This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
In our review of the best open source POS software for small businesses, uniCenta came in second overall with a 3.66 out of 5, based on our evaluation of 23 data points, including pricing, checkout and management features, ease of use, and our test of the software. This POS is best for global businesses and those implementing loyalty and rewards programs.
uniCenta is a commercial-grade open source POS platform that supports 17 languages and multiple currencies, making it ideal for international businesses. It can handle multiple locations for stores and has CRM features such as transaction history and customer information.
uniCenta is the only platform we have reviewed among the many open source apps that support multiple languages, currencies, and locations. It also has excellent customer management features—loyalty and VIP programs, customer information, transaction history, and credit limits. However, we found no way to perform program tipping or payroll processing in its backend or see a mention of them in the online resources or demos.
If you are unsure of what to look for, then read our What Is a POS System article. We also have a guide to the best POS systems for small businesses to help you find a solution that matches your needs. If you are on a budget but do not want the complexities of an open source product, several free commercial POS systems are available.
uniCenta Deciding Factors
Supported Business Types
Retail, Restaurant, Hospitality
Monthly Software Fees
Free to install on an unlimited number of devices
Setup and Installation Fees
No vendor lock-in
Payment Processing Options
Payment Processing Fees
Depends on the payment provider
None; need to subscribe to a paid support plan
Monthly Fee From
Those requiring an all-purpose, free, and mobile POS
$0 with payment processing; some features add on
Grocery stores and high-volume sales
$69, plus a $500 installation fee
If you’re unsure whether uniCenta is right for you, see how it compares with our top POS systems.
uniCenta is free to use. Its open source program is free to run, copy, distribute, and change according to your business needs—it has a GNU GPL3 license. You can also sign up for an annual subscription for uniCenta’s support team, which costs either £60 (equivalent to $63) or £136 (equivalent to $144)*.
*Prices reflect current foreign exchange rates and are subject to change.
uniCenta Payments & Hardware
uniCenta is compatible with most commercial POS systems, tablets, and computers. For mobile devices, Windows tablets get the full version of the app. If your business uses iPads or Android tablets, uniCenta should be installed on a host PC or server first. Then, you can connect to uniCenta via an RDP client.
For hardware, it lists the following minimum operating system requirements:
- System: 1024MB RAM, 70MB Disk space, Java 1.8 JRE—32bit or 64bit
- Operating System: Windows (XP SP3, 7, 8, 10), Linux (CentOS, Ubuntu, Mint, or other), or Mac OSX (10.6.8 and later)
- Database: MySQL (v5.6 or later Local, Remote, or Cloud)
For payment processing, uniCenta only uses the following approved PCI/EMV P2PE PA-DSS solutions:
- Dejavoo for the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America
- PaymentSense for the United Kingdom and Ireland
uniCenta has strong loyalty program features, as its customer management tools allow for purchase history and VIP classifications. You can process multiple payment methods in one tab and offer gift cards too. However, we did not see any tipping management tools or integrations for contactless payments. With almost two-thirds of retailers offering this type of payment method, this is a huge drawback for uniCenta POS-enabled businesses.
- Custom receipts and tickers: Include business logo and messaging
- Mixed-use retail/hospitality: Cross-purpose ordering
- Multipayments: Process mixed payments of cash, card, and vouchers
- Barcode scanning
- Multilingual (four complete languages: English, US English, French, and Spanish; and 13 partial languages)
- Vouchers, discounts, coupons, free-entry item
- Multiterminal and multiprinter set up
- User-based permissions
- In-sale stock check, partial payments and layaway, variable pricing (override item price)
uniCenta’s multilingual support is an advantage for those with businesses overseas. Configure each register based on the region you are in. And like most open source POS systems, customization is available at almost any feature point. For example, customize your receipts with your logo, include seasonal promos or discounts, and change them as often as you would like.
You can also process multiple payment methods for a single order such as applying a gift card coupon and paying by cash for the rest of the order.
Overall, uniCenta has strong customer and employee management features, and basic inventory and reporting tools, but it lacks email marketing and payroll reporting features. All of these are discussed in detail below.
Restaurant Management Features
- Table mapping and reservations
- Multiple tables and floor plans
- Kitchen display system
- Remote/kitchen print
- Transfer order item
- Move table
uniCenta offers basic restaurant features that can help you process orders from the kitchen or store. However, we did not find tip management features, which are important to many restaurant and hospitality businesses. If you need restaurant-specific features, choosing from our top-recommended restaurant POS systems might be a better choice.
- Multistore, multiwarehouse
- Stock management
- Supplier assignments
- Stock transfer
Granular inventory, such as variants, bundles, and categories, can be configured in uniCenta. Since it can also support multiple locations, you can track stock inventory across different places, like stores and warehouses. While you can set minimum and maximum stock levels per product, it does not seem to offer low-stock alerts.
We also did not see purchase order and COGS reporting features—essential inventory management features if you want to monitor sales and profit in real time. If you need more advanced inventory management features in a POS system, our best POS inventory systems guide can help you.
- Credit limit
- Customer information
- Transaction history
uniCenta provides strong customer management features that let you engage with customers better. Along with customer information, you can upload a photo in their profile to easily identify them. Their transaction history is also attached to their profile so that you can identify their spending habits and product preferences.
You can also assign VIP status to select customers—and uniCenta will trigger an in-sale VIP pop-up notice when a customer is assigned a ticket. However, we did not see management or employee features, such as payroll processing. While it has employee reports, it only covers performance evaluations and security information.
