Making a profit in retail is not easy. But some types of businesses can always rely on a steady revenue stream, no matter the location or time of year. Liquor stores are one such business. However, running a liquor store is a little more complicated than running some other kind of retail business.
If you run a liquor store, you’ll have other needs to consider than ordinary retail establishments. For one, you can only sell your products to certain customers. And depending on where you operate, you can only sell items at certain times of the day or week.
In the United States, liquor stores much keep track and report all alcohol beverages that are stocked and sold at your store, as well as where they came from. That’s a lot for one person to keep track of.
If you’ve been running your sales mainly through an old-fashioned cash register, and recording all the extra information yourself, it may be time for an upgrade. Or perhaps you’re preparing to open up your first liquor store. You have a lot of choices for POS systems out there. So how does one choose a POS system?
Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered. There are three POS systems on the market that you may want to consider for your liquor store. Lightspeed, Revel and Shopkeep, depending on your needs, may suit you just fine.
Our Top Pick for Liquor Store POS System: Revel Systems
While there’s no single POS system that suits all liquor stores, we recommend Revel Systems as the best liquor store POS system for most establishments. While it is a costly system, you get all the featured you’d need included, and more.
Best Liquor Store POS System Providers
The Runner Up for Liquor Store POS: Lightspeed
Lightspeed Retail has all the front and back-end features you would require of your liquor store’s POS system. Customers can pay however they prefer, and you can easily apply discounts to items or place items on hold.
Employees each have their own individualized PIN, enabling you to track the purchases they ring up during their shift. Lightspeed also enables you to track which products are top sellers so you can easily change your inventory when necessary.
One of the most important front-end features for a liquor store to have is an age verification app. Luckily, Lightspeed does have this app available, where you can restrict access to underage users or add age verification to purchases with a birthdate. However, this comes at an extra $18 a month and is not included with the initial system.
Managing inventory is made simple with Lightspeed Retail. You can create one master order to combine purchasing, transferring and ordering from multiple vendors to make the entire process run smoothly. You can also create special orders and track unit costs and inventory levels.
One feature particular to Lightspeed Retail is the return to vendor feature. With this feature, you can send damaged items back to the vendor and automatically remove them from your inventory. Hopefully as a liquor store owner, you won’t have to use this feature that much, but cracked or broken bottles and broken seals may occasionally happen when items are in transit.
Lightspeed comes with an integrated ecommerce platform so you can also sell your wares online through a webstore. Few liquor stores may take advantage of this feature, but at the very least you can allow customers to order online any time of day to pick up at the store at a later time.
Lightspeed has both Mac and Windows versions, so you can go with whichever hardware you prefer to work with. What’s more, the pricing doesn’t differ between the two.
Lightspeed Retail offers various plans depending on your business needs. Their cheapest plan is the “small plan,” at $99 a month for a single register and access for up to five employees. The medium plan allows you two registers and access for ten employees for $169 a month.
But whichever plan you choose, you’ll get omnichannel capabilities, personalized onboarding when setting up the system, free updates, and basic reporting. Not bad for $99 a month.
With Lightspeed Retail, you get 24/7 live phone support, which comes in handy when something happens outside of “traditional” business hours but just when your business starts getting busy – such as 7 PM on a Friday night, for example. You can also get live chat support from 11 AM to 8PM EST.
But this support is not available on holidays. But many issues may be solvable if you look at their online resource library – which is available no matter what time of the year it is.
Lightspeed Retail is a fairly complex system, as it has a lot of features that cover both the front and back end of your store. So it’s not so easy to make adjustments to inventory or pricing on the fly. Lightspeed is also a little pricey compared to other POS systems, making it expensive for small local establishments.
And if you want to expand your business to the web, using Lightspeed’s ecommerce platform will cost you $59 more a month. When you add it all up, it may start looking like a steep investment unless you’re already a large establishment.
Lightspeed Retail’s tiered pricing model makes it the POS system for liquor stores that may find that they have room to grow. If you feel that your business may in fact be expanding, Lightspeed Retail’s POS system may be a worthy investment.
A Top Liquor Store Software Option: Revel Systems
Revel Systems comes standard with a lot of features that few other POS systems offer. These features encompass a variety of retail needs, so plenty of retail establishments such as liquor stores will find that this POS system suits all their needs, and then some.
Liquor stores have a lot of the same retail needs as any other retailer, and Revel System runs the gamut. Their POS system is fully functional, so whether you need front-end cash register functionality, take inventory, or perform data analytics, Revel Systems has got an app for that.
As Revel Systems comes equipped with it all, you can use them for both your front- and back-end functionality. Revel acts as both your cash register and your order tracking and sales reporting application. You won’t need to supplement your POS system at your liquor store if you choose Revel.
Revel Systems also makes employee management easy. Each employee can be assigned their own login ID to use the system, with their individual sales each logged into the system. This will enable you to track individual employees’ voided transactions, refunds, and more. So if any discrepancies or unauthorized sales should occur, you’ll be able to tell which employee you need to speak with about it.
Managing inventory is easy with Revel Systems. All you need is an item and price to start setting up your stock. You can also organize your inventory in any way you please, whether it’s by size, color, or even alcohol content. Revel also highlights low-stock items in red to alert you to what needs restocking.
