QuickBooks POS Desktop Review
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- Date Established
- Mountain View, CA
- Easy to use
- Built-in loyalty function
- iPad and iPhone integrated
- Lack of hardware options
- Lack of credit card processing options
- Poor customer service
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 QuickBooks Desktop POS. While all of the basic features and functionality of a good point of sale system are there, along with the obvious built-in integration with QuickBooks accounting software, this app continues to lag behind many of its competitors in a number of ways. Despite some recent improvements, like lowered prices and a new pairing with the Microsoft Surface Pro 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 main consideration for would-be owners of QBPOS v12.0 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 start-ups.
If, however, you are adamant about remaining fully in control of your back-end POS, then QBPOS may well provide the extensive, feature-rich solution you’re looking for. Intuit clearly put some 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 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 QBPOS most assuredly holds its own.
The fault is in Intuit’s old-school mindset – -evident in the closed ecosystem of QBPOS — which doesn’t leverage the equalizing power of today’s technology. In 1983, when Quicken was released, the great innovation was that managing your personal finances could be done on a computer. In 2018, that’s not so impressive. And though the company has added some basic mobile functionality and backups over the Internet, it’s not the major leap forward in user experience that other modern—and much less expensive—POS systems offer.
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.
Our Top Picks for Point of Sale Software
|Lightspeed POS||clover||ShopKeep POS||Square For Retail|
Square For Retail
Advanced retail features
Secure payments, reliable POS
Credit card processing options
Table of Contents
- Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
- Specific Industry
- Specific Size Of Business
- Ease Of Use
- Hardware & Operating System Requirements
- Integrations & Add-Ons
- Compatible Credit Card Processors
- Customer Service & Technical Support
- Negative Reviews & Complaints
- Positive Reviews & Testimonials
- Final Verdict
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. QBPOS offers a 30-day free trial, no credit card required, but after that you’re looking at the following prices to keep using:
Basic, $1,200 – Basic is geared for the smallest of Mom & Pop stores. It includes the following features:
- Inventory Tracking
- Vendor Managment
- Add discounts and gift receipts
- EMV Capable
Pro, $1,700 – Pro gets you every feature offered to Basic users, as well as the following:
- Employee Tracking
- Offer layaway and gift cards
- Loyalty Program
Multi-Store, $1,900 – This option will give you all the features offered to Pro users but the ability to use QBPOS at multiple stores. It also includes the following features:
- Multiple store management
- Inventory tracking for multiple stores
- Report generation
- Ship and track packages
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 up 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 855-399-8990 to get started.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
QuickBooks Point of Sale is a locally-installed software package. This means you’ll need to maintain your own hardware and assume all the risk that comes with keeping your infrastructure working and secure. Installation isn’t necessarily difficult, 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.
QuickBooks 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, grocery stores and other concerns selling bulk goods will find QuickBooks lacking. For restaurants or any other foodservice industry that needs functions beyond simply ringing up products, QuickBooks will be lacking, 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
Intuit hasn’t made billions for nothing; 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 to be fulfilled, 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 set-up and providing help when needed. While those who have point of sale experience 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, QBPOS pops up a dialog box asking if you’d like to apply rewards dollars and updates the total accordingly.
Hardware & Operating System Requirements
QBPOS is Windows-only and it will run on Vista (inasmuch as anything runs on Vista), as well as Windows 7 (Service Pack 2 or later recommended), Windows 8 (Service Pack 1 or later “strongly recommended”), and Windows Server 12. Additionally, you’ll need to install the whole thing with the following hardware specs:
- Windows Vista or higher (most computers will fit this criterion).
- Multi-core processor for multi-user implementations
- A minimum of 4GB RAM for a single workstation installation, 8GB RAM for multi-user.
- 1 GB of disk space.
- 4 GHz processor for single users, 2.8 Ghz for multi-users.
- Importing and Exporting data and other Office integrations requires Microsoft Word and Excel 2000 or higher (excluding Starter Edit, Peripheral hardware pretty much has to be bought from Intuit if you want a guarantee that it will function (meaning they won’t support it you’ve gotten it elsewhere)). QuickBooks is also compatible with Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, giving businesses an option for more mobility. Intuit states:
…hardware such as PIN pads and physical inventory scanners purchased from other sources may not have the required programming to work with point of sale software and/or point of sale merchant services. Intuit does not provide hardware programming, and does not guarantee hardware purchased elsewhere will work with Intuit software and services.
You can see a full breakdown of each license’s features by looking on the QB 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 adds inventory items to a sale easily 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 click-y 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, a handy feature. Custom discounts can be created and applied and you can set up a layaway. 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 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), as well as tracking work orders and sales orders.
- Real-Time Inventory Management: QBPOS 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: QBPOS makes buying inventory easy with its integrated purchase order function. Item barcodes can be scanned to automatically populate PO fields, or POs can be manually filled in. POs can then be emailed or printed out. When your order arrives, if it’s totally complete and accurate, then it’s simply 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 customer—just enter a name, address, phone, email, and business. Extra custom fields allow for additional info like 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 specific 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 hours to other QuickBooks financial software (like 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, common 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 individual sale.
- Dashboard Feature: Provides a quick glance at your best and worst selling items, department sales summary, department sales graph, and sales over time.
- iPhone & iPad integration: A nice addition with version 12.0 is the introduction of an app which syncs fully with your back-end managed inventory and allows 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 “Go Payments” card reader to use this.
Integrations & Add-Ons
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.
Intuit lists this as a feature, 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. This is 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 number and balance are always printed on receipts and cards can be redeemed at any store within your chain regardless of the issuing store.
Compatible Credit Card Processors
In order to take advantage of integrated payment processing, you must open an Intuit Payment Solutions merchant account. This account offers three pricing rates:
Furthermore, all credit card swipes or entries not meeting requirements (e.g. address verification) get the non-qualified rate of 3.94% as well as a per/authorization fee of $0.34. Additional network fees (based on network and MCC–merchant category code) have not been factored in. On the upside, funds are usually deposited within 2-3 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.
Version 12.0 has also updated the software to be EMV card compatible when used with an Ingenico IPP 350 PIN Pad.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Support is not free:
- $89.95 per month (1st month free if you sign up before completing registration of software)
- $299.95 per year
Live chat and phone support are offered 7 days a week:
- 4 am – 8 pm on 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 their 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 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 are 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 large majority of negative reviews found are about Intuit’s customer service.
If you have any interest in following QuickBooks Desktop’s social media pages they have 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, QuickBooks POS has a number of 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.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
A common sentiment among QBPOS 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 are forced to pay a large amount for access to this subpar service.
- Intuit Payment Solutions: There is an especially large disdain for Intuit Payment Solutions—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 problems with freezing or crashing on an almost daily basis which is obviously 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 QBPOS is lacking or weak when it comes to certain features, especially related to reporting and inventory.
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 they do 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 QBPOS 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, QBPOS will likely continue to be a fine product that will suit their needs. But, quite simply, there are better options available.
The dated architecture means you’ll need to cross your fingers and hope your hardware remains relevant after you’ve had to apply updates to each and every 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 like QuickBooks Point of Sale would have done–and did do–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.
Our Top Picks for Point of Sale Software
|Lightspeed POS||clover||ShopKeep POS||Square For Retail|
Square For Retail
Advanced retail features
Secure payments, reliable POS
Credit card processing options
To learn more about how we score our reviews, see our Point Of Sale (POS) Software Rating Criteria.