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7 Retail POS Systems With The Best Features For Small Businesses In 2021

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  • $69+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10
  • Runs on iPad or desktop PC
  • $69+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10
  • Runs on iPad or desktop PC

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  • $99+/month
  • Custom flat-rate processing
  • Runs on iPad
  • $99+/month
  • Custom flat-rate processing
  • Runs on iPad

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  • $0+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.5% or 2.6% + $0.10
  • Runs on iPad or Square Register
  • $0+/month
  • Flat-rate processing at 2.5% or 2.6% + $0.10
  • Runs on iPad or Square Register

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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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  • $99+/month
  • Integrates with multiple payment processors
  • Runs on iPad, Mac, or PC
  • $99+/month
  • Integrates with multiple payment processors
  • Runs on iPad, Mac, or PC

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Other Featured Options:

  • Hike POS:
    • $59+/month
    • Integrates with multiple payment processors
    • Runs on iPad, Android, Mac, or PC
  • Shopify POS:
    • $9+/month
    • Flat-rate processing at 2.4%-2.7%
    • Runs iOS & Android

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Imagine having access to your store’s back office from anywhere, or being able to keep track of your inventory digitally instead of on a clipboard. Most retail POS systems allow you to do these tasks, and more. Modern POS software includes features like inventory management, purchase orders, CRM, loyalty, eCommerce, just to name a few. Some of the biggest trends anticipated for retail in 2021 and beyond include social media selling and omnichannel — the integration of online and offline selling — and a cutting-edge cloud POS system for retail will help you keep up on these technologies as well. Now more than ever, there are plenty of excellent POS software options geared entirely to the retail small business owner. There is no single best POS system for retail; the best one really depends on your specific business needs. Read on to learn about your best options for retail POS systems, tailored for your unique business.

How To Find The Best POS System For Your Retail Shop

Want a retail POS system that’s affordable yet powerful? The best POS systems for retail include all the tools you need to sell and manage your independent retail store, all for a reasonable monthly price. Let’s take an in-depth look at the top cloud-based retail POS software for small businesses.

1. Lightspeed Retail: Best For Large Inventories

Lightspeed POS



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Lightspeed is known for its excellent inventory management and eCommerce, making it perfect for fast-growing retailers that need to track large inventories and sync their online and in-person sales.

Lightspeed features some unique inventory features, such as customizable tags and the ability to manage bulk items that are being sold individually. You can create 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.

Monthly pricing starts at $69/month for basic POS functionality, but features such as eCommerce, loyalty, analytics, and accounting software integration will cost you extra. In terms of payment processing, Lightspeed Retail integrates with processors such as Vantiv Integrated Payments, and Cayan but favors its own payment processor, Lightspeed Payments.

Pros

  • Advanced retail features
  • Integrated eCommerce
  • Deep inventory management

Cons

  • Advanced features cost extra

Get Started with Lightspeed POS

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2. Revel Systems: Best For Larger Businesses

Revel POS



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Revel Systems is somewhat of a monster of an iPad 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 retailers equally well, even powering nationwide chains such as Goodwill. Revel’s iPad POS features real-time inventory management with a style matrix that 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, and robust purchase order functionality.

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

Revel is definitely not the cheapest iPad POS — pricing starts at $99/month/terminal with a three-year processing and agreement and a two-terminal minimum — but it is one of the most powerful. Revel can be customized to fit virtually any retail POS need, from kiosk shopping to delivery management to integrated eCommerce. Revel’s open API means this versatile system can also integrate with virtually any other business software you use. Midsize and larger retailers with multiple locations will find everything they need in a custom-built Revel solution.

Pros

  • Powerful enough for multilocation retailers
  • Custom-built packages tailored to your business
  • Extensive reporting and purchase order functions

Cons

  • Long-term processing obligation

Get Started with Revel POS

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3. Square: Best For New Businesses

Square For Retail



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Square prides itself on its simplicity and convenience — but that doesn’t mean it lacks in features. The free credit card processing solution and POS 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 and employee management.

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. All Square accounts come with a free online store and a newer “online checkout” option. Checkout lets customers pay using a link you text them, a button embedded into your existing website, a link on your social media profile, or a QR code they scan with their phone’s camera. Some other socially-distanced selling options Square offers include local delivery and curbside checkout.

