September 12, 2018
The mobile phone is the biggest revolution since the internet. With smartphones, the internet is at everyone’s fingertips no matter where they go. There’s no more obvious impact on businesses than the rise and domination of the iPad POS app.
A POS, or “Point of Sale,” is the system that allows a store to sell an item to a customer. Before smartphones, a POS meant a lot of hardware: A register, receipt printer, display screen, and a barcode scanner. With the right POS iPad app, however, your iPad becomes the screen, a paperless receipt can be emailed, and the register isn’t needed, as all the transactions will be automatically recorded.
An iPad POS app is a must for small businesses or single individuals who wish to sell crafts or produce at their local farmer’s market. It’s not just for single locations, however: Modern POS apps can power entire chains of restaurants or retail stores.
There are many options available. Here’s a quick look at the best POS systems made for iPad, as well as an explanation of how to find the best one for your specific business.
In This Guide
The Best iPad POS Apps
It can be hard to tell from a POS app’s online footprint whether they’re as great as they claim to be.
Here, TechCo takes a closer look at the top eight iPad POS software companies and explains what sets each cloud-based application apart from the next.
- Square — a POS app with a streamlined interface and unique price plan
- Vend — this POS app offers comprehensive features and third-party integrations
- Shopify— a POS app with an attractively inexpensive basic service plan
- Lightspeed — a POS app with an omnichannel approach and strong online support
- TouchBistro — a POS app designed with the restaurant industry in mind
- SalesVu — this service has a suite of free apps which can be bundled for a price
- Revel — this app’s robust management options include detailed analytics reports
- Epos Now — a POS app with a range of features at a good price
Square is defined by a slick, streamlined interface that’s easy to learn and fun to use. Also known as a credit card processor, the company produces POS software that’s a good fit for small business operations. In addition to tracking inventories, recording customer purchase histories and sending receipts, the Square POS collects additional feedback from customers. It also allows users to compare their data to the previous day or year of sales to see whether the business is growing overall and which day of the week sees the highest overall sales.
Square is set apart from other iPad POS software services by its pricing plan. It charges a set fee, a flat 2.75 percent of the cost for each transaction. As a result, the software is entirely free to download, with no monthly usage fee. If you run a small operation that might not be able to justify a monthly fee, Square is an affordable choice.
If you run a larger operation, you’ll need more than just the free software. Square’s hardware comes packaged together. For $999, or for $49 a month, you’ll get: A Square Register, a customer display, an accessory hub, mounting plate and toolkit, and a power adapter with a cable.
Vend’s focus on allowing third-party integrations makes it one of the more versatile options available: It even integrates with other services on this list, including Square, Shopify and PayPal. This flexibility makes it a strong choice for any business owners who enjoy dabbling in finding small ways to boost efficiency, or who are already familiar with another third-party service and don’t want to lose access to it.
Like most POS apps, Vend is cloud-based but can function offline — you can continue selling items if you lose internet, and your inventory and sales will sync back up to the cloud once the internet connection returns. The Vend POS also accepts split payments, gift cards, and mobile and contactless payments.
Additional features include customizable tax options, automated stock orders, and customer profiles that collect all data about a customer’s purchasing habits into one location. These features, as well as others and Vend’s versatile integrations, make Vend one of the more advanced iPad POS apps. The most advanced service plan costs $129 per month, while a Lite version is available for $99 a month.
While best known as an ecommerce platform in its own right, Shopify also offers a POS system for iPad. The biggest benefits to the Shopify POS app are the service’s fast onboarding process and its strong customer service team. It’s a good thing the customer service is so strong: Used by over 600,000 businesses worldwide, the Shopify POS software has plenty of customers depending on it. The POS comes with a 14-day free trial, allowing users to get a feel for what the app has to offer before they commit to the monthly fee.
Speaking of the fee, that’s one of the downsides to expect from Shopify. If you want access to features beyond the POS basics of inventory and sales tracking, you’ll need to pay a heftier fee for a higher tier service plan. The basic plan is $29 a month, plus credit card fees. The expensive plans will cost you $79/month and a $299/month.
The biggest consideration if you’re interested in the Shopify POS is the number of employees on staff. The $29/month plan allows two staff accounts, the $79/month allows five, and the $299/month allows fifteen. If you run a tiny operation and don’t plan to grow anytime soon, Shopify is well worth it.
This Canada-based POS software provider offers three types of POS apps: retail, restaurant, and ecommerce. Aimed at small and mid-sized operations, the POS software is up and running in 50,000 independent businesses across the globe.
Features include inventory, reporting and analytics options, loyalty programs and gift card support, mobile payments, PCI compliance, and an omnichannel approach that ensures customers will get the same deals and prices no matter where or how they’re shopping.
Lightspeed’s online support is extensive, making this a solid option for business owners often in need of assistance: Webinars, chat, email, a 24/7 telephone line and a customer forum are all channels that can connect Lightspeed’s users with the company’s staff.
The three types of iPad apps all cost different amounts on a monthly basis: The ecommerce app costs $59 per month, the restaurant app costs $69 per month, and the most popular retail app plan costs $99 per month.
TouchBistro is one of the few iPad POS apps aimed entirely at the restaurant industry, and the most successful: The app has been downloaded in over 100 countries and has ranked as the #1 in the Apple App Store in 37 of those countries. In addition to their full service restaurant POS, the company offers a more stripped-down Quick Service option, as well as apps designed for use by food trucks, breweries, and bars & nightclubs.
