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What Is A POS System? Understanding Point Of Sale Software & Why It’s the Linchpin For Your Small Business

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
Matt Sherman

Matt Sherman

Point of sale writer at Merchant Maverick
Matt Sherman has been immersed in point of sale systems for over a year now. Previously, he spent 14 years in the newspaper industry, the majority of which was as the sports editor for a pair of weekly newspapers in suburban Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon where he majored in English because he knows where the money is. Matt is the father to a pair of energetic boys and can easily be distracted by Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go.

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10 Comments

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    Maria jeff

    I am looking for a non-cloud program that keeps my inventory and customer’s name and addresses and prints out an invoice I can ship with my products to my customer. It doesn’t have to be free but not a monthly cost.
    Thank you,

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Maria,

      Those are pretty basic inventory features — ShopKeep would seem to be a good fit. If you’re looking for something that’s free or close to free, however, I’d suggest you check out Square or even eHopper.

        Camille Devaux

        It is nice to know that the point-of-sale technology is increasingly getting better through technology. Making sure that you will not have to wait on a sale is a great plus. A friend of mine looking into the collection of money through her work would love knowing this.

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Joy Butler

          I’d like to thank you for your detailed explanation about POS systems. You’ve taught me that this software helps track customer purchases, employee sales, inventory fluctuations and other details. I certainly agree that this will not only have an easier integration process and simpler reporting, but back-ups are also automatic, and inventory tracking becomes easier.

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

            We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.

            Andy Baptist

            Totally disagree that people should only be considering cloud based systems.

            If you want anything developed that is specific to your particular business, having those changes made to a large cloud based application can be very difficult achieve and expensive.

            Poor internet is also a big problem, as is the latency involved when doing everything over a network.

            Some of the features that you have identified as being cloud specific are in fact not specific to cloud systems at all.

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

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Andy,

              We agree that you shouldn’t ONLY look at cloud-based systems but, for the most part, you’re rarely going to run into large-scale internet issues and most good systems have a competent back-up system now. In our opinion, cloud-based systems are the way everything is going for better or worse so it’d be safe to go that route if you don’t want to be stuck with an outdated system but that’s not to say that you can’t be happy with any locally installed system on the market either.

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

                Stephie David

                Thanks for sharing such informative article.Selecting an impressive POS system is one of the most important and tricky things to do for both new and experienced business owners. It is therefore recommended to invest a good amount of time in it. Your article provides a complete guide to POS buyers providing them better understanding POS.

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

                  Barbera Peters

                  After reading this article I can honestly say that I understand Point of Sale systems so much better. You mention how a point of sale is the most important place for customers to visit since it is the place the customer can go. I always thought the point of sale was more of a phase in the shopping experience but explain how it simply means it is where the customer pays for the goods or services provided. Thanks for the great explanation, I will have to keep it in mind next time I am at a store.

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

                    Anne Lichtig

                    Can anyone tell me about Squirrel Systems and how hey compete in the POS world?

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

                      April Cook

                      I work for a small business and we don’t have the best point of sales set up right now. I think new software could really help us provide better service for our customers. I also like that with a POS connected to the cloud you can access it anywhere. That would be really nice for the owner who travels a lot and can’t always be in the store to get reports. Thanks for sharing this great information!

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

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