Different Types of POS Systems: Quick Guide For Retail Business Owners


If you run a liquor store, QSR, golf course, grocery store, convenience store, or any other type of B2C business, you’ll need to equip it with a point of sale system. However, the type of POS system you choose depends on the type of business you run, the size of the business, the number of customers and employees you have, and other factors.

A POS system is essential to your day-to-day operations and can help keep everything from payment processing to inventory management running smoothly. Still, there are many different types of POS systems on the market, which can make your choice complicated. Here’s a quick overview of the different types of POS systems and how to use them. You’ll also learn how to choose the best POS system for your business, and we’ll provide some other POS-related resources.

Table of Contents

  1. Terminal POS systems
  2. Tablet point of sales systems
  3. Multichannel POS solutions
  4. Cloud POS
  5. Open-source POS software
  6. Self-service kiosk POS
  7. Touch-Screen point of sale systems
  8. How to Choose the Best POS System for Your Business

Terminal POS Systems

A POS terminal is a hardware system for processing card payments in stores and recording revenue earned and products sold. The software reads the magnetic stripes of credit and debit cards and is built into the hardware.

Terminal-based POS systems are the most common type of POS system. The terminal refers to the screen that the employee uses to enter information into the POS software. Other hardware components may include a barcode scanner, cash drawer, receipt printer, and customer-facing screen with a card reader.

Terminals are typically used at the checkout counter in retail stores of all sizes (grocery, antiques, electronics, books, salons and spas, liquor stores, convenience stores, thrift stores, etc.) Advantages of a terminal include easy employee restrictions and the ability to integrate additional point of sale hardware pieces (such as tablets) or software (such as online ordering). However, POS terminals present a lack of mobility for employees, and they typically take up more space.

Depending on the POS provider, retailers can purchase or lease a terminal based on how they prefer to manage their cash flow. Buying a system involves higher upfront costs, while leasing spreads payment out monthly payments (although the total lease payments may be higher than a one-time purchase over the life of the system).

Tablet Point of Sale Systems

A mobile POS system refers to software that can be accessed via a mobile tablet or smartphone (the latter usually with a small hardware credit card reader that plugs into the headphone jack). It is primarily used to process payments, with some limited inventory or time management functions.

The mPOS systems can be used to allow customers to pay remotely and/or on the go. This allows shoppers outside your immediate geographic location (such as a storefront) to make payments quickly and securely. A mobile POS system is ideal for providing customers with a smoother, more convenient payment experience. The best mobile POS systems can accept the following types of frictionless payments:

Mobile POS is great for businesses like ice cream stores, fast food trucks, juice bars, farmer’s market stalls, and street vendors, but can also work well in traditional retail stores. For example, a mobile POS can speed up the payment process when you have a long line in your store.  Using a mobile POS requires little or no upfront investment and offers the aforementioned mobility. However, the functionality can be limited and lacks marketing tools that medium to large businesses would need.

See related: The Difference Between POS and mPOS & Mobile Payments Explained

Multichannel POS Solutions

Multi-channel POS software is a system that allows a business to manage store operations across multiple channels. This type of POS system integrates all of your sales across your online store, social media pages, and various physical storefronts.

Multi-channel POS software helps you avoid stock-outs by synchronizing inventory levels across channels. This is especially important for maintaining accurate sales data, especially as online and offline commerce lines continue to blur. A benefit of multi-channel point of sale systems is that they enable you to expand your business by further widening your consumer market. The multi-channel point of sale system is ideal for an eCommerce store that establishes a physical location, a physical store that adds online orders, or online vendors that host in-person pop-ups.

See also: Multi-Channel Retailing: The Ultimate Guide to Engaging Customers On and Offline

Cloud POS

Cloud-based payment terminals record transactions in real-time, allowing you to access your data from anywhere with an internet connection quickly. The cloud-based cashiering system can be truly portable (if using mobile devices), while the business owner can check and use sales data from anywhere that they have cloud access. Because the data is stored on the POS system provider’s remote servers, a cloud-based POS system can generally only work when there is an internet connection, although providers may offer some offline functionality to minimize potential disruptions to your customer service.

See also: Future Of Cloud-Based POS: Trends in the Point of Sale Industry

Small businesses with multiple POS systems or multiple locations benefit from a cloud-based POS system, as the data syncs with a centralized database, giving you an overview of your business. Many cloud-based POS systems also include real-time inventory updates, which is useful for merchants with multiple stores to track product levels.

