A good POS (point-of-sale) system can increase sales, provide the information you need to make financial decisions and help you provide first-class customer service. POS systems consist of hardware and software or a web-based program. There are some things to consider when deciding between a software-based or web-based POS program for your business. Both systems should run off a regular computer that is running an operating system like Windows or Mac OS X and the difference can be subtle at times.  

Older systems were all software-based and were imperfect in their design. Modern software systems have come a long way now that they are written like software and less like a function-specific operating system. The older POS solutions were limited to basic sales functions and did not leave room for addition sale options, like placing an item on layaway. Those older systems can still be found, but are slowly being phased out because of the advantages of the modern solutions. Convenience and broader potential are the biggest differences and are what make sales transactions in our day such a smooth process.

These are the major advantages and disadvantage of both types of POS systems:

Web-based POS


  • The provider will back-up all of your important information on their server so you will not lose anything due to a computer crash or theft.
  • You can access reports, inventory and other information from any computer with an internet connection.
  • You do not have to purchase expensive POS software.
  • Most services provide free updates so your POS program will never become outdated.
  • Web-based POS programs are easy to upgrade. You can add features or work stations to fit your business as your business grows or during busy seasons.
  • The provider can address technical problems instantly over the web by accessing your account and fixing problems remotely. Some even offer 24/7 support.


  • Web-based POS providers charge a monthly fee.
  • You have to have the internet connected to your retail workstation.
  • Some providers require you to use their hardware, which can be expensive.
  • If you lose your Internet connection, you will not be able to access the program.
  • Some providers charge a startup fee.

Software-based POS


  • There are no monthly fees associated with the software.
  • The software-based POS does not require an internet connection.
  • You can use any hardware that is compatible with the software.
  •  Software-based programs are generally easy to set up and use.


  • Some manufactures require you to purchase updates to keep your software current.
  • You cannot upgrade the software. As your business grows, you will have to purchase new software or more licenses.
  • You cannot access reports, inventory and other information from any computer with an internet connection.
  • If you need technical support, you have to email or phone the manufacturer and relay the problem to them.

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