Retail software is computer software especially used during checkout time or when a transaction occurs. Therefore it is a type of electronic cash register, which can also be used for issuing vouchers and receipts. The first software, with limited functions, was developed by IBM in the year 1973.

Earlier, the main users of this software were restaurants. They were able to take orders and also have the instructions for food preparation printed out in the back. This software was also able to print out labor reports and food costs.

The software that is used today has evolved after the development of Windows. The popularity and expansion of the market for this software is mainly due to Bill Gates, for his 'Open Letter to the Hobbyists' in 1976.

The modern software systems are low in cost and easy to use, extremely reliable, and have a high operating speed and rich functionality. It can also be operated through a remote control. With the development of the internet, many web based retail software used for sales work were developed. These types of software need an internet connection for operation. They are comparatively cheaper than those used at stores.

However the purpose of using retail software can differ. It depends on the industry in which it is being used. For example, the medical industry requires different equipments and computer networking in addition to the registers. In the restaurant industry, the electronic registers themselves have the most use. They have touch screens that increase the efficiency of taking orders and decrease the service time.

The hardware that is used for sale has a credit card reader, printer for receipts, and drawer for cash, barcode scanner and pin pad along with a card swipe. These are external hardware and are used with an USB connection.

Choosing the right software can be difficult and requires a lot of knowledge and research. This is because most of the software offers a lot of features that are not actually needed, or are needed as and when your company grows. There are also web based solutions which are very popular. These solutions are ideal for those businesses that have more than one retail outlets or locations.

The software usually sold to consumers requires a license to be operated. Earlier, before the development of the internet, the software was known as shrink ware because this software was always shipped in a shrink wrapped box.

Some of the most famous software products are those of IBM PC, Lotus 123, Word Perfect and the Symantec software. These are also the most sought-after computer programs in the market. The Microsoft Office of Microsoft Windows is also a kind of shrink ware. However, they are pre-installed in computers.

The success of the retail software has been mainly due to the rapid growth of the internet and the relaxations made in the software licensing schemes. Today, users can find shareware, freeware and many free software. They may even use web based retail software. Many producers of this software are now providing their products and services via the internet.