Open-source POS Software

Open source POS systems offer the ability to customize the interface of your POS software to work exactly the way you want it to. However, you’ll need software engineers to do this, and since they often charge high rates, open-source POS systems can be expensive. However, it may be the only option for large companies with unique POS system needs.

In general, open-source POS systems are best suited for businesses that require a highly customized solution, have a larger budget, and have a development or IT staff on hand. Reach out to KORONA POS about our open API if you have more questions on this type of POS solution.

Self-service kiosk POS

Most self-service kiosk POS systems are specialized solutions that serve a specific purpose. For example, you might offer a self-service kiosk that allows customers to purchase movie tickets or manage parking time and payments. Another useful option is to install a few kiosks in your large retail store to allow your customers to check prices, product availability or even to check out. 

Like the terminal, the components of a self-service kiosk POS typically include a display, card reader, receipt printer, and barcode scanner to help the customer check out. The most common use cases are movie theaters, grocery stores, bus passes, and parking tickets. However, some point of sale providers like Square also offers self-service kiosks for restaurants.

Touch-Screen Point of Sale Systems

A touchscreen point of sale (POS) system works on tablets and mobile devices, usually via an app. The biggest advantage of using a touchscreen or tablet is a streamlined interface for faster checkout. In addition, touchscreen devices are more portable than cash registers or wired countertop POS systems, allowing for mobile sales capabilities. The intuitive design of touchscreen software makes it easy for customers and employees to use. The best tablet and touchscreen POS systems are affordable, easy to use, and equipped with key business management features, such as inventory management and sales reporting. They are best for high-volume businesses and for any business that needs a system that is easy to train employees on.

How to Choose the Best POS System for Your Business

Every business has different needs. When it comes to the type of POS system you’re going to purchase, there are five different factors that can help you choose from the types of POS systems we’ve described above. 

  • Type of business – small or large, restaurant or retail
  • Low or high sales volume
  • Budget
  • Hardware requirements
  • Specialized features – advanced inventory management, customer-facing displays, fast payment processing, fully customizable features, and employee management tools, etc. 

Don’t hesitate to talk to other business owners in your industry to get more information on the best POS systems. Hop on a few demos to explore all the options available and make the right choice for you. Consider customer support, too. Your point of sale is an integral part of your business, so knowing you have the right team behind you is crucial.

Must-Read: 10 Questions To Ask When Shopping For A New POS

KORONA POS: The Retail POS System You Need For Your Retail Business

KORONA POS helps you better position yourself in the retail industry with the most advanced point of sale system on the market. It includes integrated payments, powerful inventory management, and real-time reporting to guide you in the right direction. KORONA POS comes with a lot of other features, too: 

  • Custom eCommerce integration
  • Employee time tracking
  • Loyalty programs
  • Quickbooks Online accounting integration
  • Retail inventory management tools
  • Cashier permissions and reports
  • Credit card processing agnostic
  • ABC retail analysis
  • Automatic inventory reordering
  • CRM and email marketing
  • Promotions and discount features
  • EMV and mobile payment integration

Different Types of POS Systems: Conclusion

Overall, point of sale solutions offer important benefits for modernizing retail businesses. Hopefully, this guide provides some background to help you determine which software is best for your situation.

Choosing the right POS for your industry starts with understanding the nature of your business needs in terms of functionality, determining a budget for your individual store or network, choosing a solution with simple and secure data migration processes, determining which integrations are essential for your business, and finally evaluating the ongoing support offered by the various systems you have.

Should you currently be looking for POS software, click on the button below to learn more about KORONA POS through a product demo.

FAQs: Different Types of POS Systems

1. Which POS system is the best?

The best POS system depends on your business and your needs. For companies that operate in the retail sector, there are several POS systems such as KORONA POS, Lightspeed, Square, and many more. Basically, the best POS system is one that is able to solve your store management operations efficiently.   

2. How much does a POS system cost?

A point of sale system for your small business costs anywhere from $0 to $300/month. For most small businesses, the average cost of a point of sale system is about $69 per month. Factoring in fees for additional software features, such as advanced analytics, loyalty, and gift cards, you could be paying over $100/month for your POS system. More custom solutions will require a bigger monthly investment.

3. Do all POS systems charge per transaction?

Pricing varies from one POS provider to another. The POS provider may charge a per-transaction fee if it offers integrated payment processing. However, this option is not typically recommended. It is best to opt for solutions that give you the choice of your payment processor in order to choose the rate that suits you best.

About the Author

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Mahougnon Martial Amoussou

Passionate about SEO and Content Marketing. Martial also writes about retail trends and tips for KORONA POS. He loves NBA games and is a big fan of the Golden State Warriors.