A few years ago, POS systems were a luxury reserved only for large companies.
Fortunately not anymore.
Nowadays there are a plethora of options for businesses of all sizes. With too many options, however, came a new challenge: choosing the best POS system that is right for your business is now an uphill battle.
That is why we created this guide to help you make a better, more effective decision.
Our team is dedicated to reviewing dozens of POS systems on the market. We also ran the pricing, features, and critical support comparisons to determine which point of sale system is best for what.
Regardless of your type of small business – retail, restaurant, franchise, online store, etc. – find the best POS system that will work for your business below.
The top 5 POS systems for small businesses
- Square POS (our overall best)
- Shopify POS (best for ecommerce retail integrations)
- Vend POS (best for multiple fashion, sports, or homeware stores)
- Toast POS (best for restaurants and food businesses)
- ERPLY POS (best for small franchise businesses)
How to choose the best POS system for your company
To choose a POS system, the first thing to consider is what your business needs are – accept payments, process sales, track inventory, CRM integration, manage employees, etc.
What is best for you depends on your needs.
In our analysis, we looked at everything from pricing to applicable features to the security of each system and ease of use. Next, we have selected the best POS system that is best suited for various small businesses with one to 50 branches.
We only recommend POS systems with hardware and software features that will affect your business operations and help you maximize profits.
The most important things to look out for when choosing a POS system are:
Complete POS systems come with hardware, software and payment processing. These are the ones we recommend because you don't have to buy different parts. These all-inclusive point of sale systems cost anywhere from $ 30 for basic plans to over $ 150 per month for advanced plans. Aside from these monthly costs, most fees charge more than 2% (plus a few cents) per transaction.
Most POS systems have bespoke plans if your annual sales volume exceeds $ 250,000 or if you need to install them in multiple locations. To take advantage of these discounts, contact the sales department before purchasing as this can save you money in the long run.
If you are buying a POS system that is difficult to use, there is no point in having one. However, the easiest POS systems to use are intuitive in design and based on technologies that most people already use. This includes iPads or Android tablet devices.
Regardless, before you buy a POS system, sign up for a demo and take a test drive. This allows you to see firsthand if it is easy enough to use for you or your employees.
You will find that all POS systems talk about their reporting capabilities. However, some are straightforward with limited customization options and only a handful of reports.
On the other hand, others have ten advanced and preconfigured report filters. The best POS systems offer real-time reports that you can access on the go through an app on your mobile device or browser.
Some key reporting features to look out for are your sales, customer, inventory, and employee data. Make sure a POS system has the reports you need to keep track of relevant business activity.
Most POS systems allow you to add employees and give them access to settings, important sales information, or functions. Again, it depends on what your needs are.
Some POS systems allow you to assign role-based permissions to employees, while others allow you to customize various controls for specific employees.
At advanced levels, you can monitor when employees get on and off, track each employee's sales, and manage tips. Before buying a POS system, decide what employee information you need to track.
The first question is: what depth of customer information do I need? Or what customer data do I need to offer exceptional customer service?
It is best to start with these questions as POS systems offer different functions for customer management. Some allow you to collect basic information such as email addresses to send out email marketing campaigns.
Others have a range of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) features that allow you to create full customer profiles, track purchase histories, collect contact information, attach notes, etc. Choose a point of sale system that allows you to understand the depth of your customer information.
With simple POS systems, you can only manage your catalog inventory. With advanced you can track components, manage suppliers or place orders.
It all depends on your requirements. So before you buy, decide whether you need basic or advanced inventory management features (and whether the POS offers them).
Add-ons / integrations
Most POS systems offer add-ons and integrations, depending on the monthly plan you buy. Some allow you to purchase these add-ons for an additional fee. Some popular add-ons are gift cards, loyalty programs, reservation systems, or advanced reports.
For integrations, you can connect them to the best POS systems with relevant business applications such as email marketing, accounting or payroll software. When choosing a point of sale system, take some time to decide whether paying a higher monthly plan that gives you access to add-ons and integrations is more cost effective than paying additional fees. Of course, don't make this decision until you have considered your business needs.
The different types of POS systems
POS apps, mobile POS systems, open source systems, multi-channel systems, touch screen POS systems, self-service POS systems, and cloud-based POS systems are the different types of POS systems. There are various brands to choose from among these types.
This guide provides reviews of cloud-based POS systems because they are the most flexible and feature-rich for small businesses. On cloud POS systems, transactions are carried out personally at your various points of sale, while payments are processed in the cloud.
