Best POS System Options for 2021
Whether you’re running a successful restaurant, opening a new hotel, or trying to take your retail clothing store online, you need a reliable point of sale system. These omnipotent software solutions help you deal with your inventory, your customers, payments, and a host of other aspects you probably never thought about.
Simply put, you need one right away. We’ve compiled a list of the most reliable and feature-rich services on the market so you can find the best POS system for your business needs.
4 Best Retail POS Systems
- •Free plans without subscription
- •Specialized POS systems
- •Customizable interface
- •Numerous customization options
- •Detailed reports
- •Elegant interface
- •Accounting tool in all packages
- •Supports Windows devices
- •No subscriptions
- •Specialized POS systems
- •Cloud-based software
- •Offline mode
Our Methodology for Evaluating POS Systems
There are hundreds of POS systems on the market offering a wide variety of features and pricing plans. To help us find the best product, we’ve reviewed a number of important factors related to both hardware and software. Here is everything we had to take into consideration.
Ease of use
First, we focus on the interface. The best point of sale system needs to be simple and fast. If it takes you hours to teach your new employees how to use it, then it’s not a good system. We make sure that the providers on our list offer high-quality, well-optimized software because we know that every second counts when you’re running a business. We also check the software’s compatibility with various devices. Is there a dedicated point of sale app and will it work on both systems? Can you just install it yourself or do you need to hire a professional?
The next item that helps us find the best POS system for retail concerns hardware. The companies in this niche usually include special deals for POS terminals and other devices you might need. We assess the offer and let you know if it’s worth your money. More often than not, providers offer affordable software but make up for it with costly hardware. On the other hand, some providers offer free hardware or simply use your existing equipment. We’ll make sure you make the best possible choice.
One of the main purposes of POS software is to keep track of your inventory and allow for easy management of items. Whether you’re browsing through POS systems for small business ventures or trying to run a large corporation, you need to have a reliable inventory management system. With the right software, you’ll be able to synchronize your items on all devices, set up alerts when stocks are running low, or automate the process of distribution. A high-quality inventory management system is at the heart of every good POS.
Another crucial feature that a point of sale system is built on is payment processing. You should expect the best retail POS system to accept numerous forms of payment to accommodate a wide range of customers. Are they paying with cash or a credit card? Is it swipe, dip, or tap? Can your business handle payments even when the internet or power go down? These are all the questions we try to answer in our reviews to find the ultimate product for your business.
Finally, we turn our attention to the price as one of the biggest factors for numerous businesses on the rise. Essentially, it’s all about finding the right balance. There is no point in searching for the best restaurant POS system with the most intricate features if you can’t afford it. Also, what’s the point in subscribing to an extremely cheap service if it lacks half the features you actually need? We’ll tell you exactly what a good deal is and why. It’s up to you to see if it works with your budget.
The Best POS Systems: Reviews
Square POS Review
Square POS system has one key advantage over the competition - it doesn’t require a monthly subscription. Instead, the service takes a percentage of your every sale. This is a perfect option for small businesses that are just starting out and can’t count on a steady monthly income. In addition to the basic POS software, Square also offers a couple of specialized options like the best POS system for a small retail business or a restaurant. These different POS Square versions cover just about everything.
The first one is a basic point of sale system that fits most businesses and can be customized to the user’s needs. It’s a perfect choice for beginners who are trying to gain a foothold in the industry.
Restaurants, retails, and bookings
Square for Restaurants, as the name suggests, offers the best POS system for restaurant owners with a good amount of service-oriented features. You can keep track of the orders, customize the seating arrangement through an intuitive interface, or provide your customers with synced online menus. The table management system lets you monitor the waiting times for every table with a simple color-based system. It’s a great way to ensure customer satisfaction.
- The second option is Square for Retail. Some of the highlights of this system include barcode label printing, low stock notifications, and easy item categorization. This is good retail software for a small business because it allows you to monitor all of your vendors through a unified system and ensure they never run out of stock. You can easily transfer stocks from one place to another with just a couple of clicks. It’s possible to tag every change you make to gain a better understanding of your stock needs.
The third part of this Square POS bundle is called Square Appointments. It comes with a free website where your customers can book your services. One of the main reasons why users consider this the best POS system for small business is the number of payment options you get. You can write invoices, your customers can pay on arrival, and you can even charge a cancellation fee if they don’t show up.