Square for Retail isn’t the most advanced retail POS system, but it is super easy to get started with if you’re a POS newbie and don’t have a merchant account yet. It’s also quite affordable and even has a free version with a pared-down feature-set. There’s also a more robust version (Square for Retail Plus) that costs $60/month/location and has a 0.1% discount on Square’s standard processing rate.

Pros

  • Simple setup
  • Built-in processing
  • Free online selling options

Cons

  • Occasional fund holds

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4. Clover: Best For Easy Setup

Clover POS



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Clover Station is a solid and versatile all-in-one system that comes with everything you need to start selling within minutes. The custom-built Android hardware 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 mobile device. Clover additionally provides advanced loyalty tools to help you attract repeat customers. Clover also comes with the Clover App Market, which gives you access to pretty much any type of feature or integration you might need.

Clover Station hardware setup

All Clover accounts come with a merchant account, and 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 Fiserv) with their own terms, so do your research on those companies before committing. 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. If you decide to buy from Clover directly (recommended), you’ll pay just $39.95/month for a single register.

Pros

  • Quick and easy setup
  • Sleek, purpose-built hardware
  • Customizable feature-set

Cons

  • Locked into Fiserv processing

Get Started with Clover POS

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5. Vend: Best For Midsize Retailers

Vend by Lightspeed



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Vend, est. in 2010, was the world’s first web-based retail POS system to use the offline cache capabilities of HTML5. 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): loyalty, gift cards, purchase order capabilities, 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, Square, and several other processors for in-store credit card payments (Vend doesn’t offer its own in-house payment processing solution). If you want eCommerce, an employee time clock, or email marketing, you’ll need to pay for third-party software integrations.

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 add store credit or park a sale easily. Its inventory features are extensive and a snap to use, allowing you to import bulk items in seconds and categorize them however you’d like. An area where the retail POS software lacks includes its reporting suite, which some users say is too basic.

Vend has a very limited free plan that allows for just 10 products. Most users will need a paid plan, which starts at $99/month. With its middle-of-the-road price-point and complete but not overly advanced feature-set, Vend is best for medium-sized businesses.

Pros

  • User-friendly
  • Excellent loyalty package
  • Robust integrations

Cons

  • Some features aren’t as deep as competitors’

Get Started with Vend by Lightspeed

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6. Hike: Best For Customizability

Hike POS



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In the seven years since Hike POS was founded in Melbourne, Australia, the company’s cloud-based retail POS system has gone global, expanding its reach to more than 75 countries, including the US. While Hike is used by some big-name brands like Dyson, Mercedes-Benz, and O’Neil, small retail businesses are Hike’s bread and butter. These businesses praise Hike for its affordability, ease of use, and customizability.

Hike is a mobile POS with dedicated apps for iPad and Android tablets. You can also run the POS software on a PC or Mac in a web browser. In addition to giving you multiple hardware choices, Hike is highly customizable in terms of its software — from layout, to settings, to features, to integrations. Hike integrates with most major accounting and eCommerce software providers, and customers praise Hike’s Shopify integration in particular. Hike also integrates with a variety of payment processors, including PayPal, Westpac, Square, Tyro, and Worldpay.

Hike offers a broad range of retail POS features, including multi-store inventory management, loyalty, gift cards, offline mode, purchase ordering, and reporting. Hike even has appointment booking and foodservice features for businesses that need those features.

Best of all, Hike’s price is right, with monthly packages starting at $59/month. To get the full feature set that includes everything a retail business needs to do business — including gift cards, loyalty, store credit, custom reports, detailed analytics, and advanced user permissions — you’ll only pay $79/month for a single location or $129/month for a multistore account (with two register licenses; additional registers are $29/month each). The value that Hike POS software provides for its very reasonable price makes Hike one of the most affordable systems on our list.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Versatile & customizable
  • Can process payments in offline mode

Cons

  • Can sometimes be glitchy

Read our in-depth review

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7. Shopify POS: Best For Integrated eCommerce

Shopify POS



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Shopify started as an eCommerce solution but expanded into the iPad POS world in 2013. Today, Shopify is an excellent multichannel solution for retailers that sell in-person, online, or any combination thereof. This retail POS system’s features include 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 can sync both on and offline.

Shopify makes it possible 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 also provides many socially-distant selling features, such as online ordering for curbside pickup and QR code shopping.

