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Point of Sale Computers: Which One is Right for Your Business?

Streamline your business' checkout process with the right point of sales computers. Know what to look for when considering desktop and mobile POS systems.

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A point of sale system enables retail transactions by making it easier for businesses to accept payments. However, a POS unit is not just a cash register. It can also automate orders, keep track of inventory and prices, and streamline a business’ accounting tasks. While several devices make up POS systems, point of sale computers tie them together.

It is necessary to consider the size and needs of a business while researching how to buy a business computer for a POS system. A small shop with low patronage can make do with a basic computer and a cash drawer. A supermarket with thousands of products and high patronage needs a more robust POS system, comprising of multiple POS computers and payment processors. Before ordering these computers, business owners should know the different options available and how to pick the right one for their retail establishments.

A Quick Guide to Desktop and Mobile POS Computers

Desktop POS systems are direct replacements for cash registers. They are bulky and situated at specific locations in stores, restaurants and other business venues. If your retail establishment has a dedicated checkout area, then a desktop unit is the right computer for your business. This computing device should be in a central area of the store and close to the exit.

However, not all point of sale computers are stationary desktop units. Mobile POS solutions use smaller and portable computing devices. These include tablets, smartphones, and similar mobile wireless devices capable of processing customer transactions. Mobile point of sale computers are not suitable for all types of businesses. They are an excellent fit for restaurants and home service providers as well as mobile and informal retailers such as food trucks and market vendors.

Mobile POS devices are simple to use. However, desktop units are more robust and help large retail locations manage other aspects of their operations besides processing payments. Some retailers combine both desktop and mobile point of sale computers to meet the unique needs of their businesses. A retailer that embraces this hybrid solution may use mobile POS systems for integrated pop-up shops and a central desktop system at the main checkout area for the rest of the store.

Choose Between Tower and All-in-One Desktop POS Computers

There are two types of desktop computers used in POS systems. These are desktop towers and all-in-one PCs. A standard desktop tower is a case containing the processing unit, memory, and storage drive of a computer. Before using tower point of sale computers, users need to connect them to keyboards, mice, and monitors.

In contrast, an all-in-one POS computer has an integrated touchscreen display. It's an excellent choice for anyone researching how to buy a business computer for a modern POS system. All-in-one desktops are slimmer than tower PCs and take up less space. They are also suitable for businesses with limited checkout areas. Retail establishments can also fit more point of sale computers in their checkout areas by going with all-in-one POS PCs.

Computing Devices for Mobile POS Systems

Business owners opting for mobile point of sale computers need to deploy tablets and smartphones. Mobile systems are ideal for service providers and small businesses with limited product selections. For example, a POS tablet can serve the checkout needs of a coffee shop. This is the right computer for your business POS system when you are looking for a device that is easy to relocate. The touchscreen display of a tablet computer eliminates the need for a keyboard and mouse, especially for a business with few product options.

A smartphone is even more portable than a tablet. Businesses using smartphones as point of sale computers can complete transactions anywhere. Smartphone POS systems are perfect for dining establishments taking payments from customers at their tables. Professionals providing in-home installations and services for clients can also use smartphones as point of sale computers.

Picking the Right Computer Operating System and POS Software

While researching how to buy a business computer for a POS system, it's essential to consider software compatibility. A business owner needs a computer system capable of running their preferred point of sale software. The most common desktop and mobile operating systems used by point of sale computers are Windows®, Android™, and iOS®. Desktop computers used for this purpose run Windows while Android and iOS tablets and smartphones can serve as mobile POS systems.

A discussion of point of sale software is an integral part of a POS computer buying guide. These dedicated applications automate many of the steps involved in purchases and generate reports for business owners to help understand sales trends. Choose a desktop or mobile computer with an operating system that can run the POS software you select.

A POS application can be an installed software or a cloud-based solution. On-premises or installed applications keep business data on-site and allow owners to maintain private data. A cloud-based POS software connects to an external server and requires constant internet access. When shopping for the right computer for your business, keep in mind that retailers may need servers and IT staff to maintain on-premises POS applications. Cloud or hosted POS software apps have lower hardware requirements but keep retailers reliant on third-party service and support from software vendors.

While businesses own licensed POS applications, subscription software has its advantages. They are available at lower initial fees and receive automatic updates that add new features. These attributes make them attractive to small and new businesses looking for affordable options.

It is worth noting that most POS applications are adaptable to different types of businesses. However, software vendors sometimes offer industry-specific applications. Retail and restaurant POS software are the most common examples of such specialized applications. Another popular example is mobile POS software. Choose one of these when opting for mobile point of sale computers.


Essential Accessories for POS Computers

A computer terminal is not the only hardware required for setting up a POS system. Essential peripherals to consider when purchasing point of sale computers include magnetic card readers, barcode scanners, and receipt printers. Card readers allow businesses to accept debit and credit card payments. If a desktop PC is the right computer for your business POS system, consider getting a POS keyboard too. This peripheral has a built-in card reader that can serve as a backup to a dedicated card reader.

A cash drawer is also necessary for retail outlets that accept cash. Contactless payment is rapidly becoming the preferred transaction choice for many shoppers. Businesses that adopt mobile POS computers need contactless payment terminals that allow customers to pay with their smartphones, smartwatches and other NFC-enabled devices. Barcode scanners speed up the checkout process by pulling product information such as prices, verifying coupons and loyalty cards, and updating store inventory.

POS systems need data, power and Y splitter cables to work with full functionality. When researching the right computer for your business POS system, note the types of cables required to power and hook up the hardware components. Check the input and output ports on the computing devices selected for the system before shopping for these cables.

Offer patrons the best customer experience by making checkouts seamless with the right point of sale computers. Choose a desktop or mobile POS system that is the most suitable for your business operation and clientele. Use this POS computer buying guide to make informed decisions when picking the hardware and software of this system. Check our varied selection of POS computers, accessories and peripherals to find everything you need to deliver a stellar checkout experience.