Square POS pricing is fairly transparent and straightforward. For the most basic packages, there is no subscription cost. It only takes a percentage from your payments. Tap, dip, and swipe payments cost 2.6% (2.5% for Retail and Appointments) + 10¢ per transaction. Online payments will cost you 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction no matter what POS you choose, while manual card entries charge 3.5% + 15¢.
If you want advanced features included in your best POS software package, you have the option to subscribe to Plus and Custom plans. Square for Restaurants Plus costs $60 per month and unlocks seat and course management, advanced reporting, and 24/7 support, among other things. The price of Square Retail Plus is also $60 per month and unlocks a host of inventory management features and advanced reporting.
Basically all of the features that make these POS systems exceptional are included in the upgraded plans. If the basic functionality does the job, that’s great. If not, you’ll have to switch to something more serious and give your ambitious small business the point of sale system it deserves.
- Free plans without subscription
- Specialized POS systems
- Customizable interface
- Advanced reporting tools
- Expensive for larger businesses
ShopKeep is easily one of the most popular point of sale systems on the market, with more than 25,000 customers in the US. Since its inception in 2008, the company worked diligently on improving its software and offering support to different types of businesses. The basic package offers plenty of useful features at an affordable price. But if you want to try out ShopKeep’s best iPad POS system, you’ll need to upgrade to the slightly more expensive Essential package.
Customizable and user-friendly
Some consider ShopKeep to be the most suitable option for restaurants, while others count on its retail features. The truth is that this is a versatile system. There are numerous customization options, and thanks to various POS integrations, you can set it up however you want it.
Generally, it works best with small and medium-sized businesses. The ShopKeep app combines the best from both worlds - it’s based on cloud technology but also connects to the main terminal locally. That way if there’s a power outage or your internet connection cuts, it can keep on working.
ShopKeep’s small business point of sale system has an elegant, modern interface with a simple layout. The developer obviously cares about the users and what they have to say, since most design updates come directly from suggestions in ShopKeep reviews. It’s refreshing to see a company that listens to its customers. The setup process is quick and easy, with a built-in guide that shows you the basics. You can find anything you need on the website.
Inventory management and reporting
The biggest highlight of the ShopKeep POS system is its inventory management. You can easily add items, organize them, and include variations thanks to the matrix functionality. With the best POS system for a retail clothing store, you can include different colors, sizes, and models within one page and make the process a lot more rewarding for your customers and yourself. The system also lets you handle raw items, which is quite useful for restaurants. You can set everything up at an ingredient level and organize items based on orders.
If you enjoy sifting through numbers to figure out all the intricacies of your business, you can’t go wrong with this POS. Use ShopKeep BackOffice to check gross sales, discounts, average values, and hourly sales. One of the reasons why this is the best POS for small businesses is its ease of use. You don’t need any previous experience to understand the numbers or go through the analytics. It’s very intuitive and straightforward.
ShopKeep pricing plans are transparent and contain no hidden fees. There are three subscription packages: Basic, Essential, and Advanced. The Basic plan is slightly below industry standards, costing $49 per month and containing a handful of features. You can get a lot done with it, but if you want Quickbooks integration, mobile support, or custom permissions, you need to upgrade to Essential for $79/month. Online point of sale system reviews recommend this plan for its good price-to-value ratio. The most expensive plan is called Advanced and costs $179 per month. It comes with a free ShopKeep hardware bundle, including a credit card reader, receipt printer, and an iPad stand.
- Numerous customization options
- Detailed reports
- Elegant interface
- Offline mode
- Costly add-ons
QuickBooks POS Review
QuickBooks made a name for itself as an award-winning online accounting software that integrates with thousands of platforms. Today, it also offers a capable point of sale solution with a smooth interface and a host of useful features. It’s the best mobile POS system that can work both online and in-store. The system is created for businesses of all sizes and requires no subscription. This is why the price might surprise you at first, but it’s just a one-time payment.
While most other systems rely on iPads, QuickBooks POS system is optimized for use with Windows devices. The interface might not look spectacular, but it gets the job done. There is no learning curve, and it’s all pretty straightforward. What you’ll notice right away is that the entire POS system seems to be focused primarily on retail. You can still use it to run your restaurant, but it might not be the ideal fit. Still, it has one of the best retail POS welcome screens, which includes a navigator that helps you find your way around the app and gives you information about the latest updates.
