Point of sale systems are no longer bound to a counter at the back of the store. Walk into an Apple store, for example, and you’ll see the modern point of sale system with staff able to look up stock availability and complete transactions wherever the customer is standing.
More than simple transaction systems, these systems are integrated with cloud-based inventory and accounting systems for full control and visibility of what’s happening across the supply chain. The shop counter is now truly mobile.
With Mac, iPad and mobile versions, Lightspeed aims to deliver a point of sale solution that can work in almost any situation. More than simply delivering a modern replacement for the cash register, Lightspeed boasts management tools, so you can analyse your sales by product, customer or other metrics, as well as allowing you to create custom workflows to automate parts of your business.
Setting up Lightspeed is easy. There are two main components: clients and a server. When you download the Mac version, you get the server version as well. In our testing, once the server was running, iOS devices found the server instantly.
The default view of the Mac app makes it easy to identify customers and products. As well as basic contact information, you can store photos of customers and set alerts to call them or have Lightspeed add reminders to your calendar.
As you’d expect, Lightspeed integrates with point of sale equipment such as printers, bar code scanners and cash drawers.
There’s a 30-day demo version of Lightspeed that you can freely download. The server is pre-loaded with lots of sample data so you can thoroughly work through all the features. Online purchase of the software, through distributors such as Pentagon Digital, starts at $1397 per user although the cost per user decreases as you buy more licences. A five-user licence costs $4297.
Vend is an easy- to-use system that runs on almost any computer. All it needs is an internet connection. This versatility means that it can work in almost any situation from an occasional market stall to a trade show through to a bricks and mortar store.
Setup is very straightforward. Once you sign up on the website – there’s a free 30-day trial – you are allocated a web address to access your store. The initial configuration process guides you through setting up payment types, taxes and products. You can also create Quick Keys so that your virtual cash register displays your most commonly sold products, so you don’t need to search for items when entering sales. You can also add customer information for your regulars.
Although most of the configuration is done with a web browser, Vend can be used on almost any device.
As well as letting you complete sales transactions, Vend delivers basic stock control. As you add inventory to your warehouse or complete sales, you can see what items you have available.
Vend integrates with several cloud services, such as Shopify for online stores and Xero for accounts.
It can also work directly with PayPal, Payment Express and other services, so customers can pay you electronically on the spot.
For a small business with just one register, one cashier and fewer than 10 products, Vend is free. Larger packages range between $35 and $199 per month depending on the number of registers you have, volume of products and whether you pay monthly or annually.
Kounta is a locally developed point of sale system that’s delivered over the cloud. It’s focused on allowing non-technical people, or ordinary businesspeople, to create and customise their own point of sale terminals using iPads, iPhones and other computers.
Kounta integrates with other services including MYOB, Saasu and Xero for accounts, Paypal for payments and others.
Kounta can work through a web browser or by using an iPad app.
When you add products, you can include images so that salespeople can quickly identify products while conducting a transaction. It also offers stock control.
Configuration is done through a web browser. You can also give different users their own specific permissions so the management isn’t left to just one person.
Although Kounta works best when connected to its mothership in the cloud, it can work in offline mode. And the Kounta screens can be customised so you can add your own logos and colours that fit your business’ image.
As well as integrating with some receipt printers, Kounta makes it easy to email receipts and statements to customers.
Kounta’s pricing starts at $50 per device (each device is deemed to be a register). Pricing depends on the number of sites you establish and the volume of products you sell.
Checkout is a full-service point of sale system that supports both sales staff and customer points of sale. That means you can create in-store systems so that customers can complete their own in-store transactions.
The user interface is mainly text- based although there are search bars for funding customers and products when creating a sales order on the screen. As you add those details to a transaction an invoice is automatically updated on the screen, so you can see exactly what the customer will receive when the transaction is complete.
As you’re entering sales, you can see, adjacent to each listed product, the current and allocated stock levels, so that you can see whether an order can be fulfilled.
The entire sales process from quoting, ordering and invoicing is covered. Integration with MYOB AccountEdge and Intuit Quickbooks is included so that you can easily move sales data into your business accounts. You can integrate Checkout with a number of different accessories such as bar code scanners, cash drawers and receipt printers.
Checkout offers a 30-day trial version so you can try it out before buying. There’s a fully populated demo system included, so that you can put it through its paces without going through lots of tedious data entry. Pricing starts at $649 for a single user although adding extra users gets progressively cheaper.