Business News Daily receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure
BND Hamburger Icon


BND Logo
Search Icon
Updated Dec 13, 2023

5 POS Reports Every Business Owner Should Run

author image
Donna Fuscaldo, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst

Table of Contents

Open row

While many small businesses swap out their old cash registers for the best POS systems mostly because they’re easier to use, there’s also tremendous value in POS software’s analytics and reporting features. Different POS products, some of which target specific industries, have their own report selections, but a few categories of reports and analytics are available in nearly every POS system.

If you’re new to using a POS system or unfamiliar with analytics in general, these five types of reports are a good starting point. Analyzing the data that your POS is already collecting can help you improve daily operations, reduce the time spent on administrative work, minimize waste and boost revenue.

What is a point-of-sale (POS) report?

POS systems capture a lot of important data that can be used to direct business decisions. They allow you to organize this data into reports that you can use to analyze different aspects of your business, such as which employees make the most sales and which products your customers are buying the most.

Editor’s note: Looking for information on POS systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

What makes POS reporting so attractive to small business owners is that reports can be run easily and in real time. All newer systems store the data in the cloud so you can view it anywhere you have internet access.

Every time an employee rings up a sale, your POS system scans your inventory and collects information about the product and customer, and sometimes even data on your employees. Some POS software can also amass data on feedback and promotions, which can give you an overview of your sales for a certain time period, or you can zero in on a specific area of your business.

Did You Know?Did you know
POS reports can filter information from your sales data so you can see which employees are top performers and which products are selling out.

Why you should run POS reports

A POS report provides a treasure trove of information that can help all aspects of your business. You may even be able to find POS systems specifically designed for your type of business, with precisely the reports you need. For example, the best POS systems for restaurants are designed specifically for restaurants’ business needs.

Here are some of the ways POS reports can benefit your business.

Drive staffing decisions

Do you have a top-performing sales clerk or server who has a knack for upselling? Are you utilizing them to the best of their abilities?

Data you collect on employees can determine who works when. You can then create schedules based on what’s best for your business, like having your star employees work during peak hours. It can also help you determine how many employees to staff per shift. You’ll understand your busy and slow times so you can ensure you aren’t overstaffed or understaffed at any time.

Make purchasing decisions

Inventory tracking and management are big headaches for any business owner to do manually; it often becomes guesswork. A POS system can automate the entire process for you. An inventory report can help you make purchasing decisions so you don’t run out of hot items and get stuck with too much inventory of your poorly selling items.

Compare sales from several stores

Business owners who operate several storefronts or multiple sales channels tend to have a harder time keeping track of sales. A POS system can help manage that, enabling you to compare the performance of various locations. That can help you make informed sales, staffing and marketing decisions. For instance, you may focus your marketing dollars in one market if another doesn’t need it. The same goes for staffing. By running POS reports that compare store performance, you can determine staffing levels based on demand.

Improve your marketing strategy

Reaching new customers and retaining existing ones are keys to success. Data culled from POS software can improve your marketing and outreach so you target the right customers.

Many POS systems come with the best customer relationship management (CRM) software built into their infrastructure. Through detailed reports and CRM analytics tools, this software can give you insight into who your customers are, what they like to buy and how often they purchase, and you can then run promotions based on that information. CRM software can also tell you if a marketing campaign is working based on how many new versus existing customers are purchasing your products. [Read related content: 5 Ways CRM-Enabled POS Systems Can Help Your Business]

Help set your growth plan

You want to hold on to your loyal customers while you’re looking for new ones. One way to do that is to reward their loyalty with promotions and discounts. Determining which customers are deserving of these deals is easier with POS reporting.

By running a report on your customers, you can determine who is new and who has shopped with you before. This information can be important to gauge the health of operations, because if you aren’t retaining customers, it may be because of the products you sell or the level of customer service you provide. If you have a lot of repeat customers, it may be a sign that you need to find new customers.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
POS reporting can be very beneficial to business owners for a multitude of reasons. It can inform staffing, purchasing and marketing decisions, as well as help you manage multiple locations and make plans to grow.

5 types of POS reports to run

Small business owners don’t have time to run every report their POS systems offer, but there are some reports they shouldn’t ignore. Here’s a look at five of them.

1. General analytics

The easiest way to take advantage of the data your POS collects is by reviewing the analytics dashboard (if there is one) or pulling a general summary report (which is available in nearly all POS systems). Although POS dashboards and summary reports typically show similar information, POS dashboards offer an obvious advantage: They are live and thus reflect the current state of your business.

A general summary report or analytics dashboard will display quick facts, like net sales during a certain time span (as well as the percent change from previous periods), the number of transactions, transaction totals, invoice totals, deposits and outgoing costs. A bird’s-eye view of all the data across different spheres of your business is valuable even if you also pull more detailed reports. 

General summaries can help you identify problematic areas and drill down into them to solve the problem. Overviews like these can also be helpful for sharing information with business partners or collaborators who require only a snapshot, rather than an in-depth analysis, of what’s happening.

If your POS system doesn’t have a dashboard, check under the reporting section for automated summaries. Many POS platforms have built-in general summary reports that can be emailed to you on a specified basis (daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly), but if that’s not an option, you will have to pull the report manually, which takes only a few minutes.

