Our research and testing revealed the best POS system for liquor stores is Square POS, for a number of reasons. It's fast to set up, easy to use, offers a great range of prices, plus a broad range of features including complex inventory management.
In comparison to other POS systems like Shopify, which has great ecommerce integrations for selling online as well as in-person, Square offers more complex analytics and an offline mode, which makes it more versatile for a wide range of uses. Lightspeed is the best POS for larger businesses, but Square offers better tax reporting and automatic restocking — two perks that make Square a better POS system for liquor stores overall.
Here at Tech.co, our experts have tested each system and rated them across multiple categories in order to figure out how each one compares. Read on to learn more about each brand's software and hardware offerings, and the pros and cons of each, or get a personalized POS quote from our specialist team.
Tech.co rating for retail
Score out of 5 for general retail suitability based on Tech.co's independent market research.
The typical lowest starting price. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Free (but transaction fees apply)
$69 per month
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Sold by Shopify, but also works with iPads and Android tablets
Sold by Square, available separately or packaged with software. Works with most leading brands and has a great free trial.
Sold by Lightspeed. NOT compatible with weighing scales.
Sells everything from full cash stations to mobile card readers
Works with loads of third-party periperals
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Square POS is the best POS system for most needs: It's easy to use, offers many features and integrations for your business and inventory needs, and comes with great help and support. Square offers detailed tax reporting, useful for any business that deals with state and federal liquor tax, and automatic restocking, which ensures your store won't run out of its most popular items. Plus, the software still accepts payment even when not connected to the internet, for those with an unreliable network.
- Free to get started
- Slick and stylish hardware
- Serves businesses of all sizes and in all sectors
- Strong analytics, inventory, and third-party integrations
- Some necessary features for mid-sized businesses cost more
- 3.5% + 15¢ charge for keyed-in transactions
- Support options vary by plan
Square POS pricing
Pricing from: 2.6% + 10¢ per transaction
The Square system has a unique approach to pricing. Users won't need to pay any set monthly fee, and will only be charged a percentage of each transaction, ensuring that there's very little overhead to getting started with a business.
That said, Square does have one big downside when it comes to liquor store use: It doesn't provide built-in age verification. It does offer more than one third-party integration to cover this feature, however, which will cost extra. Since Square aced every other major consideration for a POS, we still gave it first place.
The flat-rate transaction fees help small operations save costs, but large companies will have more transactions and more fees — if you're in charge of a large business, consider Lightspeed POS instead of Square.
Lightspeed's integrated customer rewards system and omnichannel loyalty tools as well as low price on terminal hardware makes it a good pick for a large operation. The service's range of features covers all the core areas a liquor store needs, from business development tools and management abilities to till features.
- Ideal for retail stores with barcoded inventory
- Straightforward pricing
- Slightly more expensive than some rivals
- Harder to use for restaurants, florists and businesses without barcodes
- Doesn't integrate with weighing scales
Pricing from: $69 per month
Lightspeed costs $69 per terminal, per month under the Lean plan, although more features are available with the other two plans, Standard at $119 per month, and Advanced at $199 per month. All plans include the same transaction fees: 2.6% + 10¢ with card and 2.6% + 30¢ without a card present.
Inventory management tools allow users to buy by the case and sell by the bottle, and low stock alerts can be triggered to let managers know when a big seller needs to be restocked. Staffers can be prompted to request an ID check with every liquor purchase. Lightspeed has several useful liquor-store specific integrations as well, from ID verification for age-restricted sales to a delivery, shipping and in-store pickup functionality.
There's no training mode available, but the POS is otherwise easy to figure out, with a good customer satisfaction score and support options.
Shopify offers a POS, but the company is also known for its ecommerce website builder. Naturally, the two services integrate easily, making Shopify the best POS for brick-and-mortar businesses that want to sell online, as well as online businesses that are adding a physical presence. The POS system is a great one by itself, too. Our testers noted near-perfect inventory and till functionality, as well as good help and support.
- Very strong ecommerce integration
- 24/7 support via phone, live chat, and email
- Works with lots of different hardware options
- Exclusively-focused on retail and ecommerce
- Charges transaction fees unless you're using Shopify's own Payments processing system
- No offline mode
Pricing from: $89 per month
The Shopify POS Pro plan starts at a pricey $89 per month, but a more limited Shopify Lite plan is free (with per-transaction fees that start at 1.5%). Add in the fact that the service is compatible with most POS hardware, and it's great way for a small business to save on costs.
