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The best point of sale systems for small retail stores

3 February 2023

Opening up a bricks-and-mortar shop, a retail store or a concept store requires a great deal of preparation. Entrepreneurs need to think carefully about every aspect of their premises, from the lighting to the shelving. By far the most important piece of equipment for a new retail store owner is their point of sale system or POS. 

The point of sale system is used to process every single sale that a small business makes. It keeps customer credit card and banking details confidential and provides records for tax purposes. A point of sale system is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to streamline many of the administrative tasks associated with running a retail store. 

A modern, efficient and reliable till system for a small business can make the process of taking payments from customers fast and simple, can make training staff easier, and can even assist with inventory. Therefore, choosing what point of sale system to install is a major decision for any new retail store owner. 

These days, there are literally hundreds of point of sale systems for small businesses on the market. These can range from standalone tills to portable EPOS systems for small businesses. So, how do you choose the best point of sale systems for your small business? 

In this article, we will provide you with information to help you find the ideal POS system for your small business. We will give you all the details you need on exactly what constitutes a POS system for a small business, why you need a POS system, the benefits of a POS system, and how to go about choosing the right POS system. 

Clara Jammes

What is a Point of Sale System (POS) ?

It is useful to note that there is a distinction between a physical point of sale and a point of sale system. A point of sale in the physical sense refers to the place where transactions take place, your checkout counter. A point of sale system is the system used to actually process these transactions.

In simple terms, a point of sale system is a term used to refer to both the hardware and software a business uses to process sales. A point of sale system is only used in the actual store to manually process payments from customers in person. It keeps track of all cash payments and in the case of electronic payments, routes the funds to the business owner’s bank account. 

The term point of sale system was originally used to refer to a standalone cash register. These machines could process transactions, but that’s all. When used to their full capabilities, modern EPOS systems for small businesses can do much more than just process payments. A point of sale system can help a small business owner to keep track of their inventory, monitor sales and employee performance, and assist with onboarding new employees. 

Modern point of sale systems for a small business are usually comprised of three elements:

  1. Software – This is the operating system the POS uses to process sales, record data and manage inventory, staff performance and customer behaviour. Most point of sale system software can be integrated with online sales as well as in-person purchases. In most cases, companies offer POS software on a subscription basis. The more expensive the POS software is, the more features it will have. 
  2. Hardware – This is the equipment you use to process any form of in-person payment. The hardware used for your point of sale system could be one standalone machine, or you can utilise tablets or smartphones to process payments. Other hardware required for your POS system will include:
  • A cash register
  • A tap and chip card reader
  • A bar-code scanner
  • A secure cash drawer
  • A receipt printer
  • A label printer
  1. Payments – Whenever a customer makes a purchase using credit or debit card, your POS system will process the payment to your bank account. Some point of sale systems have integrated payment processing capabilities that allow them to transfer funds directly to an account. Others may use third-party software that can incur additional fees.   
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Why do you need a point of sale system for your retail store?

While it is certainly possible to keep track of all your sales by using a spreadsheet, or even on a paper ledger, this is a slow method that is susceptible to human error. Also, this method will not provide you with detailed data on your business.

Modern point of sale systems for small businesses can provide a huge range of benefits and are an essential part of operating your business smoothly and efficiently.

POS systems can accept all forms of payment

If you have the right types of hardware connected to your point of sale system, then your business can accept all major forms of payment easily and quickly. The best point of sale systems for small businesses can easily process cash payments, credit card payments, debit card payments, as well as payments made using gift cards. You can use your POS to accept debit and credit cards with magnetic strips as well as contactless payments and card not present payments. Does a customer want to split their payment by making a portion of the payment in cash and a portion with a credit card? Your point of sale system can handle that situation with ease. 

POS systems track sales accurately

POS systems for small businesses automatically track each sale and provide retailers with a wealth of important information. A professional POS for a small business can record every sale made in precise detail. It can list the wholesale and retail price of an item and keep a running total of your gross and net profit margins. 

POS systems assist with inventory control

Whenever a sale is made, or a product is returned or exchanged, your point of sale system will update your inventory list. Your point of sale system can let you know when a certain product is running low, so you can make sure you always have enough stock on hand.

POS systems make accounting simple

All of this data is crucial for accounting purposes. When it is time to present your taxes to HMRC, you won’t have to worry about whether or not you have lost information or if the record of sales is inaccurate. 

Accounting data can also be used to improve your business’s profit margins. Is a certain item selling or not? How effective are your promotions and sales? Could the price of certain items be raised or lowered to encourage sales? Are you not selling enough of a product to make restocking it worthwhile? Your point of sale system will provide you with all the accounting data you need to take the guesswork out of optimising your business. 

POS systems make it easier to manage staff

A point of sale system can make training new staff members a quick and easy process. New employees can practise processing payments, applying discounts and coupons and processing returns and refunds in a training environment. 

Not only that but point of sale systems for small businesses can provide employers with valuable data that can be used to more effectively manage their employees. Your POS system can track what day and what times of day are busiest for your business which can help managers with staff allocation duties. 

