Types Of POS Systems: Features, Pros & Cons

Types Of Pos Systems: Features, Pros & Cons

What is a POS system?

A point-of-sale system is a business tool that helps retailers process payment transactions and helps customers make purchases easily. It calculates applicable tax and makes your retail staff close sales quickly. POS systems are critical to ensuring that your daily business operations are performed smoothly, without any hurdles. They often consist of hardware and software, which together act as a central repository of all payment-related transactions.

Modern POS systems can be reimagined as advanced cash registers that store and retrieve inventory-related information, process different payments, and collect customer data when necessary. They also make implementing and managing different loyalty programs and promotions easy. While POS systems are mostly used by cashiers and employees who process payments, they are also essential for marketers and customer service agents. Advanced POS systems help marketers cross-sell and up-sell products, implement loyalty programs and ensure enhanced customer satisfaction metrics.

What Makes Modern POS Systems Special?

Modern POS systems have changed dramatically in recent years. Those following an omnichannel philosophy offer a consistent experience across different POS devices or interfaces. This allows customers and staff to start buying on one POS and continue on another.

For example, regardless of the type of POS used, a customer can continue their buying journey from where they left. If they wish to return an item they purchased online, they can walk into the nearest physical store and find the same information on its POS screen. Similarly, customers can view the same discounts and special offers on all touchpoints.

However, knowing what your business and customers need is essential before investing in a POS system.

Schedule today!

Schedule a no-obligation call with one of our experts to get expert advice on how Priority can help streamline your operations.

Artboard 6 100

How to compare POS systems?

Before deciding to purchase a POS system, comparing them based on different attributes is essential. To begin with, ask the following questions or make these comparisons:

  • What type of POS system do you need, and what is the nature of your business?

You’ll learn more about the different types of POS systems below. However, make sure that you understand your business requirements keenly.

  • Where and how do your customers interact with you?

You will need an omnichannel POS system to generate online and offline sales across different touchpoints.

  • How good is the loyalty management module?

Customers love it when you offer loyalty programs. It not only makes them feel special but also brings tangible value to their lives in the form of discounts, special offers, and exclusive previews. Hence, compare the features of loyalty management on your shortlisted POS systems.

  • Does your shortlisted POS system handle complex promotion campaigns?

Make sure that your sales and marketing teams speak to the vendor or evaluate the features before you make a decision.

  • Does it support multiple ecommerce sites?

It isn’t uncommon for business owners to have multiple retail sites for different brands. Hence, ensure your POS system seamlessly manages inventory across multiple sites for different brands.

  • What value does it bring to the customer?

The customer is still the king, and nothing is more important than enhancing customer experience. The most vital feature you must consider is how consistent your customers’ purchase experience will be and what value a POS system brings to customers. Quick checkouts, secure management of customer data, and omnichannel support are some of the essential features that help enhance customer experience.

Other essential attributes you need to consider are the POS’s price, the sort of tech support you can expect from the vendor, if the POS is scalable, etc. Hence, to make accurate comparisons of various POS systems, it is essential to understand one’s business goals, how the business operates, and the kind of training and support mechanisms provided by the vendor.

Types of POS Systems

There are multiple POS systems available with different features that cater to various needs and requirements. Some perform essential functions such as processing payments on mobile devices, while others also help run loyalty programs, offer discounts, and manage backend operations in addition to processing payments.

In recent years, the types of POS systems have mushroomed and range from mobile POS systems to self-service kiosks that your staff and customers can use at retail locations. Other POS systems cater to online businesses and e-commerce units with particular needs. While some are offered as a cloud service, others possess both online and offline processing capabilities. These POS systems are essential for retailers who provide an omnichannel shopping experience.

Let’s take a look at the different types of POS systems available.

7 Common Types Of POS Systems

Desktop POS System
Handheld POS System
Smartphone POS System
Tablet POS System
Self-service kiosk POS
Multichannel POS systems
Omnichannel POS systems

What Is a Desktop POS System?

A desktop POS system is a software program attached to your cash drawer. The software program is configured on the desktop or connected to the central head system. Regardless of how it is deployed, operators can perform various payment-related functions. Usually, vendors customize desktop POS systems according to the users’ needs.

