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Looking For A New POS? These Are The Best Point Of Sale Systems For Small Business

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Best small business POS

As a small business owner, you no doubt take great pride in your business and want it to be the best it can be. But at the same time, you have to be budget-conscious. Especially if you have a newer business, you probably can’t afford to have every single aspect of your establishment be “state of the art.”

For most business owners, however, a point of sale (POS) system is something you can’t afford not to invest in. That’s because a good point of sale system will actually save you money in the long run, and free up time spent on management tasks like inventory, payroll, accounting, marketing, and others. You don’t want to pay for features you won’t use: you want a POS system for your small business that’s going to allow you to do everything you need to do without overpaying. So, customizability with multiple pricing options is key.

Whether you own a retail establishment, restaurant, service-based business, or a business that doesn’t fit neatly into any one box, there is a good chance that at least one of the POS systems on this list can meet your needs.

But first, let’s take a look at what makes a POS system good for small businesses.

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  • $49+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.5% + $0.10
  • Runs on iPad, Android, or Clover
  • $49+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.5% + $0.10
  • Runs on iPad, Android, or Clover
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  • $59+ or $69+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10
  • Runs on iPad or Desktop PC
  • $59+ or $69+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10
  • Runs on iPad or Desktop PC
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  • $39.95+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.3% + $0.10
  • Hardware options include Station, Mini, Flex, & Go
  • $39.95+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.3% + $0.10
  • Hardware options include Station, Mini, Flex, & Go
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  • $69+/month
  • Custom flat-rate processing
  • Runs on Android tablets
  • $69+/month
  • Custom flat-rate processing
  • Runs on Android tablets
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  • $0+/ month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.5% or 2.6% + $0.10
  • Runs iOS, Android, Square Terminal, Square Register
  • $0+/ month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.5% or 2.6% + $0.10
  • Runs iOS, Android, Square Terminal, Square Register
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    Other Featured Options:

    • Shopify POS:
    • $9+/ month
    • Flat-rate processing at 2.4% - 2.7%
    • Runs iOS & Android
    • Payment Depot Mobile:
    • $10+/ month
    • Flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10
    • Runs iOS & Android

    Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

    What Makes A Good Point Of Sale System For Small Businesses?

    A POS system serves an important role for just about any small business. Beyond just sales tracking and reporting, a POS system can do many other things that can save both your time and your money. A great point of sale system for small businesses will have the following characteristics:

    • Affordable: Month-to-month SaaS pricing and affordable, tablet-based hardware ensures that you don’t have to make a huge expenditure on on-premise software and hardware system, which you may not even decide to keep. Hardware shouldn’t typically cost much more than $1,000-$1,500 per station. (Read more about how much a POS system costs.)
    • Customizable: A system you can customize lets you built the perfect POS for your business, so you only pay for the features you want, and not the ones you could do without. You can also change or add features as your business grows.
    • Mobile: Tablet or iPad-based (or proprietary mobile hardware) systems move around your business with you. Some POS systems may also have iPhone or smartphone capabilities so you can take payments when you’re away from your business, or even if you don’t have a storefront location.
    • Cloud-Based: Modern web-based POS systems store all of your information safely in the cloud and allow you to access your business data from anywhere in the world. Cloud POS systems are also scaleable, with monthly pricing packages.
    • Modern Payment Support: Your POS should be able to accept not just cash and swiped payments, but also chip cards and mobile/tapped payments (NFC), and ideally also gift cards, coupons/rewards, and store credit. A growing number of POS systems also allow for QR code payments and text payments that let customers pay from their own device.
    • Integrated Payment Processing: A good POS should have integrated payment processing, either via an in-house payment processor or with an outside merchant account that you can integrate seamlessly.
    • eCommerce Features: More and more small businesses are doing at least some sales online, so your POS should facilitate online sales, either via an in-house eCommerce module or by integrating with a service like Shopify or BigCommerce.
    • Socially Distanced Selling: In addition to traditional eCommerce selling, a modern POS system will also have newer online selling options including online ordering, local delivery, and curbside pickup—all of which are especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. During COVID, it’s also become all the more crucial that your system is able to accept the socially distanced, contactless payment forms mentioned above.
    • Loyalty Features: Keep customers coming back with a custom loyalty program (in-house or integrated). Some POS systems even let you create a branded loyalty app for your customers.
    • Business Management Features: A modern POS can and should handle everything from employee management and payroll, to purchase orders and vendor management. You’ll also likely benefit from industry-specific features such as table mapping and tipping features for restaurants, or advanced inventory management for retail stores.

