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Small Business POS Systems - Finding the Right One for Your Small Business

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Dec 02

POS Systems and Small Business What is a Point of Sale (POS) system? More than just a cash register, a solid point of sale system can help small businesses manage every aspect of inventory through your consumer’s final shopping experience.  If you’ve been struggling with a basic cash register and then inputting that data into an accounting software program, it may be time to revisit your retail system and see if there’s a more productive way


Thanks to softwareadvice.com for their very useful chart on Retail Software Applications:




Point of Sale (POS)

Helps sales clerks ring-up customers and process payments. Ensures cashiers charge the correct amount, adjusts inventory and prints receipts. Example vendors include Microsoft POS software, RetailPro, and Counterpoint.

Inventory Control

Automates the management of supply levels. Deducts inventory as sales are completed and provides alerts when inventory levels reach pre-defined thresholds. Also provides reports on inventory movement trends. Example vendors include Fishbowl Inventory, RetailSTAR and Comcash.

Retail Accounting

Centralizes accounting data and provides accurate details on business performance. Incorporates inventory figures as well as other expenses, such as payroll and rent. Example vendors include Epicor POS, Microsoft Dynamics GP and NetSuite.

Retail CRM

Stores customer information and purchase history. Enables retailers to track contact information, key dates such as birthdays and anniversaries, and preferred items to market to customers. Example vendors include Sage ACT!, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NetSuite.



In a nutshell, a good POS system should be able to:

·         Ring and track sales

·         Manage inventory and assist in reordering

·         Track customers from interest through buying experience and even returns.

·         Accept credit cards

·         Synch with mobile devices

·         Manage gift and rewards cards processing

·         Reporting


Most retail systems include a terminal, monitor, barcode scanner, keyboard, mouse, receipt printer and software.  Industry-specific POS systems can include appointment scheduling software, credit card readers/scanners, scale compatibility or even in-counter bar scanners.


As a bonus, you may want to investigate a bar code scanning system or screens that have touch-screen technology for more rapid processing and streamlined training. Think those bells and whistles are something out of a science fiction novel? Guess again.  With new technologies and products available on the market today, it’s possible to have these and many more features all at your fingertips. If you are entering the POS market for the first time, congratulations! Being a newbie means that you have the benefit of selecting a system and being wooed by distributors while not concerning yourself with migrating existing data and inventory onto a new platform.  If you are expanding or just plain unhappy with your current system, you’ll want a seamless migration to the new system. 


First things first – determine your business’ unique needs.


Retail shops will have very different requirements for a POS system than the restaurant up the street.  A restaurant will need ordering capabilities, connected to the kitchen for quicker order placement and specifics about special requests. From a management perspective, a restaurant POS can also track employee’s hours, including tips calculations, product usage and ordering and even staff scheduling. Remember that unlike a straight cash register, POS systems have rich onboard computer systems that allow your data to be reportable.  


Unlike restaurants, retail environments typically have single transactions, but also have to deal with returns, exchanges and other types of transactions. Retail shops also have multiple product SKUs and need to track considerable amounts of inventory in and out of the store. Partnering the POS with a bar coding system can help keep tabs on your inventory while ensuring that your ordering is timely and accurate.  If you’re already using QuickBooks for your accounting system, then a natural progression would be to step up to QuickBooks POS and integrate your systems.  Now instead of having to double input from your register data into your accounting system, both systems will seamlessly synch saving you hours of duplicate work and entries.


Remember to do your homework first.  The POS system is a full computer system and needs to interface with your existing IT operations.  Talk with your IT consultant to see what s/he recommends and if your IT infrastructure will require any additional configuration to support the POS. There are also numerous types of system software programs available. These programs can offer multi-platform and multi-management features enabling stores with multiple locations to link data for certain areas and keep information separate for other segments. Before you buy a system, ask the representative to provide samples so you can see if the types of reports and details available will be useful for your needs.


Investing in a POS system is a big decision.  Try not to buy for your immediate needs, but consider what your needs may be in a year or two – or even longer.  Purchase a system that is easily upgradable, expandable and provides electronic upgrades either free or for a small fee. 



PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.


To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.


Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.


Copyright Information 2013 Professional Association of Small Business Accountants








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