Liquor stores can benefit from POS systems beyond just helping them sell more booze. With a great POS system, you can manage your store, track inventory, and even prevent loss. It will work online as well as offline.
Fortunately, several POS systems are designed specifically for liquor stores, packed with many of the features above and many more. Even so, knowing which one to choose isn’t so simple.
Therefore, this article will thoroughly review the 5 top liquor store POS systems, including their pros, cons, pricing, and features.
Best Liquor POS – Quick Overview
Here’s a quick overview of the five best POS Liquor store systems and what sets them apart:
- Best Overall POS System: Korona POS
- Best POS System for iPads: LightSpeed Retail
- Best to Offline Option: POS Nation
- Best for High Volumes: IT Retail POS
- Best for Free Hardware: Harbortouch
The Evaluation Criteria
This review examined 12 major liquor store point of sale systems, looking for user-friendly checkout features, robust back-office reporting capabilities, and inventory management tools. Given the increase in customer demand for online ordering and delivery, economical pricing and eCommerce integrations were also considered. In addition, each option’s professional retail and restaurant reviews were considered.
In researching liquor business POS software, you should look for the following features:
- Flexibility in bottle pricing
- Capabilities for managing case-break inventory
- A mobile inventory management app
- Confirmation of age
- Report specifics regarding purchases per state laws
- Management of vendors
- Discount options for cash
- Monitoring of sales
- Protection against loss features
In addition to the attributes mentioned above, other considerations were also considered when choosing the top 5. These include:
- How much does the system cost?
- What are the limitations of the different pricing options?
- Is payment processing included?
- Are discounts offered?
- Does it require installation? If so, is it free?
- Does the system support online sales?
- Can it accept gift cards or contactless payments?
- Does it include age verification tools?
- Can it track inventory in real-time?
- Does it include additional functions (payroll reporting, CRM, timekeeping, etc.)?
Ease of Use
- How easy is it to handle?
- Is support available? If so, is it available 24/7?
- Can it run without internet access?
- Can tools be accessed on the cloud?
- How good are its core features?
- Are the features worth the price?
- Does the company offer multiple options for hardware and software?
- How good is the company’s customer support department?
- How popular is the system among liquor store owners?
The 5 Best Liquor POS – Deep Dive
Before diving in, consider the questions above while looking at the options on this list to determine which works best for you.
- Korona POS: Best Overall
KORONA performed admirably in terms of cost. In addition to the low monthly software expenses, there are no long-term commitments or installation fees. To complete checkout functionality, KORONA has a few focused e-commerce partnerships. Some drawbacks include inability to generate payroll reports and access offline data. If you’re looking for a POS with payroll functionality, try Harbortouch or POS Nation.
Setting up KORONA is easy. The software is available in a free demo version that allows you to test all of its features and determine whether KORONA is a good fit for your liquor business. When you sign up for a KORONA account, you can immediately access KORONA’s administration dashboard. Because KORONA interfaces with First Data, TSYS, Elavon, Heartland, Clearant, Cayan, and EVO Merchant Services, users can also compare payment processing rates. No long-term contracts are required; all KORONA services are on a month-to-month basis. If your organization grows or your needs change, you can switch to another system.
- Software costs:
- Core – $49
- Advanced – $59
- Plus – $79
- Enterprise – custom quote
- Hardware costs: You may use existing hardware or purchase directly from KORONA. Quoted-to-order.
- One-time Installation fees: None
- Several payment processors are available.
- Tracking inventory with robust inventory management
- Makes use of existing hardware
- Tools for case promotion and breaking
- Accounting and payroll integrations are not available.
- Native online store functionality is not available.
- Loss prevention: You can control what information each employee can access with your KORONA POS’s unlimited number of users and unique permissions. Cash overages or shortages in cashier tills are easily detected with KORONA because it tracks employee voids and refunds and supports blind cash drops.
- Inventory Management: KORONA automatically updates the inventory of your in-house supply as you sell it, tracking your inventory as you sell it. You can restock immediately from your KORONA dashboard when it’s time.
- Integrations for the liquor industry: While KORONA does not offer a wide range of integrations, it does offer many that support liquor store operations. BottlecApps and bLoyal allow you to expand your loyalty program, develop a customer-facing app, add shipping and an eCommerce site and provide local delivery (where applicable).
- Age verification: KORONA offers several methods for prompting a user for age verification. Your POS can be configured to ask cashiers for their date of birth before completing a transaction, or you can attach ID scanners and swipe IDs for age verification.
- LightSpeed Retail POS: Best for iPads
Lightspeed Retail is a cloud-based POS system that offers many of the same features as other systems on this list. In addition to the basic liquor shop features, Lightspeed Retail users have access to a wide range of small business supporting third-party connectors that cover everything from employee scheduling to text message marketing. In addition to age verification and eCommerce integrations, Lightspeed Retail offers extensive inventory with case-break pricing.
Lightspeed performs best with a strong internet connection and Wi-Fi coverage throughout your store. However, its cloud-based architecture hindered Lightspeed somewhat. Rural establishments or shops with many walls and corners may be better served by a locally installed system, such as POS Nation.