    How We Chose The Best Small Business POS

    We chose the following POS systems based on whether they meet the above criteria of what makes a good small business POS (cloud-based, affordable, eCommerce, integration, etc.). We also considered factors like user reviews and public reputation, as well as our own internal ratings of POS vendors. The vendors we selected are some of the highest-rated POS companies we have reviewed, with all receiving at least 4/5 stars. If you are interested, you can learn more about our rating and scoring system.

    Looking For The Best POS System for Small Business? Try These 7 Options

    The following cloud POS systems for small business are powerful, affordable, and customizable. Best of all, they are designed specifically with small businesses in mind.

    1. ShopKeep: Best For Small Retailers & Quick-Serve

    ShopKeep POS



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    Read our Review

    ShopKeep is a simple-to-use tablet-based POS software with many useful features. ShopKeep is especially popular with foodservice and beverage retailers, thanks to features like raw ingredient inventory tracking and onscreen tipping. However, it’s also good for small specialty retail outfits or even hybrid businesses that sell some food products as well as merchandise. 

    In addition to a comprehensive register, ShopKeep includes useful back-end features like employee time tracking, real-time analytics, eCommerce, and marketing features. ShopKeep is also known for having great customer support. There are some inventory limitations–the register only supports 3,000 buttons–so it’s not geared toward businesses with very large inventories. ShopKeep lacks full-service restaurant features such as table mapping. However, you do get COVID-friendly quick-serve features like online ordering and curbside pickup, and the ShopKeep Pay mobile app works great for curbside and delivered orders.

    This POS integrates with most payment processors (including its own well-received ShopKeep Payments), which gives you the choice of custom interchange-plus processing or flat-rate processing at 2.5% + $0.10. In addition to in-person credit card and contactless payments, you can accept payments virtually with ShopKeep Payments via invoice, your website, text message, virtual terminal, or even on your smartphone with the ShopKeep Pocket or ShopKeep Pay mobile apps. 

    Notably, ShopKeep has a free plan, in addition to its paid plans, which start at $49/month. ShopKeep’s free Starter plan is for businesses processing less than $5,000 per month and includes one active register, one location, and one employee, plus limited reporting. However, you do get full inventory management and integrated ShopKeep Payments payment processing.

    Pros

    • Affordable, with free plan available
    • Runs on iPad, Android, or Clover
    • Excellent quick-serve features

    Cons

    • Not optimized for large inventories or full-service restaurants

    Get Started with ShopKeep POS

    Read our in-depth review

    Jump back to comparison chart

    2. Lightspeed: Best For Restaurants Or Retailers

    Lightspeed POS



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    Read our Review

    Lightspeed is a major name in iPad POS, and for good reason. The company delivers premium-class iPad POS software for restaurant and retail operations (Lightspeed Retail also runs on desktop PCs), as well as a strong eCommerce product, .which also integrates with its POS systems. Lightspeed’s complete and thoughtful feature set allows restaurant and retail businesses to not just process payments, but also handle pretty much every aspect of business management, from employee management to vendor management.

    There are self-ordering and kiosk options, digital kitchen displays, gift cards, and a built-in loyalty program: you get to decide which features you want and which ones you don’t want to pay for. Moreover, all the tools Lightspeed puts at your disposal are specifically designed for small-to-medium businesses.

    Some favorite Lightspeed Restaurant features include a customizable menu, adjustable floorplan, staff profiles, tableside ordering, and mobile reporting. The system is priced reasonably at $59/month (or $69/month billed monthly), but you will have to pay extra for features like advanced reporting, loyalty, self-ordering, accounting software integration, and delivery integration.

    Lightspeed Retail‘s feature set includes advanced inventory capabilities, multiple product variants, vendor purchase orders, and many others. Lightspeed Retail “Basic” is just $69/month ($79/month billed monthly), though you will only be able to access eCommerce, loyalty, analytics, and accounting software integration at higher price tiers. The $99/month “Starter” plan includes eCommerce, which lets you seamlessly sell online and in-store.

