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What is a POS Cash Register System?

A point-of-sale cash register system (or POS system) is a retail management system that helps vendors manage various aspects of their business.

These are some of the basic features found in POS cash register systems:

  • Payment processing
  • Printing of receipts and invoices
  • Sales tracking and history
  • Inventory tracking and management
  • Loyalty programs
  • Payroll management
  • Tracking of employee hours, vacation time, and sick leave
  • Sales tax calculation

POS Cash Registers vs Regular Cash Registers

The first electronic cash registers appeared in the early 1970s but were very limited. In 1974, McDonalds became one of the first businesses to deploy cash registers that showed customers the total, including sales tax, and calculated the correct amount of change. Electronic registers stayed much the same through the 1980s and 1990s, and many brick-and-mortar stores still use them today.

POS cash register systems first appeared in the 1990s and have become more advanced over the years. Moore’s Law observes that computing power doubles every 2 years, and it is this increased computing power that has enabled everything from smartphones to driverless cars to POS cash register systems.

With a POS system, you get everything you would get with a regular cash register—and more. A POS system handles sales, just like a cash register. It also does countless other things, such as inventory management, payroll, and accounting. As POS cash register systems grow in popularity, more and more functions continue to be added.

A POS system comprises a hardware and software component. The hardware is the actual device, like a computer, that the software runs on - the cash register.

Many POS providers sell sleek, modern cash registers for businesses to put in their store. When you place a POS system cash register on your countertop, it has 2 screens—one facing the customer and the other facing you. The customer can see whatever you want them to see; it could be just the purchase amount or it could be advanced features like a loyalty program. You control everything from your side of the counter, from sales to inventory to everything else.

Learn more about the top POS systems in our reviews >>

5 Reasons to Use a POS System with Cash Register

1. POS Systems Process Sales More Quickly and Accurately Than Old Registers

There’s nothing the twenty-first century shopper hates more than waiting to pay. Fortunately, POS systems process sales with greater speed and accuracy than those clunky old cash registers. With a POS cash register system with a scanner, the merchant doesn’t even need a price tag. They just hold the scanner up to the barcode or QR code on the product and the price pops up on the system complete with sales tax. If you have a large store or sell remotely, you can use a mobile scanner to process the sale wherever the customer happens to be standing.

2. It’s Easier to Track Inventory with a POS System

The old way of inventory management is time consuming and costly, in terms of the amount of missed sales from not having things in stock. Thanks to POS systems, inventory management is now simple and effective. These days, even the most basic POS cash register systems have built-in inventory tracking and analytics. When the POS system processes a sale, it automatically marks that product as sold. When stock is low, the merchant receives an alert to put more of that product in store.

3. POS Cash Registers Keep Records of All Transactions

POS systems don’t just track inventory, they also track sales. With a traditional cash register, the merchant can find themselves wasting an inordinate amount of time sorting through receipts (printed or digital) when they need to find a transaction. With a POS system, merchants can search for transaction by date, product type, sales location, and even by customer. Advanced POS systems connect sales data to marketing and loyalty programs, allowing the merchant to target customers with personalized ads.

4. POS Cash Register Systems Simplify the Accounting Process

Perhaps the most underrated aspect of a POS system is the accounting component. All the best POS systems integrate with accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero. Each time the POS system processes a sale, the details are transferred straight to the accounting program. POS systems save merchants the time and energy of having to do all their accounting manually.

5. The List of Things You Can do with a POS Cash Register System is Endless

A POS system is like a smartphone: it comes with basic functionality and you can add programs or apps as you wish. QuickBooks and Xero are just 2 examples. Other apps include: “Yelp for Business Owners,” which lets businesses view analytics and connect with people who wrote reviews; a program that dispenses the right amount of change in coins; and integration with your Ecommerce store. The possibilities are endless; as POS systems grow in popularity, more apps are constantly being introduced to the market.

Top 3 POS System Providers

ShopKeep ShopKeep Visit Site

Best for

Small to medium retail businesses that need mobile, flexible POS solutions.

Shopkeep is an all-in-one cloud-based POS system that is designed to be run on your iPad and is perfect for retail businesses. Features aren't limited according to pricing tiers, so every customer can use capabilities like accounting, marketing, payroll and time management integration, mobile integration, and complex payment processing to keep track of their retail activities.


  • Flat monthly fee
  • Extensive features available to all clients
  • Mobile app


  • No table layouts
  • Only for iPad use
  • Need to pay extra for premium telephone customer support

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TouchBistro Resto. POS TouchBistro Resto. POS Visit Site

Best for

Restaurants and food service businesses of any size.

TouchBistro is a POS system designed for use by restaurants and similar food service businesses, so it includes full ordering functionality, automated delivery tracking, real-time complex inventory tracking, split check capabilities, floor plan tools, and more. It’s designed for Apple devices and is very easy to use.


  • All the features a restaurant business could need
  • Very easy and intuitive to use
  • No long-term contract


  • Requires both cloud support and a local server
  • Complex to set up
  • Only compatible with Apple devices

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Lightspeed Lightspeed Visit Site

Best for

Independent retailers and restaurants

With LightSpeed you can manage your inventory with pre-loaded catalogs and a synced product history both in-store and online. Accounting integration with Quickbooks takes only a few clicks. You can also manage special orders and discounts from your Mac or iPad, and include special touches like branded receipts.


  • Native analytics for products, sales and employee management
  • No setup fees


  • High per-month costs
  • Customer complaints of software glitches

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Editorial Reviews

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Essential information
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