- Easy to use
- Loyalty program
- Gift cards
- Expensive pricing
- Poor customer support
- Limited payment integrations
When you’re a kid, one of the most gut-wrenching things a parent or authority figure can say to you is that they’re “not mad, they’re just disappointed” — implying that you have potential that you’re simply not living up to. That’s the way I feel about Intuit’s QuickBooks Desktop POS. While all of the basic features and functionality of a good point of sale system are there, along with the built-in integration with QuickBooks’ accounting software, this app continues to lag behind many of its competitors in several ways. Despite some recent improvements, such as lowered prices and a new pairing with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet, QBPOS is simply not adapting fast enough in an increasingly competitive market. The product is still on the expensive side — and that’s before factoring in add-ons for gift cards and inexplicably poor customer service.
The primary consideration for would-be owners of QBPOS is whether or not it stands up when compared to many of the easier, cheaper cloud-based alternatives. Though there are some benefits to having a locally-installed point of sale system, they are few and far between (and growing thinner with each passing year). Equally, there’s the issue of cost, which, considering Intuit’s predilection to charge for updates, can become quite a burden for small business owners, especially startups.
The fault is in Intuit’s old-school mindset — evident in the closed ecosystem of the QuickBooks Point of Sale system — which doesn’t leverage the equalizing power of today’s technology. It’s important for QuickBooks accounting software users who are shopping for an integrated POS to know that QuickBooks POS only integrates with QuickBooks Desktop (Pro, Premier, or Enterprise), and does not work with QuickBooks Online. If you are a QuickBooks Online user, you can choose from a variety of cloud POS systems that integrate with QBO perfectly. (Note that Intuit still supports but no longer sells a cloud-based iPad version of QuickBooks POS — “QuickBooks Cloud POS Powered By Revel.” You will be directed to purchase this POS from Revel Systems directly.)
Don’t have time to read an entire review? Take a look at our top-rated point of sale solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, detailed user interfaces, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.
Here’s where we start to see the old guard still in action, with pricey license fees and costs to upgrade from one version to the next — the kinds of things you don’t normally see with the SaaS model. QuickBooks Point of Sale offers a 30-day free trial, no credit card required, but after that, you’re looking at the following prices to keep using the software:
Basic is geared for the smallest of mom-and-pop stores. It includes the following features:
- Inventory tracking
- Customer data tracking
- Basic reports
Pro gets you every feature offered to Basic users as well as the following:
- Employee tracking and payroll
- Layaway and gift cards
- Rewards and loyalty program
- Advanced reporting
This option will give you all the features offered to Pro users but with the ability to use QuickBooks POS at multiple stores. It also includes the following features:
- Multiple store management
- Manage and transfer inventory
- Advanced sales and inventory reporting between stores
These are floating, per-user licenses, meaning that if you need to have more than one computer/user accessing the back-end QBPOS database concurrently, you’ll need to buy a license for each one. So, for example, if you’ve got one front-end register and one computer in an office that you use just for reporting and the like, you could get away with having just one license, so long as both machines aren’t going to need simultaneous access. But in that same scenario, if your employee is running the register in the front and you want to generate Purchase Orders and get your inventory in order in the back at the same time, that would require two licenses. If you would like to view a more detailed comparison of the three pricing options, visit the QuickBooks website or call the company to get started.
QB also offers promotional discounts from time to time, including a 20% discount for QuickBooks Point of Sale users that sign up with QuickBooks Point of Sale Payments for payment processing. This discount brings the software license prices down to $960, $1,360, and $1,520, respectively, and also includes a free QuickBooks POS hardware bundle that consists of a cash drawer, EMV Ingenico iPP350 PIN Pad, barcode scanner, and receipt printer. You’ll need to check with Intuit to see if it’s currently offering that promotion, however.
Note that the POS does not include QuickBooks itself. Read our article about QuickBooks Desktop pricing if you want to purchase the accounting software.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
QuickBooks Point of Sale is a locally-installed software package. That means you’ll need to maintain your own QuickBooks POS hardware and assume all the risk that comes with keeping your infrastructure working and secure. Installation isn’t necessarily complicated, but it does take a little time to download and set up. This is due primarily to the limitations of the Windows operating system and isn’t really the fault of Intuit’s programmers.
You will, however, need an internet connection to process credit card payments.
