Whether you're a retailer or a restaurateur, a point-of-sale (POS) system can make a big difference in streamlining your business. However, the scope of POS is very broad with hundreds of different POS software packages and vendors. You can expect to invest a fair bit of time figuring out what will best fit your business.
I recommend the Linux computer operating system and open source software because they are secure, stable and efficient. All of the POS systems discussed in this article (including the honorable mentions) run on Linux, and they all have good graphical interfaces.
You'll also need to think about hardware, which is a topic for another day. You can take a look at Barcode Discount (or any vendor that sells POS hardware) to get an idea of what's available in the world of specialized POS hardware.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service
SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service (SLEPOS) has the backing of the venerable, well-established giant software company Novell. SUSE Enterprise Linux is a top-notch, polished and completely reliable version of Linux. It comes with excellent management tools, such as centralized upgrades, centralized security and regulatory policies and full disk encryption.
SUSE Linux offers a wonderful tool that you won't find in any other operating system: the KIWI custom image builder. This lets you, or your IT people, easily customize and deploy SUSE Linux images for all kinds of different use cases: retail terminal, backend retail server, kiosks, desktop PCs, touch-screen devices, network-managed installations and virtual machine images.
You can customize the images exactly as you need, and then install and manage them over your network. If something goes wrong you can easily roll back to an earlier version.
Three components make up a SLEPOS system: a central administration server, a branch server and then the POS terminals. Those can be pretty much any kind of retail endpoint: an ordinary PC, customer kiosks (like bridal registries or catalog stations), cash registers and wireless terminals (figure 1).
The administration server holds the master image and configuration repository. The branch servers each serve a particular location or department, and the POS terminals connect to the branch server. This architecture provides a clean, secure administration structure that easily scales larger or smaller as needed.
Figure 1: The SLEPOS architecture.
SLEPOS uses strong encryption for all network transmissions, and it supports the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.
You can try a free evaluation download and, if you elect to purchase SLEPOS, the reasonable licensing costs $32/year per client, $185 for a branch server and $315 for the administration server. Novell has hundreds of partners all over the world, so you can always find expert help. Get a glimpse of SLEPOS in action on this YouTube video.