You may be looking for a point of sale system but do not know where to begin your research, or maybe you are interested in a point of sale software, but you do not know which terminal would meet your needs and be adapted to your business operations. 

First of all, let’s clarify the difference between point of sale software and a point of sale terminal. Point of sale software allows you to organize and access your store data. A point of sale terminal includes physical material and allows you to run the software. For instance, a POS terminal may include a computer or a physical terminal, a scanner and a receipt printer. 

A point of sale system is then a combination of software and physical equipment that aims to facilitate commercial operations.

Once you choose the type of software you wish to purchase, you can then choose a terminal. The terminal will allow you to physically finalize transactions in your store. Every terminal has its strengths and weaknesses, but here are a couple of types of terminals available at your disposal. 

There are mainly 4 point of sale technologies:

  1. Legacy Software [On-Site Server]
  2. Cloud Computing Terminals
  3. Mobile Terminals
  4. Self-service Terminals

Being aware of each terminal’s characteristics will allow you to make the right choice for your company.

1. Legacy Software (On-Site Server)

This technology is found physically in stores and requires an on-site server. Employees use the system with clients as they complete a transaction. This system is often used in busy places such as grocery stores, restaurants, etc. This system is useful for its simplicity and rapidity to complete required operations. 

However, there are several drawbacks regarding legacy software and having an on-site server:

ExpensiveInstalling a server can be expensive for a company, even more when the company has multiple stores.
Limited accessTo consult store data, you have to be physically in the store to analyze it. That can also be a problem for store network owners.
Lack of supportIt is usually more difficult to have access to support if a problem comes up.
SecurityIf there are any events such as a fire or a flood, you may lose your data, since it is not stored anywhere else. Also, you do not have access to regular updates that can help ensure smooth operations.

2. Cloud Computing Terminals

The most modern point of sale system that you can get is a cloud computing terminal. You do not need a server installed in your store, because your supplier is in charge of your server. If the system encounters a problem, the supplier will solve it for you. You then have more time to manage your company instead of maintaining your server and manually creating backups. 

Alice POS is a cloud computing software that provides several advantages such as increased data security, ongoing updates and support. This is really interesting because your data is always safe from floods or fires for example

Furthermore, the data is safe, but also searchable anywhere, anytime. This is useful for multi-store owners since they can consult their data about every single store inventory or reports in one place. 

There are many advantages to using cloud technology:

Available everywhereYou can consult your data anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection.
AffordableOften offered as a SaaS (Software as a Service) the price is frequently affordable due to the many plans provided by your supplier.
Regular updatesThe supplier is responsible for updating the software and adding features to it regularly. You then benefit from an optimal version of your software.
SupportMany cloud computing point of sale system suppliers offer support at all times. For example, Alice POS offers a 7-day support.
Easy to useThis software is often used for its easy use and the data easy to access. It is also useful if you are looking to grow and open new stores.

Alice POS is a cloud computing point of sale software conceived for retail businesses. To learn more about what Alice POS can do for you, talk to one of our retail experts by clicking on the button below.


3. Mobile Terminals (mPOS)

A mobile terminal or mPOS (mobile Point of Sale) is a point of sale system that works with a smartphone or a tablet. Transactions are made with a credit or debit card reader. By downloading a mobile transaction application, any mobile device can be a point of sale system. 

Mobile terminals are a good solution for small companies that do not have an enormous budget to invest initially in their point of sale system. An Internet connection and mobile devices are the only things necessary to complete transactions and have access to your point of sale. This reduces costs, avoiding buying legacy software for each of your stores.

The data is stored with cloud computing technology. Being able to sell anywhere and consult transactions anytime is ideal for business people who travel a lot.   

This type of terminal has many advantages:

Available everywhereThis point of sale terminal mobility allows you to consult your data everywhere with cloud computing technology.
Cost reductionThis type of point of sale terminal is not too expensive and is accessible to small companies.

This type of terminal also has different disadvantages:

IncompleteOftentimes, this type of terminal is free or cheap, but does not offer certain features, is not supported or does not offer a great user experience.
Less safeMobile devices have increased vulnerability and you have to make sure you verify the security of your devices and mobile applications before implementing them in your organization.

4. Self-service Terminals

In a self-service terminal case, the client performs their own transactions to purchase a product or a service. Businesses with a large clientele have to make quick transactions and may want to purchase that kind of terminal. However, it may not be ideal for every business, but this terminal type is interesting for grocery stores, theatres and fast-food chains for example. 

For example, McDonald’s uses this self-service point of sale system with terminals where clients can order and pay at the same time by themselves. The same goes for theatres when clients use self-service terminals to purchase a movie ticket. 

This type of terminal is efficient for many reasons:

Reduce waiting timeClients that use self-service terminals reduce waiting time in line at the cash desks.
Improve productivityEmployees can concentrate on other tasks in the company, without affecting service.
Increase revenueHaving self-service terminals helps increase sales. It was found that clients spend 30% more while using those terminals.
Personalized purchasesCertain companies can offer their clients the possibility to personalize their products. This gives added value to the company.

Related Questions

How to use a point of sale system?

Every POS has its own way to function and its own features. Alice POS is a cloud computing point of sale system that essentially serves retail businesses, and multi-location structures such as franchises, corporate buying groups, retail networks, and more!

How does a point of sale work?

To run a point of sale system, you need at least:

  • A server, that saves data
  • A terminal, to complete transactions
  • A credit and debit card reader
  • A cash drawer
  • A receipt printer

All depending on the company, it is possible that you also need a barcode reader to identify your items.

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