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Published: Nov 18, 2022 22 min read
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Whether you're building a startup or are a seasoned small business owner, outfitting your business with a good point-of-sale (POS) system is key to ensuring a smooth and pleasant buying experience. While a POS used to be synonymous with the simple cash register, recent advances in technology have outfitted these once humble systems with a slew of high-tech features that touch on every aspect of a business's operations. Modern POS systems can assist with marketing, accounting, employee scheduling and much more.

Parsing through all of these features can seem like a daunting task. If you're suffering from analysis paralysis, we've got you covered. We've identified the top POS systems according to their integrations, features, industries, ease of use, payment capability and business size.

Our Top Picks for the Best Point-of-Sale Systems & Software

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Best Point-of-Sale Software & System Reviews

Why we chose it: We chose Revel as the best POS system for restaurants due to its large number of features and customization options, which make it perfect for integrating front and back-of-house functions into a single system.

Pros
  • Employee scheduling function
  • Multiple payment processor integrations
  • Open API for third-party Integration
  • Granular reporting and analytics
Cons
  • Three-year minimum contract
  • Costly implementation and monthly fees

Revel Systems offers a comprehensive package that provides restaurant owners and managers with a variety of tools baked into a single integrated restaurant management software system. Currently, Revel software is only available for the iPad. However, Revel is capable of integrating with a number of different printers and payment devices.

In addition to the baseline sales function, Revel also allows its users to schedule employees, manage loyalty programs, and several other customer relations management functions.

Revel Systems offers two options:

  • Revels Essentials is built for small businesses and individual franchise operators. Revels Essentials comes equipped with a suite of features, from an inventory management system to an employee administration feature. It also has reporting and analytics functions. These provide users with detailed sales, inventory, and payroll breakdowns.
  • Revels Enterprise provides larger restaurant chains with a standardized workflow. Cloud integration allows business owners to manage multiple locations remotely.

Compared to some of the other point-of-sale systems on this list, Revel may be less user-friendly right off the bat. The extensive list of bells and whistles that makes Revel a top pick also means that it'll take some getting used to. However, Revel does offer extensive support via onsite or virtual onboarding and implementation training, a dedicated account specialist, and a tiered concierge service.

Revel also goes well beyond basic point-of-sale functions:

  • QuickBooks integration allows you to set up your taxes
  • The menu-building function allows for direct import and editing in the POS
  • The kitchen management tool connects directly with front-of-house orders

Why we chose it: Square is our top POS system for small business because of its user-friendly interface, extensive suite of tools, and affordable pricing plans.

Pros
  • Forever-free pricing
  • Great integrated payment processing
  • User-friendly POS with inventory system
  • iOS compatibility
Cons
  • Not available on Android devices
  • Incompatible with other payment processing systems
  • Limited inventory functionality on the free plan

Square has two free plans, Retail Free and Point of Sale, either of which is a solid choice for business owners on a budget. It also makes Square an attractive option for those who want to take their POS system for a test drive before committing to the paid plan. There’s also a third plan, Square for Retail Plus, at only $60/m per location.

Square comes equipped with a number of features that make its plans a solid all-in-one software solution for small businesses. In addition to accepting a variety of payment options — including CashApp and AfterPay, thanks to the latter’s acquisition in 2021 — it also compiles reports to track sales data and trends.

Square offers delivery surface integration, customizable interfaces and product modification (for example, this would allow you to charge for the addition of guacamole to a burrito). With Square, you aren't limited to credit card or digital wallets. The platform also allows cash payments, a must for many small businesses. Both free plans offer unlimited users, products, and transactions.

Some other useful features include:

  • Scheduling applications
  • Payroll management
  • Invoicing features
  • Ecommerce platform capability
  • Payment processing
  • Merchant services

If you're curious about the Retail Plus plan but unwilling to commit, Square offers a free 30-day trial. The Retail Plus plan is best suited for businesses needing additional support as they expand operations. For many small businesses, either free plan will suffice for day-to-day operations.