Customers and inventory
Firstly, QuickBooks POS Online has an excellent customer management system that opens up a range of possibilities. You get plenty of information to play around with, find out what customers like, discover marketing opportunities, or invest in a loyalty program. You can send your customers receipts via email and sync all the data through the Constant Contact integration. Naturally, Constant Contact comes with an additional cost.
Another reason why this is an excellent point of sale system for small businesses owners is inventory management. The robust system enables you to add items with numerous details and variations, organize them using tags, and synchronize the lists so that the online and in-store versions are the same. That way there’s no chance of overselling or having to deal with refunds. You can simply manage multiple stores from a single point.
QuickBooks financial software
Naturally, even the basic package integrates with QuickBooks financial software. It helps you manage cash flow, pay bills, and deal with taxes. All you need to do is sync the data at the end of the day (or whenever you choose), and the software will take care of the rest. QuickBooks’ point of sale system for small businesses establishments in combination with its native financing tool ensures efficiency and minimizes the possibility of errors.
Steep one-time prices
At first glance, QuickBooks POS cost is off the charts compared to much of the competition. However, this isn’t a monthly subscription as is usually the case with this type of software. Instead, QuickBooks requires a one-time payment. There are three packages to choose from: Basic at $1,200, Pro at $1,700, and POS Multi-Store at $1,900. Note that even the most expensive package doesn’t include hardware; you’ll have to buy that separately.
According to point of sales system reviews, the best value for money is the basic package. A handful of great features assisted by the QuickBooks financial tool is more than enough to keep your small business running. The Pro package unlocks customer and staff management options, while the most expensive plan allows you to manage multiple stores.
- Accounting tool in all packages
- Supports Windows devices
- No subscriptions
- High-quality QuickBooks POS hardware
- Expensive one-time purchase options
Lightspeed POS Review
Lightspeed is a Canadian developer with over 15 years of experience in the industry. Its POS systems cover a wide range of businesses and are divided into three main categories: restaurants, retailers, and golf facilities. Whether you’re on the lookout for the best POS system for a small restaurant, electronics shop, or a multi-course golf establishment, Lightspeed is an excellent choice. It includes plenty of features that make up for a less-than-perfect interface at a price well within industry standards.
Quick setup and crowded interface
Setting up POS by Lightspeed is, as the company’s name suggests, pretty fast. The cloud-based software works best with iPads and doesn’t offer any support for Android devices. Despite its reliance on the internet as a cloud software, Lightspeed’s best iPad restaurant POS system can also work offline if the internet goes down. As soon as the power comes back on, it synchronizes and updates the changes.
Whichever version you choose, one of the first things you’ll notice about the Lightspeed POS system is the overly crowded interface. On the one hand, that’s a good thing in that it means you have a lot of options to work with. On the other hand, if you’re in a fast service business, you might be overwhelmed by unnecessary information slowing down the entire process. The best bar POS system has to be quick and smooth, just like the cocktail you’re making. No customer is going to wait for you or your employees to locate the right button on a busy night.
Lightspeed retail POS
This retail POS puts a lot of emphasis on your eCommerce store and makes inventory management a lot easier. As you might expect from the best POS system on the market, Lightspeed makes it possible to manage your items on the level of raw materials. That way you can organize assemblies and include numerous variants. So, what’s the difference between the packages?
The basic package that costs $69 per month only provides the basic POS system, with payment processing presented as a separate product. There are four more packages unlocking options like an eCommerce site, accounting integrations, loyalty programs, and analytics as the final step. Undoubtedly, some of these should be included in the basic package. It seems unfair that you have to pay $229 per month for the best POS system for small retail stores to unlock something as simple as analytics.
Lightspeed restaurant POS
The restaurant POS might be a slightly better option than retail because it’s fully customizable. You pay a monthly fee of $69 for the basic service and improve it with various add-ons. Standard add-ons like the customer-facing display, advanced reporting, and eCommerce start at $12 per month. However, if you want premium options like loyalty, accounting, or delivery integration, you’ll need to go with premium add-ons that start at $39 per month. When you add it all up, you’ll need to pay a pretty penny to get the best iPad POS system for a restaurant.
- Specialized POS systems
- Cloud-based software
- Offline mode
- Matrix for item variants
- Clunky UI
Fortunly’s Guide to Point of Sale Systems
POS systems are a constantly evolving technology, so it can be hard to keep track of all the innovations and new standards that come into play. Let’s explain some of the most important elements and clear up any misconceptions.
