POS System for small business

A friend of mine is opening a small cafe and obviously needs to have some form of cash register. Since a POS system seems easy to use being its touchscreen and the POS software has inventory and prints receipts, integrated with credit card purchasing, etc it seems a logical way to go. But, the owner is not technical at all. I am technical but have no experience in anything to do with POS systems, credit card systems.

Can anyone recommend what it is I should be interested in researching? I see with the Android tablets there is POS software you can use, that is cloud based. What does that mean specifically? The POS OS is based in the cloud and all transactions need to pass through that, including credit card information? What if the internet connection is down, how does one enter purchases?
Anyone that can give me some direction and an overview on the POS system and what I can do would help me out a lot.
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
I would go for the cloud based POS.  I do custom systems for  my clients and lack of internet connection has not been an issue.  For low barrier to entry, there are some good off the shelf cloud based systems.   If you are using a tablet, as a back up you have the option of buying a tablet that can use both wifi and cell.  If the wifi goes out, you can use the data package for your cell company. Always use wifi first as it could be faster and a lot less then the data package.  I know with verizon, you can keep the data package low and if you use more data you can increase your package anytime before the billing cycle.  And even if it is just a few says after you can talk nicely to somebody and they can increase it.    I do think it should be rare (depending on where you are) that wifi service goes down.
I find that you certainly never want a situation where you cant take money off a client!
If you go cloud - make sure you have ways of doing a manual sale locally and process the credit card manually.

There are a lot of POS systems really targeted towards cafes and restaurants with extra features like table bookings, split billing, smart ordering (eg you order a steak but want to comment that it should be rare with sauce on the side), discounts, vouchers, accounts, drinks etc etc.
As these will typically have a large database of industry standard products this can make the setup easier.
Many of these companies provide remote support also, but ideally you want your friend to be able to do as much himself. I have a client who couldn't change the prices on his menu because he couldn't edit his POS system as he didn't have full access to it as he had an argument with the provider - I had to manually edit the database as he had kept his restaurant prices the same for almost 3 years!

That said - a lot of POS systems are a rip off. If you buy a PC, a touchscreen and a receipt printer separately you will get it much cheaper than a POS bundle.
Look for software that either staff are already familiar with or is being used by other cafes/restaurants in your area - this will help you get running quicker and with more confidence

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tolinromeAuthor Commented:
Thanks I agree with the wifi part, but what about the actual POS software, which do you recommend? Since you support clients that have POS, what are their main problems, concerns? What should I avoid? Any advice would be helpful. Any idea on prices?
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tolinromeAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the insight. This will be a cafe and operated only by a couple, a small cafe, not a restaurant so I dont see a real need for many options for the POS menu. So you would recommend having the POS system local to a pc rather than in the cloud? I can see that as they wouldnt have to pay any monthly fees to a the POS provider in the cloud and they would be in control of everything.

If we were to get a POS system local, what would we buy? A regular pc with Windows 7 and then purhcase POS software and install it on top of it?
Or is it possible to purchase a POS system out of the box with touchscreen included etc?
Any recommendations on which company\software?
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
I work on the custom world.  If you define what you need before hand and rank them in order of importance, it is a matter of looking things over.  When you go off the shelf, it will be a lot in up front cost then custom but you may have to give something up or make a few changes in your business process.

Three worth taking a look at


Vendhq seems pretty slick to me.  You will end up paying anywhere from $30 to $100 per month plus a little for handholding support and your merchant fees.  

If you really find the $100 per month version meets your needs, don't skimp and get the $30 per month software because it is less.  Saving $500 or so per year up front could mean much greater loss by not getting what you needed in the first place.  

Spend some time using the demo. If you only spent an hour on a demo, you didn't spend enough time. Try and work out real world transactions, reports, returns, inventory tracking etc.
there are a lot of free ones out there.

Breadcrumb by groupon (Ithink it only works with ipad)

Square (android and Mac)

SalesVu (Apple only)

I have used square for years and for small shops it works great.  After they are up and running in a year or so they could look for something different but keep that overhead low to start.
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