The Complete Guide to Point-of-Sale (POS) Features — Open a Retail Store (2022)
We get it: shopping for a point-of-sale (POS) system can be a time-consuming process. There are lots of things you’d probably rather be doing, like getting your shop ready for opening day or focusing on expanding your flourishing business. However, once you find the best POS system for your business, you’ll never have to shop for another one again.
Look for a system that’s equipped with POS features that make your business easier to run and that set you up for growth. Shopify POS comes with features and support to steer you toward long-term success. Look for these features when shopping for a retail management system.
Point of sale features
An RMS needs to have fundamental point of sale features that support the checkout process, serve customers, and accept payments.
1. Universal search bar
When your POS system’s search bar lets you search for anything, like a customer’s profile, products, or discount codes, without inputting an exact match, you can find what you’re looking for faster, and ensure a smooth customer experience.
2. Mobile POS terminals and payments hardware
Checkout shouldn’t be limited to the cash wrap. Mobile POS terminals and payment hardware enable you to turn any smartphone or tablet into a checkout point, so you can process transactions from anywhere in your store or on the go.
3. Customer-facing display
In some US states, like California, merchants are legally obligated to have a POS with a customer-facing display. This functionality is built into Shopify’s POS stand.
4. Product descriptions
If you run both an ecommerce and brick-and-mortar shop, having your online product descriptions automatically sync to your POS saves you time and gives employees greater information about products.
5. Save and retrieve carts
This Shopify POS feature lets store staff save a shopper’s cart and retrieve it later. If, for example, you’re serving a customer and they forgot their wallet in their car, you can save their cart, serve other customers, and retrieve the cart when they return without having to scan or add the items all over again.
6. Order notes
If you sell items that require customization, such as jewelry or wedding dresses, for example, order notes are essential. This feature lets you add special requests to each purchase, so that staff who are responsible for fulfilling the order can see them and give customers exactly what they want.
7. Check out anywhere
With mobile checkout capabilities from Shopify, you can bust lines, speed up checkout, and avoid any congestion at the cash wrap. When any mobile device can be a point of sale, store staff can stay with customers and offer a more guided shopping experience.
8. Customizable POS terminal
Look for a POS system that lets you customize your dashboard, workflows, and shortcuts to speed up the checkout process for customers and simplify work for staff. Shopify POS’ home screen is fully customizable–add shortcuts to the things you use most to speed up workflows at your store.
9. Automatic discounts
If you sell online and in-store, you’ll benefit from a POS that syncs discounts and promotions from your ecommerce store and automatically applies them to applicable orders at checkout.
10. Camera barcode scanner
As much as barcode scanners are great for certain tasks, like counting inventory, some merchants want less hardware on their checkout counter because it can look cluttered or off brand. With Shopify POS, staff can scan product barcode labels with just the camera on their iOS devices.
11. Custom email or SMS receipts
Sending email or SMS receipts is a great way to collect customer contact information and build your mailing list to fuel retention marketing in a way that feels organic, not off-putting. Shopify POS lets you send receipts by email or SMS, and customize what they say and how they look.
12. Gift receipts
With gift receipts from Shopify POS, your customers can shop for gifts with confidence, knowing recipients can easily return or exchange their present if needed.
13. Local currencies and taxes
When your POS automatically calculates taxes based on your store’s location and charges customers in their local currency, you can cut down on admin work when you expand into new markets.
Unified commerce features
These features blend your online and in-person sales channels to let customers shop however is most convenient for them.
14. Sales channel integrations
You should be able to seamlessly manage sales for all of your channels in one place without jumping between systems, creating complicated workarounds, or encountering unreliable APIs.
With Shopify, you can manage ecommerce sales, in-store sales across multiple store locations, and sales from online third-party sources like social media, Google, and marketplaces without a hitch. Seamless integrations ensure a consistent customer experience across all sales channels.
15. In-store pickup
Give online shoppers the option to buy products online and pick them up at your store. Local pickup can boost foot traffic, reduce shipping costs, and help shoppers get their items faster.
