What do POS Hardware & Software Services Offer?
The top performers in our review are SunrisePOS, the Gold Award winner; POS Nation, the Silver Award winner; and International Point-of-Sale, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing POS hardware and software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of POS services.
Point-of-sale (POS) systems are one of the most important parts of businesses that sell products or food items. These systems fulfill the essential role of processing sales, and most modern systems integrate with accounting and timecard management programs making them a more complete business management system.
The POS services we reviewed provide the full range of POS hardware and software. Many of these services offer complete bundles or allow you assemble your system piece-by-piece. Some of these services are POS software and equipment resellers. If you are interested in POS options tailored to your specific business, you may want to investigate our Restaurant POS or Retail POS reviews. Our POS Systems review details options that include credit card processing. If you want to learn more, consult our articles about POS hardware and software.
Most of the POS hardware offered by the services we reviewed are traditional POS systems. There are a few advantages these full systems have over iPad, Android or online-based POS technology. Many of these services also sell individual POS hardware items.
The first is that most allow you to choose your own credit card processor, which means you can shop for rates or continue using your current processor. Many of these services also allow you to choose your own software. For example, many let you choose between a few restaurant or retail software versions rather than only having one proprietary option available.
Another advantage is the option to lease, which is ideal if you don't have much start-up capital or don't want to dip into profits. Be aware that leases can have term agreements, and many require you to keep the equipment in top condition. If the equipment is damaged, you may have to pay replacement or repair costs.
Another possible benefit is professional services. For example, some companies we reviewed can fly in service representatives to help with training, data migration and implementation. However, these systems are more expensive than simple iPad or mobile solutions
Another important consideration when choosing POS software is the protections and warranties provided by the hardware you buy. Most of the services we reviewed provide a warranty of at least one year, while a few, including Sunrise POS and POS Guys, provide warranties of three years. If the service you purchase your POS hardware from is a reseller, the warranty may be served through the manufacturer and not the service you purchased from.
After choosing your hardware, you need to find compatible POS software to complete your system and begin selling to your customers. Software is available for all business types. Restaurant POS software can help you manage your restaurant by tracking tables and managing your serving staff. Retail POS software includes inventory management features. Bar POS software has features to help manage your patron's tabs, and salon POS software has tools to help you schedule appointments.
Many new POS software options are online-only or app-based. There are advantages to these types of software, particularly for small businesses. They are usually cheaper and store your data in the cloud so it can be accessed from anywhere and not just one terminal. Often, offline-only versions require multiple licenses to be purchased for additional terminals.
How About Payment Processing?
After you've set up your POS system, you can accept cash and check payments. In order to process credit cards, you need to set up an account with a payment processor. Credit card processors usually charge a percentage of the transaction cost and a per-transaction fee. We recommend shopping around and finding the best rate for your business. Be wary of any processor that requires you to sign a long-term contract, since these contracts often contain high termination fees. If you're already contracted with a processor, make sure you get a compatible POS system. Our credit card processing review contains detailed information about what to look for in a processor as well as recommendations of the top processors.
Either credit card processors or POS hardware and software services can provide you with a terminal for accepting card payments. As of October 2015, the terminal needs to be able to accept EMV cards. These cards have a chip in them along with a magnetic stripe. If you do not have an EMV compliant reader, you are liable for any fraudulent transactions that take place at your business.
What Type of POS System Would Be Best for My Business?
If you are starting a new business or upgrading your current system, you can explore our articles about POS systems to learn about the different types of systems. A good place to begin is the article, "Where to Start: Choosing the Best POS System." This prepares you to ask the right questions when you speak with sales representatives. We suggest contacting several POS services to compare terms for your company. If you already have a POS system in place and are looking to upgrade, your employees can provide insight into issues you might not be aware of. They may also know how often your customers ask if they can pay using a mobile wallet or PayPal. The more you learn ahead of time, the more informed your purchasing decision will be.
How We Compared POS Services
Most services we reviewed offer any type of point-of-sale equipment you need, and many provide POS hardware and software via a third-party vendor. This means we cannot possibly test every offering. In most cases, these POS companies are resellers, which makes customer service the aspect that sets them apart from the equipment providers they partner with. We looked at customer service extensively and tried to gauge what the after-purchase experience might be like. Of course, we recommend that before you purchase expensive POS equipment, you should ask the company what happens after the sales contract is signed. Is support available during the weekend? Will the company overnight a new piece of hardware if a device stops working? Can you receive help migrating your data to a new system? Does the company provide services for backing up your data?
While advanced support normally costs extra, it's worth having in case something goes wrong. We also looked at whether the companies can provide financing or leasing options for spreading out the costs. The other items we have listed in our side-by-side comparison can help you narrow down which service may be able to offer you what you are looking for to help you manage your type of business.
What About Popular POS Services, Like Square or PayPal?
POS products are swiftly evolving, and new iPad solutions are quickly saturating the market. Services such as Square and PayPal offer POS software for the price of payment processing. These services turn your iPad or Android device into a POS terminal, and back-office features are available when you log in to your account from any web browser. These are great options for small or new businesses since you can start processing payments immediately and nearly for free by requesting a card reader. Most of these services also offer compatible point-of-sale equipment, such as iPad stands, receipt printers and barcode readers. There are quite a few POS systems available for a low upfront investment with integrated payment processing. If you think this type of system would work well for your business, you can compare fees and features by visiting our POS systems reviews. We also have reviewed iPad restaurant point-of-sale solutions, such as Revel Systems, Restaurant Managers and Lavu, which are capable of running the front and back-of-house duties of full-service restaurants.
On Top Ten Reviews, we have published reviews of over 50 POS products to help you find the best solution for your business. We have also reviewed numerous credit card processing services, including mobile processing, to help you find an affordable processor.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
This review is quite different from our other POS reviews in that many of these services can provide you with a wide range of equipment, including peripherals such as menu displays, age verifiers, touchscreen kiosks, handheld inventory devices and more. If you are looking to build a custom system or just need to buy some replacement parts, these POS hardware and software services may be able to help you.
However, if you are looking for a popular iPad POS solution or a restaurant or retail specific solution, we have reviewed those in our other point-of-sale comparisons. Either way, you should be able to get a good start toward finding the best POS solution for your business by perusing our numerous point-of-sale reviews.