Types of POS systems for restaurants, retail, and beyond
Whether you’re already using one or are just beginning to explore what’s out there, knowing your options is an important next step in growing your business, your way. This article will help you understand what’s available so you can choose one that aligns with your goals.
What is a POS system?
A POS system is a combination of hardware (like a tablet, phone, or kiosk) and software (a digital program that tracks things like inventory and applies taxes). It enables businesses to accept orders and payments.
POS systems can vary in complexity from basic configurations with payment processing and sales tracking to more robust configurations with capabilities like inventory management, built-in marketing solutions, third-party integrations, customer loyalty programs, and more.
Together, these functions let businesses of all sizes and types have more control over their sales, operations, and customer experience.
Benefits of using a POS system
The right POS system can enhance the customer experience and be a boon for your business. The best will be a one-stop shop for making your business run smoother. A non-exhaustive list of benefits you may see include:
- More efficient inventory management
- Fewer out-of-stock surprises
- Actionable data about sales trends and customer behavior
- Built-in tipping functionality
- Increased sales capacity without the need to hire
- Easily scalable from start-up to enterprise
- More repeat business with customer loyalty programs
- Streamlined on- and off-premises operations
Which POS software is best?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. What’s great for one business may be a headache for another. Some things to look out for:
- Ease of use (for you and your customers)
- Location and flexibility
- Initial and monthly costs
- Devices (whether you can use your own or need specialized hardware)
Which types of POS systems are good for which businesses?
No matter the type, a good POS system will do 2 things really well:
- Make it easier for customers to pay you
- Make it easier for you to run your business
The first is a no-brainer. The more seamless the payment is, the more likely a customer will have a positive experience. And positive experiences lead to repeat business. The second is more personal. Your business goals will affect which type of POS system will work for you. Below is an overview of the leading types of POS systems to help you understand which may be right for your business.
In-store POS systems
In-store POS systems are wifi-connected, hardwired devices that live permanently in and around stores. These take payments and track sales, inventory, and analytics, to name a few features.
Some versions sit at checkout counters. These tend to be tablets attached to stands and often include a customer-facing display with a card reader, barcode scanner, and cash drawer.
Others are stand-alone digital displays with scanners placed throughout the store. These let customers easily look up product information, such as price and availability.
Since these are stationary, they typically benefit retail stores, fast-casual restaurants, and grocery or convenience stores.
Kiosk POS systems
Kiosk POS systems, also known as self-service POS systems, are specifically designed to let customers purchase and check out on their own. These are stand-alone entities where customers can scan, order, and make a payment. They also supply you with powerful sales and management tools.
All kiosks are wifi-enabled. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, though most have a permanent stand, interactive display, touchscreen, and card reader.
Because kiosks enable a contactless, frictionless checkout, they allow staff to focus on other things, like hospitality, inventory, and serving. Consider this option for restaurants and physical stores such as grocery, convenience, and retail.
Mobile POS systems
Mobile POS systems let you take payments quickly and reliably from your phone, plus they give you robust analytics about sales and inventory.
At a minimum, mobile POS systems require a phone, a card reader, and wifi or cell service. This makes them great for businesses that travel: food trucks and market or event vendors.
With the addition of a stand or docket, mobile POS systems are flexible enough to place on countertops for use in restaurants and coffee shops.
Touchscreen POS systems
A touchscreen POS system can be used on any handheld device, like a phone or tablet. Portable and flexible, these have an easy-to-use digital display and interface that are designed for taking mobile payments.
With the addition of a card reader and, sometimes, a docket, touchscreen POS systems let you capture digital signatures, provide contactless sales, and process card payments offline.
Great for restaurants and businesses on the go, you can quickly move to helping your next customer.
Cloud-based POS systems
Cloud-based POS systems are hosted entirely online—in the cloud. Similar to accessing the internet or Instagram, a cloud-based POS system lets you log in, manage, update, and track from anywhere you have wifi.
Since these are software-based, they don’t require any additional hardware (other than the phone, computer, or tablet you already use) and so tend to have fewer overhead costs.
This is a great option for businesses of all types that are just starting out.
Open-source POS systems
An open-source POS is web-based, online software that can be fully customized and used from any device. With robust back-end analytics and operational tools, businesses can tailor these systems to fit their unique needs. This makes them a great solution for enterprise businesses.
Consider this option for more advanced users with time and knowledge on their side, since open-source POS systems often require some technical experience.
Multichannel POS systems
Multichannel POS systems integrate sales, employee, operational, and inventory data across all your sales channels: online, in-store, email, newsletter, and beyond. This makes it easier to reach customers anywhere they are, track sales, keep stock up to date, and reward customer loyalty.
Because being open for business everywhere is more important than ever, multichannel POS systems can benefit businesses of all kinds.
The best types of POS systems for restaurants and bars
Restaurants and bars face their own unique requirements: touchless and interactive ordering, mobile and online payments, flexible locations, front- and back-of-house operations, third-party app integrations, and customer loyalty programs, to name a few.
The best POS systems for restaurants and bars are:
Integrated POS software
Whether people are ordering online in apps like Uber Eats or on-premises, this software helps you streamline operations and orders with fewer errors. These are similar to the multichannel POS systems detailed above.
Mobile POS software
Mobile software lets your staff take orders, manage payment, update requests, check inventory, and print receipts all from their phone.
The best types of POS systems for retail
Retail businesses have specific needs: scanning barcodes, looking up product information, managing inventory in-store and online, enabling easy payment, adding taxes, and printing or emailing receipts, just to name a few.
The best POS systems for retail are:
Counter POS systems
Similar to in-store POS systems, these take payments, read cards, print receipts, track inventory, and streamline operations.
Tablet POS systems
These combine the flexibility of a mobile POS system with the larger screen size and interactive display of a counter system, and are similar to the touchscreen POS systems mentioned above.
Card and chip reader POS systems
Contact-free card reading, multiple payment options, and receipt printing—from anywhere you are. These typically accompany mobile and tablet POS systems and can attach to various devices.
Touchscreen POS systems
Similar to tablets, these can be at counters, in kiosks, or at tables. Easy to use and interactive, they let customers place orders and pay with a tap.
POS system software and integrations
Many POS systems have integration capabilities to help streamline technology, smooth operations, and minimize hardware. These enable you to scale with less of a learning curve.
Businesses of all types and sizes can benefit from integrating their POS systems with third-party and delivery apps, like Uber Eats, e-commerce platforms, bookkeeping and accounting software, customer loyalty programs, and payment processors.
Some of the leading POS providers are:
Other leading POS platforms
Changing consumer habits and skyrocketing demand for online ordering makes finding the right POS system to meet your needs easier—and more important—than ever. With countless options available, and more popping up every day, there’s opportunity for businesses of all sizes, types, and budgets to grow.
Learn how Uber Eats works with POS systems
Uber Eats integrates with many of the leading POS systems to help you maximize sales, connect with new customers, and balance online and in-store orders. With the goal to help businesses everywhere grow on their terms, we’re adding new technology and integration partners every day. Whichever POS system you choose, integrating with delivery apps, like Uber Eats, will empower you to meet your customers everywhere they are.
If you’re new to Uber Eats, get started here.
If you’re an existing partner, learn how to integrate Uber Eats with your current POS system.
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