Cloud vs. Local

There is lots of talk within the POS community in regards to cloud-based vs. legacy or local POS systems, so we have decided to create a guide that gives you all the facts, insights and information on the differences, benefits, and makeup of each type.

What Is A Cloud-Based POS?

Cloud-based POS systems are relatively new, fresh and exciting for businesses in varying industries. They allow you, as a business owner, to access your POS from anywhere you like, no more sitting in a dark, back-room while your business functions around you. Take that holiday you wanted whilst still checking up on sales and reports before bed.

Cloud-based POS software came about to help make business operators’ lives easier and more flexible when it comes to being in your place of work, day in and day out. You now have the ability to sync, change and view business data, reports and sales on the POS from the comfort of your home. This is especially great for expanding businesses with multiple shopfronts around the nation.

Because we live in a web-based and app-filled world, having access to a cloud-based POS makes a lot of sense. They are cost-effective due to being hosted on a remote server, and all you need is a decent internet connection and a compatible device to access your POS system.

This type of POS also has a range of key areas you need to be aware of:

  1. Cloud-based means no local server, just like emails sitting in the cloud, photos syncing between your accounts and ensuring everything is backed up on your phone, the cloud is forever expanding and storing your business data and info.
  2. Security levels are stronger as no business data is kept on-site, protecting it from attackers.
  3. If your internet goes down, you may not need to panic, depending on which POS you have. We will go more into offline-mode below to give you the solution to this potential issue.
  4. There are two types of cloud-based POS systems, web-based and app-based.


This form of POS holds all data in an external server that requires an internet connection to bring you your data as your business goes about its day. If there is no internet connection, no data can be pulled to your POS for you to use. So, taking card payments, pulling up customer information, etc. is not possible.

The Fix

Don’t worry, we are not just going to throw the bad news at you without a solution! There is now a wonderful thing called HTML5 caching or “offline cashing” which allows you to view a copy of your data and make changes, take payment, etc. These changes remain logged until your internet connection decides to sort itself out. When you are back online, all your changes will be sent back to the external servers via the cloud. No harm is done.

The key to success? Do not clear your cache if you can avoid it. To make use of the above fix you need everything to remain in your cache as this is where the “copy” of your data is stored.

Vend is a great example of a cloud-based web POS that uses this method to keep your business running when the internet clocks out.

Hybrid Breeds

Before you start thinking about one of those strange animals from Harry Potter like the horse/eagle (hippogriff?), what we mean by hybrid is the best from legacy POS systems and cloud-based pos systems were taken and turned into an app-based POS (which is technically the other type of cloud-based pos). This involves two important sides. The front end, where the business activities take place, and the back-end where the admin tasks are completed.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Set up your back end with data, inventory, staff profiles, etc.
  2. The Internet kills over and dies. Not to worry! You can continue to function without a blink, in fact, it is likely you won’t even notice that you are offline. Everything is still able to be accessed as it is stored on both ends.
  3. Similar to a web-based POS, when the internet revives, everything syncs back up again. Happy as Larry!

Lightspeed is a great example of an app-based POS system.

POS System

Legacy POS

Okay, we are throwing it back a little bit here. Almost as far back as dial-up. Oh, the joys. Legacy POS systems have been around for years, and simply put, they involve all your precious data being stored locally within your business.

What Does This Mean?

You need to actually be at your workplace to complete any POS related tasks. Although many legacy POS systems are dated due to a lack of innovation, credit is due to the original POS companies who have taken modern-day societal norms into consideration and have grown with your business needs. They also tend to have a better understanding of industry needs when it comes to POS systems. With years spent perfecting their legacy systems to ensure the best possible experience, support, and resources available, they do still have great things to offer.

Even though there are limitations such as;

  • Not being able to work from anywhere
  • Being more prone to data attacks on local servers.

They still serve a purpose and never go offline.

Top questions to ask your potential POS provider:

  1. What can be done in offline mode?
  2. How much of my inventory will be saved in my offline cache?
  3. Can I still access my customer information if I am offline?
  4. Do you test cache reliability?
  5. Can I log in after my internet connection goes down? This is an absolute must!
  6. Can I process card payments offline?

The Wrap Up

Consider your business style, needs, and current POS. Maybe it is time to upgrade to a cloud-based POS system or maybe you just need to upgrade your legacy system to something more modern, like a hybrid. Weigh up the points we have discussed above before making a final decision, but also think about where you want your business to be in 5, 10 years time.