Intuit’s POS is ideally suited for retail, but it seems robust enough to handle a few other service-oriented business types. Since there is no way to generate integrated scales for selling items by weight, businesses that sell bulk goods (e.g., grocery stores) will find QuickBooks lacking. For restaurants or any other food-service industry that needs functions beyond simply ringing up products, QuickBooks will come up short, especially for the price.
Specific Size Of Business
QuickBooks POS can fill the needs of pretty much any sized business. Mid-sized retail shops might be best served with what this system has to offer, while larger chains (with no more than 20 locations) could be easily served with the Multi-Store package.
Ease Of Use
Not for nothing has Intuit made billions; clearly, the company knows a thing or two about easy-to-use software. Once you’ve downloaded the software and installed it, getting going is pretty simple. If you’re familiar at all with Windows, the interface will make a lot of sense. Down the left side of the window is a list of buttons for quick access to commonly used tasks (Make a Sale, Receive Items, etc.), and the right side of the window displays graphically rendered sticky notes with automatic reminders of things that need to be addressed (low stock alerts, customer orders waiting for fulfillment, that kind of thing). You can add your own custom notes as well.
In between these two columns is where the main action occurs. Click “Make A Sale,” and the register screen appears. Click “Add New Item,” and you’re in the Inventory Module. One of the best features of the software is that QuickBooks is committed to walking you through the setup and providing help when needed. While those who have experience with point of sale will likely not have much trouble accessing and utilizing its features, there are great help functions that can hold your hand and not in a condescending manner. The software itself guides you through each process, with every task easily accomplished.
The built-in customer rewards program is particularly easy to navigate and is one of the better implementations that I’ve seen. Setting up parameters is easy enough; just tell QB how much a customer has to spend before rewards are earned and then define the reward amount. When you attach a customer to a sale, the main register screen displays some basic information about the person while you’re adding items, including how many rewards dollars they have available for retention. Then, when it’s time to pay, and you’ve selected the tender type, QuickBooks POS pops up a dialog box asking if you’d like to apply rewards dollars and updates the total accordingly.
Hardware & Operating System Requirements
QuickBooks Point of Sale is Windows-only and can work on any tablet that runs on Windows 10, though it is optimized for the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (pictured above). QuickBooks says that while the POS may work on any tablet that runs on Windows 10 and meets other system requirements, it has only tested QuickBooks Desktop Point of Sale 18.0 functionalities on the Microsoft Surface Pro. Intuit still supports the previous version of QuickBooks Desktop Point of Sale (Version 12.0), though not all functions are available.
As follows are the following OS and other system specifications you’ll need to run QuickBooks POS system.
- Windows 10, all editions, including 64-bit, natively installed
- Windows 8.1 (Update 1), all editions, including 64-bit, natively installed
- Windows 7 SP1, all editions, including 64-bit, natively installed
- Windows Server 2016
- Windows Server 2012 R2
- Windows Server 2011 SP1
- Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and SP2
- At least 4GB of RAM (six to eight GB recommended) for a single workstation installation
- 1GB of disk space (additional space required for data files)
- Single user — 2.0 GHz processor (2.8 GHz recommended)
- Multiple users — 2.8 GHz processor (3.5 GHz recommended)
- Display — optimized for 1280×768 screen resolution or higher
- 4X DVD ROM drive required for DVD installations (unless the user is downloading QuickBooks Desktop Point of Sale from Intuit Server)
QuickBooks Desktop Compatibility:
- Intuit QuickBooks Pro or Premier 2016, 2017, and 2018
- Enterprise Solutions Versions 16.0, 17.0, and 18.0
Data import/export and Microsoft Office integration requires:
- Microsoft Office 2010, 2013, 2016, or Office 365
You can purchase peripherals, such as a credit card reader, cash drawer, receipt printer, barcode scanner, pole display from the QuickBooks Point of Sale website, or source them yourself.
If you are adamant about remaining fully in control of your back-end POS, then Intuit’s POS may well provide the extensive, feature-rich solution you’re looking for. Intuit has put a lot of thought into the software’s functionality and feature set, creating a suite of tools that has more in common with an Enterprise Resource Planning solution than a mere virtual cash register. This software handles inventory management (complete with auto-generated POs for any low stock), tracks employee hours and commissions, keeps a master list of your customers and their contact info, manages customer credit accounts, and handles shipping, sales orders, and much more. Stack its robust feature matrix up against any competitor, and QuickBooks POS most assuredly holds its own.
Nevertheless, the QuickBooks POS system is still missing a lot of modern POS features that most cloud POS systems have. Some of these absent features include a customer-facing display (other than an old-fashioned pole display that shows two lines of text), eCommerce, and support for Apple Pay and other contactless payments.