Compared to the POS systems listed above, Lightspeed Retail is a sleek, sophisticated alternative to a desktop computer. A point-of-sale system based on iPads is mobile and adaptable. You can use the iPad POS to count inventory in your shop or display product photos for consumers. Employees can interact with consumers using the low-profile terminals, and the iPad experience is familiar to anyone who has used a smartphone.
- Software costs:
- Lean – $69
- Standard – $119; includes accounting and eCommerce tools
- Advanced – $199; includes loyalty and analytics
- All plans for a single register; additional registers are $29 per month
- Hardware costs: Quoted-to-order. You may use your hardware if you own an iPad or Apple Desktop.
- Installation fees: None; You can install Lightspeed by yourself.
- iPad friendly.
- It is easy to self-install.
- Tools for managing inventories comprehensively
- Integration with Drizly
- It is necessary to have a strong internet connection.
- Ecommerce and reporting tools require a more expensive membership.
- Hardware costs are quoted on an individual basis.
- A multi-step age verification process: Your Lightspeed POS instructs your cashiers to scan customer IDs and then verify that the scanned information matches the information on the front of the ID. This two-step process can be very helpful in college towns or places where fraudulent identification is common.
- eCommerce integrations: You can integrate an eCommerce store into Lightspeed Retail Standard ($119 per month) and Advanced ($199 per month). BlueCheck and Advision Age Verification integrations enable age verification for your online store.
- Marketing: Several marketing tools are available for Lightspeed Retail, including direct email and SMS texting. Lightspeed’s Advanced membership ($199 per month) offers Lightspeed’s built-in capabilities and integrations with Ikeono for targeted SMS marketing and Mailchimp for targeted emails.
- Appointment booking: Lightspeed Retail can book appointments for in-store shopping. You can use this tool to provide VIPs or wine clubs or send allotted bottle shipments.
- POS Nation: Best Offline Option
POS Nation offers outstanding offline capabilities for liquor establishments with a locally installed POS and cloud backup. The front end of the POS, which handles sales transactions, runs on an internal network, so payment processing is not dependent on the internet. However, you can access back-office data, inventory, and customer administration operations via the cloud. For small businesses that are hesitant to abandon their cash register in favor of a POS system, POS Nation’s Cash Discount feature can help you cover credit card processing costs.
Users can either pay monthly or purchase the entire POS system at POS Nation, which bundles its POS hardware with a flexible price structure. However, they are hampered by poor e-commerce capabilities and a few fine points regarding payment integration and customer service. Monthly users are trapped with Worldpay as a payment processor, which is generally not recommended.
POS Nation includes various liquor store support tools, such as barcode scanned inventory counts and age verification prompts. Like KORONA, POS Nation integrates with several payment processors. First American, Worldpay, Heartland, Evo, Priority I.S., or North American Bancard are all accepted by POS Nation. For monthly users, however, Worldpay is the only option.
Customer service is a major concern for those who purchase POS Nation systems outright. All Freedom level accounts include three months of business hours customer support, but 24/7 support requires an additional fee. Users must pay additional, quoted-to-order rates for any type of customer service after 90 days. In contrast, most POS systems offer unlimited free assistance to all users.
- Software costs:
- Flex Monthly – $99 per terminal per month
- Freedom – $999 per terminal one-time payment
- Custom Build – Custom Quoted
- Hardware costs: A cash drawer, receipt printer, barcode scanner, and touch screen are included with your subscription. You can purchase additional hardware.
- Installation fees: The hardware is already configured for self-installation, but you can ask for on-site assistance for an additional fee.
- Integrates with a wide range of payment processors
- Asks for age verification
- Discount options for cash
- Inventory tracking based on case-breaks
- Ecommerce capabilities are limited
- Costs associated with extra hardware can be high.
- Subscription tiers are subject to certain limitations regarding payment processing and customer service.
- Age verification: You can use an ID card scanner or prompt for a birthdate entry during alcohol sales.
- Hardware: Hardware is included with POS Nation subscriptions. Each terminal costs $99 per month for POS Nation subscribers. Users who purchase their terminals in advance pay $999 each. You may need to purchase additional networking hardware and handheld inventory scanners. Get a custom quote from POS Nation for a complete estimate.
- Case-break tracking: POS Nation allows you to track multiple items with the same UPC, ensuring that your bottle and case counts are always accurate.
- Monthly option: POS Nation members can choose a month-to-month contract. The costs of POS Nation’s monthly contracts are higher than those of KORONA, but POS Nation’s include desktop POS gear. Those who pay monthly should be aware that Worldpay is their only option for payment processing.
- Discounts for cash clients: With this setting, you can set a price for your products high enough to cover credit card processing fees, then offer a discount for cash clients. The fee pays your fees and keeps you legal; 10 states prohibit charging credit card fees directly to clients. On the other hand, cash discounting is permitted in all 50 states.
- Regional reports: Several regional reports are included in POS Nation, such as the Wholesale Liquor Report for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and 1014 reporting for Pennsylvania beer wholesalers.
