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Last Updated: 09. January 2020

What Is POS?

A POS system is an electronic device mainly used by retailers, caterers, and professionals to facilitate and register income transactions. POS systems help you save time and money by automatically recording and storing sales and inventory data.

Point of Sale systems can either act as a simple cash register, or can be upgraded with various tools and equipment, and tailored to your business with sophisticated POS software.

While ePOS systems connect multiple devices, POS is a traditional Point of Sale solution that stores data locally, and in one place.

It is common to refer to any Point of Sale System as POS or ePOS, however, there are differences between the types. The most common types of POS systems in the UK are:

  • ePOS systems (electric Point of Sale)
  • mPOS systems (mobile Point of Sale)
  • Cash registers

POS systems can record many types of data that can be useful for your business; they can handle transactions, track sales, and record inventory.

If you want to get professional advice on POS systems, Market Inspector is here to help you with a free service. Let us know about your needs and preferences by filling in the form on the right side of the page. Our suppliers will provide you up to 4 non-binding quotes purposely tailored to your business. 

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What Does a POS System Do?

POS (point of sale) is a system that facilitates the transaction processes between a customer and a merchant. The shopkeeper, barista, or waiter will scan the barcode of an item, the POS system will display the price on the till, and then prompt the customer for payment.

Older, traditional POS systems that do not have a barcode scanner may require the price of a product to be entered manually by the merchant.

Key Features of a POS system:

POS Hardware Equipment
  • Cashier computer
  • Touch screen display
  • Keybord and mouse
  • Customer monitor
  • Barcode scanner
  • Cash drawer
  • Card teminal
  • Receipt printer
  • POS software

POS software is a fundmental element that guarantees the overall operations of the POS system. The software generates several advantages in terms of speed, security, and efficiency.

A POS system is an important investment as it will affect every business process, and will stay in your company for a long period of time. Therefore, it is important to make an informed decision.

8 Advantages of POS Systems

There are many ways a new modern POS system can make your daily work easier. The correct setup can make your business processes smoother, as POS systems automate many tasks and processes. Modern UK POS systems take care of handling the whole transaction with customers.

Benefits of POS Systems

  • Software safety
  • Easy to use
  • Payment security
  • Fast Transactions
  • Inventory Control
  • Access to customer database
  • Reports and analysis
  • Staff management

1. Software Safety

The first POS system feature to consider is the level of safety that the system provides to your Point of Sale. These systems encrypt your customer data as soon as it has been received, thereby protecting transaction data.

POS software is designed to protect your customer's payment information, and while it may be costly, it is an invaluable investment for your company. Therefore, an important rule is to stay away from free POS software. The disadvantages of free software are:

  • Unprotected payments
  • Assistance is not included
  • No included warranty
  • Malware or viruses can strike the system
  • Limited control of your business

These obstacles mean your free POS software will likely cost you more in maintenance fees. Instead, opting for a viable POS system, together with fully functional POS software will be extremely advantageous for your business.

2. Ease of Use

It is important to have a user-friendly POS system that is practical for you and your employees. To be sure that you are purchasing a simple and easy-to-use system, we suggest you engage in trials and demos with a variety of suppliers.

Finding the right solution for your business is not a time-consuming task. The many advantages of a good POS system will facilitate the management of both the front and back office of your enterprise.

3. Payment Security

POS security prevents the theft of card details and customer information by third parties. The aim is to make POS systems less vulnerable to theft and to create safe conditions for every transaction.

Unfortunately, POS malware is a common occurrence and out-of-date Point of Sale systems are more likely to fall prey to credit card theft. It is essential to always update your operating system with valuable POS software. This will lead to the protection of the whole system and will limit the vulnerability of your workplace.

4. Fast Transactions

Having safe POS software also improves the overall POS performance. Payments are immediately recorded in the terminal, which are then shared with the main inventory management later on.

Thanks to efficient Point of Sale systems, customers face drastically decreased waiting times. There is no need for multiple check-out lines when it is possible to have only a few very quick card processing units.

With contactless payments, payment speeds have even doubled. This has resulted in a remarkable rise in customer satisfaction.

5. Inventory Control

All types of businesses can monitor their stock levels with a POS system. This feature is usually related to the software that has been implemented, but it goes without saying that it facilitates and speeds up the process of sales and inventory tracking.

All the data concerning the quantity and turnover of products is collected on the Point of Sale system and displayed on the monitor of the device. Receiving automatically generated information about product stock is extremely helpful because it allows the organisation of inventory according to the customer demand.

6. Access to Customer Database

Fidelity cards and loyalty programmes are a clever way to determine customer trends. Details about consumers and their usual purchases are gathered within the POS system where a customer database can be created.

Discounts, tailored promotions, and point accumulation increase customer satisfaction and help with the analysis of clients’ tendencies and preferences. This also leads to higher product turnover by making you aware of the “must-haves” during specific periods of the year.

7. Reports and Analysis

Touch ScreenPOS systems provide detailed reports and analysis about daily, monthly, and yearly business performance. Information about all types of cash flows are collected within the system and lead to the creation of graphs and charts.

