Owning and operating a liquor store isn’t easy. Minors present fake IDs, putting your business at risk. You must adhere to ever-changing state and local laws or face huge fines. Moreover, you manage more inventory items than any other type of retail store. To navigate this minefield, it’s key to invest in the best liquor store POS system you can afford.
Running a liquor store is a business that requires a lot of teamwork. As your business grows, you will need to hire employees to help you with the daily tasks. This is not an easy task and you cannot expect to do everything on your own. If you want to start a successful liquor store, you should start by advertising in local dailies to find the right people to work for you.
You should create a liquor store website to promote your products and brand. The website should have a design that matches the theme of your business. It should also provide information that sets you apart from the competition. People often find liquor stores through search engines, and a good website will make your business more recognizable and attract more customers. In addition to a great website, you should create a Google My Business Page for your liquor store, so that people can find you easily.
Running a liquor store requires a thorough understanding of the local market. You will need to know the local drinking culture and which types of liquor will appeal to the consumers in your area. Knowing the demands of your customers will be crucial in keeping your business profitable.
Exceptional systems provide granular inventory tracking and management features, as well as powerful customer and employee management functionality. These capabilities works in tandem to streamline processes, save time and money, and maximize ROI.
The best systems should also include age verification capabilities, like ID scanning, to ensure you avoid hefty fines. Plus, drinkers like to drink, so maintaining solid customer relationship is vital to business success.
We researched countless systems and concluded that Korona POS is the best liquor store management software available. Korona POS offers liquor store-specific features that general retail systems don’t offer, such as case break functionality (more on that below). Plus, it has a beautiful interface and is affordable for most liquor stores.
However, Korona didn’t win by a landslide. Other systems are biting at its heels and any of them might fit your needs better than our top pick. We’ll let you be the judge of that. As you read our comprehensive reviews, you’ll decide which system would best meet your store’s unique requirements. Ready? Let’s do this.
Best Liquor Store POS Systems
|POS System||Software Cost||Age Verification||Cloud-based||Our Score
|Korona POS||$49 / month||YES||YES||4.9 / 5|
|mPower Liquor POS||$120 / month|
[Installment fee: $1000]
|YES||NO||4.85 / 9|
|POS Nation||$99/month w/ hardware|
[Or $1,000 upfront w/ hardware
|YES||YES||4.7 / 5|
|LiquorPOS [Heartland]||Quote-Based||YES||YES||4.4 / 5|
|Square||$0/month||NO||YES||4.0 / 5|
1.Korona POS: Best Liquor Store POS System Overall
Korona POS is a well-known producer of POS systems for various business types, including retail stores. Its liquor store POS system was among the first of its retail systems developed.
It’s been refined over the years based on user feedback. Today Korona POS for Liquor Stores delivers robust liquor store-specific features that would suit all types of liquor retailers.
Whether you run a single small-town operation or a large multi-location chain, Korona is scalable enough to meet your needs. Let’s see why.
Robust Inventory Management
Korona users receive automated low stock notifications when inventory for a specific product is running low. They can also set custom par levels (the minimum amount of stock you need to meet current demand) for individual items.
The system can detect low stock levels and automatically send a purchase order to restock inventory without human assistance. It features perpetual counts that update all stock items in real-time when any transaction is made. Plus, overstock warnings prevent you from over-ordering, ensuring your inventory levels are always where they should be.
Real-Time Reporting and Analytics
Because Korona is a cloud-based system it updates all data in real-time. This facilitates real-time reporting on a broad spectrum of metrics, giving you an accurate, in-depth picture of store performance.
As mentioned above, inventory reporting lets you maintain a constant view into stock levels helping you avoid under or overstocking time. Loads of sales performance and other stock reports are built into the system and ready to go out of the box. Plus, custom KPI reports allow you to report on virtually any data your system captures.
Because liquor stores carry massive amounts of inventory, it helps to know which items are driving revenue and which are not. Korona’s ABC analysis splits your inventory into three categories.
A-class items are the highest-selling and bring in the most revenue. B-class items sell steadily but don’t produce as much revenue. However, they are still reliable revenue sources. C-class items take up lots of shelf space, eat up internal resources, but produce little revenue. Having this insight lets you make smarter decisions about what you stock, which items are chipping away at your bottom line, and more.
Additional Features Worth Noting
Korona also offers the following features that are key to running a liquor store:
- Theft protection capabilities
- Case break and mix and match features
- Age verification reminders
- Employee permission-based user roles
- Multi-location and franchise management functionality
2.mPower Liquor POS: Most Feature-Rich System
mPower developed its POS system specifically, and only for liquor stores. It’s the only POS system the company sells. In this sense, it has a slight advantage over the other systems on the list as they are produced by companies that sell POS systems to multiple retail verticals.