Features of the main POS include the ability for a waiter to input orders on an iPad while tableside, table management and a floor plan, and menu management. In addition, you can expect the typical POS features: Inventory and staff management, analytics, and mobile payment options.
Online user guides and support videos are available as well. Service plans range from a single terminal plan for $69 a month to a two-terminal $129/month plan to a five-terminal $249/month plan. There’s even an unlimited plan, for a scant $399/month. It’s all billed annually.
SalesVu offers a suite of apps to handle features that are bundled together in most other POS apps, which can make the service more complicated to use. In addition to the basic iPad POS app, a separate app must be used to let restaurants book reservations, to offer a loyalty program, to offer gift cards, and to send invoices. Depending on your needs, you may find yourself switching between apps constantly. However, each app is free: If your business only uses one terminal and doesn’t require any bells and whistles, SalesVu is an attractive free option.
For client support, SalesVu offers 24/7 assistance through chat or their help center, and plenty of video tutorials are available online as well.
The company’s pricing options are designed to be simple: Users will get all mobile apps for free, but must pay $75 per month per location in order to access all the apps through a single account. Inventory and management is only available through the advanced service plan, which costs $150 per month per location. A 15-day free trial is available.
Revel’s iPad POS software allows the “front of house” workers (employees like cashiers, who deal directly with customers) to pick options off of a customized menu. “Back of house” workers, like store managers, can manage employees and inventory as well as examine intelligent reports that identify elements such as which employee sells the most, what time of day the store is busiest, or the store’s growth over time.
The service’s security measures include Point-to-Point Encrypted (P2PE) payments and the cloud technology is PCI-compliant. The simple iOS interface uses large buttons which are easy for employees to hit during a rush, though some reviewers have found that the software requires too many steps and believe it could be consolidated.
The software-only plan starts at $79 per month per terminal, and can be tailored for three business types: retail, restaurant & bar, and “quick service” for coffee shops, delis, bakeries, food trucks and the like.
The UK-based Epos Now serves 30,000 small and mid-sized businesses today. Launched in 2011 with the aim of making POS systems affordable for all, Epos Now also offers dedicated retail and hospitality editions.
Features include stock management, promotional efforts that can be pre-programmed, and inventory integration between physical and online stores. A few less common features include the ability to print invoices if needed, and the ability to read barcodes. The hospitality edition, designed for bars, restaurants, gyms, hotels and more, offers table management, bill splitting, loyalty programs, and a “master products” feature that tracks which ingredients are used in which meals or drinks.
Following a 30-day free trial, users can pay for a standard or a premium service plan, at $39 a month plus $25 per additional terminal and $69 a month plus $45 per additional terminal, respectively. An enterprise option is also available for a customized quote.
How to Choose an iPad POS App
First, you’ll need to ensure that the iPad POS app or apps that you’re interested in offer the basics: They must be able to allow you to track your inventory and record sales. All the POS apps listed above will do these tasks.
Next, you’ll need to know which industry your business operates within, as different industries have different needs. The three main categories many POS vendors cater to are the retail, ecommerce, and restaurant industries. In addition, many other stores may require a POS designed to handle reservations, such as a salon or spa.
Once you know your basic needs and your industry-specific ones, consider how essential the company’s support team is, and how steep a learning curve you can handle. Does the POS you’re interested in support the payment processor or other third-party service that you’ll need to support? Once you’ve narrowed the options down to two or three iPad POS app companies, the final step is to reach out for a quote or a free trial. You might want to try TechCo’s handy quote form for a fast way to collect the best quotes.
Collect and compare quotes from a range of POS system providers in just a minute.
Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions raised by small business owners during the process of looking for the iPad POS app that’s best for them.
What’s the Best iPad Restaurant POS System?
The restaurant industry requires the most specialized POS apps, as business managers will need to track ingredients, relay order information to kitchen workers, and handle reservations months in advance.
One iPad POS app commonly considered the best for restaurants is the Revel POS System. TouchBistro’s POS System is also a solid option, and many of the most popular POS apps, like Square or Lightspeed, offer a high-quality restaurant option as well. If you’re entirely impartial, Revel or TouchBistro are likely good choices to try, but if you or your employees are more familiar with another restaurant POS app on this list, it may be best to stick with what you know.
Do I Need an On-Premise POS system or a Cloud-Based POS System?
An on-premise POS system is not connected to the internet: It must be updated and maintained manually, often by a dedicated IT employee. A cloud-based POS system “lives” in the internet: All the POS software and data is backed up online, and can be updated by the vendor who hosts the software.
All iPad POS apps are cloud-based, not on-premise. They’re the best option for a small or mid-sized business, as there’s no need to hire an IT worker to handle outages or deal with computer viruses. While the internet may go out temporarily, the cloud-based POS app should be able to continue registering sales even while offline and can sync with the cloud once its back online.
What Is the Industry Average for POS Software Pricing?
The pricing for a POS system depends on the size of your business. If you run a small, single-location store, the average is around $50-100 per month for a POS software that suits your needs. That range of prices reflects the variations in support team strength or in how regularly the software is updated. Some POS services may charge a percentage of the sales price in addition to a monthly fee or, in Square’s case, instead of a monthly charge.
For larger, multi-location enterprises, $100-$200 per location per month is the industry average, and this pricing may include hardware solutions as well.
How Can I Find the Best POS System Deal for My Business?
I’m glad you asked! Try TechCo’s quote form:
Collect and compare quotes from a range of POS system providers in just a minute.
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