2. Accounting

Accounting reports are one of the best features of POS systems for business owners. Almost all of the best POS systems have general ledger reports, which provide a detailed account of assets, liabilities, customer deposits, accounts payable and more.

You should be able to customize your own accounting reports within your POS software by inputting general ledger codes and descriptions and mapping your accounts based on categories you determine, like refunds, revenue or cash adjustment. In a good POS system, once you’ve run the general ledger or other accounting report, you can export the information to Excel. 

Because Excel is compatible with QuickBooks, arguably the most popular accounting software for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), data export is a massive time-saver. Individual accountants may also appreciate having the information they need delivered in Excel. If you already have a POS system and are not using the built-in accounting reports, you’re missing out on one of the best time-saving features these systems offer.

3. Inventory

Tracking inventory through a POS system not only instantly makes it harder for employees to steal but also streamlines the ordering process and makes it easier to diagnose and minimize waste.

Inventory summaries, one of the most common reports, typically give an overview of current inventory in stock, which can be helpful for staff as well as owners; there’s no need to run to the stockroom to check on inventory if there’s a live dashboard or report available. Inventory valuation reports, which provide the total monetary value of your current inventory, are also a popular choice for SMBs. 

There are also inventory reorder reports, which automatically capture all of the items in your inventory that have fallen beneath the required quantity you’ve determined. So, if you decide you always need a minimum of 35 green widgets, the moment your green widget inventory hits 34, it will appear on your inventory reorder report.

Some systems also have specialized inventory reports that lead to effective inventory management. These include raw ingredient reports (used primarily within food production facilities or restaurant mobile POS systems and their desktop equivalents) or parts reports specifically for manufacturing businesses. 

Many POS products allow you to integrate your inventory analytics with third-party accounting software to streamline the process. POS software with live dashboards (rather than defined reports) may even showcase order workflows, tell you when inventory is scheduled to arrive, and allow to-the-minute tracking on outgoing payments and deliveries.

4. Sales tracking, payment tracking and customer information

POS sales information is invaluable to SMBs that want to pinpoint demand and eliminate low-performing products or services. There are many types of sales reports, which vary in layout and function depending on the type of business they are geared toward. For example, a retail store’s report will look different from a landscaping company’s, since the nature of the products and services is so different.

In general, sales reports allow you to view every item you sold. They also give you a summary of your high and low performers, total revenue, average order amount, orders by time of day, sales tax breakdowns, deposit history, sales trends, most- and least-common payment methods, and more. 

Many sales reports and dashboards also include customer and employee information so each transaction can be easily reviewed in full when there is a dispute or questionable activity. Customer information can also be used to pinpoint how many return customers versus new customers you have, and how often repeat customers make purchases.

Sales reports can inform future business decisions and even boost revenue. For example, if an expensive form of credit isn’t broadly used among top purchasing clientele, an SMB may decide to no longer accept it and save the difference. Such reports also make it easier to strategically order inventory and thus avoid overstocking during slow periods or running out of stock during high-volume times. 

Of course, sales analytics become more valuable the longer the system is used, so there may not be any massive revelations in the first few months. But once it’s tracked for a year or two, this feature will make it easier to diagnose customer purchasing and payment patterns and adjust accordingly.

5. Employee management

Most POS systems allow you to create individual employee profiles. This means you can view a labor report for each employee to see information such as their average hours worked, average sales amounts, average number of transactions, and percentage of total labor costs based on the individual or job title.

Time-entry reports are also popular, especially among SMBs that rely on hourly employees who aren’t necessarily on a 9-to-5 schedule. You’ll find information like job titles and corresponding pay scales (including overtime rates), payable hours totaled, overtime totaled and, in some cases, timestamps of the hours each employee worked. 

This information is much faster to gather by using a POS system than by doing it manually in Excel. It also provides insights for managing labor costs and optimizing your scheduling method.

SMB owners who pull labor reports might find, for example, that they have too many employees working during slow times or certain team members who aren’t pulling their weight. The ability to empirically track performance increases accountability and makes it easier to build an outstanding workforce.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
There are a few POS reports that most business owners should run. If you want an overall view of your business’s performance, general analytics reports should suffice. If you want to delve deeper into specific areas of your business, run reports on accounting, inventory, sales and employees.

Don’t just collect POS data — analyze it

POS systems are how you ensure successful business-to-customer transactions, and that’s only the start of their power. It’s important to regularly review the data these systems gather so that you make smarter business decisions moving forward. These decisions include your inventory purchasing strategy, employee management approach and much more. The improvements you make can lead to better business outcomes across the board.

Mona Bushnell contributed to this article.

author image
Donna Fuscaldo, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Donna Fuscaldo has spent 25 years immersed in the intersecting worlds of business, finance and technology. As an expert on business borrowing, funding and investing, she counsels small business owners on business loans, accounting and retirement benefits. For more than two decades, her trusted insights and analysis have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Bankrate, Investopedia, Motley Fool, Fox Business and AARP. In addition, Fuscaldo has used her personal and professional experience to provide guidance on employment matters for the likes of Glassdoors and others. With a bachelor of science in communication arts and journalism, she is skilled at breaking down complex subjects related to business and careers for practical application.
Back to top
Desktop background imageMobile background image
In partnership with BDCBND presents the b. newsletter:

Building Better Businesses

Insights on business strategy and culture, right to your inbox.
Part of the network.