Because it’s sold to liquor stores only, it has the most robust feature set of any system on our list. However, there is one drawback—price. We’ll touch on that below, but first, we’ll call out some of its most powerful features.
An Inventory and Data Powerhouse
Some larger liquor stores carry more inventory items than a supermarket. This is due to constantly changing product varieties based on season and customer preference. For example, you don’t see many people drinking margaritas at Christmas, or eggnog on the beach.
Managing so many items and all the related data can become a monumental challenge. But not if you use mPower. Its inventory management capabilities give you easy access to inventory data at every stop along the supply chain.
Product Tracking Like You’ve Never Seen Before
This is one reason why the investment in mPower is often worth it for liquor store owners. Managers and owners have access to a depth of product data that you just don’t find in other systems.
You can search for an item by name, type, description, vendor, or even merchandise level. That search returns a grid list of results with high-level information about each item you currently stock or have in the past.
Digging into the Data
From there, you can click on an individual item to dig deep into its data. This includes data around the product itself, its origin, supply chain touchpoints, and so much more.
For example, let’s say you want information on a certain Malbec. You pull it up and can drill down to see its country of origin, region, varietal, appellation, and the vintages you have in stock. That’s not all. You can also see its vendor, alcohol volume, and current stock quantities across multiple stores (if you run more than one store).
Supply Chain Tracking
There’s more. You can also view every touchpoint each bottle has been through between leaving its production facility and arriving at your store. mPower even lets you open digital copies of signed documents from each handoff along the supply chain.
You have an extensive paper trail of every touchpoint along its journey. When you receive a case of bad wine or skunky beer, it’s easy to track down and identify the person or company to hold accountable.
Liquor Store Features
Because mPower was designed specifically to meet the needs of liquor store owners, it includes all the liquor store-specific features you could think of. Those include ID scanning for age verification and regulation compliance, case break features (see our Buyer’s Guide below for more info on case breaking), employee management, and more.
The extent of mPower’s feature set is vast; we only just scratched the surface. And that’s why the system costs considerably more than most others.
mPower is an onsite, installed system (with a mechanism for mobile access) and requires a one-time fee of $1,000 for installation. Then, it will run you $120 per month for one register. Each additional register incurs a cost of $250 for installation and an extra $120 per month. But, when you weigh the price of this liquor store POS system against the cost of theft and the increased revenue generated by boosted productivity, you’ll find that mPower more than pays for itself.
3.POS Nation: The All-in-On Turnkey Solution
POS Nation is another well-known name in the retail POS space, producing systems for multiple retail verticals. However, their liquor store POS solution consistently receives among the highest user ratings of any system the company produces. It’s full of liquor store features and rightfully earned its spot at number three on our list. Let’s see why.
Make Your Own Six-Pack Functionality
This feature allows you to split cases of beer and sell individual bottles without having to manually manage the process in your system. You can put bottles from various brands in the same cooler and allow customers to “make their own six-pack.”
This doesn’t sound that impressive until you consider that to do that, your system must be able to track each bottle from a case of 24 and adjust inventory every time one of those 24 bottles is sold. POS Nation makes this easy and takes care of the calculation, tax, and inventory adjustments automatically while you focus on higher-value tasks. It empowers the customer experience while saving you significant time and resources.
ID Age Verification Scanning
Most retail liquor store POS software systems provide on-screen pop-ups at checkout to remind employees to ask to see customer IDs. That process still leaves room for human error. However, POS Nation eliminates that possibility. You have the option to configure the system so that it prompts employees to scan an ID at checkout. It won’t let you compete a transaction without the scan unless you’re an admin with override permissions.
One bonus is that when you scan an ID, that customer’s personal data and the data from their purchase is stored in the system and a customer profile is created. Then, you can build that profile out over time and personalize your marketing campaigns based on their stored customer data. Asking for and scanning an ID doesn’t entail much extra effort from employees. However, it provides a near-impenetrable firewall between your store and legal issues. That peace of mind is worth a lot.
Turnkey System with Lifetime Warranty
This is an uncommon offering that you don’t find often in POS systems. POS Nation offers users a turnkey solution that includes both its robust liquor store software and a full POS hardware kit for one flat monthly fee.
Users receive the POS software that powers the system. They also get a touchscreen computer, receipt printer, scanner, credit card chip reader, and a cash drawer. All of that costs $99 per month and comes with the added benefit of not having to invest upfront in POS hardware.