Key features

  • Process payments
  • Calculate taxes per transaction
  • Store customer information and data
  • Retrieve historical data as per requirements
  • Report generation and insights


  • Versatile and can be used in several situations
  • Easily customizable and applicable in a variety of retail situations
  • Option to buy a bundle or different modules separately


  • They require IT support
  • Staff may require intensive training
  • They are not ‘plug and play’

What is it used for?

Desktop POS systems are used in various retail situations, especially brick-and-mortar stores. It is an excellent solution for quickly processing payments in small and large retail units with dedicated staff to make entries and perform checkout operations.

What Is A Desktop Pos System?

What Is a Handheld POS System?

Handheld POS systems are portable devices that allow your staff to process payments on the go. They are perfect for situations where payments must be processed away from the cash register. Some use cases include on-field sales and large retail stores where customers may want to avoid walking up to the cash counter. It can reduce long lines and queues and offer table payments where necessary. Many retailers also use handheld POS systems at pop-up shops and fairs.

Key features

  • A portable solution to process payments
  • It can be customized to suit various business use cases
  • Perfect for sales staff who work in the field
  • Helps record transactions digitally


  • Seamlessly completes orders and sales
  • Offers customers the convenience of paying where they are
  • Eliminates the need to walk to the cash register


  • Requires internet or cellular connectivity for payments to go through
  • Printing receipts depends on the availability of stationery.

What is it used for?

Handheld POS systems are widely used in the retail industry. They are often seen at events and large retail stores. They help eliminate the need to walk up to a cash register to process payments. They offer the convenience of processing payments anytime, anywhere.

What Is A Handheld Pos System?

What is a Smartphone POS System?

A smartphone POS system is a dedicated POS app installed on cell phones. These POS applications convert cell phones into modern, advanced POS systems that anybody can use anywhere. As most smartphones are equipped with cameras, they can also read QR codes, help customers make purchases quickly, and allow for the uploading of product catalogs.

Key features

  • Mobile-enabled payment processing
  • Access to customer data
  • Ability to implement loyalty programs
  • Retrieve historical information to provide better customer service
  • Implement an omnichannel shopping experience


  • Mobile POS systems are affordable and easy to use
  • Smart BYOD policies will ensure the safety and security of customer data
  • Eliminates the need to invest in new hardware
  • Available on subscription and per-transaction-fee models

What is it used for?

Smartphone POS systems have multiple benefits for retail and are used across industry verticals to process payments seamlessly without investing in specialized hardware. They allow staff to process payments and fulfill orders right from the comfort of their smartphones. It also helps companies implement an omnichannel shopping strategy.

What Is A Smartphone Pos System?

What Is a Tablet POS System?

Tablets are mobile devices with larger screens. This gives retailers an advantage over cell phones as checkouts, collection of customer feedback, tip requests, etc., become easier. Tablet POS systems can be customized and configured more than cellphone POS systems. You can also use it as a desktop POS system by placing it next to the cash register.

Key features

  • Performs just like a smartphone POS system with added benefits
  • It can scan barcodes and double up as desktop POS systems
  • Helps collect customer feedback, request for tips, etc.
    Easily customizable and applicable in a variety of retail situations


Tablets have a larger screen and allow for more functionalities
It is more straightforward to implement sales and marketing campaigns right from the POS
Perfect for both in-store and on-the-field retail situations.
Available for both iOS and Android tablets


  • Tablets require additional investment as employees may not readily have tablets.
  • It tends to be more expensive than when hardware is accounted for.
  • Some employees may find it hard to type on tablets.

What is it used for?

Tablet POS systems are used to fulfill orders and ensure smooth checkouts. They offer the mobility and convenience of cell phones with extra functionalities. They’re perfect for weaving in loyalty management, cross-selling and upselling, and collecting customer feedback at the end of the checkout.


What Is a Self-Service Kiosk POS?

Customers sometimes prefer completing the checkout process, especially at large stores with long queues. Self-service Kiosk POS systems have an interface allowing customers to enter information and complete checkout. They can also scan barcodes and complete checkout quickly and easily. A self-service kiosk POS can be deployed on tablets and dedicated POS interfaces.

