The popularity of Point-of-Sale (POS) systems and cash registers amongst retailers across the globe is nothing new. A study by Transparency Market Research showcases that the point of sale market $36.86 billion in the year 2013 alone.
But let’s take a moment to find out why?
It is relatively simple.
Sales are the life-pumping organ of your business, and these software support its growth. After all, no one wants to suffer a failed sales management that could cost them a hefty revenue percentage. But if there is one thing that business owners struggle to decide is which software is best for their business.
If you are among one of them, then you are at the right place. In this post, we discuss every facet of a POS system and a cash register to guide you to a confident decision for your business.
POS system vs. cash register: what’s best for your business
To understand which tool is right for your business, it is important to know the core purpose of each of them in isolation. This will give you a neural understanding of the tools and when you can integrate them into your process. Most importantly, it clears up the ‘why’ for you.
Let’s dive in.
What is a POS system?
A POS system is everything a cash register is and yet so much more. It basically is a place where an item is sold. In a brick-and-mortar store, this place is ideally the checkout counter. The POS systems are defined mechanisms that retailers and customers perform a transaction. However, an efficient POS system brings so much more than just taking a sale.
If your POS system is efficient, it will work as a sales analytics, ledger file, and basic inventory management besides being a cash register. More so, it renders detailed reports on your POS transactions.
So what are the key components that a POS system has?
The following is the anatomy of a high-performance POS system.
- Touchscreen devices enable fast transactions between the buyer and the seller.
- Card scanner helps to transact cashlessly.
- Chip Scanner that allows e-transactions without swiping cards.
- Barcode scanner to enable fetching item information for billing.
- Cloud server to update and store the transaction details and create forecasts for stocks in the inventory.
There are even more advanced POS systems like the mPOS, which is a mobile POS. If you are a seller with multiple point-of-sales like stores, events, and markets, investing in an mPOS system is incredibly beneficial.
More so, it is a great way to boost your sales opportunities. Removing considerable friction between buyer and customer, it takes the point-of-sale to the buyer instead of compelling them to reach the seller.
Pro Tip: You can integrate it with other business tools like accounting and warehouse management systems for maximum performance.
Now let’s look at what a cash register is.
What is a cash register?
A cash register keeps a record of every transaction that your store undergoes in a day. Be it credit or debit, this software can calculate taxes, generate sales receipts and track basic sales. In modern days, cash registers are dominantly electronic.
A cash register is best when starting a small-scale business like a grocery store or departmental store. Deploying this software is one of the best measures you can take against employee theft.
By now, you might have got a fair idea about what the two software do and how they are different. But let’s make it more clear for you. In the following section, we take a deeper dive into the distinct features of a POS system and a cash register.
How is a POS system different from a cash register?
Both the POS system and the cash register serve the same core purpose: keep records of transactions. Yet, both systems are distinguishably different in terms of functionalities and capabilities.
The factor differentiating between a POS system and a cash register is that the former is robust, feature-rich, and comprehensive. While a cash register stores your cash in a drawer, keeping track of all transactions, the POS system goes beyond keeping track of cash flow. It helps you with running the complete operations of your retail store.
Here are the top areas where these systems differ.
A POS system brings robust features like inventory management, customer data collection, and analytics, and initiates marketing campaigns like loyalty programs and promotion campaigns. While a cash register is only capable of securing deposits and bills of transactions while calculating taxes aiding basic sales reports.
POS systems are designed to meet the requirements of modern businesses. This means it is agile and flexible. It works on any device, and with a portable POS system, you can take sales everywhere your customer resides. However, this is not the case with cash registers. This tool pretty much comes in one form: an electronic cash register machine.
Creating a unified workflow is critical for any business to scale operations and sales. A POS system is designed to meet this need for scalability. With its robust integration capabilities, you can seamlessly integrate the software with other business tools like ERP (enterprise resource planning), accounting software, e-commerce software, scheduling apps, and automation tools. A cash register, on the other hand, can only integrate with a payment processor.
The price point of both systems has a considerable gap. While a POS system rightfully ends up on the premium side, costing around $1000 in annual subscription added with machine setup and maintenance, a cash register is comparatively cheap. It will cost you anywhere between $100 to $500.
While both the software are intuitive and easy to use, a cash register is relatively simpler to operate. Your employees can start using it in no time.
While the POS system might need some training to optimize the true potential of the software. Usually, the online customer service and training modules offered by the vendor stay sufficient for this tool.
Reporting is one of the strong points of a POS system. You can have high-precision detailed reports on multiple systems like accounting, transactions, inventory, customers, and more.
A cash register offers only basic sales reports here. There is no scope of analytics data that could help you predict sales or take a decision based on your customer sales behavior data.
A POS system is designed to support growth hacking. With its omnichannel capabilities, it brings more precision and scalability to a business. It has robust integrations and extensive features like marketing tools, inventory control, and data analytics. In short, its power grows with your growing needs.
However, a cash register is low-cost, low-maintenance, reliable, yet long-lasting.
The best part? It meets all the requirements of an entry-level business.
The only drawback of a POS system is perhaps the SaaS-based pricing that needs regular updates.
For a cash register tool, there are limitations in its functionalities. When you start your business, integrating a cash register tool may look just fine, but soon it will fail to meet your expectations. So now, when you have a complete understanding of how the software is different from each other, it is decision time. Which one is the right pick for you?
In the following section, we demystify the selection procedure for you.
POS system vs. cash register: which one meets your business needs?
There is no right or wrong answer to choosing any one of the above tools. Both of them are powerful sales machines in their context. This means the entire decision is on your unique business needs.
The tool that makes your final toolkit is based on 3 criteria: budget, goals, and sales channel.
Speaking of price, while a cash register is the obvious cost-efficient choice, you need to think long-term here. Asking a vital question here can give your answer. When do you see your business scale? Is it 6 to 12 months? If it is, then investing in a POS system will save you more in the long term.
Another consideration is the goals. If your answer to all the questions mentioned below is a ‘Yes’, then you need a POS system.
- What is the size of your automation project?
- Do you want to integrate all your systems into one unified channel for more productive tasks, how many product categories do you deal in?
- Are you expanding your IT?
If your sales channel has multiple locations, there is no doubt you would like to consider a POS system.
To sum it up, if you see that your requirements from right now to 6 months are tending towards scalable features, a POS system is the best option.
However, if you are just starting and testing your solutions for your target customers, a cash register just does fine. You can always switch to a POS system once you start to think of scalability.
Deciding on the right technology is critical for your business success both in terms of sustainability and exponentiality.
The above tips and determiners will give you a clear head start on how to think about your sales systems. But to make the most of your investments, you need to ensure your team undergoes proper training of your choice of tools. Yet again, before deciding on which vendor you are to partner with, always consider reviews of the software in review sites like Capterra. You can even ask for product tours.
Remember, the best tool for you is the one that not only gives you powerful features but makes it easy for you to achieve them. This means trying and testing a few vendors is a must.
If you follow the above tips and buying principles, your sales will be up and running in no time.
Atreyee Chowdhury works full-time as an Instructional Designer and is passionate about writing. She has helped many small and medium-scale businesses achieve their content marketing goals with her carefully crafted content that is both informative and engaging. She lives in Bangalore, India with her husband and parents. She loves to read, experiment with different cuisines, travel, and explore the latest content marketing and L&D trends in her free time. You can reach her on Linkedin or write to her at [email protected] to discuss your content marketing requirements.