Retail Solutions

Point of Sale Systems: The Ultimate Guide

Point of Sale Systems: The Ultimate Guide
Point of Sale Systems: The Ultimate Guide

Point of Sale Systems: The Ultimate Guide


If you’re in the market for a point of sale system, our ultimate guide contains everything you need to decide which POS is right for your business.

In this guide you’ll find useful information that will help you discover your perfect retail management solution, including what features to expect, and which questions to ask to make sure your new system is exactly right for your needs. This guide will cover:


⭐ What is a Point of Sale (POS) System

⭐ Why invest in an electronic point of sale

⭐ What are the key POS features

⭐ What is POS software

⭐ What is POS hardware

⭐ All about Integrations

⭐ How much does it cost

⭐ Asking the right questions


Point of Sale Systems: The Ultimate Guide


⭐ What is a Point of Sale (POS) System


A POS system, also known as an EPOS system, is short for electronic point of sale. Effectively, it’s a modern day till system that includes back office capabilities for monitoring, controlling, implementing, and reporting within the business.

The terms POS (or EPOS) are used to collectively describe all of the hardware and software that make up the complete management system used by retailing outlets.

The customer will see the till system(s) based at the checkout, and behind the scenes these will be linked and managed from a central back office system.

The POS system manages the business’s daily functions such as transactions, stock, pricing, customer details, and reporting.


⭐ Why invest in electronic point of sale


POS systems are designed to make your life easier as a business owner or manager.

All modern businesses, even the smaller ones, can benefit from being equipped with these systems. They manage all of your daily transaction information, which is not only useful from an accounts and revenue point of view, but you also gain access to a lot of information about your business which can be analysed, helping you to improve your business strategy and ultimately, increase your profit. Additionally, it’s much faster than trying to juggle your daily tasks manually; in fact, many of your regular tasks can be automated by a good retail management system.


⭐ What are the key POS features


Different systems will have different features, but you should look for the following as a minimum:

  • Transaction and invoice processing
  • Inventory control
  • Product and price management
  • Order and supplier tracking
  • Customisable menus and reports
  • Third party integrations
  • Barcode scanning
  • Promotion capabilities
  • Customer database
  • Staff management

Of course, you may not need all these features right now, but who knows where your business will be a few years down the line? Growth and profit should always be the goal, so make sure your system helps you to achieve this, and doesn’t become obsolete in the process.


⭐ What is point of sale (POS) software


The software element of a point of sale system is the operating system, like Windows or macOS.

It will include two main elements, a till/terminal interface and back office management.

The till/terminal part is the information you see at the checkout. This allows you to locate and select products, check the item details, or add them to a purchase.

The back office is the brains of the setup, the part that controls and processes everything. It’s the back office software that allows you to manage and monitor the various elements of your business. Here is where the products and prices are input, organised, and edited. It organises all your store data, so you can generate reports, balance transactions, create campaigns, and manage customer and supplier accounts.

It’s crucial to remember that not all EPOS software is the same. Good point of sale systems will be aimed at specific sectors, so choosing the right POS for your type of business is vital, in order to get the features that will benefit you the most. If you have a restaurant, for example, the features you need will be very different to that of pharmacy, so choose your supplier with care.


⭐ What is POS hardware


POS (or EPOS) hardware is all of the physical equipment that makes up a system. This is customisable to your individual business and may include items such as:

  • Touch screen
  • Cash drawer
  • Customer display
  • Magnetic stripe reader
  • Barcode scanner
  • Printers (laserjet/receipt/kitchen/label)
  • Mounts and stands
  • PC/monitor
  • Laptop
  • Tablet/mobile device
  • Peripherals (keyboard/mouse etc)
  • Handheld scanners
  • Server
  • Self-scan checkouts


The hardware you need will depend on the size and type of business you have. Some small businesses will just require a single, all-in-one system with a barcode scanner and receipt printer. Large, multi-site business will need much more equipment, but the beauty of POS is that it’s tailored to your requirements. You only buy what you need.


⭐ All about Integrations


Integrations are really important in a modern POS system. Integrated services allow you to ‘bolt-on’ third party supplier services, meaning that your POS software and the third party software work seamlessly together, using shared data.

