How To Enable POS In Offline Mode: Tips to Get Started

  • By Danielle Dixon
  • Jul 22, 2021
  • Retail Tools

Can you operate a POS with no internet? The short answer is yes!

You can use a POS with no Wi-Fi (and yes, you can continue to accept card payments). That’s because most modern, cloud-based POS systems include an offline mode. 

POS offline mode serves as a failsafe for retailers. It allows the POS to continue to process essential transactions and accept payments without an Wi-Fi connection. Then, when a web connection is restored, the POS system automatically syncs. The POS then processes credit card payments, syncs transaction databases, and updates inventory data. 

However, although an offline POS can function without the internet, there are some limitations to this type of set-up. This guide will walk you offline mode, including what it is, how it works, and the limitations of using a cloud POS without Wi-Fi. 

Sell with Confidence. Never miss a sale due to spotty Wi-Fi again! FTx POS includes advanced offline capabilities to protect your business.

Can You Use a POS with No Internet?

POS network issues can result in costly downtime. That’s why it’s important to make sure offline mode is a feature, when considering a POS system to buy. 

Offline mode ensures your business can continue to conduct business (and even accept credit card payments), without a network connection. This, however, is a very basic definition of offline mode. There are some nuances you should understand: 

What Is POS Offline Mode?

Offline mode allows the POS to function without internet. Here’s a quick overview: 

  • Offline mode is triggered in the POS when the Internet connection is instable. 
  • Offline mode creates a locally stored database that your POS terminals can communicate with.
  • Offline mode allows the POS to conduct business as usual.
  • All transactions, inventory data, and credit card information is stored temporarily on the local database, e.g. the harddrive of the POS computer.
  • Once the connection is restored, all of this data is synced with your cloud database. 
  • Also, with a restored Wi-Fi connection, credit card transactions will be processed and finalized.

In other words, POS offline mode helps to prevent data loss. This feature is particularly useful for businesses that experience occasional internet or power outages, or that operate in areas with limited interneted connectivity. However, offline mode isn’t designed to be a long-term solution.

What Are the Key Functionalities of Offline Mode?

Remember, offline mode only allows essential functions. Advanced processes or data-intensive tasks may not be supported. Most POS offline modes include:

  • Transaction Processing – This mode allows you to complete transactions, accept case, and often take credit card payments without an internet connection.
  • Data Syncing – Once the internet connection is restored, offline POS data syncs with the cloud-based database. This prevents loss of sales data.
  • Inventory Management – Offline mode makes a local copy of inventory data, which is later synced with the central database. This helps to improve inventory accuracy.
  • Customer Management – Some platforms allow you to manage customer details or loyalty programs in offline mode. However, this varies by system.

The key benefit is that the business stays online even when the internet is down.

However, there’s a big potential limitation. In offline mode, how credit card transactions are processed and approved changes.

Is It the Same as a Offline POS Machine? 

Users frequently confuse “offline mode” and offline POS system. An offline POS machine is a fully on-premise system that doesn’t require an active internet connection. These systems might offer limited credit card processing, and are ultimately designed for businesses in areas with internet connectivity.

An on-premise POS is similar. However, it requires a local network to allow for multiple POS systems to communicate. Like a cloud POS, however, an on-premise POS still has limitations with credit card processing in offline mode.

offline mode in cloud-based POS visualization

Can You Accept Credit Card Payments in Offline Mode?

You can accept credit card payments in offline mode. So, no, you don’t need the internet to continue to “accepting” credit card transactions. (Note: This feature, which is available in FTx POS, depends on your payment processor and POS provider.) 

However, the limitation is that you can’t fully process the payment.

Credit card payments require real-time authorization. You swipe the card, and through an internet connection, the system determines if the funds are available. 

In offline mode, this real-time authorization can’t happen. That puts businesses at risk, and this is why there may be specific rules you face when it comes to offline credit card processing in your POS. Your processor may use one or a mix of these rules for approving credit card payments in offline mode:

  1. Store and Forward – This means the POS records the transaction and credit card information securely. Then, when the connection is restored, the transaction forwards to the payment processor, which is known as “delayed authorization”.
  2. Floor Limit – Businesses and credit card processors may agree on a pre-set “floor” for authorized transactions. If the transaction amount is below the floor, the payment is authorized.
  3. Stand-In Authorization – Some payment processors provide a proprietary service to authorize offline transactions. For example, a processor might use a customer’s previous transactions to decide whether to approve or decline a transaction.

Ultimately, accepting credit cards in offline mode does carry risks for the business. Real-time authorization checks if the funds are available in  the cardholder’s account. Without an authorization, it’s possible the funds are unavailable. Setting floors helps limit risk in these situations.