16. Buy in-store, ship to customer
Shipping in-store purchases to customers comes in handy when you’re selling products that have long lead times, are out of stock in-store, or are too bulky for customers to take with them (if they’re traveling, for example). This strategy also lets you keep less inventory in-store, so you can spend less money on real estate, like Allbirds did.
17. Buy online, return or exchange in-store
Be wary of POS systems that require complicated workarounds for returns and exchanges, like issuing gift cards and using them to purchase another item instead of doing an exchange. With Shopify POS, returning and exchanging online purchases in-store is a seamless experience for both customers and staff.
18. Send email carts
With Shopify POS’ send cart feature, you can email carts to indecisive shoppers who browsed in-store but didn’t buy anything. The cart comes pre-loaded with all the products the shopper was looking at in-store, along with any applicable discounts or promotions.
If the shopper completes a purchase online via the email, store staff who sent the email get credit for making the sale. The retail store where the shopper was served is also attributed with the sale in your sales reports. This is a great way to convert more opportunities into revenue and attribute the sale to the appropriate channel.
19. Product QR codes
For businesses focused on showrooming, QR codes on product hang tags make it easy for customers to discover products in-store and buy them online.
20. Virtual shopping
With the help of virtual shopping tools, store associates can assist online shoppers via video or chat, make product recommendations, answer questions, and even let shoppers try on products virtually.
21. Appointment booking
If you see customers by appointment only, or offer time-based services like fittings, booking apps can help you manage your appointments and send customers reminders.
22. Social selling integrations
Meet your customers where they are and sell via Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. With Shopify, merchants can create and track social selling campaigns that drive store visits and sales.
23. Online marketplaces
If you sell products through Walmart Marketplace or eBay, look for a POS that simplifies these revenue streams by syncing products, inventory, and sales between online marketplaces and your RMS.
Get started with Shopify POS
Only Shopify gives you all the tools you need to manage your business, market to customers, and sell everywhere in one place. Unify in-store and online sales today.
Inventory and product management features
Your POS system should come with inventory management features that make ordering, tracking, transferring, and selling your products easier.
Look for a POS system with these inventory management features:
24. Unified inventory management
While many POS systems help manage store inventory, most don’t help merchants manage that inventory across multiple channels, including multiple store locations, their online store, and warehouses.
Your POS system should sync with your ecommerce platform and centralize your inventory into one system so you can manage it all from one place. This will help you order enough stock to satisfy demand while avoiding overstocking, inventory shortages, or tying up too much capital with too much stock.
It will also prevent you from having to manually count and reconcile inventory each day to ensure the inventory availability on your online store reflects what you actually have in stock.
25. Demand forecasting
Ordering inventory is a big challenge for most retailers, which requires careful analysis of seasonal sales and product data, and spotting trends. Not everyone is great at knowing which data to analyze to get those insights, though. Why should they suffer and potentially under or over order stock?
Shopify POS comes with demand forecasting reports that suggest which products to include in your next purchase order based on gross sales, turnover ratio, and seasonality.
26. Low stock reports
Why leave reordering inventory up to chance or instinct?
With Shopify, you can view low stock reports to see which products are running low and can set reorder points to get notified when inventory levels for a product fall below the threshold you set.
27. Reorder points
A reorder point indicates when it’s time to reorder inventory so you can restock before selling out completely. While many merchants calculate reorder points manually with this formula, Shopify POS lets you set reorder points so you never lose track.
💡 PRO TIP: Want to take the guesswork out of restocking? Set reorder points in Shopify Admin to get low stock notifications and ensure you have enough lead time to replenish inventory of a product before quantities reach zero.
28. Sale item suggestions
Rather than have to analyze each product’s inventory quantities, sell-through rate, profit margins, and seasonality, Shopify’s sales item suggestion page shows which products to discount or put on sale so that you can recoup liquidity and free up space for new inventory.
