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10 Best Retail POS Systems

October 19, 2018

5:56 pm

If a retail business were trapped on a desert island, what one integrated software and hardware service would they bring? That’s right: a retail POS system. Hey, we’re assuming the island has plenty of shoppers on it.

A POS system is not only an essential part of running any successful store in today’s world, but it’s almost the only system business owners need. Here’s everything you need to know about what to expect from a POS, why your retail store needs one, and which are the best retail POS vendors in today’s competitive market, that you can trust to deliver the features you need at a price that works.

This page will let you in on the top ten retail POS systems available to you, as well explaining which POS software features and hardware tools are the most essential in the retail world.

To Save You Time: Top 3 Retail POS Systems

You can find more in-depth reviews farther down the page. First, here are the top three POS systems to consider.

ProductSquare POSLightspeed POSShopify POS
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#1

#2

#3
Compareget-quote-button-greencompare-now-button-whiteget-quote-button-green
Price From$60/month$99/month$29/month
Our Rating5 stars5 stars5 stars
Free Trial
Key Benefit Unlimited staff permissionsGranular inventory managementEcommerce integrations
24/7 Support
DrawbackPricing structure can be costly for larger businessesPriced a little above industry average$29/month plan tier doesn't include advanced reporting

Find more background on all of the top ten systems and the benefits of retail POS below. But first, here’s a shortcut to finding a POS system that’s perfect for your retail business needs. Click below to get matched, then collect and compare tailored POS quotes from the best retail services:

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What is a Retail POS System?

A POS, or Point of Sale, system helps a store to sell to customers. It logs the number and quantity of sales, while tracking your inventory and letting you know when to restock. It also serves as the backbone for your entire store’s daily tasks: It can help you schedule employees, track useful data, and launch new marketing campaigns.

For more information, check out Tech.Co’s explainer on this essential technology: What Is POS?

Why do you need a Retail POS System for your store?

A POS doesn’t just help you accept cards (although it definitely should do that). The ultimate goal of any POS is to help a store cut its costs while boosting its sales. It should help you accept cash, credit, and cardless payments, plus keep your products stocked, and all of your employees well aware of the latest changes and tweaks to your store. The POS system is a combination of software, often cloud-based and offered by a vendor through a monthly subscription, and hardware.

If you find the right POS for your business, it will more than pay for itself. It’ll propel your business into another level of success.

Best Retail POS Software Features

Certain core POS competencies are essential for a retail POS software. A handful of additional features, however, are still quite useful and can take your store to the next level. Here’s a list of the software abilities that the average retailer will find the most useful.

  • Sales management — A POS should make for a speedy checkout process, with every transaction logged down to the cent.
  • Inventory management — This keeps an itemized inventory that updates after each sale, and may send email or text notifications to managers when an item begins running low.
  • Employee management — The right feature will create schedules, allow employees to log in and out, and track employee performance.
  • Reporting and analytics — Data collection allows you to build and save reports. Once a manager has enough information, trends and patterns will become clear, allowing managers to make more informed opinions about everything from which items to promote to which employees sell the fastest.
  • Loyalty programs — This feature allows you to offer discounts to returning customers or to create a functioning gift card program.
  • Marketing integrations — Some POS software will collect email addresses, building a list that can be used for marketing promotions or events in the future.

The best POS software services can run temporarily while offline, come with a useful support team, and have intuitive interfaces that users can understand without a huge learning curve.

Retail POS System Hardware Accessories

The need for hardware options depends on the type of POS system your business needs. If you’re a smaller location, one or two iPad tablets and a portable card reading device may be all you need. If you’re a large operation or an entire franchise, you’ll likely need multiple dedicated monitors, routers, stand-alone card readers, and receipt printers. Here’s a quick rundown of possible hardware to consider.

  • Tablet — An iPad or Android tablet may be almost all you need.
  • Monitor — But if you want an over-the-counter touchscreen display, pick out a larger monitor.
  • Card readers for iPad — You can plug a quarter-sized card reader into an iPad jack, and some POS software services bundle them into their service plans.
  • Receipt printer — Many iPad POS software options will send an email receipt, making this a less essential hardware item.
  • iPad stands and docks — If you’re not toting your iPad around, you’ll want a dock, typically one that swivels to allow customers to sign.
  • Self-Service Kiosk — To let customer check themselves out, you’ll need a large stand, monitor,  receipt printer, and a countertop card reader. It’s pricey, but may save you money in the long term.

Routers are also recommended for larger operations; they’ll keep your internet connection secure and stable.

Best Retail POS Systems for 2018

POS systems can be designed for a wide variety of industries, though the top two most well-served are retail and restaurants. Here we examine the best retail POS brands, ranked by overall quality and listed alongside their top features that can make a difference to your store’s operations and profit.

Our picks for the ten best retail POS systems available:

Continue scrolling for more detailed reviews of each restaurant POS vendor, or click on the names above to jump directly to the vendor you’re interested in.

Square retail POS

1. Square POS

Best all around

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $60/month

Square is known for its free iPad POS software, which manages sales and inventory, tracks customer’s purchases, and emails receipts. However, Square also offers a retail-specific system for larger operations, which starts at $60/month (plus a 2.5% + 10¢ charge for each sale) and includes hardware: A Square Stand and a Square card reader. The retail system price includes tech support: Email support is available 24/7, with 12/7 phone support.

