This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Liquor store owners need a point-of-sale (POS) system that can track and manage thousands of products in inventory, organize vendors, and implement security features efficiently to prevent illegal sales as well as store theft. Ideal liquor store POS systems also include tools to conduct physical inventory, manage both customers and employees, provide ecommerce and marketing integrations, and offer multiple payment processing options.
Based on our evaluations, the best liquor store POS systems are:
- KORONA: Best overall liquor store POS
- POS Nation: Best for upgrading from a cash register
- Harbortouch: Best for free hardware
- Lightspeed Retail: Best iPad-based liquor store POS
- IT Retail: Best for high-volume liquor stores
- mPower Beverage: Best for ecommerce
Best Liquor Store POS Systems Compared
Spirits Industry Ecommerce Integrations
$59 to $89+
Use existing or purchase for custom fees
bLoyal and BottlecApps
$99+ per terminal
Optional, custom quoted
Integrates with your existing website
$29.99 to $49.99
Included in software subscription
$69 to $199
Use existing or purchase for custom fees
Built-in or third-party
Optional; custom quoted
Built-in or third-party
$120 per terminal
Drizly, BottlecApps, CityHive, Drync, Minibar, Thirstie, WineFetch
KORONA: Best Overall Liquor Store POS
KORONA still leads our list of liquor store POS for this update. As a cloud-based POS-compatible with any internet-connected device, users can access the system from iPads, Android tablets, and desktop computers, so it’s likely to operate on hardware you already own.
If you want that new POS smell, you can purchase hardware from KORONA directly. With monthly software fees starting at $49 per month, KORONA is one of the lowest-cost liquor store POS systems on this list. Only Harbortouch costs less.
KORONA earned a score of 4.56 out of 5 on our liquor POS ranking criteria. Naturally, the system scored well for its low monthly fees, with no installation fees or long-term contracts. The comprehensive checkout features and a few targeted ecommerce integrations also gave KORONA an edge.
But while it offers accounting integration with QuickBooks, its lack of native payroll reporting tools and weak offline functionality kept KORONA from earning a perfect score. If you need built-in payroll functions with your liquor store POS, try POS Nation.
KORONA is incredibly easy to set up. You create an account on the KORONA website and immediately gain access to a KORONA management dashboard. You can use a demo version of the app for free to test all the features and see if KORONA fits your liquor store. Users can also rely on KORONA to help shop for the best payment processing rates.
All KORONA services are month to month, and there are no long-term contracts to sign. If your needs change or your business grows, you can switch to a different system easily.
KORONA’s standout features include:
Robust liquor inventory tools
KORONA tracks your inventory as you sell it, updating your in-house stock in real time. When it’s time to resupply, you can create purchase orders (POs) directly in your KORONA dashboard. To keep counts accurate, any liquor store must perform regular physical inventory counts. KORONA speeds this process by including an integrated scan-to-count smartphone app.
Your KORONA POS supports unlimited users and customized permissions, so you can control exactly what information each employee can access. KORONA tracks voids and refunds by employees and supports blind cash drops so you can spot cash overages or shortages in cashier tills easily. Combined with the comprehensive inventory and physical count tools, you’ll be able to identify loss patterns that could indicate employee theft quickly.
KORONA supports several ways to prompt for age verification. You can set the system to prompt cashiers to enter a date of birth before processing a transaction or attach ID scanners to your POS and swipe IDs for age verification. Age verification prompts are added by product sector, so you don’t need to assign age restrictions to individual products manually. All you need to do is ensure they are categorized correctly in your POS.
Liquor industry integrations
KORONA doesn’t have a wide variety of integrations, but it does have several that support liquor store operations. Integrations with bLoyal and BottlecApps allow you to extend your loyalty features, create a customer-facing app, add shipping and an integrated ecommerce site, or offer local delivery (where local law permits).
Learn more about KORONA’s POS features with our full review.
