The Best 5 Liquor Store POS Systems (& How To Choose The Right One For Your Business)
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, such as 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 only selling the hard stuff, read on!
Whether you’re just starting up and don’t know what you need, or you are switching POS systems because what you have isn’t solving your problems, having a proper liquor store POS will benefit your business and make it more efficient — and even save you money. For example, liquor stores have to navigate a lot of regional and municipal laws that can be a pain, and a quality POS can at least solve some of those problems. A liquor POS can allow you to set multiple sales tax rates for different types of alcohol and offer strong reporting features for compliance. Liquor store POS software also has industry-specific features, such as age verification for alcohol purchases.
So which liquor store POS system should you buy? In this post, I’ve conveniently compiled our top choices of POS systems for liquor stores.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
What Is The Best Liquor Store POS System?
A liquor POS system helps store owners manage their liquor inventory, see their top sellers, market to their best customers, and even sell liquor online. Cloud POS meets all of these liquor POS needs and more. If you’re looking for a POS system for a liquor store, read on to learn about the top choices on the market.
1. Lightspeed Retail
Best premium POS option.
Lightspeed Retail, pricing for which ranges from $69 to $229/month (billed annually, with Lightspeed Payments), is one of the more advanced iPad and desktop retail POS systems around. If you have the budget for it, it’s highly likely Lightspeed has all the features your liquor store will need to thrive. Lightspeed has an exceptionally strong inventory system that integrates your in-store and online sales. Stock can be ordered directly through the POS, and you can create a single purchase order for multiple vendors.
Lightspeed also 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. Lightspeed’s gift card system is also top-notch at 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. Lightspeed additionally has age verification apps (paid add-ons) for both in-person and online sales. For example, the BlueCheck Age Verification add-on lets liquor store cashiers scan IDs and then attach the record to the Lightspeed customer profile. For Lightspeed eCommerce customers who sell liquor online, the AdVision Age Verification app lets you verify the ages of customers ordering from your web store.
With its own integrated payments system and multistore functionality, Lightspeed is an all-in-one solution.
- Complete inventory management
- Numerous integrations
- In-house loyalty program
- Can be expensive, including add-ons and advanced features
- Costs more if you don’t want to use in-house payment processing (Lightspeed Payments)
2. Square for Retail
Square For Retail
Best for free online ordering.
As you might guess from its name, Square for Retail is Square’s retail-focused POS solution. This system works on either the iPad or Square Register. It has many useful features for liquor stores, including customer profiles, local delivery, and curbside pickup options as well as management tools for inventory, employees, customers, and vendors.
Square for Retail comes with a free Square Online Store, which liquor store owners can use to sell alcohol online. Depending on the laws in your area, you can offer local delivery or curbside pickup, so customers can place orders online and receive them that same day. However, Square doesn’t have an age verification or ID scanning feature, so you’ll have to remember to check IDs manually.
As for pricing, there is both a free version and a paid version of Square for Retail, and the right one for you depends on how advanced your needs are. You might choose Square for Retail Free if you don’t need employee management, inventory management, or advanced reporting. Or you can go with Square for Retail Plus ($60/month) if you need those and other advanced features, such as item costing and the ability to send and receive purchase orders. You can see the full breakdown of which features come with each plan on Square’s website. We also have a comparison of Square POS (non-retail version) and Square for Retail, which you might find useful if you’re deciding between those two products: Comparing Square POS & Square For Retail.
Though it offers some inventory features, Square for Retail’s inventory management system is not as advanced as that of a dedicated inventory management software, which might have useful features, such as costs-by-lot and inventory forecasting. If you need those kinds of features, it is better to use the free version of Square with a program such as Shopventory. For more info, read Shopventory VS Square For Retail: Which Is Right For Me?
- Free version
- Local delivery and curbside pickup options
- Send and receive purchase orders
- Built-in employee management
- No ID scanning or age-verification feature
- Some limitations to inventory
Best all-around option.
ShopKeep, offered on a quote basis, is a small business POS that can be used to sell food and beverages or to sell retail items; this makes ShopKeep perfect for liquor stores, which share features with both the food and retail industries. ShopKeep is affordable and intuitive, and even if it is not the most advanced retail POS in existence (you can’t use it to create purchase orders, for example), most smaller liquor stores will find this POS provides all the functionality they need for an affordable monthly price.
You can run ShopKeep on an iPad, Clover hardware, such as the Clover Mini, and Android hardware, such as the Sunmi T2 Lite. ShopKeep has many useful features for liquor stores, including sales restrictions that allow businesses to regulate the sale of specific items based on customer age or purchase quantity. For alcoholic beverage sales, cashiers can scan a customer’s ID with a supported 2D scanner or enter their DOB manually. To give customers a socially-distanced liquor purchasing experience, you can have customers order online for curbside pickup at your store, then come out to their car and process their payment (and verify their age) using an iPad with a lightning port credit card swiper or Clover Flex.
ShopKeep also has inventory management features for liquor stores, including its reorder reporting with triggers for reordering, inventory value reporting, barcode printing, and matrix inventory to track products with variants easily. You also get employee management features and the ability to set multiple tax rates. ShopKeep offers in-house payment processing and can also integrate with another payment processor of your choice.
- Built-in ID scanning
- No-contract, pay-as-you-go monthly pricing
- Online ordering module
- Multiple payment processing options
- No purchase order features
- Some limits to inventory
Best for the choice of hardware setups.
talech is another competitively-priced cloud POS that can be customized to meet the needs of any type of business. talech gives liquor store owners a lot of options, including three plans ranging from $29 to $99/month, depending on which features you want. You also have a choice of payment processors that includes Vantiv, Elavon, Bank of America Merchant Services, and others as well as multiple hardware setup choices, including Android, iPad registers, and the option of Poynt smart terminals or standard payment terminals.
