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POS 101: Choosing A POS System

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75 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Mary Woodruff

    Hello-
    My husband and I are going to open a small nano-brewery and taproom (no food besides prepackaged food) and merchandise. Which POS do you recommend?
    Also, a little confused by this article. It talks about needing to set up a merchant account, but when I click on the hyperlink within the article to read more in depth about merchant accounts, it says that you can either decide to proceed with a PSP or merchant account. One article states you need a merchant account to have a PSP, but another is comparing the two as differing options.

    Thanks,
    Mary

      Emily Hale

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your question. I’d be happy to help clear some of this up for you. As far as a good POS option, I recommend checking out our ShopKeep Review as a good viable solution for you. As far as the difference between a PSP and merchant account, the tricky part is that even among the processors themselves these terms can be interchangeable. A PSP is the more specific term here, and it refers to a third-party processor model such as Square, Stripe, etc. For a good post that may help you choose what’s best for your type of business, I suggest reading our post The Truth About Third Party Credit Card Processing. Hope this helps and best of luck!

        Patricia Holt

        I have a hardware store, I tried to install a POS a few years ago, but my data did not match the data required by Amber POS system. I still have all the unused hardware, lable printers, zebra and Citizen, I have over 12000 sku, I have lost the use of the amber because it was on a computer that was replaced 4 years ago. What POS system would you recommend that can work with my retail store. Currently only one brick and mortor.

          Emily Hale

          Hi Patricia,

          We think that Revel can probably handle the largest sku load, and they’re relatively flexible with the hardware they support. Another option you might want to look into is Lightspeed as it works with Zebra. They also happen to be one of our top-rated systems. Take a look at at 6 POS Systems with Good Inventory Management as this post has some good information about systems that handle higher inventory needs, and this resource also includes the aforementioned brands. Best of luck!

            Veronika Loessl

            Really informative article! I’m based in the UK and I have called all the major POS system providers here in this country. I’m opening a second hand bookshop and none of them have a ISBN integration which I will need for organising my stock. I would appreciate any helpful advise if anyones knows of any system that would be suitable for me.

            Thank you so much in advance.

            Veronika

              Emily Hale

              Hi Veronika! Thank you for your response! I think our Top 5 Bookstore POS Systems would be a great place for you to start. We’ve vetted some of the better POS options with the needs of bookstores in mind, and an option like Shopify, for instance, is available in the UK. Hope this post helps, and best of luck on your search.

                Stephen tierney

                Great article this, however I’m still in a bit of a muddle.

                I am starting a new plant based food business. We will be selling ready made meals via our website and also for takeaway. The delivery business is our main focus.

                So what sort of POS am I looking for. Each week we will be changing the menu, (approx 10 items) as well as selling no plastic materials and organic food and drink (think small select store). Our aim is to have a minimum purchase of x amount of meals before you can go to the checkout.

                We will be using glass lunch boxes to recycle on every subsequent order or plant based containers for one off orders and takeaway.

                So my question is do we need a restaurant POS or a retail POS. I’ve looked into Loyverse, Toast and Shopware5 and there are pros and cons with each. Maybe I am looking in the wrong direction

                Thank you once again for the article and I look forward to your response.

                Stephen

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                  Dakota Fillet

                  Hi Stephen, I believe Toast would be the best POS system for your needs. Toast has one of the best menu design functions on the market and is affordable for smaller businesses and should have the most advanced feature set of the 3 you mentioned. Hope this helps!

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                    OMOLE VICTORIA

                    I run a financial services business and need p.o.S in my 5 locaton within Ibadan town of Oyo State, Nigeria

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                      Jessica Dinsmore

                      Hello Omole,

                      We aren’t positive, but think Loyverse may be able to help you.

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                        Michael

                        I just want to tell you that while buying the POS software solution, consider every possibility in mind for the future perspective in terms of its features. I just have to replace my 8 months old POS system for this mistake. consider every feature that you’ll need in the future and go accordingly.

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                          Dwayne W. Bethell

                          Good Morning:

                          I operate a mobile auto detailing business and want to use the POS . Which type is good for me ?
                          Thank you.

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                            Jessica Dinsmore

                            Hi Dwayne,

                            Check out our post on the 5 Best Mobile POS Apps!

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                              Brenda Hedstrom

                              Hi. Great article and very helpful, but maybe you can help with more specifics. I am opening a yarn retail shop that will also offer classes and special events. At first glance Lightspeed seems the right POS for me, but I wonder how expensive it will be once add in all the integration into Booxis, Mailchimp, FB, Instagram, etc. Can you help?