- IT Retail POS: Best High-Volume
IT Retail is a hybrid point-of-sale system created by former grocery store operators. A robust system like this is perfect for high-volume liquor businesses requiring extensive security connections and industry-grade hardware. The extensive features of IT Retail are best known as a grocery shop POS, but they also provide outstanding support for liquor businesses. As part of the system, age verification capabilities are available, as well as real-time inventory tracking and case-break pricing.
Checkout and management features, especially loss prevention measures, were highly regarded by users. It lost some ground, however, because installation and hardware are charged on a per-installation basis, and the system does not support email marketing.
IT Retail’s payment processing alternatives will also hinder store owners who wish to shop around for the best processing rates. Currently, the system only supports Fiserv and built-in IT Retail Payments. Check out KORONA or POS Nation for more processing alternatives.
IT Retail includes all the features needed for a liquor store, including inventory control with vendor management, low stock notifications, age verification, and case-break pricing. Additionally, IT Retail’s high-volume retail operation is supported by industry-grade hardware, including countersunk barcode scanners and customer-facing displays.
- Software costs:
- For Minimarkets: $79 per month
- For Supermarkets: Quoted-to-order; includes eCommerce tools and Android inventory app
- For Enterprises: Quoted-to-order; includes multistore management functions
- Installation fees: Optional, Quoted-to-order
- Hardware costs: Quoted-to-order
- The ability to customize touchscreens
- Integration of Remote Eyes security
- Verification of age
- Tools for case-break inventory and pricing
- There is a fee for on-site assistance.
- Email marketing is not available.
- Lack of eCommerce integrations for the liquor industry.
- Rewards management: When clients have loyalty points or rewards that they haven’t used, your IT Retail POS will notify cashiers. Using the customer’s payment information, the system scans itself before finalizing the payment and prompts the customer to apply rewards. Customers don’t have to remember to ask for their points to be applied, and cashiers don’t have to hunt through the POS to find the correct customer.
- Security against theft: Every transaction is scrutinized by your IT Retail POS for suspicious activity. Management is alerted to transactions that may be fraudulent. Using the electronic journal feature, you can view what customers and cashiers do at the register. Integrated into the system is Remote Eyes, a video surveillance system that monitors questionable POS transactions.
- Robust reporting tools: IT Retail’s reporting and analytics provides information about sales and inventory. By establishing low stock alerts to prompt new orders, you can quickly assess the value of your current inventory. You can segment reports to determine which stocks are not selling. You can also track employee performance with this technology. Check an individual cashier’s sales, voids, refunds, and canceled transactions against the store average to identify training opportunities or reward outstanding performers.
- Mobile reporting tools: You can view your store’s performance indicators from your phone, tablet, or off-site PC with IT Retail’s mobile reporting software.
- Harbortouch: Best Free Hardware
Like POS Nation, Harbortouch POS software subscriptions include free POS hardware. However, despite both platforms offering free hardware, Harbortouch’s total solution is more economical for small businesses. Additionally, the integrated hardware is industry-grade and designed to handle even the busiest liquor store. Harbortouch can offer free hardware at a low price because it’s linked to Shift4 Payments, a merchant services provider. Shift4 recoups the hardware expenditures through its payment processing fees.
Price, convenience, and staff training were all high marks for the system. On the other hand, Harbortouch only supports one integrated payment processor, Shift4, and lacks payroll and liquor store integrations. If you require those, you’d be better off with KORONA or Lightspeed Retail.
Harbortouch includes advanced inventory management capabilities, and age verification prompts, like most of the other systems on our list. Additionally, Harbortouch offers more sophisticated payroll reporting than POS Nation or KORONA. For example, users can export time clock information to an external payroll system and track overtime hours.
- Software costs:
- Echo POS – $29 per month
- Elite POS – $39 per month
- Hardware costs: Hardware is included for free
- Installation fees: Installation and 24/7 customer support are included in your software fee
- Hardware is included.
- Verification of age is included.
- Payments are locked to Shift4.
- No eCommerce integrations for liquor stores.
- Payroll integrations are not available.
- Case-break pricing: Harbortouch offers case-break and mix-and-match pricing, which is useful if you want to offer a special like a tequila and mixer combo for Cinco de Mayo or an Oktoberfest-themed six-pack.
- Inventory management: Harbortouch offers robust inventory management functions, including detailed vendor profiles, vendor management, and purchase order tracking. Harbortouch allows users to create custom barcode labels for new stock and print them directly from the POS.
- Paper supplies for free: Harbortouch provides free thermal paper for its customers’ receipt printers. By eliminating paper resupplying costs, you can save money.
- Marketing tools included: Harbortouch’s POS software integrates with social media channels and offers email marketing tools. You can create social media posts, view consumer conversations, and track the performance of social media initiatives from your Harbortouch management dashboard.
In terms of liquor store POS systems, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Choosing the right solution will largely depend on the store you are operating and the features you need. Store owners upgrading from cash registers and offline stores should look into POS Nation, while those using iPad-based systems should consider LightSpeed Retail. All the options on the list have an outstanding feature that makes them stand out from the rest. At the end of the day, choose the best solution for your business and budget.