A Point of Sale (POS) system is the hardware and software used to process a credit or debit card transaction. It works by magnetically scanning your card as you swipe, reading the encrypted information and sending a request for funds from your bank or card company. The system also tracks sales volume and charges the merchant a standard 2.5 per cent card processing fee for use of the machine.
MICROS Systems, a juggernaut in the restaurant POS industry, provides a high quality POS/employee management hardware/software combination that is ideal for high volume retail and restaurants. The hardware is compact and built into a touch-style monitor, including receipt printer and a card reader. The software features are flexible and include everything from age verification, customer information management, multiple payments per transaction, multiple security levels, time clock and employee management.
The Dell/QuickBooks combination is a POS software that works in tandem with Dell-provided hardware. The standard hardware provided at purchase includes a monitor, bar code scanner, receipt/ label printer, cash drawer, keyboard/mouse and of course, the computing system. Missing from the hardware package, the Dell/QuickBooks set-up does not provide a card reader. However, the software system has the capability to connect with an external card reader while also managing the incoming data.
One of the most robust systems within this list, the Dell/QuickBooks software system features layaway processing, multiple payments per transaction, gift registry/certificate creation, customer management information gathering, transaction history, search by SKU functionality and the ability to print shipping labels, bar codes, price tags, shelf tags or custom labels.
Standard to most other systems, this system does not provide a time clock, the ability to track commissions, multiple security levels, photo image inventory, credit limit awareness or age verification capabilities.
QuickBooks Point of Sale Pro
Slightly lower cost than the Dell/QuickBooks combination, QuickBooks Point of Sale Pro is a POS software. While lacking in hardware, QuickBooks POS Pro supports substantially more functionality than its Dell/QuickBooks counterpart. Extra features include a picture viewer which shows an image of the item to be purchased, multiple security levels, a time clock and commission tracking capability. The software also comes with a training manual and training video.
Yet another robust hardware/software POS system, Effortless E has the unique feature of free web-based transaction capability along with its ability to process in-store transactions. The hardware includes a monitor, bar code scanner, receipt/ label printer, card reader and cash drawer. The only item missing from its hardware is a mouse.
The software capabilities of effortless E include multiple payments per transaction, gift registry/certificate, picture viewer, customer and transaction information management, credit limit awareness, search by SKU functionality, multiple levels of security and a time clock. As for label printing, its comparable to every other POS system in its ability to print bar code labels, price tags, shelf tags, shipping label and custom labels.
The General Store
The General Store, as its name would suggest, provides just about everything for POS processing that a merchant will need. The hardware includes the essentials like a card reader, monitor, bar code scanner, cash drawer and receipt printer, but it stakes its claim as the most robust system on the list due to its features.
The features of The General Store include layaway processing, multiple payment processing per transaction, gift registry, customer information and transaction management, credit limit awareness, inventory criteria grouping, search by SKU, reorder function, shipment received tracking, password protected, multiple security levels and employee management with both a time clock and commission tracking. The only functionality The General Store does not provide is label printing.
Runit is an fee-based online POS solution that is managed/ implemented using a their online platform as opposed to POS hardware.The Runit system is capable of processing standard transactions such as layaways, gift tokens and special orders. However, because of its online format, it does not have the ability to verify age or provide multiple payments per transaction.
In the area of customer tracking, Runit is as robust as any hardware POS system, providing customer information management, transaction history tracking, and credit limit awareness. Due to its online format however, it is unable to print labels, price tags or bar codes, although this is usually not a requirement for web-based merchants.
One of the weaker POS platforms, the POS-X provides most of the hardware capabilities, but lacks many of the standard features possessed by other systems. The only item missing from the hardware is the ability to print labels. Other than that, it provides everything from bar code reading to keyboard/ mouse to complete offline transactions.
The software of the POS-X closely matches the capabilities of the online based Runit system, with the added benefit of multiple payments per transaction, age verification, and multiple security levels. Missing from the software features, the POS-X cannot provide gift registry/certificate capability, inventory grouping or a time clock.
Squashpos, another fee-based online POS provider, has the strongest solution for online merchants due to its comprehensive range of features that rival the hardware based POS systems. The system features lack only in the area of age verification, time clock and commission tracking. Other than that, it carries all the customer tracking, inventory management, security and label printing functionality of its offline competitors.
Conquest Business Center
The Conquest Business Center is unique in its dual online/hardware service application. A merchant can choose to use the online service for a monthly fee or pay for a on-time hardware package.The hardware includes bar code reader, receipt printer, monitor, card reader and cash drawer, but lacks a label printer and keyboard/mouse.
Besides its inability to process layaways, remain aware of customer credit limits or print labels, the software features are extensive; including employee management, customer tracking, transaction history and multiple level security.
Carrying the least features and functionality, the Semicron Systems POS system comes in at last place. But, with a slightly lower cost than its competitors, it may make it a more viable option for a business on a shoe string budget. Without the ability to read cards or print labels, the hardware capabilities are a bit lacking. The software, however, is well-rounded in that it provides some functionality in all the important areas including customer information tracking, employee management/security, inventory tracking and potential label printing (with a third party printer).