Why we chose it: We chose Shopify POS as the best retail POS system for its intuitive interface, impressive range of features, and affordable price of just $5 a month, with 2,000 e-commerce integrations and 24/7 customer support.

Pros
  • Versatile online and offline integrations
  • Scalable plans
  • Built-in multi-platform selling
  • 24/7 support
  • Large library of apps and extensions for customization
Cons
  • No offline mode
  • Added costs for Shopify hardware
  • Higher transaction fees than some of its competitors

Shopify is one of the most well-known online store builders on the market, allowing users to either build on pre-made themes (without needing to learn code), while also allowing developers access to CSS, HTML and Liquid, Shopify’s own coding language. Since it’s a hosted platform, that means users don’t need to purchase web hosting or software.

Shopify has five different tiers, ranging from $5/m for the Starter plan, to $2k+ a month for the customizable Shopify Plus. While the Starter plan may seem like a steal, it only allows you to sell on social media and messaging apps. Most users opt for the middle tiers: Basic, Shopify, and Advanced ($29, $79, $299, respectively). Transaction and credit card fees (and shipping discounts) start more expensive on the simpler plans and get lower as you move up the tiers.

Paying annually will gain you a discount of between 10% to 50% off, depending on your location. If you choose to pay 2-3 years in advance, this will respectively discount you 20% and 25%.

While point of sales features and a standalone online “storefront” are both part of the Basic plan, for more advanced features, such as increasing your number of seats or obtaining reporting, you’ll need to upgrade to the Shopify or Advanced plans.

Shopify offers 9 customizable free themes, and 93 additional premium themes for purchase, typically between $200 to $350. You can also build your own, thought that will require some technical know-how. Whichever theme you choose, Shopify’s interface is intuitive and easy to use, allowing you to set up several sales channels, or platforms, on which to sell your products.

It’s key to note here that though Shopify is mostly known for its online platforms, it also has POS functionality and hardware meant for brick and mortar operations. This includes card readers, receipt printers, barcode scanners and tills — all of which need to be connected to a tablet or smartphone — as well as a new all-in-one solution called Shopify POS Go.

Why we chose it: eHopper made our list on the strength of its multichannel system, which gives users the ability to seamlessly integrate physical and online sales.

Pros
  • Mobile POS system
  • Compatible with most popular operating systems
  • Easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Affordable pricing with a basic free POS system plan
Cons
  • Offline mode doesn't accept digital payments, credit cards, and debit cards
  • Limited integrations
  • Doesn't support more advanced reporting

eHopper offers inexpensive POS software meant for both retail and restaurant applications, though it may be lacking some features for the latter. Its free plan, Essential, features free processing through either a cash discount or a credit surcharge — which in essence charges your customers the processing fee — and includes a free e-commerce website, a payment terminal and software. Bear in mind that Essential only allows for 1 POS, 300 transactions a month and 50 products, so it’s not a good solution for a larger business.

However, eHopper’s paid OmniChannel plan ($39.99/m) nets you two licenses, unlimited products, training, implementation assistance, Quickbooks integration, low stock alerts, and a barcode manager. Upgrading also comes equipped with a straight forward interface with easy-to-navigate tabs and drop-down menus that make it easy to modify orders, adjust inventory, issue refunds, clock in and out, and process sales.

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Best for Sales Tracking: Clover

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Why we chose it: Clover sales tracking features built-in analytics tools that can help you spot trends and blindspots in your business.

Pros
  • Detailed sales tracking and analysis
  • Sales forecasting function
  • 24/7 support over phone and email
  • Built-in e-commerce integration
Cons
  • Pricing and fees are hard to find
  • Must contact a sales representative

Clover is an easy to use POS system designed for small and mid-sized businesses, with different solutions for full or quick service dining, retail, personal services, professional services, or home and field services.

To start, customers must purchase Clover hardware (either on its website or via a third-party First Data partner), and apply for a merchant processing account. Clover software comes in two plans: Register Lite and Register.