What Can You NOT Do on a POS with No Wi-Fi? 

If you suddenly use internet, your cloud POS will allow you to perform essential functions, take payments, and keep a record of data. 

However, offline mode limits real-time, internet-based functions. This includes reporting, e-receipt processing, and potentially, the available payment options you can accept. For example, if you accept mobile payments at the register, you might not be able to. 

Here’s a look at what POS features might not be available when the Wi-Fi nework is down:

  • Real-time inventory data, analytics and reporting – Data is local and synced later with a central database. 
  • Digital payments – Generally, you cannot process payments from mobile wallets, crypto payments, or other digital payment options. These options require real-time authorization.
  • Ereceipts – Email based receipt systems require an internet connection to process.
  • 3rd Party Integrations – Your system cannot integrate with third-party apps without a web-based connection. This results in data loss. That’s why it’s best to choose an all-in-one POS that doesn’t require third-party integrations for loyalty, credit card processing, or inventory. 

In short, offline mode in a cloud POS is great for short-term outages. However, if you regularly experience network outages, you will need a more reliable network to stay online. 

Do You Need Internet to Use an On-Premise POS?

Both cloud-based POS and on premise POS systems include offline functions. However, users often confuse on premise and offline systems. There are some key differences to keep in mind: 

Cloud-Based POS Systems

Online POS systems, or cloud-based systems, rely on an active internet connection. These systems store all data – transactions, inventory, or CRM data – into a cloud database in real-time. Therefore, offline mode protects cloud-based systems from outages. Here are key details about using a cloud POS system with no internet:

  • Requires consistent, reliable internet connectivity
  • Allows real-time updates and access to data from anywhere
  • Offers advanced features like real-time inventory management, CRM syncing, e-receipts, and integration with third-party apps
  • A drawback: Cloud-based systems are vulnerable to network issues, unless they have offline mode

Therefore, the core functionalities wouldn’t work on a cloud POS without an internet connection. Offline mode helps the system switch from a cloud database, to a local database. This allows you to continue processing transactions as normal. 

On Premise POS Systems

On premise POS systems store transaction data locally on a POS computer at the business. These systems do not require an internet connection to function, but may require internet connectivity for features like credit card processing. Offline mode for an a business with a single on premise POS might relate to only limitations in credit card processing and/or CRM issues. 

However, when multiple POS terminals are installed, they still must communicate with the local database. Therefore, offline mode for multi-POS businesses, includes a failsafe to store this data (which can then be synced with the local database). 

Here are some key details about on premise systems:

  • POS software operates on local servers within the business
  • Data storage occurs locally providing control of security
  • Basic functions do not require an internet connection
  • Offline mode enables the POS systems to connect to the local database

An on premise POS with offline capabilities helps maintain a connection with your POS terminals and your central database. This is where you store pricing information, transaction data and more. Therefore, you can set up an offline machine, which will allow all POS systems in on premises to function, even when the local network is down.

Enabling POS in Offline Mode in FTx POS

FTx POS includes robust offline capabilities. Our platform allows you to seamlessly operate, even during occasion internet outages. 

First, you need to create an offline connect in your POS system. This will prepare you to automatically switch to offline mode, when your POS can’t access the local database. Note: Although this system is for an on-premise networked POS system, you can use a similar process for cloud POS.

Follow this video tutorial for tips for setting up offline mode in FTx POS: 

The FTx POS retail point-of-sale system includes standard offline mode capabilities that will keep you in business, despite network interruptions and hardware failure. We offer both cloud-based and on premise solutions, that allow you to easily sync databases and operations.

You can also automate SQL database syncing, using hourly, daily or manual syncs to protect your sales data.

How Does It Work?

Offline Mode automatically engages, providing your business with seamless service without interruption. The system reverts back to your traditional POS after a connection is restored.

Offline mode in FTx POS creates a copied database of your store and register data. 

Offline Mode prompts cashiers to go offline on the POS screen. Ultimately, you can set up Offline Mode, or please contact our Technical Support team to assist you in this process.

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Danielle is a content writer at FTx POS. She specializes in writing about all-in-one, cutting-edge POS and business solutions that can help companies stand out. In addition to her passions for reading and writing, she also enjoys crafts and watching documentaries.

Danielle Dixon

Content Writer
A New Solution Coming To FasTrax

Matthew Davis is a content marketing specialist for FTx POS. With experience in marketing, brick-and-mortar retail, and ecommerce, Matthew enjoys writing about strategies and technology retailers can use to grow. Previously, he managed retail operations for a sports/entertainment facility and worked in marketing consulting.

Matthew Davis

SEO Specialist/Content Writer

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