Decide Between a POS System and a Cash Register | Fora Financial Blog
How to Decide Between a POS System and a Cash Register
February 26, 2019

How to Decide Between a POS System and a Cash Register

If you run a business that frequently processes in-person transactions, the technology you choose to process those sales affects far more than you might realize.

While your first question may be how this choice will affect employee-customer interactions, you must also consider the effect on back office processes such as inventory tracking, staff management, and sales reporting.

Of course, you’ll also need to contemplate factors like cost, ease of use, and the customer experience before making a final decision. To make that decision easier, this post will outline these considerations in detail to help you decide whether a POS system or a cash register is the best fit for your business.

4 Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a POS System and a Cash Register:

1. Costs

As with any business decision, the value of your investment is more important than the upfront cost. That said, if you’re just starting out, the cost of modern POS systems can be prohibitive even if the long-term value is better.

According to, a simple POS setup for one register would cost around $1200, while a more complex set up with five registers and more sophisticated software would cost about $6500. Alternatively, you could opt for a simple cash register and pay around $100. However, if you buy a POS, you should also consider what you’ll save in terms of improved inventory management, sales tracking, and marketing.

2. Technology

Put simply, with a cash register, you’re working with a fairly low-tech piece of equipment. Cash registers will provide you with a place to store cash and receipts. They also provide basic sales and day-end reports but nothing else. You’ll need to purchase other hardware such as barcode scanners, and credit and debit card readers separately.

POS systems provide all that a cash register can and more. You’ll at least need hardware such as a phone, tablet, or computer and you can choose between a mobile POS or a traditional POS.

Traditional systems require that you install proprietary software on your device, usually a desktop computer, while mobile systems generally come with a subscription-based software package.

Whether you choose traditional or mobile, your POS can automate inventory management and provide valuable sales insights. POS systems may also integrate with your accounting and marketing software which allows you to share data across platforms.

3. Ease of Use

There’s no question that a traditional cash register — because of its lack of features — is easier to use than a POS system. Alternatively, to fully leverage the power of a POS system, you’ll need to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the software and setting up workflows. In addition, with traditional POS, you should periodically update the software, even though it can be inconvenient.

4. Customer Experience

In-store shoppers cite long lines at the checkout as their single, biggest pain point. For business owners who compete with online sellers, this makes the customer experience at the point of sale especially critical.

While traditional cash registers are reliable, they don’t speed up the checkout process like a POS system. For example, with a register, customers must wait for a receipt to print out, but with a POS system they can have the receipt emailed to them. POS systems also support a vast array of payment methods whereas registers are often limited to cash, check, credit, or debit.

Also, with the improved inventory management of a POS system, it’s easier to ensure that you have products in stock that your customers want. By using your POS system to collect customer information, you can leverage that data to provide customized promotions and product offers to improve the customer experience.


Ultimately, choosing to purchase a cash register versus a POS system, or vice versa, comes down to what’s most important to you and your business. For example, if your main goal is to get up and running as soon as possible and you’re on a budget, you may be best served with a cash register to start.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. However, if you familiarize yourself with the alternatives and weigh the considerations in this post against the needs of your business, you put yourself in a great position to make the right decision.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].