29. Inventory counts
inventory counts are an essential function your POS system should help do. With Shopify, you can do full inventory counts or cycle counts, reconcile inventory levels if there are any discrepancies, and view historical quantity adjustments.
The problem with inventory counts is that they’re time consuming. While they’re unavoidable if you want to have reliable inventory reports and prevent shrinkage, Shopify helps you keep inventory counts to a minimum.
Whenever you sell a product online or at your store, inventory quantities update in real-time both on your POS system and ecommerce platform. This means whenever store staff view inventory availability in Shopify POS, they can trust the data they see is accurate. When shoppers view a product’s availability online, the quantities they see reflect what you actually have in stock.
The amount of times I count inventory is close to never. I still do them, but before I had to count stock at the end of each day to know how much we sold, reconcile inventory, and update stock quantities customers saw on our website. With Shopify POS, our stock levels sync automatically.
30. View historical stock adjustments
Rather than have them disappear, Shopify saves each time you adjust inventory quantities following an inventory count. You can always go back and see what’s been adjusted across each of your store locations, know which staff adjusted the inventory, when it was adjusted, and view any notes associated with the adjustment.
31. Purchase orders
Rather than create and track purchase orders (POs) manually or in another system, Shopify lets you create them with vendors and suppliers from its backend. See estimated lead times, inventory costs, quantities ordered, and more.
💡 PRO TIP: Want to know how much stock to order from a vendor? Shopify POS gives purchase order suggestions based on historical sales data or a product’s seasonality.
32. Inventory receiving
Whenever you receive inventory from vendors or suppliers, you want adding those stock quantities to your POS system to be quick and intuitive. With Shopify POS, you can add the inventory you receive to your inventory quantities fast. Just scan the products with a barcode scanner and stock quantities will adjust automatically.
33. Inventory tracking
Inventory management can be time-consuming–especially if you sell online and in-person using two separate systems. If your two systems don’t speak to one another, you may have to manually count and reconcile inventory at the end of each day to ensure your quantities reflect what you actually have in stock.
With Shopify POS, inventory levels automatically adjust as you transfer stock between stores or you process sales, returns, or exchanges online or at any of your stores.
34. Inventory status
Your POS system should come with inventory states to help track and share the status of your inventory as products are received, transferred, or an order is fulfilled. This keeps your teams on the same page and ensures your inventory data is accurate and reliable.
35. Store transfers
If you have more than one location, chances are you’ve had to transfer stock from one store to another. When that happens, you want your POS system to help you request transfers from other locations, keep track of what’s been received, and what’s leaving.
While this is useful for merchants with more than one store, it’s also handy if you have one store and a warehouse. If ever your store runs out of stock, you can transfer inventory from your warehouse to your store before you run out.
💡 PRO TIP: What do you do if a customer wants to buy a product you don’t have in stock? Use Shopify POS’ buy in-store, ship-to-customer feature to complete transactions in store, ship orders to shoppers from your warehouse, and give your store credit for making the sale.
Barcodes are essential for most retail stores. You want your POS system to have the ability to assign existing barcodes to products or create new ones to keep track of inventory and speed up checkout.
37. Unlimited products and SKUs
You don’t want the number of products you sell to be limited by your POS system. Ensure the point-of-sale system you choose lets you add as many products and stock keeping units (SKUs) to your catalog as you want. While you might not need that now, you may need it in the future.
38. Product collections and variants
Whether you have a few dozen or thousand products, keeping your product catalog organized is essential. When items are properly organized, they’re easier to find, sell, and keep track of.
Shopify’s product collections let you categorize products by type, season, promotional category, and more. You can also use smart collections to sort products based on their vendor, price, or inventory quantities.
If you sell products with multiple variations–different colors of the same t-shirt, for example–ensure your POS system lets you assign variants to products without any complicated workarounds. With Shopify POS, you can add multiple variations to products such as size, color, the material they’re made of, and more.
Collections and variants make it easier for you to manage your product catalog and give you the flexibility to organize your products however makes sense for your business.