    Lightspeed can integrate with various merchant accounts and also has its own in-house payment processor, Lightspeed Payments, offering 2.6% + $0.10 flat-rate processing. Users are strongly incentivized to use Lightspeed Payments; if you want to use a different processor, you’ll pay $30/month more.

    Pros

    • Dedicated Restaurant and Retail iPad POS systems for SMB
    • Strong eCommerce feature
    • Numerous features

    Cons

    • Can get expensive if you want all the features

    Get Started with Lightspeed POS

    Read our in-depth review

    Jump back to comparison chart

    3. Clover POS: Best For Any Small Business

    Clover POS



    Visit Site

    Read our Review

    Clover is a one-of-a-kind POS system that is mobile, modern, and uniquely designed for small businesses. Clover runs on proprietary Android-based hardware with a choice of several form factor options, including the Station, Station Pro, Mini, Flex, and Go, which you can mix and match to your liking. Clover’s software is similarly customizable, letting you pick and choose features from a vast app market to create a system that’s perfectly tailored to you, whether you have a retail, quick-serve, full-service restaurant, or service industry business.

    Clover’s clean, simple system is ideal for a business that values simplicity and ease of use. Once you purchase your Clover system–you’ll buy your complete hardware setup as a package, complete with bundled software apps–you can get up and go in minutes.

    One of the only downsides of Clover is that all systems are sold with a First Data merchant account, which limits your choice of processors. Clover.com allows you to buy the system directly with flat-rate pricing and no long-term commitments, but there are also numerous Clover/First Data resellers, all of which have different pricing and service contracts. We recommend buying your system directly from Clover or from a recommended Clover reseller.

    If you buy your system directly through Clover, you’ll pay just $39.95/month per location (plus $9.95/month for each additional register per location) for the register and back-end apps, including Orders, Register, Promos, Rewards, Employees, Reporting, and others, regardless of how many registers/devices you have. This package is best for retail and quick-serve businesses. For the Dining package for full-service restaurants, you’ll pay $69.95/month and receive additional apps such as Floor Plans, Bar Tab Auths, Tips, Shifts, Discounts, and Happy Hour. These plans include flat-rate payment processing with a rate of 2.3% + $0.10.

    Pros

    • Plug-and-play, all-in-one POS
    • Highly customizable
    • Competitive monthly pricing

    Cons

    • Some Clover systems sold by sketchy merchant services companies

    Get Started with Clover POS

    Read our in-depth review

    Jump back to comparison chart

    4. Toast: Best For Restaurants

    Toast POS



    Visit Site

    Read our Review

    Toast is one of our favorite restaurant POS systems, in large part because it’s low maintenance.

    You get a highly intuitive and modern restaurant POS for a relatively low starting cost of $69/month (for one register). which comes with strong reporting and inventory management. At that price point, you have pretty much everything your small business needs to get off the ground. What’s more, Toast’s features hold their own with pretty much any other POS system out there, even though it doesn’t follow the ubiquitous iPad POS model, relying instead on an Android model that uses more affordable, restaurant-grade hardware and gives you more form factor options (compared to iPad-based systems).

    Toast offers on-site installation and staff training if you need it and has some of the best customer service that we’ve come across in our reviews. Its internal reporting is not only robust, but also specifically designed for the restaurant industry, giving you a look at sales, labor, and product reports in an easy-to-navigate fashion. This system’s menu creation feature is a very useful tool, as it can be customized with any number of modifiers to fit your specific business. Toast’s table layout function is also extremely simple, allowing you to set up your own restaurant in a matter of minutes.

    Toast’s price can creep up quickly if you use a lot of handheld devices for servers or use services like loyaltygift cardskiosks, or online ordering—but it is nice to have those options available if your restaurant needs them. Since COVID, Toast has also beefed up their digital ordering extras to include options like eGift cards, contactless delivery, and even a mobile delivery app. One potential downside is that you can only use Toast’s own in-house payment processing, which also requires a multi-year merchant services contracts.