POS Nation: Best for Upgrading From a Cash Register
POS Nation is a locally installed POS with a cloud backup that offers liquor stores excellent offline functionality. The front end of the POS, which processes sales transactions, operates on an internal network, so you don’t need to rely on internet access to process payments. You can, however, access back-office reporting, inventory, and customer management functions through the cloud.
Small shops that are hesitant to leave their cash register behind and upgrade to a POS will appreciate POS Nation’s Cash Discount function that allows you to cover the cost of credit card processing fees.
Once again, POS Nation comes in close behind top-rated KORONA, earning a score of 4.49 out of 5. POS Nation earned high marks for its included POS hardware and flexible pricing structure that lets users choose to pay month-to-month or buy the system outright.
However, note that some features, such as cloud backup and remote back office, are purchased as an add-on. The system also lost a few points for its limited ecommerce functions and some fine print regarding payments integration and customer support.
Month-to-month users are locked into Worldpay as a payment processor, which we typically don’t recommend. Customers that purchase their systems outright get free, unlimited customer support for only three months. Most POS systems, like KORONA, offer free unlimited support for all users.
POS Nation Features
POS Nation includes many liquor store supporting tools such as age verification prompts and barcode scanned inventory counts. Like KORONA, POS Nation also integrates with several payment processors. Month-to-month users must use Worldpay. Other POS Nation users, however, can choose from Worldpay, First American, Evo, Heartland, Priority I.S., or North American Bancard.
Freedom users who opt to buy their POS Nation system outright have a different concern: customer support. At the Freedom level, customer support is only included for 90 days. After that, users will need to pay additional, custom quoted fees for customer support of any kind.
POS Nation’s standout features include:
Hardware included in subscription
Like Harbortouch, POS Nation includes POS terminal hardware for subscribers. Month-to-month subscribers pay $99 per terminal, per month, for POS Nation hardware and software. Users who opt to purchase their system upfront pay $999 per terminal. You may need to purchase additional networking hardware and handheld inventory scanners. You should get a tailored quote from POS Nation for a full estimate.
Like KORONA, POS Nation allows you to prompt for a birthdate entry for alcohol sales or attach an ID card scanner to your POS.
POS Nation includes built-in reports for specific regions, like 1014 reporting for Pennsylvania beer distributors and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) Wholesale Liquor Report.
Liquor stores frequently face the challenge of inventorying and selling multiple products that share a Universal Product Code (UPC), like a case vs a bottle of wine. POS Nation includes break-pack pricing that allows you to track multiple items with the same UPC so that your bottle and case counts are always accurate. Product variants include container volumes and vintages.
Cash discount setting
Cash-only stores may be reluctant to switch to a POS because a POS comes with the added cost of credit card processing fees. POS Nation gives these shops a handy workaround with its “cash discount” setting. This setting allows you to set a price for your products that is high enough to cover credit card processing fees, then offer a discount to customers who pay cash. This covers your fees and keeps you on the right side of the law; 10 states ban the practice of passing credit card fees directly onto customers. Cash discounting, however, is legal in all 50 states.
Short-term contract option
As with KORONA POS, POS Nation users have the option of a month-to-month contract. POS Nation’s month-to-month contracts are a bit pricier than KORONA’s, but POS Nation includes desktop POS hardware in its fees. However, month-to-month users should note that they are locked into Worldpay as their only payment processing option.
To know if POS Nation is the right liquor store POS for you, read our full review.
Harbortouch: Best for Free Hardware
Harbortouch is a hybrid POS that, like POS Nation, includes free POS hardware in its POS software subscriptions. While both of these platforms offer free hardware, we awarded Harbortouch the blue ribbon because the overall system is more affordable for small shops with zero upfront cost. The hardware included is also industry-grade and built to withstand the traffic of a busy liquor store.
Harbortouch can provide this free hardware at an affordable price because the POS is attached to a merchant services company, Shift4 Payments. Shift4 recoups the costs of the hardware through credit card processing fees. Note also that the service agreement locks you into a long-term contract with Harbortouch.
