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Need A Retail POS System For Your Small Business? These 7 Great Solutions Can Solve Your Store’s Woes

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Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Once you’ve come to the conclusion that you need to purchase a new POS system, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you need a retail or restaurant system — or one that can handle both. If you’re running a strictly retail business, you likely won’t benefit from some of the more specific feature options that restaurants need (like table mapping or ingredient tracking) and they may serve simply to confuse and clutter up your interface. Fortunately, now more than ever, there are plenty of excellent POS options geared entirely to the retail small-business owner. Don’t make this decision lightly. You have plenty of options that can provide you with the features you need and at a price point you can make work.

Imagine being able to access your store’s back office from anywhere or being able to keep track of your inventory digitally instead of on a clipboard. Many point of sale systems offer retail-specific features, including robust inventory management, purchase ordering, CMR, loyalty programs, eCommerce, and much more.

This article will discuss some of the retail POS systems that we routinely recommend over and over.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanySummaryNext Steps
Lightspeed Retail is specifically tailored for small to mid-sized retail establishments. Its strong feature set includes an extensive array of reports.

Visit Site

Read More

Clover Station can be a good solution for small to mid-sized small businesses. It is an affordable and highly-intuitive system with access to hundreds of helpful apps.

Get Started

Read More

ShopKeep is a highly affordable and sleek POS for small to mid-sized small business owners. It features an excellent mobile app and strong inventory management.

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Read More

Square POS is an excellent solution for small business owners featuring easy mobile processing and access to an extensive list of apps through its own store.

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Read More

Vend is a retail-specific solution that is suitable for establishments of all sizes. It features excellent purchase order management and syncs with eCommerce solutions.

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Read More

Other Featured Options:

  • Shopify POS: Shopify is a POS for nearly every size of business. It is an all-in-one system that features its own payment processor and eCommerce platform.
  • Revel POS: Revel is a POS solution for mid-sized to larger retail establishments. It offers a robust list of features including an extensive list of reports.

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

4 Things To Look For In A POS System For Retail: The Small Business Wish List

POS systems are now so much more than just a way to process payments. In fact, you can virtually run your entire business with the software many of them provide. Here are a few features to look for that can simplify your life and help your business run effectively.

  • Employee Management: Many POS systems come with built-in time card functionality and the ability to manage your employees’ hours. You can also assign permissions, giving certain employees different levels of access and keep tabs on things like voids and cash drawer interactions to prevent fraud.
  • Loyalty: Some POS systems come with a built-in loyalty program or have one that can easily be purchased as an add-on. This can help attract repeat business and effectively help you market to interested customers. This can sometimes include gift card functionality as well.
  • Inventory Management: Having a POS system that specifically helps you manage your retail inventory can be a lifesaver. Some of these features can include purchase order management, low stock alerts, and the ability to transfer stock across multiple stores to name a few.
  • Reporting: Even if you think you might not be doing a lot of in-depth analysis of your business, having a basic set of reports can help you diagnose potential issues within your store. You can track busy times during the week or month, find out who your top-selling employees are, and discover what items you’re selling that are the most or least cost-effective.

One thing to watch out for is that sometimes these features are included in the basic monthly software fee while other times they need to be purchased, upping the price. Make sure you’re only paying for services that you will be using in your store.

How To Manage Your Business More Effectively With Your Retail POS Software

Point of sale systems have made tremendous improvements over just the past decade. Some of today’s systems would almost reminiscent of futuristic science fiction novels if you showed them to small business owners just a handful of years ago. Now POS software can give you a truly all-in-one system for managing and operating your establishment.

Imagine being able to access your store’s back office from anywhere or being able to keep track of your inventory digitally instead of on a clipboard. Many point of sale systems offer retail-specific features, including robust inventory management, purchase ordering, CMR, loyalty programs, eCommerce, and much more. And the advancements keep on coming. Mobile ordering and handheld processing devices are the latest trend, giving you the flexibility to move around the store, offering customers a more personal experience, and freeing up congestion at the checkout counter.

However, maybe your business has a more simple model and you can get by without many of the above-mentioned bells and whistles. In this case, you’ll want to look for a system that has a smaller (and therefore more affordable) plan so that you’re only paying for features you’re actually using or plan on using in the future.