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                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                Hi Brenda,

                                Lightspeed should be a good fit for your type of business. We don’t believe that adding in those integrations would increase your cost by much. However, if that’s your main concern with Lightspeed, I’d suggest talking to a sales rep and negotiating something that works for you.

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                                  Zachary Karbo

                                  I have a pool service and retail business that i would like the following.

                                  -A POS system that can have a main terminal.
                                  -A app or other easy online system (people would use an app) that can be made for my customers to buy products online and then the system will tell us so we can pick them for either pickup or delivery.
                                  -A inventory system that can have a main inventory and will also be able to transfer the inventory onto my service trucks so a can see total inventories.
                                  -A inventory system that will give low inventory alerts.
                                  -A system that could see popular items, good reports, etc.

                                  Thanks

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                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                    Hi Zachary!

                                    Thanks so much for your question, and so sorry for the delay. The systems that come to mind and meet all of your requirements are Square Register, Vend and ShopKeep. Square Register is an all-in-one system that you can purchase straight up and manage through its app and has solid inventory and eCommerce capabilities. Vend has a much deeper inventory system if you find that Square doesn’t quite live up to your needs in that department. ShopKeep also does pretty much everything well and is fairly affordable and there are hardware packages that you can get a quote on by talking to a representative directly.

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                                      Scott

                                      Hi- we have a retail Garden Center currently using Quickbooks Point of Sale for 8 years and are ready to make a change–too many problems to list over the years. We need something that will allow us to run 5-6 registers at one time, mostly cloud based so we arent dealing with all of the software and networking issues.

                                      We also need it to handle many items–5-6,000 different ones currently and sometime we have to print our own labels to price items

                                      Wondering what you might suggest for us? Thanks!

                                      Scott

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                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                        Hi Scott,

                                        Vend is good for inventory management and I would also suggest looking into Revel. Both of those are going to be a little more on the spendy side but should have everything you would need. If you want to try and save a little money you could take a look at Hike or talech. All of those also integrate with QuickBooks (which I assume you’d need since you mentioned using QuickBooks POS) and I’m almost positive they all allow you to create and print your own labels. I hope that helps you. Best of luck with your garden center!

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                                          Casey

                                          I’m looking at starting my own makeup artist business and was hoping to get your recommendation on the POS system. Given I’ll be traveling to most of my clients (I’m guessing the bulk will be bridal) and working on-site at hotels, churches, etc, I was thinking I’d fall under “Service POS Features.” Do you have any affordable suggestions for someone starting out with these types of needs?

                                          Thank you for all of your great content! 🙂

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                                            Jessica Dinsmore

                                            Hi Casey,

                                            Take a look at this article on Mobile POS apps. I think it may be more suited to your startup, mobile business model, and can help you narrow down some better options for you.

                                            This article will focus on low-cost, mobile-focused POS software to accept credit card payments on the go.

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                                              Bethany Birchridge

                                              I like that you mentioned that you should make sure you have the right type of POS for your business, as the needs between a restaurant and retail vary greatly. My friend is actually working on setting up his own business, so this could help him find a great POS system. I’ll be sure to mention this article to him.

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                                                Linda Thomas

                                                We need to get a POS system capable of both coffee shop / retail and also our 4 suite Inn .

                                                I have read on several and find it confusing as to whether or not one POS can handle both and be Quickbooks friendly.

                                                Please Advise 🙂
                                                Linda

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                                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                                  Hi Linda,

                                                  I would say ShopKeep or SalesVu if either of those meets the needs of your Inn. If you need a slightly more robust system and can pay a little more Revel is worth looking into. All three integrate with Quickbooks. I hope that helps!

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                                                    Lily Bliss

                                                    Hi,

                                                    Thanks so much for all of these very helpful articles. We are a guest ranch looking for a POS for our bar and retail shop. One of the most important features needed is for the system to be able to hold house accounts/tabs, so that the guests can pay at the end of their stay through our main office. We use Quickbooks for our bills and accounting. Do you have any suggestions?

                                                    Thank you!
                                                    Lily

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                                                      Jessica Dinsmore

                                                      Hi Lily,

                                                      I think Shopkeep or Toast or possibly Revel would be worth looking into. They can keep tabs open, and they all integrate with QB. Request some demos and see what you think!

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                                                        Pat Eder

                                                        Started out thinking I knew what I needed. Ended up not being so sure. Expanding our catering operation and opening a small breakfast / lunch cafe on the new site and also offering prepared meals to go. Need a POS system that will track inventory, integrate with Quick Books online, have good reporting features and possibly have employee timeclock functionality. Recommendations?

