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Types of Cash Registers: A Detailed 2024 Guide

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You have just set up your business and the only thing left is to open and start selling. At this point, buying a cash register is important so you can keep track of your sales. But there are so many types of them on the market that you are unsure which one will benefit you the most.

If that’s the case, you’re in the right place. By the end of this blog, you will be able to choose the right cash register for your business.

What is a Cash Register?

What Is A Cash Register

The concept of a cash register is very simple. It is a device that helps keep track of money and sales in your business. Traditionally, it consisted of a drawer to store cash, a screen to display calculations, and a keypad to enter the transaction data. Occasionally, a receipt printer would be attached to provide a record of customer transactions.

Nowadays, the concept of an isolated cash register is diminishing. Modern POS systems include a cash register with a wider range of functions, including inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM), and detailed sales reporting.

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4 Types of Cash Registers

We have listed 4 types of cash registers below, including traditional and modern POS cash registers.

Electronic Cash Register

Electronic Cash Register

Electronic cash registers were first invented in 1906 but became popular around 1971 in the UK. The standard hardware for an electronic cash register consisted of the following devices:

Name of the item Image

A drawer to store cash

A drawer to store cash

A screen to display calculations

A screen to display calculations

A keypad to enter the transaction data

A keypad to enter the transaction data

A receipt printer attached

A receipt printer attached

A barcode scanner attached

A barcode scanner attached

Input and calculations of transactions became automatic with the use of an electronic cash register. It was a major success in the world of retail and business. You can think of an electronic cash register as a large-scale calculator, which reduces the probability of mistakes and miscalculations if you enter the data manually.

Functions of an electronic cash register:

For a decade, businesses used electronic cash registers to perform transactions and store money. You could accept cash, digital, and credit card payments from an electric cash register, but that was about it.

Best for the type of business:

An electronic cash register is best for small businesses with simple transaction needs. If you meet the following criteria, an electronic cash register may be suitable for you. And if you don’t, you know to look for other advanced options.

  • No need for advanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
  • No requirement for detailed sales tracking.
  • No necessity for extensive product reporting.
  • No need for real-time inventory tracking.
  • Looking for a more affordable option compared to modern options.
  • Prefer a straightforward system.

Modern POS Cash Register

Nowadays, businesses do not need an independent cash register for tracking sales and profits, as the modern cash register is integrated into a POS (Point of Sale) system.

A POS system is a comprehensive tool for businesses to manage sales transactions, including cash and credit card transactions. The hardware of a POS system consists of a digital screen (computer, tablet, or smartphone) and a cash drawer, which performs the function of a traditional cash register.

These modern POS systems come in different shapes. Now we can further classify them so you can choose the one that suits your business needs.

1. Countertop POS cash register

Countertop POS systems are attached to a fixed point where all the transactions take place. The hardware of a countertop POS system includes:

Name of the item Image

A POS terminal- Computer screen


A screen to display calculations

Barcode scanner- to ring products and add their prices to the system

A barcode scanner attached

Receipt printer- to print receipts for customers

A receipt printer attachedA keypad to enter the transaction data

Card reader- to process cashless transactions

Card Reader

Cash drawer- to manage cash efficiently

A drawer to store cash

Functions of a countertop POS:

Countertop POS has a POS terminal that displays all the transactions taking place. This system is visually similar to the electronic cash register as it features a cash drawer for storing cash. The POS terminal also attaches a barcode scanner to ring up products, and a printer to generate receipts for customers.

TIP: POS terminal is like the brain of the checkout process. It’s the device, such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone, where transactions are processed and payments are accepted.

Besides calculating transactions and sales, it offers many other functions as a modern POS system, including:

  • Inventory management.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM).
  • Sales reporting and analytics.
  • Integration with third-party applications.
  • Employee management.
  • Enhanced security features.

Best for the type of business:

Countertop POS systems are also called terminal or fixed POS systems because they do not offer mobility. So they are ideal for businesses with a fixed checkout location, and other businesses where transactions occur in person, such as retail stores and restaurants.

2. Mobile POS cash register

Mobile POS Cash Register

A mobile POS system refers to a POS system that can be operated through a smartphone. The hardware of a mobile POS system includes:

Name of the item Image

Smartphone or tablet- to display the transactions.


Card Reader- to process cashless transactions, including credit and debit card payments. It is attached to the phone.

Mobile Card Reader

Functions of a mobile POS:

A mobile POS system has a smartphone as the POS terminal instead of a computer screen so it can be carried around easily. Firstly, you install the POS software on your smartphone and then attach the card reader to it. The card reader processes credit and debit cards to carry out transactions.

Best for businesses:

Mobile POS is best for businesses that are on the go, like street vendors, mobile hairdressers or market stalls, food trucks, ice cream shops, and juice bars. They are also great for restaurants and cafes for table-side ordering.

3. Cloud-based cash register

When a countertop or mobile POS system is operated through the internet, it is called a cloud-based system. It works by connecting to the internet and storing data on remote servers, which is referred to as “the cloud.”

Functions of a cloud-based POS:

A cloud-based system can be accessed from anywhere, as long as you are connected to the internet. It has the typical hardware and carries out transactions like any other countertop or mobile POS.

Additional features are listed below.

  • Data Storage: Instead of storing information like sales transactions, inventory records, and customer data on the cash register itself, a cloud-based system stores this data through the internet on remote servers.
  • Accessibility: Because the data and software are stored in the cloud, you can access your cash register system from multiple devices, such as computers, tablets, or smartphones, as long as you have an internet connection.

Best for businesses:

Cloud-based POS systems can be useful for a wide range of business types and sizes. However, they are particularly beneficial for:

  • Small to medium-sized businesses.
  • E-commerce businesses that have brick-and-mortar stores as well as online shops.
  • Seasonal businesses like stalls or holiday shops.
  • Mobile businesses.
  • Businesses with multiple locations.

Which Cash Register is Best For Your Business?

Consider all the options we have mentioned above.

We recommend going for a modern POS cash register instead of an electronic one. Even if you are a small business on a budget, a mobile POS cash register is a far better option than an electronic cash register.
You will get advanced POS options like inventory management, detailed sales reporting, and customer relationship management (CRM) with a modern POS system. Additionally, modern POS systems allow your business to grow without outgrowing your cash register.

While the initial investment might be a bit higher, the long-term benefits make choosing a modern POS system worthwhile for any business, regardless of its size or budget.

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Traditional cash registers mainly handle transactions, while modern POS systems offer advanced features such as inventory management, sales reporting, CRM, and much more.

Modern POS systems provide more advanced options, including inventory management, detailed sales reporting, and CRM, making them a better long-term investment for businesses of any size.

Mobile POS systems are ideal for businesses on the go, such as street vendors, food trucks, and mobile service providers, as well as restaurants and cafes for table-side ordering.

Cloud-based POS systems offer accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection, data storage in the cloud, and scalability. All these features make them suitable for various business types and sizes.

Consider factors such as your business size, budget, transaction volume, desired features, and future growth plans when choosing between a traditional cash register and a modern POS system.

While the initial investment for a modern POS system may be higher, the long-term benefits often outweigh the initial cost for businesses.

Written by:

Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson is a seasoned business content writer, leveraging several years of experience to craft impactful narratives that seamlessly blend business insights with engaging storytelling across diverse industries. Her expertise lies in delivering compelling content that resonates with audiences.