These systems connect to Wi-Fi networks so that your data from multiple points of sale can be automatically aggregated and automatically synchronized with the cloud.
So, with cloud-based POS systems, you can access reports, real-time sales data and other information generated from their use on the go.
The best cloud-based POS systems for small businesses are as follows.
1. Square POS Review – Our best overall small business POS system
Since our team reviewed the best POS systems on the market, I've come across Square POS systems in several places where I shop in person.
And there is a reason.
Square is fast becoming the overwhelming choice among small businesses of all types. The software flexibility of this system enables business owners to accept payments using their existing devices.
With Square, you can turn the equipment you are currently using into a POS system in less than an hour.
And you can do this without buying any hardware. However, if you do need to buy the hardware from Square, the flexibility remains as you can choose between the following options:
- Square terminal
- Square register
- Square reader for magnetic strips
- Square Standup for Chip & Contactless
- Square reader for chip payments and contactless
If you're running a location-based business like a boutique clothing store or coffee shop, Square's Register and Stand-up Terminal are your best options. Magstripe's Square Reader allows you to turn your phone into a POS system to accept payments on the go.
Square's POS system also handles credit card processing with ease. Hence, you don't need any third-party integrations to accept or process payments.
Regardless of your business type, the Square POS system is the popular choice for most small businesses because of its versatility. Plus, Square's pricing is straightforward and transparent.
Square's free iPad POS is free and costs just 2.6% + $ 0.10 per transaction. And that's your only expense, no matter how many sales you make. For larger companies, the price starts at $ 60 / month plus the transaction fee.
There are no hidden costs at Square.
If your business processes are over $ 250,000 per year and your average job size is over $ 15, you can contact Square for a custom solution.
Other advantages of the Square POS system include reliable reports, real-time analytics and 24-hour customer service. Square also lets you view, manage, update, and track your inventory.
The Square POS system allows you to create and manage your customers' profiles more effectively through a dashboard.
Square has a couple of downsides.
Cardless transactions are charged 2.75%, and some features needed by midsize businesses cost a little more. Finally, this system's security protocols, which protect against fraudulent payments, hold accounts for large volume transactions.
After reviewing dozens of the best POS systems, Square is our best today.
Square is particularly recommended for small business owners of all types and even for medium-sized and large companies.
2. Shopify POS Review – Best for ecommerce retail integrations
Popularly known as an ecommerce company, Shopify also offers a retail point of sale system with great ecommerce integrations.
If you already have a Shopify business or are planning to grow your retail business online, Shopify's POS system is a great option.
Shopify's POS system gives you a branded online store and allows you to sell through online channels like eBay, Instagram, and Amazon. Whether in-store or across these online channels, the Shopify POS system allows you to manage your sales in one place.
This is much easier as you don't have to invest in separate solutions.
Sales, employee, and inventory management are some of the main features you get with the Shopify POS system. In short, the system updates your in-store and online inventory in real time. There is also an exceptional sales analysis with the option to offer discount codes.
Do you need to manage your business on the go? No problem. Shopify's POS system comes with a mobile app.
The robust in-store and online integration available with the Shopify POS system provides your customers with a seamless checkout experience. And the convenience of replacing or returning an item purchased at your local store.
The system is available as a free addition to your Shopify monthly plans, which start at $ 29 / month for the basic plan.
Unfortunately, this basic plan doesn't give you advanced reporting and other required features like in-store payments. You need the $ 79 / month plan to process payments in-store in 1 to 5 locations, or the $ 299 / month plan for up to eight locations.
The fees for the three plans are 2.7%, 2.5% and 2.4% per personal transaction.
All plans come with a 14-day free trial and 24-hour live support via phone, email, or live chat. The ease with which the system is set up is another thing you'll love about Shopify POS.
Shopify POS is not for you if you have dozens of stores. Other drawbacks include the system's exclusive focus on e-commerce and retail, and the additional fees you'll have to pay if you're not using Shopify's payment processors.
However, if you already sell online with Shopify or want an easy setup for some retail stores, Shopify POS is a breeze.
We recommend Shopify POS if you're starting a new ecommerce store or want to launch a new POS system.
3. Vend POS Review – Best for multi fashion, sports, or homeware stores
You can adapt the Ven POS system to your individual needs. It's also a perfect solution when you have multiple physical stores.