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                                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                                          Hi Pat,

                                                          There are several great POS options, but in order to determine which program best suits your particular business, I’d suggest trying our filtering tool. Once you’ve answered the questions, the tool will narrow down your options and compare their features to help you make an informed decision.

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                                                            Christine Hayward

                                                            I found this article interesting but I am still confused about what POS to choose. I have owned and operated a clothing boutique for the past 11 years. I have used Lightspeed for the past 5 years but I find it a little too complex for our business. I would like to also sell online and I want the system to integrate with Quickbooks online. I will also be doing some selling on the road so would like to use it on my Ipad. What would you suggest?
                                                            Chris

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                                                              Jessica Dinsmore

                                                              Christine,
                                                              I’d suggest you take a look at Vend. I think you’ll find that it will meet your needs, it integrates with QB, offers ecommerce integration and it is more user friendly.

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                                                                Debi Wickliffe

                                                                Hi-Very helpful, but I am still confused as to which system is best for my business. We are an art gallery / consignment / and new products as well. I want to be able to track consignors and customers as well but keep it simple most of all. I need a card reader and cash drawer. Can you possibly guide me in a more specific direction? Thanks, Deb

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                                                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                  Hi Debi,
                                                                  I think Shopkeep would be a good choice for your business. They have a POS System specifically for consignment shops! Hope this helps!

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                                                                    Andreas Elia

                                                                    hello and thanks for the article. i am about to open a coffeshop as an extension to my organic store located in Larnaca, Cyprus.

                                                                    at first i was sure about things regarding the pos, i mean i have an ipad 2 that i dont use and its in great condition, i will dowload free or budget pos, a thermal printer, a drawer and begin operations.

                                                                    then friends started asking questions: why ios and not android or windows tablet? is the software you choose compatible with iOS? how will you integrate visa payments?

                                                                    and now i am offcially lost. any guidance to clear things up?

                                                                    thanks in advance

                                                                    Andreas

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                                                                      Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                      Andreas,

                                                                      Most POS systems will work internationally but not all of them will offer international support. With that said, we have a great filtering tool that will help you narrow your choice down based on the kind of business you have and the features you need. After that, I would contact each vendor directly to see if they’re willing to work with a business in Cyprus. I would also ask them if they can recommend a credit card processor that integrates with their system that would also be willing to work with a business in Cyprus.

                                                                      In regards to iOS vs Android, it’s really a matter of preference, so it depends on what you prefer. Since you already have an iPad 2, why not just go with an iOS system?

                                                                      I hope this helps!

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                                                                        Monica Starling

                                                                        I am part of a home medical equipment company, I am in need of a POS system that will allow us to take copays, ROA payments as well as retail sales. We need a system that we can type in the description of the retail item, as well as taxable and non-taxable options. We need to have the ability to have multiple users for accountability purposes. Any help with the appropriate POS system would be greatly appreciated.

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                                                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                          Hi Monica,
                                                                          We don’t currently have any experience with POS systems in the medical field. If you search “Medical POS software” you may find something that could work for you. Good luck!

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                                                                            Kate

                                                                            I thought your article was very informative but I’m still stumped as to exactly what I should look for. I work for an American Legion (non-profit) and the Board has asked me to find a POS system. We are a bar/restaurant type of business so we need to track sales and inventory, get reports that are accurate, etc. I currently use QuickBooks to track income, expenses and payroll. I would appreciate any input that you can provide. I just am at a loss as to where to start and what I should be looking for. Thank you in advance.

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                                                                              Chloe Bahal

                                                                              Hi Kate,

                                                                              I am going to send you an email right now so please keep an eye out for it.

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                                                                                Chris

                                                                                I also need something for an American Legion. Email me too! 🙂

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                                                                                  Stephanie

                                                                                  This is a great article, but we are having trouble finding the right POS for our business. It classifies as retail, but it falls more on the side of “service” as most of our work is done in client’s homes. I like the look of most of the systems, we just can’t seem to find one that integrates POS with inventory, AND customer history. Any ideas?

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                                                                                    Chloe Bahal

                                                                                    Hi Stephanie,

                                                                                    We have a great filtering tool that you can try here. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

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                                                                                      Paula Green

                                                                                      Hi Jordan,
                                                                                      Thanks so much for this info, however, our business is very different. We own a plant nursery and need an easy inventory system with labeling available to put on all of our inventory. Honestly, we are just using a normal cash register and credit card machine. I enter everything into quickbooks. I told my husband (the owner) that I would do some research on POS software and I just don’t know where to start. Any help you could give?

