Types of POS Systems: What You Need to Know

finger touching ipad pos

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A point of sale (POS) system is a combination of software and hardware that allows your business to process transactions, as well as managing stock levels, taking orders, and sending marketing emails.

There are different types of POS systems, and we’ll outline them below – read on to find the right one for your business.

You can also use our free comparison tool to be matched up with trusted providers. Just give us a few brief details and we’ll do the rest. You’ll then be contacted by POS suppliers with no-obligation quotes.

What Are the Different Types of POS System?

1. Terminal
2. Mobile
3. Cloud based
4. Open source

Below we’ll delve into each type, who they’re best for and their pros and cons.

1. Terminal

Terminal POS systems are hardware systems that take card payments at retail locations. Traditionally, you might think of terminal systems are big clunky machines found in most shops, however POS providers are attempting to move away from this. Instead, they are offering smaller, sleeker and more portable machines. Terminal POS systems are great for retailers.

We recommend Square, Vend and EPOS Now.


  • Secure
  • Cashless
  • Convenient


  • Connection issues
  • Hardware defects

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2. Mobile

Mobile POS systems are a portable system that can be used on a smartphone or tablet. This system can process transactions from these devices and carry out tons of other functions. A mobile POS system is best for businesses that are on-the-move like mobile hairdressers or market stalls. These mobile systems are tailored, for example, a POS for a food truck can typically be stripped down compared to a full-service restaurant.

We recommend Square, Clover and Toast.


  • Portable
  • Simpler than traditional POS systems
  • Providers all the necessary POS features without the bulk


  • Connection issues
  • Devices are not durable

▶ Read more: Restaurant POS systems

3. Cloud based

Cloud-based POS systems run on the cloud, which means you can use them on iPads or even your mobile. These systems can be accessed from anywhere in the world, which means you can keep an eye on things even if you’re not in the country!

Cloud-based systems provide an easy, secure and remote way to manage your business. We recommend cloud-based systems for businesses in the hospitality industry.


  • Hardware independent
  • Remote access
  • Easy to scale up and down


  • Connection issues

▶ Read more: Best bar POS system

4. Open source

An open-source POS system is software with a free-to-use source code. This means you don’t need to pay anything to have a POS system. Open-source systems can be edited or spread by anyone, making them a good option for small businesses or startups.

Open-source systems can be configured with a lot of the current hardware on the market.


  • Free
  • Customizable


  • Requires tech knowledge
  • Can be a steep learning curve

How Much Does a POS System Cost?

Your POS system costs will depend on your business size, sales volume, and general POS system needs. However, once you take the hardware, software, merchant account fees, and installation fees into account, you’ll typically end up making an investment of $1,250, then pay approximately $1,000 per year to use the POS system.

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What are the Benefits of a POS System?

POS systems provide your business with tons of benefits, such as:

  • Better inventory management – manage inventory in real time so you never have to worry about running out again
  • Better customer management – give your customers a smoother experience and develop a long-term relationship with them by storing their contacts on the system so you can send out marketing emails, discounts, offers and more
  • Better ordering management – keep track of all of the orders you place so you can manage repeat orders and track your finances accurately
  • Better employee management – POS systems allow you to record each employee’s hours, sales, and more giving you the ability to monitor performance better. Some POS systems offer scheduling tools so you can manage everything on one platform

Which Type of POS System Is Right for You?

If you’re a startup or small business with a tight budget and tech-savviness, we recommend an open-source POS system.

If you’re a business on the go, we recommend a mobile POS system.

Cloud-based systems are the best option for those in the hospitality industry.

We recommend terminal POS systems for retailers.

If you’re still on the hunt for a provider, you can use our free quote tool to be matched up with a supplier for your business.

▶ Read more: Top retail POS systems


What is POS?
POS stands for ‘point of sale’, and is used to process transactions as well as carry out other functions such as manage inventory, send out marketing emails and generate reports.
What are some types of POS system for restaurants?
Cloud-based POS systems are a great option for restaurants as are terminal POS systems.

TouchBistro is a popular option for restaurants, thanks to its tableside ordering, integration with a kitchen display system and the fact that its been created by industry experts.

Toast is another popular restaurant POS system, offering detailed reporting, online ordering and delivery.

What are some types of POS system for retail?
We recommend terminal POS systems although a cloud-based system can also work quite well.

EPOS Now offers core features suited to retailers such as inventory management, customer loyalty programs and reporting.

Revel POS is a good pick for retailers, although not specifically made for retail stores, the system can be configured to suit the needs of one.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.
Reviewed by:
Ruairi uses his 3+ years of research experience to uncover insights which can help Expert Market provide the best business solutions for their users. He has done this by meeting with business owners to find out what is important to them and what challenges they face on a daily basis. Ruairi specialises in tools that can be used to grow your business and has done research for a wide range of categories on Expert Market, such as EPOS, Website Builders, and Merchant Accounts.