Banking

Four cost-effective POS systems for small businesses

Point of sale software can cost a pretty penny. If you're shopping for a POS product, the ones featured here are either free or should be affordable for small businesses.

One of the hardest pieces of software for small businesses to find is the Point Of Sale (POS) system, because these products are often too expensive (e.g., QuickBooks POS) or too complicated to set up and use. Here are four POS software titles that I feel are best suited for small businesses. The list is a mixture of Windows, Linux, and web-based software titles that will do the job easily and reliably. All the products are cost effective, easy to set up and use, and run on standard PC hardware.

1: Cash Register

Cash Register is an interesting piece of software — it's DOS-based, but it will work on almost any Windows platform (it has not been tested on Windows 8). Cash Register is a complete piece of free software that does not rely on third-party hardware or software. The interface (Figure A) might turn some users off (it's DOS-based, remember), but you should try it before you deny it. Figure A

Cash Register's sales interface where transactions take place. (Click the image to enlarge.)

The installation of Cash Register is incredibly simple:

  1. Download the installation file to suit your architecture.
  2. Move the installation file into its own folder and call it POS.
  3. Double-click the downloaded .exe file.

The POS folder will be populated with all of the necessary files to run Cash Register. To start the application, double-click the POS.EXE file.

2: Posterita

Posterita is a web-based POS system that can run your single store or your multi-store franchise. The only time there is a cost involved is if you use their payment system (they promise to match or beat your current rate).

Since Posterita is web-based, there is no software install necessary — just register for an account. Within five minutes of registering, you should have a working store ready for you to set up payment processes, items, vendors, customers, hardware, and more. You'll want to make sure to download the manual from within the POS to see how banks are added. Basically, you must click the Settings button and then follow these steps:

  1. Click the Bank tab.
  2. Click Create A Payment Processor (Figure B).
  3. Enter the information for the Payment Processor (only X-Web is supported).
  4. Save the Payment Processor.
  5. Click Create New Bank.
  6. Enter the Name and Description.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Click Create A New Bank Account.
  9. Enter the necessary information (the Bank Account section is the Bank Account Number associated with the account to use).
  10. Click Save.
Figure B

The primary setup screen for all things cash. (Click the image to enlarge.)

The downloadable manual also contains details about how to set up the payment processor.

3: PHP Point of Sale

The web-based PHP Point of Sale can serve as a hosted solution, or you can host it on your own hardware. The downloaded software will set you back $99.00 USD, whereas the hosted solution is $29.00 USD monthly.

Both the downloaded and hosted solutions offer these features and more:

  • Detailed graphic reports
  • OS independent
  • Excel import and export
  • Gift card transaction
  • Inventory management
  • Sales processing
  • Multiple employees
  • Easy to use Interface
  • Barcode and printer support
  • Customer/sales tax tracking
  • Free upgrades
  • E-mail tech support

The benefits of using the hosted solution are:

  • 30-day free trial
  • Automatic backups every two days
  • Feature request priority
PHP Point of Sale has one of the cleanest UIs you'll ever see in a system of this nature (Figure C). Figure C

Features abound in the PHP POS user interface. (Click the image to enlarge.)
One caveat to using PHP Point of Sale: There is no built-in credit card processing; however, the third-party company TechnoLogicRepair has created an add-in module that can be set up. The company will even hold your hand as you set up processing. (Depending on your business model, you might have to complete PCI Compliance Certification.)

4: Lemon POS

Lemon is one of my favorite POS software titles; it's a solid system and deserves more attention than it gets. Lemon POS is open source, installable on Linux systems, has a great UI (Figure D), and requires a shallow learning curve. Lemon POS targets micro and small businesses. The software's features are:
  • MySQL driven
  • Role-based permissions
  • User actions logged
  • Multiple terminals using a single database
  • Sales suspension
  • Sell custom products
Figure D

You can sell services and items from Lemon POS. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Lemon POS includes a secondary piece of software called Squeeze, that is used for administrative tasks. This software will have to connect to the same database the POS software uses.

One caveat to Lemon POS: It is developed by one person, so do not expect much in the way of new releases.

What POS system do you use for your small business? Let us know in the discussion.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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