- Self-service onboarding
- FAQ section
- Community forum
- Developer section
- Video library
uniCenta provides a list of compatibility requirements for hardware and minimum operating system standards before you install the program. While it doesn’t have a knowledge base available to the public, uniCenta has a library of videos you can refer to for installation and setup. It also refers users to its community forum and developer section.
For its free users, uniCenta does not provide customer support. If you need one-on-one help, then you need to sign up for an annual support membership; this enables you to speak with its experts for guidance and troubleshooting.
uniCenta Setup & Installation
While setting up an open source POS is more complicated (at first) than using cloud-based software, uniCenta provides an installation guide and video library to walk you through the process. You just need to download uniCenta’s installer, MySQL server, and the latest version of Java. After installation, you can configure your POS. An overview video is available on the provider’s website.
We have summarized the steps below:
- Go to general settings
- Set up local settings: currency, language, and location (dates and number formats)
- Specify payment methods (card reader and gateway)
- Connect peripherals (printers, scanners, and more)
- Set advanced features such as keyboard shortcuts, automation, etc. (optional)
- Set up ticketing system (number of orders and receipts)
- Input company details and ticket message
- Create and set up a database, then click Connect.
Once connected, you can start using your uniCenta POS program.
Here, we considered any unique or standout features and the overall value the POS provides, as well as user reviews and feedback based on our own experience testing the system.
Overall, uniCenta is similar to other free and open source POS systems, but its multistore, multitender, and multilanguage features stand out the most. However, it lacks the regular updates that an active business may need, which can be difficult for those that are scaling.
It didn’t have as many user reviews compared to the other platforms we evaluated, but it has extremely high scores based on feedback and popularity. Capterra ranked the software fourth most popular POS from 2017 to 2019 based on its website’s homepage.
uniCenta User Reviews
At the time of publication, uniCenta has a few outdated reviews on the most popular user review sites. However, other sources have reviewed its POS application. PAT RESEARCH gave uniCenta a 9.5 editor rating and a 6.5 aggregated user score based on 13 ratings. Editors rated its performance the highest—a 9.6 score—while users rated its ease of use a 5.0.
Meanwhile, CompareCamp gave uniCenta a 7.9 out of 10 score in its evaluation, highlighting the member subscription benefit that allows users to connect with experts to speed up installation. It also mentioned that the platform gives you endless opportunities for customization.
Methodology: How We Evaluated uniCenta
We evaluated uniCenta by testing the system ourselves and grading it against the criteria we use to evaluate the best open source POS software. We considered features that business owners expect from any POS software and considered the advantages of open source platforms—adaptability, community support, and compatibility with different operating systems. We also looked for a modern interface, active updates, and depth of features.
Click through the tabs below for a more detailed breakdown of evaluation criteria:
30% of Overall Score
Overall features for inventory, customer relations, and employee management (including logins and clock in/out) were evaluated, as well as the number and value of reports—whether they were customizable or offered template versions. Bonus points were given to those that provide email marketing as well. uniCenta got docked points for lacking email marketing and payroll reporting features and offering basic reporting tools.
20% of Overall Score
We considered tipping management, as this is an essential feature for retail and restaurant businesses, giving priority to cash tracking and the ability to reconcile registers at the day’s end. Loyalty programs, gift cards, contactless payments, and online ordering were also features we looked into. uniCenta would have earned a perfect score in this category if not for its lack of tipping management and contactless payments.
20% of Overall Score
We looked at the platform interface but also looked for user comments and complaints about features and backend issues. Since point-of-sale systems are used round-the-clock in business operations, they must be intuitive and easy to troubleshoot. We also paid attention to the software’s customer service hours and whether the program can run offline or is cloud-based. uniCenta got high scores here, except for its customer support—which you can only have access to if you upgrade to a paid plan.
20% of Overall Score
This category is a holistic evaluation of features vs cost, customer support, and popularity in terms of the number of users. We also considered online user reviews, including those of our competitors—with the standard of having an average of 4+ rating considered ideal. uniCenta is one of our top picks for popularity and above-average user reviews.
10% of Overall Score
Nearly all open source software is free, but the ones that ranked well charged a small fee or offered paid add-ons or upgrades. Aside from the free versions, we also considered the maximum number of users, devices, inventory, and transactions a platform can support. Integrated payment processing options were considered as well. Based on these criteria, uniCenta got a perfect score.
uniCenta Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who should use uniCenta?
We recommend uniCenta for businesses that have international operations since it can support multiple currencies, languages, and store locations. It is also ideal for those that want to run loyalty or reward programs as it has strong customer management features.
When should I use a uniCenta alternative?
Stores that need a mobile app would be better off with our top-recommended mobile POS apps for Android or iOS or best iPad POS systems since uniCenta doesn’t have a direct integration for tablets and mobile devices. If your business needs tipping management or payroll reporting, go with Square, as uniCenta doesn’t offer these features on its platform.
uniCenta is one of the most popular open source platforms we have reviewed, and rightly so. Its built-in features, especially its CRM and multilingual support, are something we don’t usually see offered (and if they are, they are premium add-ons). We don’t recommend uniCenta for those who are not tech-savvy, as it doesn’t provide customer support unless you sign up for a paid subscription.
If you want to customize your POS platform and have a tech developer to support your business operations—mainly if you operate internationally—uniCenta is an excellent option to consider.
You May Also Like…
- Read our guide to learn more about how to set up a POS system.