The Shopify website builder supports liquor sales as well: Liquor store managers will be able to set up shipping restrictions in their Shopify admin panel to meet state regulations and can include an age verification pop-up window on their website.
Clover's help and support team leaves a little to be desired, our testers found, even though the range of features offered is on par with top services including Square and Lightspeed. Marketing tools are a little limited, as well, making this POS system a good fit for a small business that doesn't want to get bogged down in anything other than selling its products.
- Great for companies that started online but need a physical presense
- Good range of hardware options
- 30-day free trial
- Need pre-existing website unlike Shopify, for example
- Additional features cost extra and can become expensive
- No inter-store transactions
Pricing from: $9.95 per month
Like Square POS and Vend POS, Clover's does include a free trial, but it's not the most valuable. Retail prices kick off with the Payments Plus plan at $4.95 per month — but this won't get you the inventory management features needed to run a store, so practically speaking, the Register Lite plan, at $9.95 per month (with a 2.7% + 10 cents per-transaction fee) is your best bet.
The service's next plan up — the Register plan at $39.95 per month, drops the transaction fee to 2.3% + 10 cents and bolsters inventory and order management toolkits with the abilities to exchange orders and to add item modifiers and variants.
Since granular inventory tools are key for liquor store management, the Counter Service Restaurant plan for $39.95 per month is likely to be the one you'll need.
Hardware options include an ID scanner, so employees will be able to quickly check that consumers are 21 or older.
Vend offers that training mode that some POS systems lack (looking at you, Lightspeed), allowing new users to learn the system without entering live data. The service also supports unlimited users across all plans, making it the best POS for training and tracking employees.
- Suits businesses of all sizes
- Works with loads of third party hardware and software options
- 24/7 support
- Strong ecommerce integration
- Reporting on lower pricing tiers can lack detail
Pricing from: $69 per month
Vend's lowest pricing plan for is the Lite plan at $69 per month. The price tag lands users a limited plan that doesn't include any accounting, ecommerce, loyalty, or advanced reporting functionality. Other plans include the Pro plan at $119 per month, and the Advanced plan for $199 per month, making this POS pricier in comparison to other providers. One additional downside is that there's no delivery support.
Still, the system has all the inventory tools you'll need, and has a perfect score when it comes to customer support — yet another reason why it's the employee-friendly option.
POS software lets a retailer or restaurant track products sold and inventory status. They're an all-in-one service, typically offering data analytics, employee tracking, and marketing features as well.
We've covered the best POS systems for small businesses in the past, and they're fit for a wide range of industries. Liquor stores are no exception.
POS systems may have many forms like smartphones or tablets, but for a liquor store, you'll want a terminal with a screen and receipt printer, like all of the options listed above.
The biggest POS software feature a liquor store needs is age verification. The business could be fined or lose its license if it sells alcohol to any underage customer, so the cashier must be able to quickly and easily verify IDs. A simple pop-up can work, but a POS that integrates with ID scanner hardware is the easiest.
You'll also want complex stock management tools that account for discounts, two-for-one deals, and liquor taxes, which vary by state. These tools should also be able to track case breaks — when the store buys a case of wine or beer, but sells it by the bottle.
Finally, you'll want a POS system that tracks all the data you need in order to ensure you remain compliant with local and federal laws covering liquor licenses. The legality of on-demand alcohol delivery varies by state, too.
Tech.co's team focused on seven categories for our retail POS research and testing: Business management, stock management, till features, price, usability, help and support, and business development tools such as loyalty and CRM.
Each category was further broken down into relevant features, which we checked across each of the top POS software brands on the market. Each feature was given a score, and it all added up to a final rating for each POS.
For liquor store POS systems in particular, we gave extra weight to the most industry-relevant features, like age verification and stock management. Overall quality across all categories remained the key factor.
Our top liquor store POS pick is Square, for its ease of use, easy setup, and reasonable flat-rate pricing. Shopify POS is another standout, for its online sales tools, and Lightspeed is a great inexpensive option as well.
Since each of the POS systems listed here is best for a specific benefit or use, any one of them might be right for you. But you won't know the exact cost of any of them unless you get a custom quote for the locations, terminals, and features you need.
When you're ready for that next step, get a quick, free, bespoke POS quote from our team of in-house specialists.
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