                                                                                      Paula Green

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                                                                                        Chloe Bahal

                                                                                        Hi Paula,

                                                                                        I am going to send you an email right now so please keep an eye out for it.

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                                                                                          Linda Lacasse

                                                                                          We own a Nursery and Greenhouse business. Can you point us in the right direction for POS? Thanks.

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                                                                                            Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                            Hi Linda,

                                                                                            We would need a bit more info to make an informed recommendation. Give our filtering tool a try! It will help point you toward a top rated POS system for your particular situation.

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                                                                                              donna

                                                                                              Hey Jordan,
                                                                                              Great article! I am opening a small brick and mortar lifestyle shop and have been looking at ShopKeep, Vend and Shopify. Heard Shopify doesn’t calculate COGS, is that still true? Also, I’m finding many negative reviews for all of these systems which has me a little rattled. I need something that allows for one of a kind inventory items as well as items with variables such as size, color, scent etc. Also a systems that integrates easily with QuickBooks. Help!

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                                                                                                Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                Hi Donna,

                                                                                                I am going to send you an email right now, so please keep an eye out for it.

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                                                                                                  Tyson Coleman

                                                                                                  I loved this article and it really opened my eyes as far as what I should be looking for. But I am still at a loss for where to start with updating the old POS system in my Jewelry store/manufacturer. We need to be able to handle retail sales as well as custom orders/repairs and track/manage the job tickets. We’re looking for server based for security purposes and want to be able to attach images to tickets. Do you have any suggestions on more resources that may help me figure out where to start when picking a new system?

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                                                                                                    Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                    Hi Tyson,

                                                                                                    We have a great filtering tool that you can try here. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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                                                                                                      Farrah Rose

                                                                                                      Hi Jordan,
                                                                                                      I’ve read a bunch of articles and came across a comment from you about the Intuit Cloud-Based POS. I’ve read mixed reviews about Revel and I wondered if the Intuit Powered by Revel eliminates or reduces many of those concerns. My client is opening a high-end, brick and mortar retail electronics store in OR. They’re using Mac computers and iPads and need to be able to track inventory, get solid reporting and have a great customer experience (e.g., interface and equipment should look very nice and be branded, ideally). I see negative reviews for everything out there. I’m considering Intuit Cloud-Based POS, ShopKeep, Vend, LightSpeed and possibly Retail Pro 9. They’re estimating $500k in revenue to start and will be growing, but will probably stay in only one store location. We want to be able to check out customers on the floor as well as have a register. Thank you so much in advance! What a daunting process!

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                                                                                                        Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                        Hi Farrah,

                                                                                                        Choosing a POS system can definitely be daunting! I went ahead and sent you a direct email with more information that you will find helpful.

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                                                                                                          Charon

                                                                                                          Your article is very helpful as are the comments. I find myself in an unusual situation looking for a POS. We are a small, non-profit maritime museum. I am replacing a 10 year old Intuit Quickbooks POS that has gone rogue. I can’t find a POS that addresses our needs. We track Admissions, memberships, donations, we have a Gift Shop with inventory, we need to connect with our Quickbooks accounting program, we have one employee and numerous volunteers of all ages and abilities that really mess up the POS. We want something that works when the internet goes down for our admissions and gift shop. I have read the reviews. We could upgrade to a new version of Intuit Quickbooks POS or ShopKeep or? Am I headed in the right direction? Or should I research others?

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                                                                                                            Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                            Hi Charon,

                                                                                                            ShopKeep is a great option and I would also check out Vend.

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                                                                                                              Charon

                                                                                                              Thanks Chloe, will check out Vend.

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                                                                                                                Curt

                                                                                                                Hello! What do you think about Harbor touch? I would like to find more information on them. Thanks!

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                                                                                                                  Patricia Landes

                                                                                                                  I am so lost in picking out a POS system for my restaurant which serves drinks also. Can you please help.

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                                                                                                                    Jordan Nelson

                                                                                                                    Hello Patricia,

                                                                                                                    A good place to start would be to take a look at our top-rated restaurant POS solutions. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, feel free to send us a note and we’ll see if we can help you find a good system for your business.

                                                                                                                    Best,
                                                                                                                    Jordan

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                                                                                                                      Heidi

                                                                                                                      I am struggling with deciding on a POS system. We own candy stores, we sell candy by weight, coffee, ice cream, souvenirs, and toys. We also ship our hand made candy all over the country. We have gift cards and would like to have costumer loyalties programs. We are also looking for inventory tracking. Any suggestions would be great!