39. Shopify Fulfillment Network
If your store doesn’t have a large stockroom, you’ll likely need a warehouse to store all your inventory. But warehousing can be expensive. Plus, finding the right warehouse isn’t always straightforward.
With Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN), you can focus on running your business while Shopify streamlines your order fulfillment, returns, and product storage. Give your business a competitive edge with two-day delivery and pay a predictable rate that covers inventory management, delivery, and storage.
Manage inventory from one back office
Shopify POS comes with tools to help you manage warehouse and store inventory in one place. Forecast demand, set low stock alerts, create purchase orders, know which items are selling or sitting on shelves, count inventory, and more.
Payment processing and cash flow features
Look for POS features that simplify payment processing.
40. Accept popular payment types
Your POS should let you accept popular payment types, like cash, debit and credit cards, mobile and contactless payments, gift cards, and even cryptocurrency.
41. Transparent, predictable rates
Look for a POS that charges a predictable, pre-negotiated rate for all credit cards rather than a different rate depending on the card the shopper uses. Shopify Payments offers this and lets you track payouts and financial information related to payments all from Shopify — giving you total visibility into cash flow.
💡 PRO TIP: Shopify Payments is included in all Shopify POS plans, no sign up or setup fees required. Control your cash flow better and pay the same pre-negotiated rate for all credit cards, starting at 2.4% + $0.00.
42. PCI compliance
PCI compliance ensures your credit card transactions are secure. This is something a payment processor needs to offer to be considered a reliable option.
With auto-reconciliation, you don’t need to manually input sales totals from payment terminals and reconcile them after accepting payment. With Shopify Payments, transaction values are calculated for you, including applicable taxes, and the transaction is reconciled immediately.
44. Automatic dispute resolution
Chargebacks are a big problem for merchants and can cost a lot of time and money. Shopify Payments comes with automatic dispute resolution, which can nearly double your win rate from unnecessary chargebacks and help you keep more of your money. Shopify Payments wins 45% more chargeback disputes than its competitors.
45. Split payments and tenders
Sometimes, shoppers need to use more than one payment method to pay for their purchase. You don’t want to lose that sale because you can’t take split payments. With Shopify, you can accept two or more payment types in a single transaction.
46. Partial payments
Shopify POS’ partial payment feature lets you accept as much or as little payment as you want in the form of deposits or layaways. This feature is particularly useful for high-price point items with customization and lead times, like furniture.
47. Cash-flow management
Look for a POS that gives you total visibility into your cash flow. Shopify unifies online and store data into a cash flow report to help you understand how much you’ll be paid and when you’ll receive your money from all sales channels.
48. Cash tracking
Cash tracking helps you know how much you’ll have in your cash drawer at the end of the day. Shopify POS makes this easy by accurately tracking the expected balance in your cash drawer for end of day deposits.
49. Sell and accept gift cards in store and online
Your POS should let you sell and accept gift cards both in store and online, rather than only allowing customers to use digital gift cards online and physical vouchers in store. With Shopify, you sell physical gift cards in store, email digital gift cards to customers, and let recipients redeem them wherever they prefer to shop.
50. Shopify Balance
Shopify Balance is a free, all-in-one money management account and spending card linked directly to your Shopify store. It’s available exclusively to Shopify merchants.
Customer management features
Retail is all about serving customers. These POS features help you create memorable shopping experiences that keep customers coming back and spending more.
51. Complete customer profiles
Customer profiles that unify online and in-person purchases, rather than keeping them separate, give you a holistic understanding of key details, like how customers shop and what they like to buy.
With Shopify, every interaction with your brand is stored in a customer’s profile. You can see their complete purchase history, which stores they prefer to shop at, their average order value, favorite products, and more.
This data, along with custom notes that you can add to the customer’s profile about taste and preferences, helps store associates create a personalized shopping experience and make relevant recommendations.