You can see a full breakdown of each license’s features by plan level on the QuickBooks POS webpage. What follows are some of the big-ticket features (with attention paid to any differences between the Basic and Pro/Multi-store versions):
- Fully-Functioning Multi-Tender POS: The POS easily adds inventory items to a sale by either barcode scanning, conducting a search by UPC, alternate lookup code (ALU), item number, or item keyword. You can also create and modify “Quick Pick” groups and buttons for a more clicky register experience. The “Sell Misc Item” button can be used to make a quick sale of something that may not be included in your inventory yet, though items can be added directly into inventory right in the POS interface, which is a handy feature. Custom discounts can be created and applied, and you can set up a layaway plan. Lastly, all sales can be put on hold and returned to at a later point if need be. The system also allows you to select customers for your transactions or add a new customer within the POS interface. Customers can receive barcoded receipts (and gift receipts) for easy returns/exchanges, which can even be made without a receipt by retrieving sales information through the customer’s sales history. Pro version functions include the Document Designer, which allows users to create customizable price tags and receipts (e.g., with company logo, trademark, etc.) as well as tracking work orders and sales orders.
- Real-Time Inventory Management: QuickBooks POS system will keep all your inventory organized and up to date by adjusting with every sale or return. The inventory module stores item cost, description, department, color, size, quantity, sales price, tax status, vendor, UPC, ALU, and reorder point. The system will track what’s selling and what’s not, so you can maintain stock. And when an item is running low, your preset reorder point will trigger the system to notify you that it’s time to purchase more — and generate the PO to boot (Pro/Multi-store only). Non-inventory items, such as fees or services, can also easily be added to the system. Additionally, sales prices can be set to automatically calculate based on a preset margin of the purchase cost (markdown prices can be set this way as well). The style matrix lets you enter multiple sizes and colors (or attributes) based on item department, vendor, and description (e.g., Shoes; Louboutin; 3-inch heels in black, red, and silver; sizes 5.5 thru 12). Every size and style combination is then automatically given a unique item number, so each can be easily edited if need be. The Pro version also allows for these additional inventory functions: assign pictures to items (that will print on sales receipts, POs, and receivers), view inventory turn statistics, track multiple vendors (or UPCs) per item, track serial numbers, track layaways, and view inventory items on-hand for any date specified.
- Purchase Order Management: QuickBooks Point of Sale makes buying inventory easy with its integrated purchase order function. Item barcodes can be scanned to populate PO fields automatically, or POs can be manually filled in. POs can then be emailed or printed out. When your order arrives, if it’s complete and accurate, then it’s merely a matter of accepting the PO to update the new stock into inventory; otherwise, using the “select items received” button will give you the option of leaving the PO partially open (for incomplete orders). The Pro version will automatically generate and email POs based on your preset reorder levels, provide suggested reorder points based on sales, set reorder points by store, and ship/track packages with the Shipping Manager (UPS only).
- Customer Management: As previously stated, sales can be tracked by each customer — just enter a name, address, phone, email, and business. Extra custom fields allow for additional info, such as birthdays, shoe size, or favorite sports team. Also, special discounts/coupons can be set for specific customers. Customer tracking allows you to see who’s buying the most and what they’re buying to devise targeted marketing campaigns and special promotions based on the hottest items. Customer sales history allows you to view all purchase details. The Customer Center in the Pro version provides various communication tools to use the full potential of your customer list, including capturing customer addresses to create mailing lists for labels and mass marketing campaigns, email marketing campaigns, and tracking customer rewards program points to offer better recommendations, discounts, and freebies to your best customers.
- Employee Management: Only the Pro version will track employee hours and commissions, sending logged hours to other QuickBooks financial software (such as Payroll or QuickBooks itself) for easy payroll management. Additionally, security functioning allows owners to customize access to certain functions based on employee status (e.g., owner, manager, assistant manager, or associate), with the ability to create new groups if necessary.
- Cash Management: Weirdly, there’s no function to Open a Shift and declare what’s in your till at the start of a day. When you run your end of day reports, you can declare what you’re leaving in the drawer and then use these end of day reports for reconciliation. This means that the first thing you’ll want to do with QBPOS before you’ve ever run a sale is to close the register and run an end of day report, so you can have something to reconcile with at the real end of your day. From there, it gets easier.