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                                                                                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                        Hi Heidi,

                                                                                                                        I’d recommend Toast or Shopkeep for you. They should both be able to check all your boxes and easily accommodate your needs.

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                                                                                                                          Larry

                                                                                                                          Amad, which POS system would you recommend for a vape shop? We will carry hundreds of different products.

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                                                                                                                            Jordan Nelson

                                                                                                                            Hello Larry,

                                                                                                                            It’s difficult to make a recommendation with so little information, but you can find a list of our top-rated POS systems here. If you would prefer some more specialized assistance, please contact us for a personal consultation.

                                                                                                                            Best,
                                                                                                                            Jordan

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                                                                                                                              John

                                                                                                                              I really found this article informative. I am just getting started on a food truck and am very interested in a POS but I mostly deal in cash payments and not any credit cards. I guess I will be straight forward, I have read that some of these systems require SSN and bank account info to process cards, because as I stated, I am just getting started, I do not want to report my income with IRS. I would like to see where this goes before taking it that far wich is something that I would really like in ther future. Is there a POS you can recommend that would give me features that would relate to a food truck, like printing receipts for cook orders? Thank you

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                                                                                                                                Jordan Nelson

                                                                                                                                Hello John,

                                                                                                                                It is illegal to not report your income to the IRS so I can’t condone that. As for your question, you can find an article on the best POS systems for food trucks here.

                                                                                                                                Best,
                                                                                                                                Jordan

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                                                                                                                                  John

                                                                                                                                  Really great guide to POS systems that isn’t overly technical. As technology continues to advance, I’m curious to see how much more the process can be streamlined for users.

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                                                                                                                                    Linda

                                                                                                                                    Great article…very informative! I’m opening a Christian bookstore and looking for advice on the best POS cloud based system that will integrate Ingram distributors. Any thoughts?

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                                                                                                                                      Jordan Nelson

                                                                                                                                      Hello Linda,

                                                                                                                                      It’s difficult to give a recommendation with so little information. You can find some of our top-ranking POS systems here or contact us with some more information for a free consultation.

                                                                                                                                      Best,
                                                                                                                                      Jordan

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                                                                                                                                        Alex Trodder

                                                                                                                                        My dad had his own business growing up. You make a great point about how your company’s point of sale system can be a major factor that can contribute or hurt your business. In today’s economy, it can be really important to have access to systems that have analysis tools to help you identify trends. For my dad, it was really important for him to have repeat customers for his business. Knowing what information is essential for you business can also help you choose a POS that is best for your business.

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                                                                                                                                          Kenneth Gladman

                                                                                                                                          You make a great point about tracking business trends. It is pretty amazing what our software can do these days. I think a pos system would be great for franchises looking to take advantage of new technology.

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                                                                                                                                            Thiru Kumaran

                                                                                                                                            Great article! I would like to share my opinion here. When you decided to buy a POS solution for your business, you not only see its capabilities but also see whether it has certain features that can benefit you when you grow and need them in future.

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                                                                                                                                              Don Fitch,MS

                                                                                                                                              Amed, great article! We’re an NGO, Nys lic. Business school teaching persons with mental & physical disabilities computer job skills & placing them. We’re 100% govt. funded. We’re searching for a retail Pos system the students can learn from. A simulation of the retail sales transaction. What software/hardware would you recommend ? Thank you, Don

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                                                                                                                                                David

                                                                                                                                                Imonggo

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                                                                                                                                                  Jane

                                                                                                                                                  I have loved this article. So informative and easy to comprehend. I’m looking for a good POS in a busy bar. Kindly advice.

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                                                                                                                                                    Amad Ebrahimi

                                                                                                                                                    Jane,

                                                                                                                                                    You can’t go wrong with either Shopkeep or Revel in a bar setting.

                                                                                                                                                    Best,
                                                                                                                                                    Amad

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                                                                                                                                                      Bakari Tareq

                                                                                                                                                      Hi
                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for this article. Im still confused which pos will fulfil my business needs. I need your help. Please drop me an email so we can talk.
                                                                                                                                                      email: berleen.uae@gmail.com
                                                                                                                                                      Thanks Amad and awaiting your response.

                                                                                                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                                                        Amad Ebrahimi

                                                                                                                                                        Bakari,

                                                                                                                                                        Give your POS software tool a try. It should help you find the right software for your business. 🙂

                                                                                                                                                        Best,
                                                                                                                                                        Amad

                                                                                                                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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