This is great for small and new liquor stores with bootstrapped budgets. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty—in other words, if a piece of hardware burns out, they’ll replace it for no extra fee. Surprisingly, you don’t have to sign a contract to receive this deal—you can cancel any time.
Own Your Hardware Instead
If you prefer to own your hardware and pay for it all upfront, POS Nation allows for that as well. You can pay a one-time fee of $999. You own the hardware and software. You’d only have to pay for new hardware components when one inevitably wears out and must be replaced.
4.LiquorPOS: Best POS System for Customer Experience
LiquorPOS is made by Heartland, a widely-known digital payment processing company. It also produces some great POS systems, including its liquor store retail POS software solution. What makes it a great system for liquor stores?
Customer Management Capabilities
LiquorPOS offers some of the most robust customer management features in the retail POS space. Each customer has their own profile page with a ton of personal information you can use to personalize the customer experience. The system captures and stores loads of customer data in its database. Keep track of things like:
- Multiple physical addresses
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Customer birthday
- Purchase history
- Customer segments
- Loyalty and rewards program information
Customer Rewards and Loyalty Programs
LiquorPOS provides excellent customer reward and loyalty programs. With these features, it’s easy to turn patrons into regulars (i.e., loyal customers who provide a stream of recurring revenue).
It’s easy to run promotions and use your rewards programs because the system automates nearly every step of program admin. This saves you time and ensures a highly tailored for each customer and their personal preferences. This increases customer loyalty, satisfaction, and retention.
What’s the best part about customer rewards programs? Every visit and purchase customers make provides you with additional data around their buying patterns and purchase history. This lets you further personalize your offers to them, enticing them to return more often.
You need a way to spread the word about your special offers, promotions, discounts, and other aspects of your loyalty and rewards programs. LiquorPOS gives you that with integrated email marketing. With all the personal data stored in your system, you can run discounts or promotional campaigns that accurately target the right customers.
If a 50-year-old truck driver frequents your store and the only thing she ever buys is top-shelf bourbon, there’s no point in sending her a marketing message about discounts on pinot grigio. She may even find it insulting.
ID Scanning for Age Verification
LiquorPOS offers employees the ability to scan patrons’ IDs at checkout to verify their age and avoid costly fines. It’s a “CYA” feature that most liquor stores need.
5. Square POS: Best POS Software for Small Liquor Stores
Are you on a tight budget? Looking for a free POS system to manage operations at your liquor store? Square is a viable option that delivers many features liquor stores need. It doesn’t come with liquor store-specific features like age verification, but small operations can often handle those themselves. Plus, you can always integrate (more on that below).
Square’s free version doesn’t offer “advanced” inventory features, but they are enough for a small liquor store. They include low stock alerts, automated stock counts, and the ability to enter an unlimited number of inventory items in your database.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
This is a big one for small liquor stores that rely heavily on forming interpersonal relationships with their regulars. Square automatically creates customer profiles when transactions are made. You can also create custom fields in your CRM that allow you to store data specific to your business and the customers you serve.
Add individual customers to segments with similar tastes (like the truck driver who only buys top-shelf bourbon). This makes it easy to run targeted marketing campaigns personalized to resonate with target customers’ beverage preferences.
NOTE: Square’s marketing features are not included in the free version. You must pay a $15 per month fee to use the add-on.
Liquor Store Inventory Features with Shopventory Integration
Square integrates with Shopventory, an inventory management platform that starts at $39/month. It’s cheaper than subscribing to Square Retail for $60 per month and streamlines liquor store inventory management.
If you integrate the two you get case break capabilities, predictive analytics that estimate the amount of stock you should order for a given item, and can track the large amount of inventory that even small liquor stores maintain.
The following systems almost made the cut and can serve the needs of liquor stores. They are general retail POS systems, but they can get the job done so they deserve a quick mention.
Talech POS features robust customer management capabilities. Plus, its ability to set multiple tax rates for different items helps liquor stores because they often must apply different tax rates to different items.
Lightspeed’s retail POS system delivers perhaps the best inventory tracking features of any retail POS system on the market. That, along with in-house loyalty programs make it a viable option for liquor stores.
eHopper is a general POS system that offers a free version, which is often used by small-town liquor stores. It includes helpful features like inventory control, customer management, and reporting. Plus, it offers “free” credit card processing. But there’s a catch—the processing isn’t free; it gets added to the customer’s bill. This doesn’t go over well in many small towns where everyone knows everyone, and trust is key.
