This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
A liquor store point-of-sale (POS) system does a lot more than ring in sales and accept payments. The best POS systems for liquor stores track your inventory as they sell and organize vendor orders, so you never run out of stock. Many also include physical inventory counting tools and security integrations to track potential theft. Your liquor store POS may also act as your employee time clock and allow you to assign separate permission levels for employees to access different parts of the system.
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
- Lightspeed Retail: Best iPad-based liquor store POS
- Harbortouch: Best for free hardware
- IT Retail: Best for high-volume liquor stores
- mPower Beverage: Best for ecommerce
Looking for something different? Check out our ranking of the best retail POS systems.
Best Liquor Store POS Systems Compared
Monthly software fees
$99+ per terminal
$120 per terminal
Included in software subscription
Use existing hardware or purchase for custom-quoted fees
Use existing hardware or purchase for custom-quoted fees
Third party only
Third party only
Built-in or third party
Built-in or third party
Third party only
Spirits industry ecommerce integrations
Via bLoyal and BottlecApps
Integrates with your existing website
Via Drizly, BottlecApps, CityHive, Drync, Minibar, Thirstie, WineFetch
How We Evaluated Liquor Store POS
We compared a dozen of the most popular liquor store POS systems, looking for comprehensive inventory management tools, intuitive checkout features, and robust back-office reporting. Considering rising consumer demand for online ordering and delivery, we also looked for ecommerce integrations and affordable pricing. Additionally, we considered our retail and restaurant experts’ personal evaluations of each software.
Based on the above criteria, KORONA is the best liquor store POS. The software received the highest overall score according to our grading system for liquor store software (4.58 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:
10% of Overall Score
First, we looked at whether or not each software offers a plan option under $100 monthly. 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.
30% 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.
KORONA: Best Overall Liquor Store POS
KORONA earned a score of 4.58 out of 5 on our liquor POS ranking criteria. The system scored well for price. In addition to affordable monthly software fees, there are no installation fees or long-term contracts. The comprehensive checkout features and a few targeted ecommerce integrations also gave KORONA an edge. But a lack of payroll reporting tools and weak offline functionality kept KORONA from earning a perfect score. If you need payroll functions with your liquor store POS, try Harbortouch or POS Nation.
KORONA Standout Features
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 shop for the best payment processing rates; KORONA integrates with TSYS, First Data, Heartland, Cayan, Clearant, Elavon, and Evo Merchant Services. All KORONA services are month to month; there are no long-term contracts to sign. If your needs change or your business grows, you can easily switch to a different system.
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 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.
- Anti-theft features: 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 employee and supports blind cash drops so you can easily spot cash overages or shortages in cashier tills. Combined with the comprehensive inventory and physical count tools, you’ll be able to quickly identify loss patterns that could indicate employee theft.
- Age verification: 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 manually assign age restrictions to individual products. 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).
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.
POS Nation scored right on the heels of top-rated KORONA, earning a score of 4.50 out of 5 on our liquor store POS rating criteria. POS Nation earned high marks for its included POS hardware and its flexible pricing structure that lets users choose to pay month-to-month or buy the system outright. POS Nation 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 offer free unlimited support for all users.
POS Nation Standout Features
POS Nation includes many liquor store supporting tools like age verification prompts and barcode scanned inventory counts. Like KORONA, POS Nation also integrates with several payment processors. POS Nation users can choose from Worldpay, First American, Evo, Heartland, Priority I.S., or North American Bancard. Month-to-month users, however, must use Worldpay.
Freedom users who opt to buy their POS Nation system outright have a different concern: customer support. Freedom level accounts come with three months of business hours customer support; you’ll need to pay extra for 24/7 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:
- Included hardware: 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 up front 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.
- Age verification: Like KORONA, POS Nation allows you to prompt for a birthdate entry for alcohol sales or attach an ID card scanner to your POS.
- State-specific reporting: 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.
- Case-break pricing: Liquor stores frequently face the challenge of inventorying and selling multiple products that share a UPC code, like a case versus a bottle of wine. POS Nation includes break-pack pricing that allows you to track multiple items with the same UPC code so 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 for 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.
Lightspeed Retail: Best iPad POS for Liquor Stores
Lightspeed Retail is a cloud-based 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.
Lightspeed Retail earned a 4.30 out of 5 on our liquor store POS ranking criteria. This sleek, modern iPad POS earned points for its available integrations in addition to key liquor store functions like comprehensive inventory tools and age verification. Lightspeed stumbled a little bit because of its cloud-based configuration. Users need a strong internet connection and Wi-Fi signal throughout their shop for Lightspeed to perform at its best. Rural shops or shops with lots of walls and corners may prefer a locally installed system like POS Nation or mPower Beverage.
Lightspeed Retail Standout 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 lifesaver 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Drizly integration: Like mPower Beverage, Lightspeed Retail integrates with Drizly, the ecommerce and local delivery app designed specifically for liquor stores.
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. 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.
Harbortouch earned a 4.28 out of 5 on our liquor store POS rubric. The system earned excellent 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 for its lack of payroll and liquor industry integrations. If targeted liquor-industry integrations are a requirement for you, you’ll likely be happier with KORONA, Lightspeed Retail, or mPower Beverage.
Harbortouch Standout Features
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, purchase order tracking. In Harbortouch, you can create custom barcode labels for new stock and print them directly from the POS.
- Mix-and-match pricing: 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. And it’s one less thing you have to remember to order.
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.
IT Retail earned a 4.11 out of 5 on our liquor store POS ranking. The system scored well for its checkout and management features, especially its loss prevention tools. However, it lost some ground because installation and hardware are custom-quoted, and the system doesn’t currently support email marketing functions.
Shop owners that want to shop around for the lowest processing rates 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 Standout 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:
- Theft protection: 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 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.
- Rewards prompt: 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.
- 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.
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 easily 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.
The mPower Beverage POS earned an overall score of 4.09 out of 5 on our ranking. The system scored well for checkout and management features, but lost points for the price. With monthly fees of $120 per terminal, plus a required installation fee of $1,000+, mPower is the most expensive system on this list. And while the system includes more than 70 high-level reports, a detailed payroll report is not one of them.
mPower Beverage Standout 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 reporting dashboard includes more than 70 built-in reports, and users can build custom reports with the assistance of the mPower team. The system was clearly 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.
mPower’s standout features include:
- Robust reporting: 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.
- 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.
- Reserve function: 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.
- Lookup function: 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 System
Square for Retail is a cloud-based POS that operates on iPads or Square Registers. On our liquor store POS scoring system, Square Retail earned a 3.55 out of 5. The free baseline POS that operates on hardware you already own earned Square Retail a lot of points. The biggest drawback was that the inventory features are less robust than the other systems on this list, and there is no age verification tracking. Many features, like detailed reporting, email marketing, and loyalty are only available with additional fees.
However, Square Retail could be a good fit for your business if your liquor shop is small or operating on a tight budget. As with Lightspeed Retail, you’ll need a strong Wi-Fi signal to keep your Square POS operating at its best. But that’s a small price to pay for a free retail POS that allows you to process credit cards and track basic inventory.
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 a demo.