As a salon owner, you probably gravitated to the beauty industry because you’re creative, artistic, and like helping people look and feel their best. Picking the best salon POS software may not be the most exciting part of the salon-owning process, but it’s an important one—the right salon POS system can save you time, headaches, and money by streamlining your processes, increasing efficiency, reducing overhead costs, and supporting service and product upsells.
Since picking a POS that works for all your needs is paramount, here’s what you need to know to pick the best salon POS system for your business.
What is a POS system?
POS is short for a point of sale. A POS system is a package of software and hardware that processes retail sales both in-person and online. A quality POS is an all-in-one system that lets you pick from a pricing menu then charges for the specific services, treatments, and/or products your client receives, calculates the total sale after taxes, and accepts payment.
However, that’s not where the benefits of a good salon POS system ends. You can opt for salon POS systems with additional features that emphasize selling products, both online and onsite, as well as expedite the service process, such as appointment scheduling and check-in.
5 features to look for in a POS system for hair salons
Successful hair stylists know that repeat clients who buy products generate much of a salon’s revenue. Among the most important POS features to have in your salon include:
1. Appointment scheduling
Online appointment scheduling lets you manage appointments and project how many clients you’re going to see in the coming weeks, so you can plan your books accordingly. Plus, you can manage your time off and have visibility into your coworkers’ schedules with a few clicks of a button. Those features help you (and your staff) schedule hours for those appointments and walk-ins efficiently. A salon POS system not only syncs and digitizes processes across your business, but also reduces or eliminates the need for paper calendars and personal calls to confirm appointments.
For example, automated reminders and confirmations can be sent to clients a few days before their appointment. Appointment scheduling can also migrate to your website for a fully integrated online booking experience that provides clarity to clients at home and stylists in the studio. That way, customers can pick their service with their preferred hairstylist and just book online when they’re ready.
2. Check-in features
Do you know the feeling when you’re wrapping up an appointment and getting ready to start the next one on time, but your second appointment hasn’t checked in yet? Without clear notification, you might take a walk-in to avoid losing money from a no-show—before realizing your scheduled client was waiting in their car the whole time.
These logistical snags are a headache and, at their worst, can leave a client with a negative impression, reducing the odds that they’ll return. That’s why digital check-in features—whether they’re initiated by a salon host or by the client—are key to providing a positive experience for a customer. You know in real time the status of your next client, and there is little confusion in the mix of checking customers in and out.
3. Payment processing
Many of your clients expect to pay with plastic. Find a POS that not only has seamless payment processing software, but also provides a way for customers to choose how much they want to tip their stylist. With it, you can avoid the awkward moment of asking about a gratuity.
4. Product catalog
Your salon probably offers shampoo, conditioner, styling products, and other add-ons. After a haircut or styling, some customers may want to buy products used or recommended by the stylist when getting their hair done. To make pricing and checkout easier for you and your clients, find a POS system that supports migration of your product catalog to your POS system. From there, you can ring up all of the items in a customer’s cart within seconds. Plus, customers can buy online and pickup in-store, or even buy online and have you ship it to their homes, when they need more products. And, if you want to personalize your offerings further, you may consider a hair care subscription program that sends products at a specific cadence, e.g., special shampoo every three months.
5. Employee management
The economics of a salon is typically about the chairs: a common agreement has each stylist paying for their chair each month, just like rent. Thus, having an employee management element as a part of your POS system offers insights into stylists’ schedules, time-off requests, and financial projections, as well as who’s in demand and thriving within the business and who may be struggling. Information like that can help you guide stylists to update their rates for their services.
3 best salon POS systems
So what are some of the best salon POS systems? Here are a few top contenders to consider for your salon business:
1. Shopify POS
Shopify POS has a variety of tools to align with your needs. Some key features for salon businesses include:
- Inventory management. You can seamlessly load all of your salon’s products into Shopify for inventory tracking. Clients can order hair or beauty products online, 24/7, and either pick them up at the salon or have them mailed to them.
- Direct selling. You can sell salon products or services directly through social media channels.
- Integrates with scheduling apps. You can integrate with apps like Appointo that allow your customers to book appointments.
- Customizable elements. Salon owners have the capability to customize employee permissions to reflect different roles within the team. Managers using the platform can have different permissions than general employees, such as the ability to approve time-off requests.
- Unified reporting interface. This lets you tap into in-store and online store data easily, without crunching numbers in the back office. You can analyze how many appointments each stylist has over a month, how many walk-ins are coming through the door, and which services are most popular.
- Customer support. Shopify POS has a 24/7 support team that can be reached via phone, email, or chat.
- POS cost. Shopify POS Lite is free with any Shopify plan and Shopify POS Pro is $89 per month, per location (but free for Shopify Plus merchants).
Square offers multiple POS systems, but the one that may align the best for hair salons is Square Appointments. Salon owners can use the Square Appointments POS to tap into features such as:
- Direct selling. This lets you sell salon products or services directly through social media channels.
- Online booking. Customers can make their own appointments with stylists remotely without having to call or drop in. Plus, booking software allows stylists to forecast their availability over the course of a month.
- Salon management tools. Salon management tools ensure that various employees have different permissions based on their role, including handy analytics to evaluate performance.
- Wide market reach. Square POS is used by two million businesses nationwide.
- POS cost. Square Appointment pricing depends on the number of business locations. It ranges from $0 a month (with fees for in-person transactions) to $69 a month per location.
Mangomint is specifically designed for the beauty and wellness industries. Some of its features include:
- Customer management. Clients can check in to appointments from their phone.
- Flexible payment. When a service is rendered, clients can pay and tip in-store or by phone.
- Subscription options. Salons nationwide are rolling out subscription models for more consistent cash flow. Mangomint provides options for automatic billing.
- Built-in integrations. Mangomint has built-in integration options with vendors like Mailchimp and Shopify.
- POS cost. Pricing depends on the number of service providers on your staff, and ranges from $165 to $375 per month.
POS system for a hair salon FAQ
What kind of POS hardware and software system does a hair salon need?
It depends on the POS software provider, but the basic POS hardware items you may need include a cash register, a cash drawer, card readers, a receipt printer, and an iPad or other compatible device. You do have some flexibility if you decide to only text or email receipts to customers. Check to see if any of your existing hardware is compatible with your POS of choice.
What kind of employee management features should someone expect from a hair salon POS system?
Look for POS systems with features that let you build staff calendars and profiles for stylists. Common options also include methods for staff to request time off, block out their calendars, and analyze analytics to see how much money they’ve earned per month.
What types of payment methods are typically accepted by a POS system for a hair salon?
Any POS system for a hair salon needs to be able to accept credit cards, debit cards, cash, mobile payments, and online payments. Also be sure to acquire built-in mobile card readers that accept card payments via chip for more secure transactions.