For this update, Harbortouch overtook Lightspeed Retail, with an overall score of 4.28 out of 5 in our liquor store POS evaluation. It earned better marks for affordability, ease of use, and the fact that installation and staff training is included.
However, Harbortouch lost points for only supporting one integrated payment processor—Shift4—and its lack of payroll and liquor industry integrations, including ecommerce. If targeted liquor-industry integrations are a requirement for you, you’ll likely be happier with KORONA, Lightspeed Retail, or mPower Beverage.
Like most other systems on this list, Harbortouch includes age verification prompts and comprehensive inventory tools with vendor management. Harbortouch also includes slightly more robust payroll reporting than KORONA and POS Nation; Harbortouch users can track overtime hours and export time clock records to an external payroll system.
Harbortouch’s standout features include:
Inventory with vendor management
Harbortouch’s robust inventory functions include detailed vendor profiles, vendor management, and PO tracking. In Harbortouch, you can create custom barcode labels for new stock and print them directly from the POS.
Like KORONA and POS Nation, Harbortouch includes case-break pricing and mix-and-match pricing if you want to run specials like a bottle of tequila and a mixer combo ahead of Cinco de Mayo or build your own six-pack for Oktoberfest.
Built-in marketing tools
Because Harbortouch makes most of its profit from credit card processing fees, it wants to help you boost sales. Harbortouch includes email marketing tools in the baseline POS software and even integrates with social media channels. You can create social media posts directly in your Harbortouch management dashboard, see customer engagements, and track the effectiveness of social media campaigns from a central location.
Free paper supplies
Harbortouch customers receive free thermal paper for their receipt printers. This can save busy shops a lot of money in the long run. It’s one less thing you have to remember to order.
Lightspeed Retail: Best iPad POS for Liquor Stores
Lightspeed Retail is a sleek, modern, cloud-based iPad POS with many of the same tools offered by other systems on this list. Lightspeed Retail users get age verification, ecommerce integrations, and comprehensive inventory with case-break pricing tools. In addition to those fundamental liquor store features, Lightspeed Retail users also get access to a wealth of small business-supporting third-party integrations that cover everything from employee scheduling to text message marketing.
Moving down one notch for this update, Lightspeed Retail earned a 4.09 out of 5 in our liquor store POS evaluation. It earned points for its available integrations in addition to key liquor store functions like comprehensive inventory tools, ecommerce, and age verification.
However, apart from inventory management, users will need to pay extra for these key features which would drive monthly fees to more than $100 a month. Lightspeed also stumbled a little bit because of its cloud-based configuration and limited offline capabilities. Rural shops or shops with lots of walls and corners may prefer a locally installed system like POS Nation or mPower Beverage.
Lightspeed Retail Features
Lightspeed Retail is the sleek, modern sibling to the older desktop computer POS systems on this list. The iPad-based POS is mobile and agile. You can take the iPad POS into your shop to count inventory or show product images to customers. The lower-profile terminals make it easy for your staff to engage with customers, and the iPad interface is familiar to anyone who has used a smartphone.
Lightspeed Retail’s standout features include:
Multistep age verification
Lightspeed Retail takes age verification seriously. Your Lightspeed POS prompts your cashiers to scan customer IDs and then check that the scanned information matches the front of the ID. This two-step process can be a game changer for liquor stores in college towns or areas with a high incidence of fake IDs.
Shop by appointment
Lightspeed Retail includes appointment booking tools that allow you to create in-store shopping appointments. This is a great tool to offer VIPs or wine clubs or to use when you receive shipments of allocated bottles.
Email and short message service (SMS) marketing tools
Lightspeed Retail includes direct email and SMS text messaging marketing tools. Users can add Lightspeed’s built-in tools at the Advanced subscription tier ($199 per month) or rely on integrations with Ikeono for targeted text promotions and Mailchimp for targeted emails.
Built-in ecommerce tools
Lightspeed Retail users that subscribe at the Standard ($119 per month) or Advanced ($199 per month) level can add an integrated ecommerce site to the Lightspeed Retail POS. Integrations with BlueCheck and AdVision Age Verification support age verification in your online store.
