Point of Sale (POS) Systems vs. Cash Registers

If you have a restaurant or retail store, you must have a point of sale (POS) system or cash register to ring up customers to process transactions and sales.  While a simple manual cash register might be suitable for some small businesses, to be more competitive and to run your business more efficiently, you will want to consider using a POS system.  In this article, we discuss the difference between a cash register machine and more feature-rich POS cash registers.

What is the difference between a Cash Register and a POS?

The term cash register can sometimes be interchanged with a point of sale system. However, old school cash registers are fundamental pieces of equipment that’s used to accept and store payments like cash and sometimes credit cards, if the cash machine offers integration with a credit card terminal.

Most cash registers do not offer direct integration with credit card machines. However, a point of sale terminal usually does. Having a credit card reader integrated into the POS streamlines your operations and speeds up transaction time, so that’s one of the main physical differences between the two. Also, when you have credit card integration in a contemporary POS register, there’s less management time involved when it comes to reconciling your payments.

A cash register is a solution for merchants that don’t necessarily have a lot of items for sale and doesn’t need the advanced features of POS software. So if you own a small retail shop or restaurant and are on a tight budget and need to accept cash payments, a cash register might be an economical solution to consider. However, utilizing modern POS software and POS hardware components will give you the tools to manage and help grow your business.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect from a POS compared to a cash register:

Top Benefits of a POS System

  • More efficient and accurate
  • Touchscreen Interface – Easier to Use
  • Inventory Management
  • Employee Time Tracking
  • Better Reporting Capabilities
  • Customer Management System
  • Loyalty Programs / Gift Cards
  • Expanded Payment Methods
  • Streamlined Accounting
  • Detailed Receipts
  • Better/Faster Service

This list is just a summary of the top features of a POS system vs. cash registers.  A cash register is going to be limited in terms of features, especially when compared to a restaurant management system or for larger retail businesses with a lot of inventory.  Based on this information, why should you even consider buying a cash register?  Here are some of the benefits:

Top Benefits of a Cash Register

  • Less Expensive Solution
  • Simple to Use
  • Fewer Hardware Components
  • Basic Reporting Features
  • No Updates Required

As you can see the features and benefits of a cashier register are limited.  A cash register is perfect if you need something straightforward to use with not a lot of features.  However, modern retail and restaurant computer systems provide features like customer management to sales reporting, loyalty programs, employee time tracking, and inventory management. Features you need to to help you make those smart and calculated business decisions based on sales data and customer information. Also, if you have multiple business locations and need to view your sales data across all sites, a cash machine isn’t going to give you that ability.

Which one should you buy?

If you’re starting a new restaurant business or retail operation, and pricing is a huge factor in your decision, then you might want to consider buying a cheap cash register.  You can always replace your cash register with a POS terminal later down the line when you have the money to purchase a new system.  However, generally speaking, if you need multiple stations, need advanced features or have several business locations, then you will want to look at buying a point of sale solution.

With all the different products on the market and the prices of modern POS systems being very affordable these days, you can find an inexpensive solution that has more features and benefits over a cash register.  So our advice is to bite the bullet and start your business right with buying a POS system.

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