Register Lite is its most basic plan, which costs $9.95/m after a free 30-day period. It allows you to view reports, set user permissions, track sales, and add third-party apps from the Clover App Market. Register, Clover’s higher-end tier, also has a one-month free trial period and then costs $39.95/m. Aside from what’s included with Register Lite, this plan also allows for advanced reporting, inventory management, and customer loyalty programs.

Clover's granular reporting and powerful analysis tools set it apart from the competition. You can use Clover to divide sales by revenue class and category to get a better idea of what you're selling and at what times. Source of order reporting allows you to divide your sales by venue and channel, while prior period reporting makes it easy to spot trend lines.

Finally, Clover offers a large number of app integrations for additional fees, including Quickbooks, TimeClock and Yelp. It also features some financial solutions for businesses, such as Clover Capital, a cash advance program, and rapid deposits. We also liked that Clover doesn’t charge for additional users.

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Other systems we considered

With so many point-of-sale systems available on the market today, it was inevitable that a few worthy contenders would be left out of the running.

Here are a few honorable mentions. While they might not have made the cut for an entry onto our main list, the following point-of-sale systems are still worth looking into before you come to a final decision.

Lightspeed POS

Lightspeed Restaurant offers point-of-sale systems for retail, hospitality, restaurants, and online merchants. However, this company did not make our list due to its high price point.

Pros
  • Excellent inventory management
  • Round-the-clock support
  • Free onboarding
  • Custom reorder points
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No scheduling function
  • Analytics, accounting, and e-commerce integrations are only included in the more expensive tiers
  • Complicated user interface

Toast

Toast is a mid-priced restaurant POS. It failed to make our list due to its opaque pricing system, less than intuitive user interface and one-year contract minimum.

Pros
  • Self-serve kiosks available for customers
  • Delivery management feature
  • Free plan available
  • 24/7 customer support available to all price levels
Cons
  • One-year minimum contract
  • Quote-based pricing
  • In-house payment processing only
  • Add-on fees that can add up

GoDaddy

Best known for its web hosting services, GoDaddy also provides a POS system. While it scores high on a number of features, ultimately GoDaddy did not make our main list.

Pros
  • Sales tracking functionality
  • Accepts a variety of payment methods
  • Data reports and analysis combining in-person and online sales
  • Integrated loyalty and marketing features
  • Low payment processing fees
Cons
  • No live chat support, and response times can be long
  • Incompatible with third-party payment processing systems
  • No free pricing plan

Lavu

Another POS system built for the restaurant business, Lavu failed to make our list due to its high price point.

Pros
  • Efficient and intuitive UX
  • Self-ordering kiosk function
  • Online ordering available
  • Industry-specific features like cash discounts are available
Cons
  • Weak customer service
  • High price point

Epos Now

While Epos is a solid product, it failed to make our list due to its lengthy minimum contracts and opaque pricing structure.

Pros
  • Easily scalable making it a great option for growing businesses
  • Integrates with a variety of credit and debit card processors
  • Comes equipped with a wide array of built-in features
  • Numerous third-party integration features are available
Cons
  • Lengthy minimum contract
  • High price point
  • Paid customer service
  • Complex user interface

Upserve POS

Upserve POS is another restaurant-oriented system that failed to make our main list due to its high price point.

Pros
  • Extremely easy-to-use interface
  • Powerful reporting functions
  • Online ordering integration
  • Compatible with iOS and Android systems
Cons
  • High cost
  • Minimum contract
  • No free plan or trial
  • Many features come at an additional cost

Best POS Systems & Software Guide

We compiled a handy guide to help you understand what a POS system is, how it works and the features to look for as you select a system for your business.

What is a POS system?

A point of sale or POS system is composed of the devices or software an organization uses to process a sale, either in person or online. Throughout much of the twentieth century, ringing cash registers were virtually synonymous with the term POS. In recent years, the simple cash register has increasingly been supplanted by more sophisticated payment processing systems. These POS systems use a combination of software and hardware to accept payments.

