Best Liquor Store POS Systems
Growing up, as I did, in a conservative household, liquor stores always felt a bit seedy. There was an element of danger to them, as if just opening the door and walking inside (even when of a legal drinking age) would be setting yourself up for negative consequences. Now? I could spend hours perusing an individual store’s selection, reading descriptions on bottles from the scores of local distilleries that have all cropped up seemingly overnight.
Liquor stores are unique businesses with constantly fluctuating inventory and price changes, meaning that choosing an effective point of sale system is extremely important. Businesses that sell liquor, like grocery and convenience stores, have the same needs. You’ll need to make sure the system is strong in certain very important areas. If you’re looking for a good POS to manage the sale of both liquor and food, you’re going to want to read our post on the best POS software for bars and nightclubs. If you’re just selling the hard stuff, read on!
Table of Contents
What To Look For In A Liquor Store POS
Age Verification Tools
Naturally, with the drinking age set at twenty-one (criminal, I know), you’re going to need to remember to verify a person’s age before you can sell them any of your fine wares. Blood tests are expensive and only accurate within nine years of the person’s actual age, so you’re probably going to want a POS system that prompts your cashier to check the customer’s ID before completing the transaction.
Fortunately, America is a democracy, and that’s great. Unfortunately, democracies love making laws, and there are numerous regulations governing the distribution of alcohol. For example, you have to be able to track and report all of the alcoholic beverages that arrive at your store, along with where they came from.
If some college kid is throwing the biggest party since the end of prohibition and buys twenty gallons of wine (or more) at one time, you have to record the date of sale, the kid’s name and address, what and how much he bought, and the serial numbers of any full cases of distilled spirits. In short, you will need some way to track your customers and their purchases.
Though I am reluctant to compare your relationship with your employees to that of the US and Soviet Russia, the Russian/Reagan proverb “trust, but verify” works pretty well here. Sure, you’d like to believe your employees are going to be honest and ethical every time they walk through the door and don their multi-colored aprons (or whatever your store uniform ends up being), but this is not always the case. Fortunately, most POS systems come equipped with the ability to assign unique pins or swipeable cards to employees. With this feature, you can track individual employees’ voided transactions, refunds, exchanges, comps, or any other questionable actions. Of course, you can always designate permissions for your employees, only allowing them to perform certain functions within the system.
Even a small liquor store will have thousands of individual products – if not more — and keeping track of every bottle or item on hand can be daunting. A good POS system will help with inventory control, allowing you to document and track how much you have in stock at any given time and account for losses due to theft. Your POS solution can even prompt you to reorder when supplies are getting low.
Now that you know what elements make for a good liquor store POS, here are some of the top restaurant and retail POS systems on the market for use in liquor stores:
mPower Beverage is a point of sale system specifically designed for liquor stores, so you would expect it to have a leg up on other, broader systems on the market. And you wouldn’t be disappointed. mPower is outstanding at what it does. There is a custom inventory system that allows you to easily review products on hand (and sales history) on one intuitive screen while also predicting inventory needs in the future. Purchase orders can be created within the program or directly by the vendor, whichever you prefer.
mPower also offers a built-in loyalty system that keeps track of money spent and can be customized to give different rewards for purchasing different products. The program is searchable, making it easy to track repeat customers; it can store personalized information about individuals, and offer store credit. There are more than 70 different reports offered as well, and permissions can be assigned to individual employees — a definite bonus in an industry where turnover is high. mBeverage can even create custom reports if a client needs something even more specific. Integrations are a nice feature with mBeverage, which offers Beverage Media, BottleCapps, Drizly, Drync, MiniBar as well as QuickBooks for accounting
Lightspeed Retail (read our review) is one of the more versatile retail POS systems around, and with a flexible pricing structure, it’s likely they have all the features your liquor store will need to thrive. Lightspeed has a strong inventory system, allowing for data to be imported via a CSV or Excel file. Stock can be ordered directly through the POS and you can create a single purchase order for multiple vendors.
Lightspeed offers terrific reporting capabilities, allowing for real-time analysis. Its employee tracking lets you see who is ringing up what products and cuts down on the potential for fraud. Its gift card system is also top notch, storing customer information and predicting future purchases.
As a bonus, Lightspeed can be exceptionally mobile, allowing employees to walk around the store and pull up descriptions of various spirits that can be programmed into the system. With its own integrated payments system and multi-store functionality, Lightspeed is an all-in-one solution.
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ShopKeep (read our review) isn’t the cheapest system on the market, but there’s a reason why we have it rated 5 stars. If you’re looking for fantastic reporting and inventory management, it’s difficult to do better than this POS. All inventory can be imported in just minutes, and alerts can be set up for when a product is running low.
Shopkeep has excellent reporting, with an easy-to-read layout to assess what items are selling well and which ones should probably be nixed. Employee hours and permissions can all be viewed remotely and organized on the back-end, and sales histories for each register are tracked.ShopKeep’s mobile app is also outstanding, allowing you to check on sales in real time and manage multiple locations from the palm of your hand. The POS integrates with many of the standard accounting programs and can be customized to meet the needs of your business. Again, many of these come at an added cost, meaning that you might be able to find exactly what you need for a cheaper price. However, ShopKeep certainly has the functionality to meet even the most complex liquor store’s needs.
KORONA.pos (read our review) is a cloud-based system that is intended to fit the needs of most small to mid-sized businesses. The retailer will work with a business to set up a POS specifically designed to handle whatever that business might need and there are a handful of functions that are tailor-made for liquor stores. KORONA has the capability to handle millions of products. That may be a bit more than your single store is processing, but it shows KORONA’s commitment to inventory management. There is a nice feature that runs automatic inventory audits and can identify discrepancies quickly. When you run a full inventory count, KORONA creates intelligent count sheets automatically.
Security is also a strong suit for this POS. Every transaction is saved and can be monitored, and suspicious transactions are immediately flagged. Its reporting capabilities are robust and can identify products that are cutting into the business’s profit margin. KORONA offers a strong number of integrations and, with an unlimited free trial available and low starting price point, it should be a strong contender for most liquor stores.
talech (read our review) is another competitively priced POS that can be customized to meet the needs of a business owner. One of the best things about talech is its customer management. This POS can upload customer information and then create custom marketing campaigns.
As you would expect, its inventory management is also top-notch. You can generate your own barcodes, saving you valuable time and eliminating the need to buy an additional scanner. Price changes can be added to categorized groups. Products, categories, and discounts can also be synced across multiple locations, which is a huge benefit for liquor stores as prices are constantly fluctuating. With talech, you can make your own purchase orders and get alerts when inventory is low. For security, the POS offers a manager swipe card, making it possible for only the person in charge to void orders or perform other administrative actions. For integrations, talech is teamed up with OneSaaS to offer more than 30 different programs.
Managing a profitable liquor store can be a tricky proposition. You have to obtain and maintain your liquor license. There is a large amount of inventory to keep track of with prices and discounts that need to be updated daily. There are also many instances of theft in the industry, making security of the utmost importance. But, fortunately, a good point of sale system can alleviate a lot of that stress. Many systems can meet your basic needs, but we believe the apps on the list will provide you with a good jumping off point.
Looking for a receipt printer, a cash register, an iPad stand, or other POS hardware for your liquor store or bar? Read our guide to saving money when buying POS hardware.
Know of a good liquor store POS we didn’t mention? Use any of the systems above? Let us know in the comments!
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