One of the best things about talech is its customer management. This POS can upload customer information and then create custom marketing campaigns. The POS also comes with BOGO discounts, barcode label printing, inventory alerts, online ordering, and external integrations (QuickBooks, Shopify, Xero, and more), depending on which plan you choose.
talech’s inventory management is also top-notch. You can generate your own barcodes, saving you valuable time as well as eliminating the need to buy an additional scanner. Price changes can be added to categorized groups. Products, categories, and discounts can also sync across multiple locations, which is a huge benefit for liquor stores, as prices are constantly fluctuating. With talech, you can make your 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. talech does not have a built-in age verification feature, but you can use an integrated app, such as Barpro, to scan IDs using your Poynt terminal.
- Multiple options for hardware and payment processing
- Strong inventory management
- Strong customer management
- Can set multiple tax rates
- Weak offline capability
- Some reporting limitations
5. Korona CLOUD POS
KORONA CLOUD POS
Best budget POS option.
With plans starting at $49/month, KORONA is a budget-priced cloud-based system that runs on Mac, PC, Linux computers, and Windows tablets. KORONA is intended to fit the needs of most small to mid-sized businesses, including liquor stores. In fact, KORONA offers a handful of functions that are tailor-made for liquor stores. Some features liquor store owners will appreciate include age verification reminders, theft prevention features, automatic reordering, and overstock alerts.
KORONA also 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. With an unlimited free trial available and a low starting price point, it should be a strong contender for most liquor stores, particularly if you want to use your choice of payment processor.
- Unlimited free trial
- Low starting price
- Automatic inventory audits
- Theft prevention features
- Dated interface
- Features missing from lower packages
Runner Up: mPower Beverage
mPower Beverage is a point of sale system designed specifically 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. Windows-based mPower is pretty good 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 various 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 provided 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 (eCommerce), Drizly (local delivery) BottleCapps, Drync, and MiniBar as well as QuickBooks for accounting.
A monthly subscription to mPower starts at $1,000 upfront and $120/month. Regarding hardware, mPower says, “You can purchase from us, from another third party, or we can often use what you currently have.”
Note that mPower is an onsite, locally-installed POS system, rather than a cloud POS, such as the other liquor store POS systems on our list. However, mPower does have a cloud database hosting option that allows you to back up your POS database on mPower’s servers.
- Industry-specific liquor store POS
- Liquor store software integrations
- Purchase ordering
- Order and sell by the case, pack, or single
- High upfront cost
- Limited credit card processing options
What To Look For In A Liquor Store POS
Are you wondering what specific features your liquor store point of sale system should have? Wonder no more!
1) Age Verification Tools
Naturally, with the drinking age set at twenty-one, 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 either prompts your cashier to check the customer’s ID before completing the transaction or has a feature that allows cashiers to scan the customer’s ID or enter their DOB manually. Some systems, such as Lightspeed, even save the customer’s age verification status to their customer profile. Which brings us to…
2) Customer Management
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 they bought, and the serial numbers of any full cases of distilled spirits. In short, you will need a strong CRM system to track your customers and their purchases. In addition to compliance, good customer management is also important for driving sales and mining information that can be used for marketing and promotions.
Fortunately, America is a democracy, and that’s great. Just remember, democracies love making laws, and there are numerous regulations governing the distribution of alcohol. For example, you have to track and report all of the alcoholic beverages that arrive at your store, along with where they came from. A POS with good reporting capabilities can help you ensure compliance with local and state laws and also be useful at tax time. Speaking of taxes, some alcohol might be taxed at different rates, so your POS should also be able to calculate and accommodate those rules and generate a report showing what items sold at which tax rates. For example, ShopKeep has a “Sales by Tax Rate” report.
4) Employee Management
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 will be honest and ethical every time they walk through the door and don their multicolored aprons (or whatever your store uniform ends up being), but this is not always the case. Fortunately, most POS systems come equipped with security features, including 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.
5) Inventory Management
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. An inventory matrix is also useful for sorting different flavors and bottle quantities.
More Liquor Store POS Features
Your POS may not have all of these features, or they may cost extra as an add-on or a third-party software integration.
- PO/Vendor Management: Many liquor store POS systems have a module that lets you create and send purchase orders as well as manage vendors and receive shipments from distributors.
- Online Ordering & Local Delivery: In our socially-distanced era, it’s a good idea for liquor stores to offer eCommerce options that allow customers to purchase alcohol without ever entering your store (depending on what your local laws allow).
- Discounts & Promotions: Discounts and promotions can help drive sales and help you offload slow-selling products. For example, you can offer promotions like “10% off if you buy 6 bottles of wine” or “mix and match 6-packs.”
- Gift Cards & Loyalty: A loyalty program encourages repeat visits and higher customer spends, especially if it also includes gift cards, which can be digital or physical.
- Online Marketing: Your POS should make smart use of its CRM system to offer features, such as email marketing, text marketing, and social media marketing for your liquor store.
What’s The Best POS System For My Liquor Store?
Managing a profitable liquor store can be a tricky proposition. You have to obtain and maintain your liquor license. You also need liquor liability insurance. 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 this list will provide you with a good jumping-off point.
Are you 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!
Further reading for liquor store owners:
- Eat, Drink, & Be Merry: Liquor Liability Insurance Explained
- Small Business Sales Tax Guide
- 6 Small Business Loan Options For Purchasing Inventory
- Why Square Is A Great Free POS For Markets & Grocery Stores
- Need A Retail POS System For Your Small Business? These 7 Great Solutions Can Solve Your Store’s Woes