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Just a cash register or a POS system: which is right for your business?

Not every business needs a POS system: modern electronic cash registers can provide many of the same benefits and are easier on your budget. If you're looking to buy a cash register, we recommend going directly to business electronic outlets like Staples where you can get a good deal on a cash register.

If you're still considering your options, here's a look at some of the differences:

  • For one thing, don't let the terminology confuse you: POS systems and cash registers have a lot in common. They both usually have cash drawers, programmable item keys, price displays, receipt printers, and credit card swipe slots. Both let you ring up customers and track how much you've sold of various items.
  • The primary difference is that POS systems let you do much more after the sale. While electronic cash registers can give you basic cash out report that will tell you your total sales figures for the day, that's usually about all they can do. POS systems let you analyze your sales data over different date ranges, by category or location, and in almost any other way you can think of.
  • POS systems also provide a level of inventory management that is nonexistent with basic cash registers. Want to know which of your items is the hottest seller? What's a dead item that should be pulled from the shelf? Standard POS reports make it easy to get at that data.
  • On the other hand, if your budget is strapped, cash registers are much less expensive to purchase. Without any requirement for a computer or networking, you can find standalone cash registers that can handle the needs of a very small business for $100 to $500.
  • Some buyers worry about the complexity of POS systems, but if you want the flexibility and power they offer, the complexity shouldn't get in the way. Part of the reason you'll pay more for a POS system is that the vendor you buy from will handle the setup and installation - and may even train you on the basics of using the system. Often, basic jobs like ringing up customers, running basic reports, and cashing out at the end of the day are no more complicated than they would be with electronic cash registers.
  • POS systems are practically mandatory for multi-location businesses. You won't want to be manually capturing data from multiple registers and combining it to get the complete picture of your business performance. Some POS systems offer online dashboards that combine data from multiple stores so you can get the info you need in one easy-to-read location.

If you decide that the extra cost of a full-fledged POS system is worth it for your business, we can match you to multiple POS sellers who'll walk you through the process. But if a standard cash register is enough for you, we recommend you head over to Staples and pick out the model that best meets your needs.