Another free retail POS solution, Nextar offers helpful features like inventory management, marketing features, stock alerts, and plenty of automation. With Nextar, there is no catch. You do have to pay credit card processing fees—but the software remains free.
Buyers Guide: Key Features and Considerations
The sale of alcohol is regulated by state or local governments, not the federal government. If your store sells alcohol to a minor, you could face stiff fines or even have your store closed down. Try to find a liquor store POS system that helps you confirm the age of each customer who purchases alcohol in your store.
Some systems provide an automated, on-screen, reminder pops-ups, promoting your employees to check the ID of each patron. More robust systems deliver the capability to scan a customer’s driver’s license to verify their age.
Regardless of which of those two features your system has, it’s helpful to have one of them to avoid any legal consequences.
Case Break Functionality
Another important, time-saving feature that ensures inventory levels are accurate is known as “case breaking.” No, it doesn’t refer to broken bottles when a distributor or employee drops a case of beer.
Rather, this feature automatically accounts for splitting cases into smaller portions, like 12-packs, six-packs, and individual bottles. Thee system should track each individual bottle in a case, regardless of whether it’s sold in a 12-pack or as an individual bottle.
Advanced Inventory Management
Because liquor stores carry and manage such large quantities of stocked items, inventory management is key. Look for liquor store management software that can manage a massive inventory database. It’s equally important that you can access it easily and find a needle in that haystack in seconds.
If someone at the register is organizing a wedding, wants to purchase 40 bottles of Absolut vodka in various flavors, and asks your register attendant, they need to be able to answer in a snap.
At the same time, if you break down cases and individual bottles of beer, you must be able to dive deep into that database and manage inventory at a granular level.
Employee Management and Security Functionality
Unfortunately, liquor stores are perhaps the most targeted type of retail store for theft. They get robbed often, which, by the way, is why you should look for a POS system with security and theft prevention capabilities.
Liquor stores are also regular victims of employee theft. Of course, you don’t want to assume your employees are stealing from you—it’s much better to build a sense of morale so they would never think of it in the first place. However, it does happen and it’s important to have built-in POS features that prevent it.
Look for a system that has unique employee logins that let you track every sale, comp, and other type of transaction each employee executes. Most liquor store systems will also include role-based permissions which let you limit which actions individual employees can execute.
PRO TIP: An Important Consideration—Regulatory Compliance
Liquor laws vary by state, county, and even municipality. Many places still maintain antiquated laws that are relics of times gone by. Keeping up with the complexity of varying state, county, and local liquor laws is a challenge, particularly if you own multiple stores in different states.
Some states still have “dry” (the sale of alcohol is prohibited—a remnant of prohibition) counties. Others allow individual municipalities within a county to be dry, while other towns in the same county can be “wet” (alcohol sales are allowed).
How Do You Know What Your Local Laws Are?
Currently, 33 states have dry counties. The states of Kansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi are dry by default, but allow individual counties to be wet if they pass local laws that permit this.
Many states or counties allow alcohol sales but not on Sundays. Some allow sales on Sundays but not until after noon. Plus, taxes vary broadly across the map.
You can see the tangled web of laws liquor stores must adhere to. It’s critically important that you’re aware of the laws that regulate your store based on its location.
Make a point to be fully aware of these compliance variations. If you’re not sure what the state or local laws are where you live, check out this helpful dry states guide.
Which Liquor Store POS System Is Right for You?
All liquor stores are unique with distinct needs and requirements. We believe Korona is the best all-around system, if you can afford it. It’s relatively inexpensive but costs a bit too much for some small stores. So, if you’re on a tight budget, Square is a valid option to consider instead.
If you have a small business and need a POS system that can manage your inventory, Square POS inventory is a good choice. It supports unlimited SKUs and item categories and can generate new items based on barcodes. But it doesn't provide the level of automation you'll need for a larger operation. Lightspeed Retail is a good option if you need a system that can handle larger volumes. It also includes auto-generation of POs and customizable inventory fields. The software also allows you to bulk upload products or product catalogs.
If you run a large store or a chain of franchise liquor mega-marts and can handle a complex web of features and functionality, mPower is the system to focus on. If you prefer a simple-to-set-up system that’s ready to go out of the box, POS Nation is likely a good fit for you. Finally, if you realize how important the customer experience has become, Heartland’s LiquorPOS is worth a close look. It will help you deliver a stellar experience your customers won’t forget.
Be sure to make a list of requirements based on your needs. Always keep your budget in mind when evaluating liquor store point of sale systems. Don’t get distracted by bright shiny objects that fall apart after a few months. Focus on reliability and the features we outlined above, and you’ll find the system that was made for you.