52. Centralized order history
Look for an RMS that lets you see a complete view of your customers’ purchase histories in one place. Why export and import data from your ecommerce platform and POS and build manual reports when there are systems like Shopify that centralize your customers’ entire order histories in one profile?
The more easily you can access information about your customers, the better you can serve them.
53. Unified customer loyalty programs
You probably know that repeat customers are more lucrative than one-time shoppers. A POS-integrated loyalty program can help turn first-time customers into valuable regulars.
Shopify POS’ robust customer profiles serve as the foundation for successful loyalty programs. With loyalty apps like Yotpo, Smile.io, Loyalty Lion, and Marsello integrated with your POS, you can turn these customer profiles into more repeat purchases, higher customer lifetime value, and more revenue while hedging against skyrocketing customer acquisition costs.
54. Tag and categorize customer profiles
Your retention marketing efforts are only as successful as your personalization efforts. If you aren’t aligning your email marketing messaging with what customers are really interested in, they’re less likely to take you up on an offer or make a purchase.
Your POS should simplify targeted marketing. Shopify POS does this by giving you the ability to create and assign custom tags to customer profiles. You can segment profiles based on how much customers spend, whether they buy items at full price or on sale, their favorite items, or any other filters that will make outreach more personalized, targeted, and impactful for your brand.
Staff management features
Your business wouldn’t be a success without your team. Look for POS features that help you maintain control while empowering employees to do their best work.
55. Staff roles and permissions
Your team members serve different roles within your business. Look for a POS that lets you define what team members can and cannot do when logged in. For example, you may want to give store associates free reign to apply discounts, but require manager approval for returns and exchanges.
With Shopify POS, you can fine-tune staff roles and permissions so that only the team members you want to have access to certain functions can carry them out.
56. Unlimited staff accounts
As your business grows, your technology shouldn’t be blocking your progress. Be wary of RMSes that limit the number of staff members who can log in and use the system.
Shopify POS lets you make unlimited staff accounts from the start, so you can expand your team with confidence and support your brand’s growth.
57. Manager approvals
Not all roles are created equal in a retail setting. Managers are entrusted with more responsibility than store associates and therefore should be able to do more on your POS system.
With Shopify POS, you can set up manager approval requirements for certain actions, such as applying discounts, issuing refunds, and processing exchanges.
58. Time tracking and payroll sync
Your POS should make it easier to keep track of employees’ hours and pay them. Look for a system that gives you the ability to sync scheduling and payroll info with your accounting software.
Shopify apps like ClockedIn, Homebase, EasyTeam, and Gusto make payroll a breeze.
Make sure your POS is equipped with marketing features that help keep your business top of mind, get customers in the door (physical or digital), and keep them coming back for more.
59. Get discovered by local shoppers
Is your current POS system doing enough to promote your business and put it in front of local shoppers? Shopify’s Shop app has a feature that helps customers discover nearby businesses. The best part is, Shopify customers can be listed on the app at no additional cost and without paying commission fees.
60. Get discovered on Google
Shoppers are increasingly using Google to discover, compare, and purchase products. If your POS doesn’t make it easier for you to sell via Google, you could be missing out on a fantastic revenue-generating opportunity.
Shopify offers the tools and support you need to list products on Google, create Google ad campaigns, and track sales in your Shopify dashboard.
61. Retention marketing
Did you know that for every $1 invested in email marketing, the medium generates $42 in sales? Your POS should facilitate your retention marketing efforts.
Shopify’s customer profiles fuel highly targeted email marketing campaigns. Using the Shopify Email app, merchants can segment their customer profiles, build email lists of customers who share a particular criteria, run hyper-targeted email marketing campaigns, and track conversions, all from the Shopify admin dashboard.
For example, you could build a customer list of shoppers who mostly buy full-price items and send them your new releases and highly sought after items. Or, you could build a list of shoppers who buy on sale, and send them emails about discounts and promotions.
Reporting and analytics features
When shopping for POS systems, ensure yours unifies online and store data, and also comes with easy-to-understand retail reports.