Key Features

  • Unlimited staff permissions
  • Customer profiles
  • Reporting and analytics

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Lightspeed retail POS

2. Lightspeed POS

Best for complex inventories

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $99/month

Lightspeed’s inventory management options allow managers to import items or order from pre-loaded catalogs, group items by type, or add granular details including style, size, and color. The most popular Lightspeed retail POS plan starts at $99/month and includes one register with up to five employee accounts, easy onboarding features, basic analytics and 24/7 support. It can run on iPad or desktop, and Lightspeed’s hardware packages include scanners, receipt printers, iPad stands, and cash drawers.

Key Features

  • Inventory management
  • Integration library
  • Free onboarding webinars

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Shopify retail POS

3. Shopify POS

Best for ecommerce integrations

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $29/month

An ecommerce company itself, Shopify offer a retail POS system with great ecommerce integrations. Any POS users will get their own branded online store and options for online sales channels like social media. Items can then be bought online, and picked up in the store. The raft of features also includes sales, inventory and employee management, analytics, discount codes, and a mobile app. 

Key Features

  • Online store
  • Discount codes
  • Mobile app

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Vend's free POS

4. Vend POS

Best for third-party integrations

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $59 /month

Vend’s third-party integrations allow users to locate and add features beyond those covered just by Vend. Integrations also cover payment processing, which Vend doesn’t do itself, but can be supported via Square, Shopify or PayPal. Other top features offered by the retail POS include sales and inventory, customer profiles, split payments, gift cards, contactless payments, and ecommerce integration that allows stores to sell seamlessly across physical, digital, and mobile channels.

Key Features

  • Ecommerce features
  • Offline mode
  • Runs on iPad, Mac & PC

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
ShopKeep POS Analytics Dashboard

5. Shopkeep

Best for mobile app users

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $69/month

ShopKeep’s POS software covers the core features needed for retail POS, and wraps them in a clean-cut interface that works great on mobile. Employees can use the iPad app to track sales and inventory, while managers can keep up with daily reports while out of the office. Their customer service tools are also a highlight, with customer loyalty and gift card integrations available. Technical support options are good, with 24/7 live support across phone, email, and chat.

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Key Features

  • Intuitive interface
  • Mobile app
  • Customer marketing tools

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes

Find the right POS provider for your business today, at the right price.

Erply retail POS

6. Erply POS

Best for small franchises

Editor Rating: 4.5 stars Price: $69/month

Erply sells three retail-focused POS systems: A basic retail program, an enterprise retail POS, and a POS for retail franchises. The latter option allows franchise owners to set security permissions in order to determine how much each manager can access. Other features include barcode scanning, employee management tools, and sales and inventory features.

Key Features

  • Franchise features
  • Versatile interface
  • Sales and inventory

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
An example of the SalesVu POS

7. SalesVu

Best for a stripped-down POS

Editor Rating: 4.5 stars Price: $75/month

SalesVu offers a suite of apps, each tackling different POS concerns, including transactions, inventory, and employees, as well as loyalty programs, gift cards, and invoicing. While all the apps are technically free, any users must pay $75/month/location in order to access the dashboard that makes all the apps easily accessible through a central interface. Support options include 24/7 live chat and an online help center with video tutorials.

Key Features

  • Loyalty app
  • Gift card app
  • Invoice app

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Revel retail POS

8. Revel POS

Best for customer relationships

Editor Rating: 4.5 stars Price: $79/month

Revel’s retail POS includes strong customer relationship management tools, letting businesses track their returning customers along with their favorite items. All the most essential features are included as well: Sales, inventory and employee management, and analytics. Prices start at $79/month, but custom quotes are also available.

Key Features

  • Intuitive interface
  • Customer relationship tools
  • Insights app

Extras

  • Free Demo
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Clover POS

9. Clover

Best for online ordering

Editor Rating: 4 stars Price: Varies

Clover’s retail POS offers online integrations for businesses that need to support online orders or in-person delivery. Security features and customizable customer profiles are also a highlight. Hardware offerings include a countertop POS station, a mini version of the station, and a contactless payment hub.

Key Features

  • Customer profiles
  • Security features
  • Online sales features

Extras

  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
An example of the Epos Now POS

10. Epos Now

Best for a quick learning curve

Editor Rating: 4 stars Price: $39/month

A simple interface and quick learning curve are selling points for this U.K.-based POS. Retailers can use their current equipment, as the POS supports any standard barcode scanner or receipt printer, and employees will pick up the software quickly. Discount features are a highlight, too: Promotions can be tailored to run during set times of day, days of the week, or at certain locations. 24/7 phone support is available depending on the plan. The starting service plan only includes email support.

Key Features

  • Intuitive interface
  • Loyalty features
  • Flexible hardware integrations

Extras

  • Free Demo
  • 24/7 Support (depends on plan)
  • Serves all business sizes

Retail POS System Prices

Costs vary, but the size of your business will affect it the most. The size of your inventory will impact the POS features you’ll need and the tier of service plan you’ll pick, and the number of employees and locations will impact how much you’ll be charged, since most POS vendors charge per register per month.

A small business should expect to pay between about $50 and $100 per month for a single register. A large franchise might pay between $100 and $300 per location, per month, with an additional one-time hardware cost somewhere north of $2,500 per location.

In any case, you’ll likely want to get and compare quotes from your POS vendors of choice before you sign on the dotted line. For a quick way to collect quotes from the top vendors, try Tech.Co’s handy form.

Collect and compare quotes from a range of POS system providers in just a minute.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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