    Pros

    • Android POS
    • Made specifically for restaurants
    • High-tech features include tableside ordering & online ordering app

    Cons

    • Requires multi-year processing agreement

    Get Started with Toast POS

    Read our in-depth review

    Jump back to comparison chart

    5. Square: Best For Low-Volume Businesses

    Square



    Visit Site

    Read our Review

    Though many competitors and copycats have followed in its wake, Square was the first truly mobile POS system, and in many respects, it is still the best. Usable on virtually any device, Square’s free POS started as a basic payment processing solution. However, in the 10+ years since its founding, Square has fleshed out its business management features, and now includes everything from payroll to marketing, and even business loans. Certain features and industry-specific packages (such as Square for Restaurants and Square for Retail) do carry a monthly cost, but the core POS remains free; all you have to pay is the 2.6% + $0.10 payment processing fee, or 2.5% + $0.10 if you use Square Appointments, Square Register, or Square Terminal. Square merchants can even accept gift cards for free and sell online-–also for free.

    Square is not the most advanced POS out there, but it is certainly competitive with other cloud POS systems on the market and is especially popular with coffee shops, QSR, and small retail stores. You can also take the POS with you wherever you go to take payments on your phone, making it ideal for trunk shows and other events, casual micro-businesses that don’t have a storefront yet, and mobile businesses such as food trucks. Square also has many useful socially distanced selling features, including on-demand delivery, in-person pickup, local delivery, online checkout, and eGift cards.

    With Square POS being tied to the company’s third-party payment processing services, high-volume businesses processing more than $10K to $15K month will likely be able to get better rates and account stability by using a POS that allows them to use their own merchant account. However, for small, low-volume businesses with small tickets, Square is hard to beat.

    Pros

    • Mobile POS
    • Works on any device
    • Feature-packed free plan

    Cons

    • Account stability issues for some merchants

    Get Started with Square

    Read our in-depth review

    Jump back to comparison chart

    6. Shopify POS: Best For Omnichannel Retailers

    Shopify POS



    Visit Site

    Read our Review

    Affordable, scalable, innovative… these are just a few words commonly used to describe Shopify POS. Shopify is especially known for its strong eCommerce functionality, as this retail system started as an eCommerce company that made it easy for retailers to sell online. Shopify POS provides a bridge between your online and in-person sales, and provides all the standard retail POS features you’d expect from a cloud POS, as well as your own eCommerce website and blog.

    Even if you don’t do eCommerce, Shopify is still an excellent POS for small retail businesses, and can be used on iPad or Android. Shopify offers fully integrated payment processing via Shopify Payments, and offers a unique pricing structure, whereby your monthly rate determines your credit card transaction fees. At the most basic $9/month “Shopify Lite” plan (which only allows social media selling and mobile sales), you get a credit card processing rate of 2.7% for in-person transactions, but just a few steps up at the $79/month plan, you get a very decent rate of 2.5%. You can integrate outside payment processors with Shopify, but there is an added charge to do so.

    Some other perks of Shopify POS include unlimited products, inventory management features, advanced reporting, eGift cards, store credit, staff profiles, and the ability to accept multiple forms of payment for the same transaction. Shopify also offers socially distant sales features like local delivery, local pickup, and QR code selling. Responsive, 24/7 support is also included with all packages. Among the only drawbacks is that you need an internet connection to process credit cards.

    Pros

    • Built specifically for retailers
    • Syncs online and in-person sales
    • Month-to-month plans with no long-term commitment

    Cons

    • Needs internet connection to process credit cards

    Get Started with Shopify POS

    Read our in-depth review

    Jump back to comparison chart

    7. SwipeSimple: Best For Small Businesses That Just Need The Basics

    Payment Depot Mobile



    Visit Site

    Read our Review

    SwipeSimple is a mobile POS app offered by various resellers. Similar to Clover, pricing and quality of services varies depending on where you get it from. We recommend getting SwipeSimple from Payment Depot in particular because of their reliable merchant services and affordable pricing.