Key features

  • Customers can enter the necessary details independently and complete the checkout process.
  • Offers a quicker and easier alternative to retailers
  • Multiple functions can be interacted with as per requirements


  • Eliminates long lines at the cash register
  • Customers can take the initiative to complete the payment process
  • Helps increase sales by reducing the checkout time
  • Offers convenience and diversity of features


  • Every customer may not be comfortable with self-checkout
  • Removes the human element from the shopping experience
  • Some customers may need assistance, negating the initial purpose of self-service POS
  • Devices may fail, necessitating repairs.

What is it used for?

A Self-Service Kiosk POS is a self-checkout solution that allows customers to complete the checkout process independently. They can quickly scan products, make payments, and collect receipts without human intervention. It can be creatively implemented in several retail situations.

What Is a Multichannel POS System?

A multichannel POS system integrates e-commerce websites and cash registers at brick-and-mortar stores. Customers can purchase your products both online and offline. Although a multichannel POS system reaches out to customers on different channels, such as online stores, physical stores, and mobile apps, from a single interface, it treats them as separate sales avenues. As a result, data remains siloed, and customer experience will be inconsistent. For example, customers’ online purchases cannot be returned at the retail store’s POS and vice versa. Promotions and inventory levels may differ between channels, reducing customer satisfaction and causing confusion.

Key features

  • Integrates online and offline shopping channels
  • Helps retailers to process payments across channels
  • Stores data in a single repository
  • Allows retailers to generate valuable reports and make forecasts.


  • You can tap into both online and offline sales traffic
  • Offer customers multiple touchpoints on which they can shop
  • Consolidate customer and payment data on a single repository
  • Integrate your sales and marketing across touchpoints


  • It results in a siloed customer experience
  • Staff will not have access to customer interactions on different touchpoints
  • It does not support a streamlined customer journey between various touchpoints

What is it used for?

Multichannel POS systems are used to provide payment solutions to merchants who sell on both online and offline platforms. It allows retailers to collect payments on e-commerce websites and at brick-and-mortar stores while being able to view data on a single interface. However, one must remember that data is synced in real-time across touchpoints, leading to a siloed experience.

What Is A Multichannel Pos System?

What Is an Omnichannel POS System?

An omnichannel POS allows retailers to maintain a consistent experience across touchpoints for customers and staff. As customers seek convenience and a seamless shopping experience, an omnichannel model helps retailers be where the customer is. All data is managed centrally , and regardless of the touchpoint on which the customer arrives, customers can start from where they left off. On the other hand, your staff can provide a consistent shopping experience to customers in real-time across touchpoints such as social media, email, brick-and-mortar stores, etc.

Key features

  • A single source of truth that’s updated in real-time
  • Central management of promotions, inventory, and loyalty program
  • Access to historical data and previous interactions
  • Allows consistent experience regardless of the touchpoint on which the customer makes a purchase.
  • There are fewer abandoned carts thanks to seamless integration between different channels.


  • Retailers can offer customers a seamless shopping experience across touchpoints.
  • Customer service and marketing campaigns can be calculated in real-time for all touchpoints, no matter which one.
  • Ensure seamless inventory management across touchpoints.


  • There are no real cons to using an omnichannel POS. It helps your business grow and enhances customer satisfaction.

What is it used for?

Omnichannel POS delivers a seamless shopping experience to customers and error-free and accurate marketing and sales operations for retailers. It also helps manage inventory better, clear stock, and implement loyalty programs, discounts, and promotional offers.

What Is An Omnichannel Pos System?

Which POS system Is Best Suited for Your Needs?

By definition, the omnichannel shopping experience includes all mobile platforms, social media, websites, and brick-and-mortar stores. Customers may start shopping on a particular platform and later return to a different platform, so an omnichannel POS is the most flexible solution, which can be further customized according to business needs.

Although Self-Service Kiosk POS, Tablet POS, Mobile POS, etc., offer flexibility, these can all be integrated into an omnichannel POS. An omnichannel POS system is the right solution as it provides a consistent customer experience across different touchpoints in real-time.

See how Priority works for you