Point of sale (POS) systems are used by hundreds of businesses in order to streamline the purchasing process as well as track the various financial and inventory data that relates to the sales made. Although the general concept behind each system is virtually the same, different industries can purchase POS systems that are tailor made for their needs. Think of it is a delivery service: A bike delivery would work fine for a local newspaper, but UPS would have to shut down if it did not have delivery trucks. The same concept applies to POS sale systems used in retail stores, restaurants, and hotels. Each specific industry can benefit from a system that is designed for their specific needs.
Retail POS systems are specialized at quick and easy one time sales. The items stored in their database are well defined, and although there can be many colors or sizes offered for one item, there is not very much variation in the product. If one person buys a black jacket, although the jacket comes in blue, all the people who buy the black on are still getting the same item. This is why retail POS systems are the simplest in nature. In regards to the sale process, all they need is to pull up an item's information from inventory and remove it upon purchase. Of course, this is just in reference the the sales aspect of the system; there are still complex inventory control settings and sales efficiency metrics that that can be used, but in terms of making a sale, the retail system is the most simplistic.
Restaurant and Hotel POS need to be a little more complex due to the nature of their product. For example: A fast food restaurant has numerous combinations of each item; the POS system needs to be able to customize the order while still keeping track of the price variation. A sit down restaurant also relies on a certain level of customization of the product, while also bringing in a unique situation: Rather than serve and bill customers in one setting, diners sit at a table and their orders are tracked using the system throughout the dining experience. The restaurant's POS needs to be able to handle cross-referencing different tables in order to give each customer the right bill. A hotel will take this one step further, allowing customers to be billed to their room for numerous purchases made within the hotel throughout their stay.
Clearly, when starting a business it important to take the industry specific POS into account. Do not just try and find the best deal, but rather what will work best to make your company run efficiently. Understanding why each system is unique will help when trying to make the decision for what POS system to purchase. Although the examples given were for specific industries, the systems can be applied to different industries that have similar purchasing processes: The retail POS can be used in stores ranging from clothing to electronics and the restaurant system can be used in various hospitality related industries.