Here is a list of some of the most common features you should expect from your POS.
- Bulk product import: Anyone who has ever dealt with data entry and product import knows how frustrating it can be. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your best POS for a small business includes the bulk import feature.
- Product variants: It’s equally important to look for an inventory management system that will enable you to create product variants. Not only is it better for item categorization, but it will also help your customers make choices.
- Customer database: Speaking of customers, make sure you also have a solid customer management system with a searchable database. It can benefit your business in a number of ways, including special promotions and loyalty programs.
- Permissions: Your employees need to be kept in the loop but on a need-to-know basis. Reliable POS software for a small business should include user accounts with different authorization levels that you can control from your end.
- Payment flexibility: One of the main functions of your POS is to process payments, which is why it’s paramount that you find a system with as many payment options as possible. Online; in-store; dip, tap, and swipe; cash; and cancellation fees - see if the options correspond to your specific business needs.
- Customizable reports: Various POS systems will offer you reports about your purchases, guests, or even employees. However, you’ll want to find the software that will allow you to customize and organize those reports in the most efficient way possible.
Cloud or Traditional POS?
If you compare POS systems, you’ll notice that some of them are based on cloud technology. How is that different from traditional POS and why does it matter? There are a couple of things to consider here.
- Accessibility: Since the entire system is stored in the cloud, you can access it remotely anytime you want from any authorized device. These systems often don’t require special hardware, so it’s more affordable in the long run.
- Synchronization: Thanks to the fact that it’s all synchronized, you can offer your customers a comprehensive experience that connects various locations and integrates numerous features.
- Updates: Even the best point of sale software relies on regular updates to keep up with market demands. Traditional systems usually require professional help and are only updated annually. Cloud-based POS can be updated remotely on a regular basis, whenever there is something new.
The Future of POS Systems
What can we expect from POS systems in the coming years? There is a good chance that we’ll see omni-channel software solutions that will combine all of the different systems into a single and comprehensive online buying experience. Experts predict that you’ll be able to find the best POS system for bars, restaurants, retail stores, and salons in one place.
Another upcoming trend to keep an eye out for is the growing popularity of unattended POS systems. Self-service is in high-demand, and software developers are working towards exploring these options. Whether they’ll be ordering their food by pressing a few buttons on the iPad (tableside ordering) or making a purchase and tracking the items on-site, customers want autonomy, and they’re bound to get it.
What is the cheapest POS system?
One of the cheapest options on the market today is Square POS, which charges only a percentage from your every transaction. Another affordable system is Epos Now, with a monthly subscription starting at $39. There is also TouchBistro, the best POS system for restaurants starting at $69 per month, and the mobile-focused POS Lightspeed, which charges the same monthly fee. Many of these companies will often provide you with a free trial or special starting discounts, so you can check it out before making long-term commitments.
What POS system do most retailers use?
It depends on the retailer, but most smaller businesses go with Square POS because it doesn’t require a fixed monthly payment. Instead, it takes a percentage of your transactions. Numerous retail owners also go with Shopify. The light version of its best retail POS software is available for free with every Shopify plan, and the cheapest one starts at $29/month. Another popular solution is Vend, a cloud-based software with an abundance of excellent features created specifically to help out retailers.
What are the different types of POS?
POS systems can be quite different, depending on the needs of a specific business. Some offer unique features tailored for restaurants, coffee shops, and liquor stores, while others focus on general retailers, salon owners, and clothing stores. There is also a difference in the system compatibility and hardware. The best POS system for iPad only works with iOS devices and usually provides the iPad at an additional charge. Others can work with any system you have and don’t require any investments in infrastructure.
What makes a good POS system?
A good POS system will have a user-friendly interface that is easy to master and bug-free. A big part of its value lies in reliable inventory management. You should be able to synchronize your items on all devices, process payments, set up alerts, automate distribution, and monitor your progress. Top point of sale systems often don’t stop there. You can also make use of detailed analytics to see how your business is doing, offer special promotions through loyalty programs, or keep an eye on your staff thanks to employee management.
Can I create my own POS system?
In theory, yes. However, it’s a time-consuming process that requires advanced technical skills. There’s a good chance that you won’t be satisfied with the final result even after putting in a lot of work. Subscribing to the best POS system is way more cost-efficient in the long run. Generally, a good system will pay for itself in a few months, so you should give it a try. Numerous automation and monitoring features will allow you to focus on improving your business.