Point of sale systems can be physical devices, but the term is also used to describe the checkout function of online storefronts.

As software grows increasingly complex, many POS systems have also taken on additional functions related to marketing, inventory management and tracking, scheduling and employee management, loyalty rewards programs and more.

How does a POS system work

A POS registers the sale of an item or items. Modern POS devices accept a variety of payment types from cash to credit and debit cards to digital payment systems such as Apple or Samsung wallet. And, in areas where sales tax is not included on the item tag, POS devices will typically calculate the sales tax before accepting payment.

Online storefronts typically integrate their POS system into their website. When online shoppers want to make a purchase, they can click the buy now button, which will typically prompt them to input or review their payment and personal details before confirming their purchase. Another option is portable POS systems such as smartphone plug-ins, which allow businesses to accept sales without being confined to a fixed location.

Perhaps the boldest innovation to arrive in the world of POS comes from Amazon Go, a store that eschews the traditional POS model entirely. Instead, shoppers scan into the store when they arrive using an app on their smartphone. As they shop, the app detects which items the buyer has selected. Once the shopper is done selecting their items, they simply walk right out of the store.

At no point in the process does the shopper proceed to a POS terminal. Instead, the items selected are charged to the shopper's Amazon account. Amazon sends the purchaser a receipt via e-mail.

How to pick a POS system for your business

With so many capabilities and add-on features available, choosing the right POS system for your business may appear needlessly complicated. We've simplified the selection process by highlighting the five key features that most modern POS systems will contain. Business needs will dictate which features receive the most attention. However, most companies will want a strong combination of all five aspects to drive sales.

Payment processing

Payment processing occurs when a credit or debit card is inserted into or swiped through the POS device. If the transaction takes place online, payment processing begins after the purchaser hits the buy now button. At this point, the payment processor takes over the transaction, mediating between the various financial institutions involved. Money is electronically transferred to the merchant, though this may take some time — again, depending on the different financial institutions. Meanwhile, the buyer's bank account is debited.

Established businesses typically have their own merchant accounts registered with merchant service providers. This allows the business to accept the transferred money directly. However, some businesses choose a third-party processor in lieu of setting up a merchant service account directly with the banks they would like to do business with.

These third-party payment processing services are typically chosen for their flexibility, lower costs and ease of use. However, these services do come with lower levels of security compared to merchant accounts, which offer greater protection against fraudulent transactions.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

Customer relationship management software collects data pertaining to individual customers and consolidates it in one place. This can include communication made across a variety of platforms such as texts, e-mails, phone calls and forms. In addition, CRM systems may store documents, notes, quotes, ongoing orders and reminders.

Stand-alone CRM systems exist. However, it’s increasingly become a feature of many POS systems. A detailed and well-organized CRM file can be a game changer when dealing with repeat customers. Sales and support staff can leave notes for one another detailing ongoing issues, customer quirks, and preferences. By consolidating a customer's store history in one place, staff have an easier time understanding individual customer preferences.

CRM data can be used to assist sales and marketing efforts. It can also be used to identify warm leads. For example, if a customer has a history of trading in their Kia every three years and you receive a shipment of Kias, then you can use the data contained in the CRM to reach out directly to the customer.

Appointment scheduling

Many POS systems have integrated calendar functions. These can assist with the sales process by providing sales staff with a common system for setting appointments and managing ongoing client relationships. Institutional knowledge then side-steps some problems that may arise when a team member unexpectedly leaves or is absent. POS calendars are also convenient and easy to use. Since they're integrated into the sales software, a follow-up appointment can easily be scheduled during the checkout process.

Detailed reports

Sophisticated POS systems will provide users with a detailed collection of employee hours and sales data. This information can be analyzed to provide insights into product popularity, peak business traffic and buying trends. Business owners can use this information to identify trends and make decisions regarding staffing, inventory, and promotional efforts.

