin typing in the information and it will fill in the rest as you go.
Email and Text Notifications
Notify your customers of status changes on their work via text or email. This notification also includes a link to view pictures of work being done and the preliminary invoice.