Like mPower Beverage, Lightspeed Retail integrates with Drizly, the ecommerce and local delivery app designed specifically for liquor stores.
Learn more about Lightspeed Retail in this detailed review.
IT Retail: Best High-volume Liquor Store POS
IT Retail is a hybrid POS designed by former grocery store owners. This robust system is a great fit for high-volume liquor stores that need industry-grade hardware and comprehensive security integrations. While the system is best known as a grocery store POS, IT Retail’s robust tools provide excellent support for liquor stores. You’ll get age verification tools alongside comprehensive, real-time inventory tracking, and case-break pricing.
Overall, IT Retail earned a 4.06 out of 5 in our evaluation. The system scored well for its checkout and ease of use and, like KORONA, provides excellent loss prevention tools.
However, it lost some ground because the system currently does not support email marketing and payroll reporting functions, and in part for its recent pricing increase. Installation and hardware are also custom quoted and, unlike POS Nation or Harbortouch, are not included in the basic subscription plan.
Liquor store owners will also feel limited by IT Retail’s payment processing options. Currently, the system only offers Fiserv or built-in IT Retail Payments. For more processing options, you should check out KORONA, mPower Beverage, or POS Nation.
IT Retail Features
IT Retail includes all the functions a liquor store needs, from inventory tracking with vendor management and low stock alerts to age verification and case-break pricing. In addition to those features, IT Retail operates on industry-grade hardware with customer-facing displays and countersunk barcode scanners to support high-volume store operations.
IT Retail’s standout features include:
Your IT Retail POS analyzes every transaction for suspicious activity. The system will flag transactions that managers should review for possible theft. The electronic journal feature saves a record of transactions so that you can see customers’ and cashiers’ actions at the till. The system also integrates with Remote Eyes, a video surveillance system that coordinates suspicious POS transactions with video clips.
Your IT Retail POS will alert cashiers when customers have unused rewards or loyalty points. Your customers don’t need to remember to ask to apply their points, and your cashiers don’t need to search through the POS to find the correct customer. The system scans itself based on the customer’s payment information and prompts to apply rewards before finalizing payment.
Mobile reporting app
IT Retail’s mobile reporting app allows you to see your store’s performance metrics from your phone, tablet, or off-site computer.
Robust reporting and analytics
IT Retail’s reports include robust sales and inventory reports. You can see the value of your current inventory at a glance and set low stock alerts to prompt new orders. You can segment reports to get a clear view of what stock is not selling. The system also includes detailed employee performance tracking. You can compare a single cashier’s sales, voids, refunds, and canceled transactions to the store average to identify training opportunities or reward high performers.
Read our full IT Retail review.
mPower Beverage: Best for Ecommerce
The mPower Beverage POS was designed specifically to support liquor operations. This locally installed, cloud-backed POS system offers the robust offline functionality of Harbortouch and POS Nation, along with a slew of liquor industry-specific ecommerce integrations. If you want to expand your liquor store operation to include an integrated online store, delivery services―where local laws permit―and robust loyalty and promotions, mPower is the POS for you.
While trailing our list, the mPower Beverage POS still earned a respectable 4.03 out of 5 in our evaluation. It performed as well as KORONA and POS Nation for checkout features but lost significant points for the price. With monthly fees of $120 per terminal, plus a required installation fee of more than $1,000, mPower is the most expensive system on this list. While the system includes more than 70 high-level reports, a detailed payroll report is not one of them.
mPower Beverage Features
The mPower POS pricing may be a big hurdle for small liquor stores. But underneath the sticker shock is a massive system that can help high-volume liquor stores manage their store and expand their revenue streams.