Vend is one of the best iPad POS systems currently on the market. You can use it on your PC and Mac too. The Vend POS system offers data entry options via mouse, touch screen or keyboard.
It integrates seamlessly with a wide variety of third-party applications and gives you access to numerous additional functions. For example, you can connect third-party payment processors offered by PayPal, Square POS, Shopify POS, and others.
Vend's ecommerce integrations make it easy to sell across your physical store, mobile and digital channels. The robust functions for managing sales analytics, inventory and customer profiles are excellent. You can also process shared and contactless transactions and gift cards.
Regardless of the platform you're running Vend on, you'll get cross-platform consistency that looks the same. However, the Vend POS system does not come with hardware, but makes up for it with the simplicity of the software and the extensive integration options.
Vend POS system pricing starts at $ 99 / month when paid annually for the Lite plan with a monthly sales limit of $ 20,000. The Pro plan is $ 129 / month if you pay annually.
All plans come with a register. If you want additional registers, it costs $ 49 per month. Large retailers can request an enterprise plan that comes with a dedicated account officer.
The main disadvantage of Vend POS is the slow processing speed. Others are that you can only use Google Chrome to run this system and it is not suitable for food trucks, bars, or restaurant businesses.
However, we recommend the Vend POS system if you have multiple retail stores such as fashion boutiques, sports, housewares, outdoor stores or similar and need a solution with extensive integration options.
4. Toast POS Review – Best for Restaurant and Food Businesses
The minds behind the Toast POS system developed the platform for food and beverage manufacturers and their customers. So if you own a restaurant, bar, or food truck business, Toast POS has features tailored to your needs.
The system's integrated CRM software creates an inventory of your loyal customers. Also, you can compose messages and run automatic promotions that keep customers happy, so you can fall behind with customers who are returning to your grocery store.
Toast POS is one of the few systems with great Android features.
And this is better for restaurants because of the affordability and flexibility of the Android infrastructure, which offers faster software updates than the iPad.
Whether you're a full-service or quick-service grocery company, the Toast POS system works well for both. You even have the option of adapting the system for large grocery chains, pizzerias or bars.
As a Toast user, you can access the community of like-minded business owners to review or share best practices in your industry.
Overall, Toast POS offers you a holistic restaurant management system with back office and front-end processes. It increases employee productivity and improves customer service through its food-centric CRM features that also include detailed analysis and sales reports.
You can easily customize menu items and invoices or distribute them to your customers. Taking orders on the fly or sending notifications to customers when their orders are ready are some delicious pros. This makes the Toast POS system a breeze for food companies.
Toast POS system pricing starts at $ 69 / month per terminal with no trials. Hardware prices start at $ 999 and no financing option is available. Toast POS has a flat processing fee and there are no hidden fees.
One disadvantage of the Toast POS system is that it is currently only available to Android users. However, this is not a problem as Android devices are cheaper than iPads.
Toast POS system is the overwhelming recommendation if you own a food or restaurant of any kind. Its functions are tailored to such companies.
5. ERPLY POS Review – Best for Small Franchise Businesses
The ERPLY POS system is the point of contact if you own a franchise business. It runs well on Android and iPad tablets and is accessible through a browser on other devices as well.
ERPLY POS is one of the few cloud hybrid systems that is hardware-independent. This makes it a favorite for small and large franchise dealers alike. With this robust build, you can centralize your inventory across all branches and manage employees by giving them different levels of access to the platform.
With the ERPLY POS system you get CRM tools and the possibility to process confidential data. In addition, you have other powerful franchise-specific features such as sales tracking, barcode scanners and comprehensive inventory management for all plans.
Prices for the ERPLY POS system start at $ 39, but you won't get inventory control for this basic plan. If that's what you want, consider the higher-level plans, which are over $ 69.
A known disadvantage of the ERPLY POS system is that it is difficult to master. Second, there is limited customer support.
However, ERPLY's versatile user interface and free trial that you can take for a spin are good reasons to consider this POS system. And if you own a franchise business, it is highly recommended because of its features that are specifically designed for such retailers.
The best POS system is subjective. Different types of stores have different needs, and a POS system that works for one company may not work well for your own.
It is best to understand your business needs first.
We reviewed dozens of the best POS systems on the market to identify the ones that would work best for different types of small businesses.
We bring you the best POS for retail, grocery, e-commerce, franchise and fashion retail businesses. We also highlighted our recommended overall best.
You won't regret choosing any of the options above.