7 Retail POS Systems That Should Be On Your Software Shopping List

1. Lightspeed Retail

Lightspeed POS



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Read our Review

Pros:

  • Excellent register
  • Strong ecommerce
  • Extensive reports

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Some features can be unwieldy

Retail Specific Features:

  • Hybrid system
  • Basic plan $69/month, starter plan $99/month, standard plan $119/month, advanced plan $169/month, pro plan $229/month
  • In-browser option or iPad app
  • Any size business
  • Inventory management, including matrix
  • Purchase ordering
  • Omnichannel
  • Mobile app

Lightspeed Retail (see our review) was created back in 2005 and is now used by more than 50,000 businesses around the world. This system offers myriad features including multi-tender options, the ability to issue store credit, inventory management, the ability to buy items in bulk and sell them individually, purchase ordering, employee management, CRM, reporting, and multi-store capability.

Lightspeed features some unique inventory features like customizable tags and the ability to manage bulk items that are being sold individually. You can create your own purchase orders and complete them across multiple vendors. Lightspeed comes with fairly advanced loyalty functionality as well, allowing you to store information on customers and offer specialized discounts. It also integrates with MailChimp and MailSync for marketing,

In terms of payment processing, Lightspeed Retail integrates with Vantiv Integrated Payments, Cayan, and iZettle and has been EMV compliant since before October 2015. Lightspeed Retail offers 24/7 customer service support and live chat from 11 am to 8 pm EST.

RestaurantRetaileCommerce

Lightspeed Restaurant

Lightspeed Retail

Lightspeed eCommerce

Premium Restaurant POS

Premium Retail POS

eCommerce Integration

Get Started

Get Started

Get Started

$69/month

$99/month

$59/month

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

14-day free trial

No commitment

No commitment

No commitment

No credit card required

No credit card required

No credit card required

If you would like to learn more, read our full review of Lightspeed Retail or sign up for a free 14-day trial.

Get Started with Lightspeed POS

Read our in-depth review

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2. Clover Station

Clover POS



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Pros:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Wealth of integrations
  • Quick set-up

Cons:

  • Locked into FirstData processing
  • Hardware is proprietary

Retail Specific Features:

  • $1199 for the system with plans starting at $39 a month
  • Simple set-up and interface
  • Access to Clover app market
  • Customized gift cards and loyalty functionality
  • Updated inventory management
  • Simple permissions mechanism

Clover Station (see our review) is a solid and versatile all-in-one system that comes with everything you need to start selling within minutes. The system isn’t exactly cheap, but it takes a lot of the initial hassle out of the setup process and has an interface that can be mastered in a very short amount of time. You can easily assign each worker a unique role or permission. The inventory management is advanced and allows for bulk importing and easy labeling and sorting.

The reporting systems are also solid and can be viewed directly or exported with a simple click. Clover has one of the more generous gift card options around included with the software, allowing customers to access cards on their own mobile device. Clover also features advanced loyalty tools to help you attract repeat customers.

Clover Station hardware setup

For processing, you have to go with First Data/Fiserv as your back-end processor. But many companies sell Clover products and offer their merchant accounts (backed by First Data) with their own terms– so do your research on those companies before committing. Clover also comes with access to the Clover App Market, which gives you access to pretty much any type of integration you might need.

Check out our complete review of Clover Station for more information. You can also check out our article on the best Clover resellers for an idea of the most reputable companies to get your Clover machine from.

Get Started with Clover POS

Read our in-depth review

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3. ShopKeep

ShopKeep POS



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Read our Review

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Intuitive interface
  • Feature rich

Cons:

  • Somewhat limited inventory
  • Software bugs

Retail Specific Features:

  • Quote based. Plans run between $69 and $99 per month
  • Hybrid system
  • iPad or iPad mini
  • For small to medium-sized businesses
  • Inventory management, including matrix
  • Integrates with eCommerce and accounting
  • Mobile app
  • Offers 24/7/365 customer support

This software has been around since 2008 and continues to be one of the best POS systems for retail. ShopKeep (see our review) is easy to use and offers a great inventory management feature that includes matrix and the ability to track quantities of each item of your merchandise. You can also set reorder points and use a reporting function to designate what, how much, and from which vendor to order any low stock item. 

ShopKeep gives you the ability to view all of your stores on the dashboard and also offers a Pocket App which lets you check in on sales or inventory remotely. The company integrates with BigCommerce, QuickBooks and MailChimp, among others.

Other features include the ability to create your own barcodes, use different tax rates, create thousands of SKUs, CSV file import, and multi-store capability. While this retail POS system does favor its own in-house payment processor, ShopKeep Payments, it can be used with other credit card processors and is fully EMV integrated. ShopKeep offers unlimited 24/7 customer support for retailers, although premium phone support will cost you extra.

Read our full review of ShopKeep if you would like more information.