Tax rates and income levels are automatically updated on a real time basis when financial transactions occur. Therefore, no internet is required. Nevertheless, innovative POS software guarantees temporary data backup in case of a lost connection.

8. Staff Management

Internal operations can be monitored through the POS software. More specifically, if the employee accounts are included in the system, it is possible to create statements consisting of their daily activities and transactions.

Having a fingerprint scanner as part of your hardware allows you to check when every member enters and exits the workplace. With fingerprint information, clocking-in employee salary amounts becomes an easy task, as it is automatically calculated thanks to your Point of Sale system.

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6 Disadvantages of Traditional POS

Depending on the level of sophistication of your POS set-up, you can enjoy an array of different automation benefits. Traditional POS is suitable for certain types of businesses, but may be deemed limited to others.

Drawbacks of POS Systems

  • Server dependency
  • Limited integration capability
  • Susceptible to malware attacks
  • High initial costs
  • Expensive software upgrades
  • Staff training requirements

1. Server Dependency

Having a POS system means you are dependent on the server to be up and running. Depending on the POS software quality, you may experience times when the servers are down, and your customer may be waiting to make a payment.

Naturally, this would result in dissatisfied customers and may cause your employees to panic. It is advisable to invest in a POS software that offers 24/7 customer service, so you can receive support when systems are down.

2. Limited Integration Capability

Depending on the system, you may experience limitations in features. Some POS systems are specialised in one area.

For example, if you have a retail store and choose to expand your business, your existing POS software may not have ecommerce integrations.

If you know you will not require complex integrations, it would be best to go for the simplest POS solution. If, however, you plan to expand your business in future, then you may want to set yourself up for an easy upgrade by choosing a POS provider that has the option of integrating different systems.

3. Susceptible to Malware

As with any software, there is a risk of being infected with malware. POS malware is a malicious type of software that targets Point of Sale systems specifically, with the intention to steal debit and credit card information.

These kinds of cyber attacks obtain POS data, and can result in card holder information being stolen and used fraudulently.

4. High Initial Costs

POS systems are more expensive than a simple cash register. If your business requires only simple features that a cash register can offer, then it may not be worth investing in a pricey POS system.

Set-up costs require the purchasing of both hardware and software, and oftentimes will require assistance from a software supplier.

Depending on if you choose a POS software, or a cloud-based system, the installation prices may differ, as cloud-based systems oftentimes have cheaper monthly fees.

5. Expensive Software Upgrades

Although sophisticated POS software has its fair share of advantages, when the time comes to upgrade it, you will incur high costs.

A POS software requires licenses, and it can be costly to get new licenses.

If you have a cloud-based POS system, upgrades are much easier to do and can sometimes be as simple as updating an app.

6. Staff Training Requirement

As with any programme or software, some training will be required. If your system is complex and has many different features, more training may be necessary. It is important that you invest in the time and money to ensure that all staff are competent at using the POS system, and know what to do in case of connectivity issues.

POS System

How Much Does a POS System Cost?

When talking about POS costs, prices should be distinguished between POS hardware and software. Simple POS hardware bundles can range, on average, from £300 - £1,300, while premium bundles can exceed £5,000. In addition, POS software will incur a monthly fee, and average ranges are between £25 - £75 per month.

POS hardware costs will amount to high initial costs. Depending on your business operations and needs, you may simply require simply a till, a card payment machine, and a receipt printer. If you accept cash, you will also require a cash drawer.

If you run a restaurant or cafe that offers table service, mobile card machines will be a necessary added expense. If you are running a busy retail store, a barcode scanner would facilitate the checkout process.

Different key features make the difference in POS system prices.

  • Business size
  • Hardware components
  • Software inclusion
  • Warranty length
  • Inventory control
  • Sales operations report
  • Staff management
  • Booking system
  • Customer database

Selecting a POS system that is flexible and upgradeable as your business grows is the ideal solution.

11 Most Popular POS System Brands

There are many different POS systems in the UK, but you don't always have to go with te biggest players on the market. Investigate and find the most suitable POS provider for your type of business.

In the table below, Market Inspector has presented an overview of the 10 popular POS brands in the UK, highlighting the industries they are most suitable for, as well as their pricing.

Top POS Providers in the UK
BrandSuitable forPricing
epos Now Logo Hospitality, retail from £47 per month
Lightspeed Logo Retail, restaurant, and eCommerce from £39 per month
It's Lolly Logo Hospitality from £65 per month
iZettle Logo Hospitality, retail, eCommerce from £29 per month
or 1.75% transaction fee
ePOS Direct Logo Hospitality, retail, restaurants from £99 per month
Payzone Logo Hospitality, retail, restaurants from £65 per month
Zappy Pay Logo Hospitality, retail from £75 per month
Shopify Logo Retail from $29 per month
(prices unavaible in £)
Square Logo Retail, restaurant from £199 for a terminal,
and 1.75% transaction fee
Square Logo Hospitality, retail Software only: £449
Including hardware: starting at £1099
Monthly service charge: £30

Having a POS system will definitely make your daily operations more efficient. To help you find the best POS system provider for your business, Market Inspector can offer you up to four tailored quotes from suppliers in the UK. This service is free of charge and incurs no obligations.

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