“Always on” Mode
One of Revel’s defining features is its always on mode. This feature allows you to keep making sales even if you have an internet outage. What’s more, you can accept both cash and card payments, allowing no inconvenience for you or the customer.
Liquor Store Compliance
Among Revel’s numerous integrations is ShipCompliant, a software that helps you keep track of all the shipping regulations specific to the alcohol industry. With ShipCompliant, you can generate tracking numbers, calculate shipping costs, and add this cost to your orders. It’s also easy to track all the specifics on purchase orders and vendors so you know exactly where your stock is coming from.
Revel Systems also comes complete with age verification at no extra cost. This feature prompts employees to put in a date of birth when ringing up alcohol, ensuring full compliance with United States alcohol sale laws.
But to get access to all these features, you’ll have to pay $119 a month for one register. However, you’re paying for a complete, fully-functional system as well as 24/7 live support with unlimited data storage and regular software updates. If your budget allows, and you could use all the features Revel Systems offers, then it will very likely be worth it in the long run.
Revel System is a complex system to get up, and it’s not easy for just one person to manage. For an addition fee, you can request onsite tech support. Or if you want to try and do it on your own, you can visit Revel University, which includes all the training and tutorials you need to set up and manage the system. And as per usual with POS systems, you can use their 24/7 live phone support if you come across any issues while using Revel.
However, considering the massive number of features that Revel Systems has on offer, it takes quite a long time to set up. If you’re already in business and open seven days a week, you may need to lose a business day in order to ensure that everything is up and running the way you’d like it to.
Some customers have also complained that Revel Systems falls short on features valuable to liquor stores in particular. For example, you can’t see if an item is on purchase order or create a special order for a customer.
Revel systems is the most popular POS system for liquor stores for a reason. Though it is pricey, Revel Systems will be worth the money if you make full use of its features. But if you’re a smaller establishment and feel like you won’t be making the most of your money with this feature, then perhaps you’ll want something a bit more small-business friendly – such as the next POS system we’ll cover.
If you’re a small liquor store, Revel Systems and Lightspeed Retail might seem too expensive and feature-rich for you. Maybe all you need is the basic front and back-end features of cash register functionality and inventory tracking and analytics. If that’s the case, then ShopKeep may be the right liquor store POS system for you.
ShopKeep can be your all-in-one POS system. It comes set up with cash register functionality where customers can pay whichever method they choose and you can easily make returns and refunds.
Employees can clock in and out through the ShopKeep app, and each employee’s level of access can be modified. This may be especially important for liquor stores as you may want a new cashier’s access to be more restricted than a longtime manager’s. Additionally, at the end of each week, you get all employees’ hours instantly.
Inventory tracking is one of ShopKeep’s hallmark features. With ShopKeep, you can track quantities of each item, set reorder points, and generate a report that details reorder criteria for any low-stock item. You can also import inventory in bulk or item by item, as the feature is fully customizable. The POS system tracks and automates all inventory to minimize efforts on your end to stay on top of your products.
ShopKeep also provides data analytics so that you know exactly which items are top-selling at your establishment. That way you can notice trends and adjust your stock accordingly without doing any guesswork or undercutting the competition.
ShopKeep’s POS system is also fully customizable, including the screen layout. That way you can set up your screen to optimize speed of processing purchases on the front-end, and readability of analytics on the back end. ShopKeep also automates time-consuming chores such as accounting and staff management so all you have to worry about is running your business.
ShopKeep also comes with a host of integrations and add-ons that you can use if you wish, though not as many as other POS systems do. You can integrate ShopKeep with QuickBooks for accounting and reporting, or BigCommerce if you want to create a webstore. Shopkeep can also be integrated with AppCArd and MailChimp for promotional marketing.
ShopKeep’s POS system comes at a reasonable price point for small liquor stores. For one register, you’ll pay $69 a month. At that price, you get 60 days of free support from a ShopKeep expert, and 24/7 customer support for the duration of your subscription. Additionally, you have full access to their features. Plus, you can just give them a test drive with a 14-day free trial if you’re not ready to commit.
ShopKeep often boasts about its focus on small business, and offers unlimited 24/7 support regardless of how much you’re paying them. If you find yourself more of a self-starter, you can peruse ShopKeep’s site of articles and video tutorials to get yourself more familiar with their software.
ShopKeep offers all the features that a small business could want. However, ShopKeep currently only runs on iCloud. If you’re more of a Windows user, unfortunately ShopKeep won’t work for you unless you’re willing to make the switch. It’s also unclear whether ShopKeep includes in its POS for liquor stores an age verification app; if they do, it’s likely that you’ll have to pay extra.
ShopKeep is best for small establishments that are just starting out, and their inventory tracking features are top-notch even for such a small business-focused company. But if you want some industry-specific features, or plan to expand your business, ShopKeep may come up short.
Our Final Take on the Best Liquor Store POS System
Each liquor store has its own needs when it comes to tracking sales and inventory and employee management. Large, more established liquor stores may want to look at Revel Systems. But if you’re a small hole-in-the-wall or just starting out, ShopKeep may be the better POS system for you.
Lightspeed, Revel, and ShopKeep are the three systems that we recommend. But the right POS system for liquor stores will vary from store to store. Consider the features that you need, the scale of your sales, and the size of your stores – or if you have multiple locations. The right POS system is out there for you and your liquor store. It just may take some time, and patience, to find it.