Get Started with ShopKeep POS

Read our in-depth review

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4. Square POS

Square



Visit Site

Read our Review

Pros:

  • Simple set-up
  • Built-in processing
  • Access to app store

Cons:

  • Occasional fund holds
  • Customer service process

Retail Specific Features:

  • Free (Square for Retail is $60 a month)
  • Cloud-Based system
  • Android and iOS compatible
  • Small to mid-sized businesses
  • Real-time inventory tracking with unlimited SKU count
  • Barcode and custom label printing
  • Purchase order creation and management
  • Custom discounts
  • Employee management
  • Free online store
  • Square Loyalty

Square (read our review) prides itself on its simplicity and convenience — but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in features. The free product features a robust package with strong inventory and employee management that’s particularly good for smaller restaurants and retail shops. Square for Retail narrows the product’s scope a bit, simplifying some aspects of the POS software while beefing up its inventory.

Inventory management is the big sell for Square for Retail. It includes real-time tracking, unlimited SKU count, custom printing, and bulk importing. You can also link vendors to products in an item catalog and receive purchase orders from the dashboard or within the app. Square comes with a virtual terminal (allowing you to take card-not-present transactions) and a basic free online store.

The Square app marketplace gives you options for scores of integrations. Square also features strong customer management (including loyalty programs), allowing you to easily edit your customer database. Square Loyalty is an extra add-on but it features everything you could want, allowing customers to rack up and easily see their loyalty points — all while information is stored, giving you what you need for easy marketing campaigns. Win-win.

ReadereCommerceRetailFood Service
Free App & ReaderSquare eCommerceSquare for RetailSquare for Restaurants
Get StartedGet StartedGet StartedGet Started
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and AndroidEasy integration with popular platforms plus API for customizationSpecialized software for more complex retail storesSpecialized software for full-service restaurants
$0/month$0/month$60/month$60/month
Always FreeAlways FreeFree TrialFree Trial

You can try Square for Retail free for 30 days and if you’d like to know more, read our full review.

Get Started with Square

Read our in-depth review

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5. Vend

Vend POS



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Read our Review

Pros:

  • User friendly
  • Excellent loyalty package
  • Robust integrations

Cons: 

  • Some features not free
  • Features aren’t as deep as competitors

Retail Specific Features:

  • Cloud-based system that works on Google Chrome web-browser
  • Lite plan $99/month, Pr0 plan $129/month
  • Enterprise plan available
  • SMBs
  • Inventory management
  • Purchase Ordering
  • Omnichannel
  • Integrates with eCommerce and accounting

Vend (see our review) is the world’s first web-based retail POS to use the offline cache capabilities of HTML5. It was started back in 2010 by Vaughan Roswell. Currently, it is used in 100 countries and has over 20,000 installations. Vend is intuitive and well-designed. It works on virtually any system (as long as you use a Google Chrome web-browser). Vend also offers an iPad app (pictured below).

Vend comes with the following features (and more): eCommerce, a loyalty program, customer management, inventory management, barcode creation, and price books that can be used to store different prices for sales. Vend is EMV and NFC capable and integrates with VantivPayPal, and Square for in-store credit card payments. One downside to using this system is that you will need to pay for tech support. Another downside is that it doesn’t allow for item modifiers.

Vend has a unique and simple user interface that features quick keys and has plenty of customization options to help tailor the POS to your unique brand. It also offers layaway options and gives you the ability to easily add store credit or park a sale. Its inventory features are extensive but they’re also a snap to use, allowing you import bulk items in seconds and categorize them however you’d like.

To learn more about Vend, check out our full review. If you would like to take Vend for a test drive, sign up for a free 30-day trial.

Get Started with Vend POS

Read our in-depth review

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6. Shopify POS

Shopify POS



Visit Site

Read our Review

Pros: 

  • Affordability
  • Strong customer service
  • Syncs with Shopify eCommerce

Cons:

  • Poor offline mode
  • Skimpy with some features

Retail Specific Features:

  • Hybrid system
  • Basic Plan $29/month, Shopify Plan $79/month, Advanced Shopify Plan $299/month
  • Enterprise option available
  • Small to Medium businesses
  • Integrates with eCommerce and accounting
  • Mobile app

Shopify POS (see our review) is used by over 150,000 businesses and has been around since 2013. This system includes features such as the ability to accept split payments, the ability to grant refunds and store credit to customers, barcode support, gift cards, customizable receipts, order histories, CRM, detailed reporting (including reports on bestsellers), and inventory management that is able to sync both on and offline.

Shopify also does some things well within its inventory and reporting that may fly under the radar. They make it easy to sell your products across multiple platforms, even directly through Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Refunds and store credit can be offered and Shopify allows for pretty much any payment option you can think of.

