There are a lot of technology options when it comes to accepting credit cards, and no one solution will be right for everyone. So how do you decide what type of POS machine is right for your business? Let’s take a quick look at the main benefits of each major type: desktop POS system, credit card terminal, or tablet-based POS.
Desktop POS system
Traditional POS systems offer a lot of functionality in one machine. They do much more than simply process credit cards. They can also run other business functions like inventory control, employee management, data collection, and customer databases. For restaurants, they also house every menu item and act as the ordering system for servers and kitchen staff. The credit card processing function is often integrated with a traditional POS system which means you don’t have to keep a separate balance for the cash drawer and the credit card receipts. Every payment is reconciled within the POS system so a stand-alone credit card terminal isn’t needed.
Credit card terminal
Some businesses don’t need the full functionality of a desktop POS system. Small business in particular might find that a simple credit card terminal where you can swipe credit cards beside the cash register is sufficient. Or a large business that uses highly sophisticated business management software may find a POS redundant. Health care facilities may fall in this category in that they process a large volume of credit cards, but don’t necessarily operate a cash register and already have extensive programs for appointment making and medical records.
Stand-alone credit card terminals have the appeal of being small and lightweight so they don’t consume much counter space and can be easily moved around. They’re easy to use and don’t have sophisticated programs to navigate and troubleshoot.
Tablet POS system
A tablet POS system often has the best of both worlds. They offer many of the features of a traditional POS system, without the bulk. They’re portable which makes them perfect for the restaurant setting or particular retail settings like a lumberyard or garden center where a customer may want to check out large items without taking them to the register.
One drawback is that they can be less durable than a large desktop POS system and may have to be replaced more often. The price for a tablet is generally lower than for a desktop system, but likely includes a monthly fee for the cloud-based software program.
Regardless of what type of POS machine you choose to process payments, you should always consider three things when making a purchase.
- Does it come with built in security features like card data encryption and tokenization?
- Does it come with a service warranty? And finally, will I be able to receive timely and knowledgeable technical support when issues arise?
The answers to those three questions will help ensure that the purchase you make will result in a positive investment for your business.