The system was designed by people who understand the pain points liquor store owners face. Insightful cash handling, age verification, and checkout tools make the front end of the mPower POS user-friendly for your cashier team. The reporting dashboard includes more than 70 built-in reports, and users can build custom reports with the assistance of the mPower team.
mPower’s standout features include:
Robust reporting, including state-specific reports
The mPower report dashboard includes a wealth of sales and inventory reports to help you track your stock by the case or bottle and generate new orders. You can drill down into your sales and cost data and convert any report into a chart. Like POS Nation, mPower also supports some state-specific reports like the TABC reports for Texas shops. You can also export reports as .xls or pdf files.
10 ecommerce integrations
This is the ace up mPower’s sleeve. Where systems like Lightspeed Retail and KORONA integrate with one or two ecommerce tools, mPower integrates with a whopping 10 different liquor-industry-specific ecommerce tools. Popular tools like BottlecApps and Drync give you a branded mobile app. Drizly and Minibar support local delivery where local laws permit. CityHive, Sellr, and WineFetch help users create high-functioning ecommerce websites. The BottleRoom 3 platform expands your store’s reach by connecting you with rebates, coupons, and promotions from major brands. If you need a branded ecommerce website that integrates with your POS, the Thirstie integration has you covered.
Your mPower Beverage POS allows you to create reserve transactions so customers can order ahead for a specific date. If your store rents kegs for private events, for example, you can reserve kegs for a specific date and quickly recall the reserved order at a later date to process the payment. This is also helpful if your store sells allocated bottles like high-end reserve wines or small-batch bourbons.
Sometimes, customers want to know if you carry a specific vodka or the whole list of scotch you have available. With mPower, your cashiers can look up items by name or category directly in the POS and see what quantity you have on hand.
Notable Runner-up Liquor Store POS Systems
How We Evaluated Liquor Store POS
For this update, we framed our evaluation based on the rising cost of doing business, adding more emphasis on value for money while still recognizing standout liquor store POS features. We looked for comprehensive inventory management tools, intuitive checkout features, and ecommerce integrations. As always, we considered our retail and restaurant experts’ personal evaluations of each software.
Of the dozen most popular liquor store POS systems we compared, KORONA still emerged as the best liquor store POS. The software received the highest overall score according to our evaluation system for liquor store software (4.56 out of 5). Based on our personal experience testing different POS software and working in and with small businesses that use POS systems every day, KORONA is also one of the top software that we would personally recommend.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
20% of Overall Score
First, we not only looked at whether or not each software offers a plan option of less than $100 monthly, but also compared each provider’s pricing and available features. Then, we looked for plans that include unlimited user logins and transactions. We also looked for systems that can be self-installed or offered optional on-site installation services. Finally, we gave points to systems with integrated payment processing because we find it’s a more user-friendly and economical option for small businesses and awarded bonus points for systems that offer volume processing discounts.
30% of Overall Score
We looked for systems that support both in-person and—where legally permitted—online liquor sales. We rewarded systems that accept contactless and gift card payments and have loyalty and age verification tools.
20% of Overall Score
Inventory tools were a significant consideration here. We looked for systems that offer real-time inventory tracking and case-break and bottle deposit tools. We also considered each system’s timekeeping and payroll reporting functions as well as email marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) tools.
10% of Overall Score
Because liquor stores can experience high staff turnover, we looked for systems that are easy to use and come with 24/7 customer support. We awarded high marks to hybrid systems that can run without internet access while allowing cloud access to reporting dashboards and other administrative tools.
20% of Overall Score
Finally, we considered each POS system’s standout features and whether the software and hardware options offer a good overall value for the price. We also judged each system’s popularity among liquor store owners and awarded points based on our personal experience interacting with the software and the company’s customer support.
Choosing a liquor store POS system involves more than having the tools to ring in sales at the most affordable price point. Liquor store shop owners require efficient inventory control and sales management tools unique to their industry.
KORONA received the highest score across our grading system for its liquor store checkout and management features. This affordable, cloud-based POS also earned high marks for its targeted industry ecommerce integrations and flexible payment processing. With no long-term contracts and the chance to use existing hardware, KORONA is also a low-risk investment. To see if this user-friendly POS is a fit for your liquor store, visit KORONA for an unlimited free trial and a personalized demo.