Detailed reports should contain the following items:

  • Employee and department sales figures
  • Individual item sales
  • Best and least-selling products
  • Ecommerce sales
  • Total returns as well as return frequency for individual items
  • Gross profits broken down over specific time frames
  • Purchases made via mobile devices

Loyalty programs

Point-of-sale systems often come equipped with loyalty program capabilities. These add-ons track consumer behavior and spending habits. This information is then used to craft reward programs that encourage customers to engage in more frequent or greater spending. By rewarding beneficial behavior, loyalty programs can create a virtuous cycle causing average customer spending to increase over time.

Best POS Systems and Software FAQ

How much does a POS system cost?

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Point-of-sale systems vary wildly in cost depending on the brand, features and scope. When discussing POS costs, it's important to differentiate between software, hardware, installation fees, payment processing fees and add-on fees for additional modules and integrations.

Ultimately, most businesses may be looking at an initial cost of somewhere between $300 and $2,000, although that number can rise or fall dramatically depending on the provider, the plan, and the software that you go with.

How to set up a POS system

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POS systems vary in their setup complexity. Modest systems may require nothing more than downloading an app onto your smartphone, while more complicated systems will necessitate a professional installation team.

A simple, cashless retail business may need nothing more than a tablet or smartphone with a mobile point-of-sale device capable of reading credit and debit card chips. These devices are inexpensive and easy to use. Simply download the appropriate software or app, connect the card reader and begin.

Fortunately, most POS systems make getting started easy with how-to guides and step-by-step tutorials. First, you'll be prompted to log in or create an account. After you have your account set up, you'll upload your product list.

For this step, you'll want to include critical details like the stock-keeping unit (SKU) or scannable bar code, wholesale price, resale price, product description, category, brand name, supplier and information for future orders. After, you'll set up your user accounts, connect to your POS devices and integrate your payment processing system.

What is needed for a POS system?

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POS systems include a mix of hardware and software. Hardware typically consists of the payment terminal, a tablet or other computer and a receipt printer. While some POS systems require special equipment to operate, many systems can operate on a tablet or smartphone device.

To install these systems, you'll need a stable internet connection and sufficient memory on your device for the download to complete. Prior to purchasing a system, check that the system is compatible with your device's operating system. You may need to purchase a chip reader to accept credit and debit card payments.

How We Chose the Best POS Systems and Software

We evaluated point-of-sale systems across five main criteria. These include:

Integrations

POS systems have expanded to take on a range of essential business functions such as marketing, inventory management, accounting, employee scheduling and other important operations functions. Most modern POS systems offer a range of integrations. However, these vary from system to system. Typically, the more integrations offered and the more streamlined and accessible these integrations are, the better. By integrating your point-of-sale system with your marketing software, for example, you can more easily track the success of a promotion or loyalty reward. Furthermore, bringing multiple essential operations into one place can make it easier for you to manage all aspects of your business from a single piece of software.

Features

With most POS systems offering similar core functionalities, added features are a strong differentiator between systems. These features enhance the usability of your POS software, and may come bespoke for your industry. For example, a restaurant might want a tipping and an order customization feature.

Ease of use

With so many features becoming standard across the range of POS systems, easy functionality is a top concern for many business owners and managers. Poor UX design can lead to significant time waste and added costs for staff training. Added features are rendered useless when the end user is either unable or unwilling to access them due to overwhelming complexity. Strong POS systems will have easy-to-use, intuitive interface systems.

Industries

While many POS systems are built to work across a range of industries, different features and capabilities can make one system better suited for retail operations, while another system may be best suited for restaurants. A restauranteur might purchase a POS system with an ingredient-level inventory accommodation. In contrast, a retail operations manager will likely care more about barcode scanning functionality.

Payment processing capability

An excellent POS system will be able to process a wide range of payment options including credit and debit cards from all major providers. Payment security is another key feature. Finally, seamless integration with digital payment methods such as Apple and Samsung wallets are a must-have capability for any business hoping to survive in today's increasingly tech-driven world.

Summary of Money's Best POS Systems and Software of 2023