    SwipeSimple’s feature set could be likened to a pared down version of Square’s. You can accept payments via a countertop register set up at your store using an iPad or tablet and Star Micronics’ mPOP cash drawer and receipt printer, or on the go with your phone (Apple or Android). There is also basic inventory management, reports, discounts, tips, digital receipts, and an offline mode, as well as 24/7 support and 24 to 48-hour deposits. But the main benefit of using SwipeSimple is that you get your own dedicated merchant account. Having your own merchant account equates to better account stability—merchants who have been burned by third-party payment processors such as Square or PayPal can certainly attest to this. This is not to say that third-party processing is inherently bad, but it just doesn’t work for all types of merchants, particularly those who don’t fit neatly into the “low-risk” category.

    As for SwipeSimple pricing, Payment Depot offers two distinct pricing setups. For low-volume merchants, it’s $10/month with 2.6%+ $0.10 flat-rate processing. Yes, this is $10/month more than Square charges, and you don’t get all the features of Square, but for a business owner that doesn’t need those features but would benefit from the stability of having their own merchant account, SwipeSimple by Payment Depot could be ideal. Payment Depot will also provide a free chip and swipe Bluetooth card reader, the Swift B200 (or you can pay $25 for the Swift B250 chip and tap reader).

    For higher volume businesses using SwipeSimple, Payment Depot offers $49/month membership pricing with interchange-plus rates. This could be an excellent deal for a business that sells more than $10K/month and/or whose average ticket size exceeds $10. All in all, Payment Depot provides excellent pricing and services for SwipeSimple and could be the perfect fit for small businesses looking for a Square alternative.

    Pros

    • Square alternative
    • Comes with your own merchant account
    • Plans for low-volume and high-volume sellers

    Cons

    • Pared down feature set

    Get Started with Payment Depot Mobile

    Read our in-depth review

    Jump back to comparison chart

    Didn’t Find What You Were Looking For? Check Out These Small Business POS Resources Instead

    Didn’t find exactly what you were looking for on this list? That’s okay! We have plenty of other small business POS content, including information on the best POS systems for specific industries. We even have an in-depth look at the best free POS systems for businesses on a tight budget:

    What’s The Best POS System For Small Business?

    There is no “one size fits all approach” to choosing a POS, since different kinds of businesses have different needs. To find your perfect POS system that makes the final cut, you will need to ask yourself what your must-have features are, how much you can afford, and what features you anticipate needing down the line. Luckily, even if you choose a POS and later decide you don’t like it, it’s pretty easy to switch to another POS, as long as you choose a monthly pricing plan (instead of an annual commitment) and non-proprietary hardware. Also, most systems offer a free trial so you can decide on a POS system before committing to it.

    Because a POS is such an important investment, it might be a good idea to finance your POS system with a small business loan if you can’t afford to purchase a good system yet.  If you need more help choosing a POS system for your small business or financing a POS system, please leave me a comment on this article and I’ll do my best to assist.


    In Summary: Looking For The Best POS System for Small Business? Try These 7 Options

    1. ShopKeep POS:
    2. $49+/month
    3. Flat-rate processing at 2.5% + $0.10
    4. Runs on iPad, Android, or Clover
    5. Lightspeed POS:
    6. $59+ or $69+/month
    7. Flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10
    8. Runs on iPad or Desktop PC
    9. Clover POS:
    10. $39.95+/month
    11. Flat-rate processing at 2.3% + $0.10
    12. Hardware options include Station, Mini, Flex, & Go
    13. Toast POS:
    14. $69+/month
    15. Custom flat-rate processing
    16. Runs on Android tablets
    17. Square:
    18. $0+/ month
    19. Flat-rate processing at 2.5% or 2.6% + $0.10
    20. Runs iOS, Android, Square Terminal, Square Register
    21. Shopify POS:
    22. $9+/ month
    23. Flat-rate processing at 2.4% - 2.7%
    24. Runs iOS & Android
    25. Payment Depot Mobile:
    26. $10+/ month
    27. Flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10
    28. Runs iOS & Android
    Shannon Vissers

    Shannon Vissers

    Shannon is a writer and editor based in San Diego, CA. Shannon attended San Diego State University, graduating in 2005 with a BA in English. She is the former editor-in-chief of SteelOrbis, an online trade publication. Shannon has also published articles for LIVESTRONG.COM, eHow, Life'd, and other websites. She has been with Merchant Maverick since 2015, writing about POS software, small business loans, and financing for women entrepreneurs.
    Shannon Vissers
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