- Reporting: Report options are extensive and detailed and include best/worst sellers, frequent returns, department summary, item summary, sales over time, payment method summaries, tax summaries, item cost/quantity summaries, purchase summaries, employee timesheets/sales/commissions, and busiest times. The reporting tab is also used to send merchant service batches to settle your debit/credit transactions as well as to schedule backups of crucial data to a location of your choice. All reports have an easy drill-down feature for more detail into each sale.
- Dashboard Feature: Provides a quick glance at your best and worst selling items, department sales summary, department sales graph, and sales over time.
- Mobile Payments (Integration): An Intuit GoPayment integration allows the app to sync fully with your back-end QBPOS inventory and enables you to make sales and track stock from your mobile phone or tablet. While you are unable to download QBPOS onto these devices, you can integrate with them using a mobile sync feature. You’ll need a GoPayment card reader, an Intuit Go Payment account, and a supported mobile device to use this feature.
New/Improved Features In Version 18.0
The latest version of QuickBooks Desktop POS, version 18.0, has added a few improvements to its features from version 12.0, including making customer information easier to access. Access to additional customer details, such as Account Balance, Available Credit, Notes, and History, are now readily available on the Make a Sale screen without clicking the More info button (magnifying glass icon in POS 12.0).
Version 18.0 has also added support for plug-and-play physical inventory scanners CipherLab 8000 and CipherLab 8001.
Finally, the latest version is optimized to use on a tablet PC — specifically, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Support is not free:
- $89.95 per month (the first month is free if you sign up before completing the registration of the software)
- $299.95 per year
Live chat and phone support are offered seven days a week:
- 4 AM-8 PM Monday through Friday
- 7 AM-4 PM Saturday and Sunday
Without purchasing a tech support contract, you’re left with Intuit’s online searchable help forum where people post their questions, and Intuit employees, outside consultants, and other users can answer them. Aside from that, Intuit also offers its Intuit Solution Provider (ISP) program to help you find a POS software expert/consultant in your area (rates vary per individual ISP).
Not only is the support not free, making for another costly expenditure, the support you do get ranges from barely acceptable to dreadful according to many reviews. A big complaint is that support calls get redirected to a remote call center and that representatives are often hard to understand and not very helpful. Some people claim that after purchasing the Basic version and running into an array of problems, they call customer service only to be told to buy a support plan or upgrade to the Pro version. A vast majority of negative reviews found are about Intuit’s customer service.
If you have any interest in following QuickBooks Desktop’s social media pages, it has fairly active Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn accounts. I will note that these accounts are not specifically for QuickBooks Desktop but rather its parent company, Intuit. As mentioned earlier, Intuit’s point of sale has some nice help features within the software that make it easy to troubleshoot issues. However, if you can’t figure out the problem on your own, prepare for an exercise in frustration.
Compatible Credit Card Processors
To take advantage of integrated payment processing, you must open a QuickBooks Payments merchant account. This account offers three different pricing schemes for QuickBooks POS merchants:
- Pay As You Go: 2.7% flat fee with no monthly fee
- Month-To-Month: 2.3% + $0.25 per transaction with $19.95 monthly fee
- Custom: Custom rates can be secured for established, high-volume businesses
Note that Pay As You Go is only available to customers with QuickBooks Desktop Point of Sale 18.0 (not the older 12.0 version).
Be sure to read all the fine print on your QuickBooks Payments merchant account so that you don’t get hit with any surprises. Note that different payment processing rates are advertised for different Intuit and QB products; for example, QB Online and Intuit GoPayment both advertise different rates. On the bright side, funds usually get deposited within two to three business days, and there is no cancellation fee. Of course, you can always keep your own merchant provider and credit card terminal and manually complete credit card sales within the QuickBooks Point of Sale system. In that case, you would not qualify for any pricing discounts on QBPOS software associated with using QB Payments.
The software is also chip-card-compatible when used with an Ingenico IPP 350 PIN Pad. As mentioned, the POS doesn’t support contactless/NFC payments.
Integrations & Add-Ons
While the POS doesn’t really integrate with third-party software outside of the Microsoft ecosystem, the biggest selling point of QuickBooks Point of Sale is that it works seamlessly with its sister software, QuickBooks, transferring inventory (cost of goods sold), sales (revenue), and customer data (accounts receivable) for quick and easy bookkeeping. Additionally, the Pro version will also transfer employee time punches into QuickBooks for simple payroll processing.
