Customer Management Articles

Cash Register vs Point of Sale Software: The Ultimate Showdown

by Sara Sugar
Published on 15 June 2017

cash register vs point of sale If you're new to small business ownership, or just new to the concept of point of sale software, you might be wondering why so many businesses are making the switch from traditional cash registers. You might be asking yourself, "Do I really need a point of sale system? Or will my legacy electronic cash register keep me afloat in an ever-increasing competitive landscape?". But what's the real difference between both systems, and how do they stack up against one another? To make sure you have all the necessary information to make a decision, here we have the ultimate cash register versus point of sale system breakdown.

Detailed sales reporting

Traditional cash register

Electronic cash registers, at their most basic level, allow you to register and calculate transactions. Electronic cash registers can often be inexpensive to purchase, yet they're not going to provide you with any reporting or analytics on your sales. So if keeping detailed reports is not your strong suit, then this is something to consider.

Cloud-based point of sale system

However, cloud-based point of sale systems, are a whole different ballgame. Adopting a point of sale system where you'll have numeric insight into your business is crucial.

Garnering actionable intelligence from reporting can be the difference between getting ahead of the pack or lagging behind. As a small business owner, you need the capability to track sales by department, items, hours, labor costs, and how many new customers have come through the door.

By using a point of sales system, you can track and provide reporting on all of these key performance indicators (KPIs) - making your job easier, and giving you the ability to glean insight that will help you make better business decisions.

Integrations for simplicity

Traditional cash register

Integration, what integration? Old fashioned cash registers and clunky legacy point of sale systems don't allow you to integrate third-party software with their systems. For instance, if you're looking to integrate QuickBooks or any accounting software, you'll need to think twice about whether these systems are right for you.

Cloud-based point of sale system

Integrations are not necessarily the bread and butter of point of sale transactions - they are more like the jam and honey that elevate said transactions. Being able to integrate your bookkeeping software, sync your eCommerce store to your brick-and-mortar inventory, and collect email addresses to stay in touch with your customers are just a few small business strategies that help increase the productivity and profit of your business. Cloud-based point of sale systems are flush with these options. The other guys, well, not so much.

Inventory Management

Old fashioned cash register

A legacy point of sale system might be able to tell you how many pairs of size eight orange chinos you still have in stock, but an electronic cash register simply does not offer this level of reporting.

Cloud-based point of sale system

Inventory management is where cloud-based point of sale systems shine. A properly implemented point of sale system can improve inventory control and tracking as well as minimize the number of unsold items in your store. You can also easily import and manage large inventories in bulk, identify when items are low in stock, and effortlessly pinpoint best selling items. Additionally, you can set trigger motivations to alert you to when inventory for specific products is low.

Cloud-based: For anytime, anywhere

Old fashioned cash register

NOPE. OK, that's not very mature of me. But it's pretty accurate. If you're looking to access your reporting, data or inventory information when you're away from your store, that's not going to happen with either an inexpensive cash register or an old legacy POS system. It's just not something they do. Most aren't hooked up to wifi and, consequently, to access detailed information about your business, you need to be on-site, in your store.

Cloud-based point of sale system

This is where the battle of cash register versus point of sale systems really heats up. No-one loves being chained to their brick-and-mortar store to manage inventory or cash-up, especially after hours or during the holidays.

That's why the cloud feature of cloud-based point of sale systems is so attractive. Imagine being able to access your inventory, sales, customer, and staff information while you're brushing your teeth, pouring a cup of coffee, or even at the beach. Cloud-based point of sale systems allow you to access your business' information from anywhere, at anytime, as long as you have access to wifi - something every small business owner deserves.

Giving you hours back in your day

Old fashioned cash register

This is where cash registers really fall behind in the race. Sure, you don't have to use a calculator to ring up your transactions, but were you expecting to? Having a utility that rings up sales shouldn't be seen as revolutionary. Not crunching numbers with a TI-82 calculator isn't a luxury. It's the right of every hard-working, innovative small business owner out there. Put bluntly, they're functional but aren't putting anything (especially time) back into your day.

Cloud-based point of sale system

POS systems help to streamline all of the features we've mentioned above. What that means is that the time you save on tasks such as managing inventory is the time you get back to concentrate on the more important aspects of your business such as growth, increasing sales, improving customers services, and above all, increasing store profits.

About the author

As Managing Editor at ShopKeep, the #1-rated iPad Point of Sale System, Sara Sugar uses her distinguished journalism background to boil down small business and point of sale topics.

Cash register vs point of sale: which gets your vote?

If you're still not convinced that your small business needs to trade its cash register for a cloud-based point of sale system, we have resources on GetApp that can help you discover the right system for your business:


Apps mentioned in this article