Review of Point-of-Sale Systems -- 2006

From the November 2006 Issue

When I was growing up, I remember being fascinated by cash registers. When I would go grocery shopping with my mother, I watched in awe from the other side of the counter as the cashier entered prices faster than the speed of sound. At least that’s what it seemed like to me at the time.

Today, point-of-sale (POS) products are light years away from those cash registers. Designed to provide the retailer, distributor, video store owner, gas station manager, or gift store owner with an efficient transaction processing solution, the products on the market today can give you as many (or as few) options as you like. Registers aren’t even a necessity in many venues, as a computer can double as your cash register. Top-of-the-line products also feature touch screen technology, where you can process several tiers of information in record time.

But where do you start? If you take even a cursory look around, you’ll realize just how many POS products are available. From entry level, one-user, one-location systems to enterprise-level, multi-location programs, the retailer has more choices than ever before.

One of the major points to consider is to figure out exactly what information you need to track. Many of the products reviewed here offer an excellent standalone POS product that is designed to integrate with third-party financial accounting software. Others are designed as full-service solutions, offering both front office (POS) and back office (GL, AR, AP, Inventory) functionality. Determining your own specific requirements prior to looking at POS products will eliminate some products up front, make your search more fruitful and save you some time.

Ringing up a sale isn’t the only thing that a comprehensive POS product can do. Your favorite restaurant, the corner coffee shop, your neighborhood gas station, and the exclusive boutique downtown all use varying levels of POS products. Along with sales transactions, they can also help market more effectively to your best customers by tracking shopping habits. If you need to know what coffee sold the best, well, it can do that, too.

You can also track club or rewards cards, track customer points and purchases, and reward loyal customers with discounts or special sales. The use of hardware peripherals such as barcode scanners, receipt printers and pole displays are an important part of a retail environment, and every product reviewed here integrates with the majority of these items.

A visit to the POS vendor websites is another excellent way to find more information. Online demos are usually available, and the websites often provide more detailed information such as modules available, specific functions within each module, and whether the product is designed as a standalone product or designed to work in tandem with a back office product.

The needs of a coffee shop will vary greatly from those of a high-volume retailer. The POS products reviewed here vary as well, but one of these products is likely to fit your needs. 

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Addsum Business Software, Inc. — Advanced Accounting
overall rating
Advanced Accounting is a completely integrated accounting and POS product. Addsum has introduced several new features since Advanced Accounting (POS) was last reviewed.
CAM Commerce Solutions — Retail ICE
overall rating
Retail ICE from CAM Commerce Solutions is designed for small retailers as well as for those entering the retail field for the first time. An easy upgrade to Retail STAR makes this product attractive.
CAP|Software — Retail Manager 2006
overall rating
Retail Manager from CAP|Software contains a powerful point-of-sale module and a back office module (SellWise) along with additional tools designed to streamline retail store management procedures.
Cougar Mountain Software — Cougar Mountain Point Of Sale
overall rating
Cougar Mountain Software, in addition to its accounting software, also offers a comprehensive point-of-sale product. Available as a standalone product or fully integrated with Cougar Mountain’s Accounting software, Cougar Mountain Point of Sale is ideal for retailers of all sizes.
HighTower, Inc. — HighTower Point Of Sale Professional
overall rating
HighTower Point of Sale Professional from HighTower Inc. is a little different than some of the other products in this review, as it requires Sage MAS 90 in order to function properly.
InfoTouch Corporation — Store Manager ES
overall rating
Since 1986, InfoTouch Corporation has been providing retail specialty shops with a comprehensive point-of-sale (POS) software product. InfoTouch released its latest version of Store Manager ES earlier this year.
Intuit Inc. — QuickBooks Point Of Sale Retail Management Software
overall rating
QuickBooks Point of Sale – Version 5 is the newest release of this specialty product from Intuit. Designed to be a standalone POS solution, QuickBooks POS can also be paired with QuickBooks.
Radiant Systems — CounterPoint SQL
overall rating
In December of 2005, Radiant Systems, a provider of innovative technology for entertainment, hospitality and petroleum industries, purchased Synchronics, makers of CounterPoint SQL.
Sage Software, Inc. — Sage Accpac ePOS
overall rating
Sage Accpac ePOS is a point of sale program designed to work in conjunction with Sage Accpac ERP (enterprise resource planning). Sage Accpac ePOS is ideally suited for small to midsize retail stores.
Specialized Business Solutions — Keystroke Point Of Sale
overall rating
Keystroke Version 6.10 is the latest release of this popular point-of-sale software offered by Specialized Business Solutions. The main menu of Keystroke has been enhanced for readability, simplifying navigation.
2006 Review of Point-of-Sale Systems Executive Summary
This review covered six specific categories for POS products: Ease Of Use, Modules & Scalability, Features & Functionality, Integration, Tracking & Reporting, and Relative Value. Ease of Use looks at a variety of things including ease of installation, user interface, learning curve, and general system navigation..