62. Unified reporting and analytics
One problem many merchants who use different systems to sell online and in store face is siloed or fragmented data. Oftentimes, they need to export data from their POS and ecommerce platform and create spreadsheets to get a complete view of their business.
Rather than spending time in spreadsheets, Shopify unifies your ecommerce and retail data in the same place. There’s no reliance on third-party APIs or software to make your ecommerce platform and POS system speak to one another. This means your inventory, sales, and customer data update in real-time as you sell products online or at your store.
See how your entire business is doing in reliable reports, compare sales channel performance, and make decisions with confidence knowing your data is accurate.
Using multiple systems to manage our online and physical stores was frustrating. Managing all our sales channels from Shopify simplifies how we run our business and makes it easy to view data and compare channel performance–from conversion rates and sales volume to customer value and beyond.
63. Dashboard overview
Sometimes, you want to see how your business is performing across all sales channels–But you don’t have time to parse through different reports to know how you’re doing. That’s where Shopify’s dashboard overview comes in handy.
From Shopify admin’s analytics page, you get a comprehensive overview of your entire brand’s performance everywhere you sell. It centralizes everything you need to know–from total sales and orders to your top products, online store conversion rates, sales by store location, and more.
64. Retail sales reports
When you sell online and in person, you want to be able to zone in on each channel’s performance. Shopify comes with dedicated retail reports that show you how each of your stores are doing. View and analyze sales by product, staff, store location, time period, vendor, and more.
65. Product reports
If you want to know how certain products are performing, you want reports to give you that information at-a-glance rather than needing to compare inventory and sales reports. Shopify has product reports like an ABC analysis that gives you insights into which products are and are not selling, which are most and least profitable, and which contribute the most to your revenue.
66. Discount reports
When used appropriately, discounts and promotions are a great way to liquidate old stock and recoup sunk costs. But tracking how your discounts drive sales can be challenging.
Shopify comes with discount reports that tell you the number of orders, gross and net sales attributed to discounts—whether they’re automatically applied at checkout online or at your store, promo codes, or custom discounts.
67. Inventory reports
At the end of each month, it’s important to see how your inventory performed. Shopify POS comes with monthly inventory reports that help you track inventory quantities, costs, total retail value, and the percent of inventory you sell each day.
68. Finance reports
Financial reports can make filing income taxes easier. Your POS system should have reports that show you important financial information like your gross and net profit and sales, liabilities, and cost of goods sold over a period of time.
69. Daily sales reports
Sometimes, all you need is a quick snapshot of your store’s performance. This is especially useful for store managers or folks who run the day-to-day store operations. With Shopify POS, you can see your store performance at-a-glance. Track net sales, average order value, items per order, sales per staff, total returns and exchanged processed, and more.
70. Staff reports
Your POS needs to give store managers need visibility on how staff are contributing to the store’s bottom line. This helps them give kudos to top-performers and develop the skills of staff who need it.
How many sales did they make? What’s their average order value? What’s their average basket size? Get answers to each of these questions in Shopify POS’ staff reports.
These insights tell you if staff are upselling and cross-selling products effectively and controlling what they can to get customers the products they need and boost store revenue.
71. Customer reports
When left unchecked, customer acquisition costs (CAC) can hamper revenue. That’s why it’s important to have visibility on how well your brand is bringing in new customers, retaining existing ones, and how much revenue each customer segment represents.
With Shopify, you can see your first-time and returning customer sales over time, the number of new and returning customers you serve at each store location, and more. You can even spot at-risk customers—ones who have gone a long time without making another purchase—to proactively market to them and retain their business.
Wrapping up: top POS features
A POS system should do more than just process purchases. When you run your business with Shopify POS, you can unify the online and in-person shopping experiences, better understand your customers, manage your staff with ease, fuel retention marketing campaigns, and more.
Unify your sales channels with Shopify
Only Shopify unifies your sales channels and gives you all the tools you need to manage your business, market to customers, and sell everywhere in one place.