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Different Types of POS Systems

Austin Chegini
17 Jun 2024

The original cash register was created in the late 1800s. These machines were simple adding devices that helped merchants tally the final sale price. 

Since then, the cash register has morphed into the modern point of sale (POS). These devices are much more powerful and can perform a wide array of tasks, often being the most crucial component of a business.

Let’s learn about the different POS systems on the market today, what they do, and which types are best suited for your business. 

What do POS systems do?

We live in a digital world that is constantly evolving. While many businesses can operate using traditional receipts, ledgers, and tools, many more need modern devices that connect them with crucial applications and other devices. 

Modern POS systems function like old-time cash registers by ringing up sales and collecting payments. However, they now connect to the internet and manage every aspect of your business. 

With POS systems, you can:

  • Oversee inventory: Stores can track all items on shelves and in stockrooms. Restaurants and bars can monitor ingredients, liquids, and packaging.
  • Manage staff: All staff members can receive a unique login code and swipe cards that track their activity and work hours, making payroll incredibly easy.
  • Integrate with third-party applications: Some systems connect you with QuickBooks, Mailchimp, and other programs to help you do business better.
  • Communicate across devices: Cloud POS devices share a network, so you can send order requests to a kitchen or process payments curbside with a handheld device.
  • Get 24/7 remote access: Since all data is stored online, you can see how your business is doing in real-time from any internet-connected device.
  • Take your business online: Whether you run a store or restaurant, you collect online orders and take all of which will go directly to your POS terminal.

These are only a few of the capabilities of new POS systems. Since manufacturers are always competing to be better, the possibilities are endless.

What are the different types of POS systems?

If you want to buy a point of purchase, you will likely see these three options.


The most traditional POS system is the countertop terminal. This device is essentially a computer that runs a custom program to manage your business.

Most countertop systems include a touchscreen monitor, cash drawer, and receipt printer. You can also integrate other devices, such as barcode scanners, customer display poles, and mice. 

A desktop POS system is best for businesses with dedicated payment stations. It is the heaviest option and least mobile, so you don’t want to buy one if you re-arrange your layout often. If you are a store with a set checkout area or a counter-service restaurant, this system is for you.


When it comes to versatility, nothing is better than a tablet POS system. They function much like countertop devices but come in a lightweight, mobile package. 

Tablet POS systems often include the same tools as desktop models. You can still connect a cash drawer and printer, as well as other devices. However, this is not mandatory. If you want, you can work on the go with just a tablet and credit card reader. 

Best of all, you can use your own device if it will run the required program. For example, Epos Now’s POS software will work on an iPad or Android tablet. 

You should buy a tablet POS if you want to set up a permanent checkout area or need a mobile payment station. With a cash drawer and barcode scanner, you can quickly process customers like you would with desktop device. 

At the same time, you can put the tablet in a food truck and serve customers on the go. As long as you have an internet connection, you can process card payments and send digital receipts.


If you want the ultimate in portability, then look no further than a POS system that runs on a phone or handheld device. While they have their drawbacks, mobile platforms can be useful given the right context.  

The mobile POS market is quite diverse, and there is an array of options out there that serve different purposes. For example, some options simply process card payments and send digital receipts. 

On the more complex end, devices like the Pro integrate with your other devices. They have many of the same features, including managing inventory and sending orders to back of house staff. 

If you run a simple business and just need a way to take digital payments, a mobile POS system can help. This includes selling at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and other pop-up businesses. 

At the same time, you may want a mobile POS system if you already have a countertop point of sale and want to improve operational efficiency. A restaurant, for example, can use a handheld device to take orders tableside instead of having servers shuttle back and forth to the kitchen. Likewise, a store can use these systems when helping customers on the floor or recording stock levels. 

Work with the experts in POS Systems

If you need new devices for your business, look no further than Epos Now. Our proprietary software and high-tech devices empower you to get more done and grow your business. 

We offer countertop, tablet, and handheld devices, all of which integrate seamlessly. On top of this, you can download our software and run it on your existing POS systems.

Speak with a POS consultant today to see what Epos Now can do for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about POS systems? Get answers here.

How secure are POS systems? 

As long as you maintain your system, modern devices are incredibly secure. On a basic level, your POS can lock the cash drawer and prevent unauthorised login attempts. Likewise, integrating your POS with payment partners allows you to take digital payments securely. Debit and credit card information will be encrypted to protect your shoppers from identity theft. 

Moreover, POS systems that use the cloud help protect your data. Since no information is stored locally, you never have to worry about theft, damage, or data corruption. You can always access your data online anytime.

When should I upgrade my POS? 

There are often three reasons to get a new POS. First, you may want an upgrade if you need new features. For example, if you want to connect your website and store, you may need a new system that supports e-commerce platforms. 

Second, you may need to upgrade if your hardware is outdated. Old systems often become slow and eventually fail to support crucial software. 

Third, your system and software might be fine, but you might need to expand your range of devices. Upgrading your POS with a handheld tablet can help you sell more and provide better service.

Can I mix devices from various POS systems? 

In many cases, you can install new POS software on your existing system. Although this is not ideal since some platforms are designed with specific devices in mind, you should retain all functionality without issue.

Likewise, you may be able to use some peripheral devices across systems, such as card readers and barcode scanners. 

In other cases, your hardware may not support new software. Also, devices like handheld ordering tablets and kitchen display screens may only communicate with items from the same brand. If you mix and match, you may find yourself stuck with unusable tools.