In addition to QuickBooks features, QuickBooks Point of Sale also integrates with other Microsoft products, including Excel and Word, letting you import customer files and vendor information as well as create customer letters with these programs.
Intuit lists gift cards as a feature of QuickBooks POS as well, but gift card processing doesn’t work out of the box — the only way to create and accept gift cards is by signing up for Intuit’s Point of Sale Gift Card Service, which in my book makes this an add-on. It’s an unfortunate issue and one that can be pricey on top of an already less-than-affordable system, but one that’s not entirely uncommon in the point of sale world. However, the good news is that gift card sales are automatically tracked separately, and card balances and customer purchases on cards are tracked as well. Unused amounts stay on cards to guarantee return business. Merchants can even issue refunds on cards as store credit and check card balances in the POS without making a sale. Card numbers and balances are always printed on receipts, and cards can be redeemed at any store within your chain regardless of the issuing store.
As mentioned, you can also connect Intuit GoPayment to QuickBooks Point of Sale to sync your mobile payments with your QBPOS account.
Even since Intuit’s release of the “new and improved” version of the software in 2019, many of the same complaints about the POS remain; however, many reviewers still praise the system’s usability and easy integration with QuickBooks.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
A common sentiment among QuickBooks POS system users is that they simply want to switch systems. But other negative comments include the following themes:
- Customer Service Issues: As I already mentioned, there are quite a few complaints about slow, useless, and heavily-accented customer support. Many customers are also displeased that they feel forced into paying a large amount for access to this subpar service.
- QuickBooks Payments: There is a considerable amount of disdain for QuickBooks’ payment processing — customers complain about everything from misleading rates advertised to hidden termination fees, mandatory long-term contracts, and sudden account freezes.
- Sluggish, Glitches, Freezing: A common problem seems to be that this solution will constantly slow down, glitch out, and freeze altogether. There were multiple complaints about general bugs and issues with freezing or crashing on an almost daily basis, which is not ideal.
- Problems With Updates: Others complained that they had problems when they purchased the upgrades to the new systems.
- Limited Features: Customers commonly complain that QuickBooks Point of Sale software is lacking or weak when it comes to certain features, especially related to reporting and inventory.
- Not Mobile-Friendly: Despite the GoPayment integration and optimization for the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, the POS is not as mobile-friendly as other systems on the market, with no dedicated mobile app, an inability to accept mobile wallet payments, and no support for using the system on an iPad.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
There are a few very positive customer testimonials on the Intuit website, all from 2017. And a close look at Intuit’s BBB profile shows a company that, despite 1,632 complaints, has been BBB Accredited since 11/1/2010, holding a current A+ rating. The A+ rating comes from the fact that Intuit has been in business for such a long time and made an effort to resolve all complaints, and it does deserve credit for this. Here are some of the most common points of praise by current customers:
- Easy To Use: Quite a few customers cite that this POS system is easy to use and simple for training new employees.
- Integration With QuickBooks: The fact that QuickBooks Point of Sale software easily integrates with other Intuit software is a feature many customers really love.
- Customizable: Users enjoy the fact that QBPOS offers a lot of customization options.
- Easy To Track Multiple Stores: Reviewers who used the product across multiple locations appreciated how easy it was to track reports and inventory.
QuickBooks Point of Sale is good in its own right, something that can handle the functions of transacting sales, managing your inventory, and keeping your books clean. But in the current era of cloud computing, the whole QBPOS experience is simply no substitute for the newer breed of POS. It represents a nearly bygone era of restrictive licensing, collateral costs, and IT headaches. Sure, it’s pretty easy to use and can do an awful lot of tasks beyond just transacting sales, but there are too many other things you’ll need to worry about that don’t even involve the functionality of the software. For customers who have been using the product for a while and are set in their ways or who simply love its integration with QuickBooks software, Intuit’s point of sale solution will likely continue to be a fine product that will suit their needs. But, quite simply, there are better options available, especially if your business is a good candidate for switching to a cloud POS.
The dated architecture means you’ll need to cross your fingers and hope your QuickBooks POS hardware remains relevant after you’ve had to apply updates to each machine that’s running QBPOS — or that nobody finds yet another security flaw in the Windows operating system. POS software is supposed to represent a way to make a business owner’s life easier, and there was a time when something such as QuickBooks Point of Sale would have done just that. Compared to a cash register and a paper ledger of inventory, it is a step forward, but it lags ridiculously behind its competitors in so many other ways. If you’re looking to ease as many burdens as possible, it’s best to keep looking.