Shopify review

Shopify integrates with its own in-house merchant services processor, Shopify Payments. If you would prefer to use a different processor, Shopify offers a large selection. If you purchase Shopify’s Card Reader, you will be able to accept EMV and NFC payments. Free 24/7 customer support is offered via email, live chat, and phone.

If you would like to learn more, read our full review of Shopify POS or sign up for a free 14-day trial.

Get Started with Shopify POS

Read our in-depth review

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7. Revel Systems

Revel POS



Visit Site

Read our Review

Pros:

  • Strong integrations
  • Excellent reporting
  • Kiosk functionality

Cons:

  • Complex set-up
  • Occasional software glitches

Retail Specific Features:

  • Plans starting at $99/month
  • Hybrid system for Apple hardware
  • Kiosk functionality
  • Robust purchase order functionality
  • Extensive reporting
  • Open API and myriad integrations

Revel (see our review) is somewhat of a monster of a POS with incredibly robust back-end features. Revel used to focus primarily on the restaurant industry but has continued to evolve and can now handle mid-sized retailers equally well. It features real-time inventory management with a style matrix which makes organization easy. Revel also has advanced customer management, letting you set up extensive email and marketing campaigns and reward your customers for their loyalty.

Revel is an all-in-one system and also makes it easy to manage your employees. You can run employee reports to accurately assess your top performers and control scheduling and permissions from the dashboard or remotely.

The company also comes with loads of integrations, including Shopify for eCommerce and both QuickBooks and Xero for accounting. You have flexibility when it comes to choosing your credit card processor.

Check out more about Revel in our full review.

Get Started with Revel POS

Read our in-depth review

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What Is The Best Retail POS System For My Business?

As we’ve hopefully made clear in this post, we really like all of the above POS systems. But that doesn’t mean that every one of them is the perfect fit for your business. Perhaps the easiest way to start winnowing the field is to figure out how much you can spend or are willing to spend on your POS. Once you’ve decided on a reasonable price, start prioritizing features. Do you want loyalty included? How robust do you need your inventory management to be? What eCommerce platform fits best with your online selling plans? Each system is different and excels in certain areas and you shouldn’t have to ever feel like you’re settling.

Hopefully, this article has given you what you need to make an informed decision about the POS system you will choose for your retail business. The right POS system can make your life easier — and improve the experience for your customers — while the wrong one can really set you back. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave comments below.

Looking for cash drawers, barcode scanners, cash registers, or receipt printers for your retail business? Check out our complete guide to choosing POS hardware.

A Last Look At Our Top Picks

  1. Lightspeed POS
    Summary - Lightspeed Retail is specifically tailored for small to mid-sized retail establishments. Its strong feature set includes an extensive array of reports.
  2. Clover POS
    Summary - Clover Station can be a good solution for small to mid-sized small businesses. It is an affordable and highly-intuitive system with access to hundreds of helpful apps.
  3. ShopKeep POS
    Summary - ShopKeep is a highly affordable and sleek POS for small to mid-sized small business owners. It features an excellent mobile app and strong inventory management.
  4. Square
    Summary - Square POS is an excellent solution for small business owners featuring easy mobile processing and access to an extensive list of apps through its own store.
  5. Vend POS
    Summary - Vend is a retail-specific solution that is suitable for establishments of all sizes. It features excellent purchase order management and syncs with eCommerce solutions.
  6. Shopify POS
    Summary - Shopify is a POS for nearly every size of business. It is an all-in-one system that features its own payment processor and eCommerce platform.
  7. Revel POS
    Summary - Revel is a POS solution for mid-sized to larger retail establishments. It offers a robust list of features including an extensive list of reports.
Matt Sherman

Matt Sherman

Point of sale writer at Merchant Maverick
Matt Sherman has been immersed in point of sale systems for over a year now. Previously, he spent 14 years in the newspaper industry, the majority of which was as the sports editor for a pair of weekly newspapers in suburban Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon where he majored in English because he knows where the money is. Matt is the father to a pair of energetic boys and can easily be distracted by Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go.
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4 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Pratheek

    Was just researching on POS and their advantages and I am surprised to know the varied POS systems including the cloud based one that is available. Thanks for collating all these otherwise individual systems and also reviewing them. It is very insightful mainly their individual products capabilities.

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

      Bobby

      Those are the most popular and probably the best POS software systems available on the Internet for modern businesses these days! Shopify POS is indeed one of the most recommended point-of-sale system. Thanks for sharing it here!

        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

        Priyanka Gupta

        Thank you.It was very informative.keep sharing.

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Kayla

          Cheers on the breakdown! ;^”)

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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