The number of sales per staff member can be tracked, as can the speed of a staff member’s sales processing. If a manager needs to know who their most efficient staff member is, the POS system will give them all the data they require. Busy periods, for instance during a seasonal sale, can then be better managed. 

POS systems provide crucial customer data

Knowing what buying habits your customers have can help you to build accurate customer profiles. These profiles can then be used to better serve your customers and enhance your retention levels. Customer profiles can include a certain customer’s contact information, their history of purchases and their lifetime value to your business. You can see at a glance what products they have purchased which can then be used to send targeted emails or text messages. Customer profiles also provide a wealth of information that business owners can use to devise loyalty programmes that reward their best clientele and drive sales. 

POS systems are scalable to your changing business needs

A huge benefit of point of sale systems for small businesses is that they are easily scalable to changing business needs. Are you opening up another store? A modern point of sale system makes it incredibly easy. Just download the software, and a new POS location, connect your card reader to the POS and you’re done!

This flexibility also assists with onboarding new staff members, adding more products to your inventory or expanding a bricks-and-mortar store into the world of online sales. 

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Benefits of using a point of sale system for credit card processing

Many retail businesses use a standard credit card processor to accept credit card payments. While these machines are effective, your point of sale system can provide benefits for both credit card and cash payment processing.

With a standard credit card processor, you usually have to wait to see what percentage of retailer fees are applied. A point of sale system will give you all relevant information immediately in real-time. You can then use this data to decide whether you need to adjust sale prices to account for retailer credit card fees. 

With the right POS system for your small business, you can also easily integrate credit card payments into loyalty schemes such as points programmes. 

What to consider when choosing a POS system for small business

There is a lot to take into consideration when it comes to choosing the best POS system for your small business. You’ll need to factor the following points into your decision:

  • What is the initial set-up cost? (Hardware, installation time, etc)
  • What are the ongoing costs? (Subscription fees, updating costs)
  • How much are the payment processing fees? (Flat fees versus a sale percentage)
  • Potential privacy law compliance issues (Managing payment processing and customer data)
  • How much mobility does the system need to have? (Countertop or tablet-based)
  • Can the system accept chip and PIN card payments?
  • Can the system accept cardless payments? (NFC payments)
  • Does the system provide you with enough analytics data?
  • What added features does the POS system have?

Think about your business needs and try to find the best point of sale system that meets your requirements. There is no point paying for staff management features when you own and operate your own retail store yourself, for example.  

What is the best point of sale system for small retailers?

Finding the best POS system for a small business depends largely on the type of retail store you have and the scale of your store. 

Many retail business owners opt for a countertop point of sale system rather than tablet or smartphone-based systems. A countertop system will encourage your customers to gather at one point to purchase goods and is a good option for stores that do not have a large number of employees. If your store is busy and you have the staff to spare, tablet-based point of sale systems can allow for mobile purchasing to occur. This system can, however, be difficult to manage in a retail setting. 

It is possible to buy the hardware for a retail POS for a small business outright or to arrange a leasing agreement. Smaller retailers may find it easier to simply download POS software and run it on an ordinary tablet. Bigger retail outlets may choose to lease or purchase a large amount of POS hardware. 

A busy clothing store with a large amount of floor space and many staff members may find it beneficial to use both countertop and mobile POS systems. On the other hand, a small speciality store with only one employee will manage with a simple tablet POS system set up. 

Some of the most popular POS systems for small retailer businesses in the UK are:

  • EPOS Now
  • Square
  • Shopify
  • Lightspeed
  • The Good Till Co
  • Take Payments Plus
  • Nobly POS
  • Zettle
  • AirPOS
  • Touchbistro
  • Revel Systems

Where to find more advice on point of sale systems for small businesses

As you can see from the list above, there is a staggering amount of EPOS systems for small businesses on the market. Choosing the best POS system for your small business will require you to carry out intense research and carefully weigh up the pros and cons of one provider against another. 

If you find that you require assistance with making your decision on what POS system to choose, or you just need some general advice and support in opening a retail business, then Ankorstore is here to help you. 

Our Ankorstart programme is free and non-binding and provides new retailers with a range of resources, advice and support. Whether you need to write up your business plan, get a start-up loan or are trying to work out what point of sale system best suits your needs, we’re here to help. 


When do I need a point of sale system for my business?

If your business takes any kind of payments over the counter, then a point of sale system can help you to streamline that process. A point of sale system helps small business owners keep track of their sales, manage their inventory, and can even assist with managing staff and building customer profiles. 

What types of payments can a point of sale system process?

A modern point of sale system should be able to quickly process all types of payments. From cash to magnetic strip credit and debit cards to gift cards, coupons and contactless payments. 

What should I consider when choosing a point of sale system?

It is important to keep the needs of your business and the scale of your business in mind when choosing a point of sale system. Make sure you choose a system that fits your budget and has all the features that you will need and none that you don’t.

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