Most importantly, this allows you to take advantage of specialist services that may not be built in to your POS system, giving you freedom to choose your preferred setup. For example:

  • Payment providers
  • Loyalty programs
  • Vending and dispensing
  • Accounting packages
  • eCommerce
  • Electronic pricing
  • Waste management
  • Cash management

There are all kinds of services your business might want to use, and integrations are vital. For example, if you have a forecourt business, you’ll want to make sure you choose an EPOS system that can work together with your fuel supply system, so that you can correctly charge and monitor the fuel you dispense. Likewise, if you have a multi-platform business (omni-channel) you’ll want your online shop and your physical store to share one stock file, to avoid errors and duplication.


⭐ How much does it cost


The cost of a POS system is going to depend on several factors. The size of your business, the hardware and software you require, the integrations you want, and whether you prefer to purchase your system outright, or arrange a monthly a subscription (SaaS) service.

Prices can vary greatly depending on your requirements, so you’ll need to arrange some quotes for comparison in order to be clear on what it will cost you.

All services will involve some sort of ongoing maintenance costs, so have these clearly highlighted in your quote and factor them in to your budget before making any commitment.

Subscription services tend to have a lower initial outlay with slightly higher monthly costs, which can often be more manageable when starting a new business.

Once you’ve chosen your preferred system/s, request a quote for both options; an outright purchase or a monthly subscription, so you can decide what’s best for your business. Some POS suppliers will offer an interest free payment plan for outright purchases, so be sure to ask about that too.


⭐ Asking the right questions


What features does the system support? Make a list of your requirements, and ensure the system can handle them. Ask what features are available that might be of interest to your business, as there may be bonus tools that you hadn’t even considered.

Is this POS designed for my sector? Point of sale systems offer the best features and benefits when they are designed specifically for your area of business. Make sure the system has been designed with your sector in mind; for example, a restaurant will require very different features to a pharmacy.

What about support services? Discuss what happens after your purchase. What if something goes wrong? Will there be ongoing technical support services, and development for new features and enhancements? Research your potential supplier, and make sure that they are reputable, contactable, and likely to be around for the long-term.

Is it scalable? Scalability is important to ensure that your system can grow with your business. If you decide to expand, will your new system have the capacity to grow with you? If not, you could be forced to buy a complete new system.

Will it work with my third party suppliers? It’s likely you’ll want to utilise services from several suppliers, so if they relate in any way to your POS system, they’ll need to be able to work together. Make a list of your chosen suppliers, e.g. payment providers, accounting software, stocktakers, and ask if the POS system can integrate with them.

Does it support user accounts? Does the system allow you to set up user accounts and create permission levels? This ensures that staff can only access the information they are authorised to view or edit.

What about data speed and safety? Your data is a precious resource. Ideally, data should transfer in real time and be available instantly throughout the store. If there is any delay, e.g. if data is only synced hourly, this can lead to errors so it’s important to avoid this. Also, ask about data back up and security, to make sure it can’t be lost or stolen. An off-site cloud back up service is the most secure way to protect your data.

How about size and mobility? Make sure the solution fits your needs. Plan out the size and location of all necessary equipment to ensure a tidy and practical fit. Consider whether you may need to move equipment, or access the system remotely.

Is it easy to use? No matter how many features your new system has, you need to be able to use it, and train others to use it. Ask for a demonstration to make sure the system is intuitive and easy to learn.

Can I see some testimonials? There’s no better way to find out about a supplier than to see what their existing customer have to say about them. Check their website and online business pages for reviews and make sure they have happy customers.


Point of Sale Systems: The Ultimate Guide



Who are we?


Retail Solutions is a market-leading EPOS provider with over 25 years of business experience. Our leading sectors are convenience storessupermarketsforecourtspharmacies, off licences, and coffee shops.

We are dedicated to providing your store with the most up to date and reliable point of sale hardware, along with software management tools to help you manage your business effectively.

Our self-checkout partners are NCR, who are global leaders in self-checkout technology.



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About the author:


Susan McGuire is originally from London, United Kingdom, and has now lived in Galway, Ireland, for 15 years. She has been with Retail Solutions for almost 7 of those, and during that time has enjoyed various roles within the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing. You can follow her on LinkedIn!

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