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, but you’ll have to pay a premium. Free 24/7 customer support is provided via email, live chat, and phone.

Shopify offers numerous different monthly packages with different features and price points. Shopify plans start at just $9/month for its mobile selling plan, Shopify Lite. For a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll probably need at least the $29/month Basic Shopify package. Your processing rate also depends on your monthly plan level.

Pros

  • Affordable monthly pricing
  • Integrated eCommerce
  • Clean interface

Cons

  • Offline mode can’t process card payments

Get Started with Shopify POS

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Why You Need A POS System Built For Retail Businesses

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

Many POS systems offer retail-specific features, including robust inventory management, purchase orders, CMR, loyalty programs, eCommerce, and much more. 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. And the advancements keep on coming. Mobile ordering and handheld processing devices are the latest retail POS trends, giving you the flexibility to move around the store, offering customers a more personal experience, and freeing up congestion at the checkout counter.

If you just use a basic POS that isn’t designed specifically for retail, you’ll miss out on a lot of exciting selling possibilities for your business. To truly take your retail business to the next level and stay competitive with other successful retail outlets, most stores will need a dedicated POS system made for retail stores. Yes, you will likely have to make a sizable investment in a retail POS (learn more about how much POS systems cost), but for most retailers, this investment will more than pay for itself.

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 more affordable plan — possibly even a free POS — so that you’re only paying for features you’re actually using or plan on using in the future.

The Best POS Software Features Just Right For Retail

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 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. Loyalty programs can help attract repeat business and effectively help you market to interested customers. They 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 retail inventory management features can include purchase order management, low stock alerts, omnichannel inventory syncing, and the ability to transfer stock across multiple stores.
  • eCommerce: More than ever, retailers need POS software that allows them to sell online. Whether the POS provides a full-fledged eCommerce website or even just a selling button that you can place on your existing website or social media, your POS should offer some online ordering/purchasing options. Already use an eCommerce system? Check out The Best POS Systems That Integrate With QuickBooks.
  • 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.
  • Customer Management: Your POS system should be able to save information about your customers that you can use for marketing, reporting, and loyalty.
  • Integrations: For best performance across all your systems, your retail point of sale software should integrate seamlessly with your other business management software, such as accounting and eCommerce.

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.

4 Tips To Manage Your Business With Retail POS Software

Here are some specific things you can do to make the most of your POS and run your business better. Especially during COVID, using your retail POS system to its fullest extent can help you handle the struggles you’re facing right now. 

1. Use Your Reports

Your POS system’s reporting suite contains a wealth of information that can help you manage your business and make important decisions. POS reports can show you how your loyalty program is performing, your top-selling and least-popular items, which employees are selling the most, and much more. When learning the POS, make sure you thoroughly explore your reporting suite and develop a plan as to how you’ll use these reports.

2. Incorporate A Marketing Plan

Any retail POS system worth its salt will have some sort of CRM (customer relationship management) functionality. That means your POS system can collect and save information about your customers. Especially when integrated with a loyalty program and email marketing program, you can use the customer information you collect to drive sales and offer discounts to your loyal customers. To make the most out of your POS system’s CRM feature, you need to develop a solid marketing plan that includes targeted emails and promotions. If you need some extra help, many POS systems may also offer in-house marketing features or integrate with third-party marketing software.

3. Promote Distanced Selling Features

All of the POS systems on our list have beefed up their socially-distanced selling tools, such as online ordering, local delivery, curbside pickup, contactless payment support, and more. The pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, and your customers will certainly appreciate these features, not just for safety but also for convenience. However, these convenient POS features won’t do any good if you don’t set them up and promote them. Make sure your customers know that they can order ahead online, pay with Apple Pay, etc., and maybe even consider offering a short-term promotion to encourage customers to start using this feature.

4. Connect Your Other Business Software

Your retail business management software works best when it works together. Thus, it’s essential that your POS software integrates seamlessly with your accounting software, eCommerce platform, payroll, and any other business software you use. For example, QuickBooks users will want to make sure they buy a retail POS that integrates with QuickBooks. Integration quality and depth will vary by POS, so make sure you understand what the integration can and cannot do. Going back to the QuickBooks example, some POS systems will let you export data into a spreadsheet that you can manually enter into your QuickBooks, while other systems sync your POS and QB data in real-time.

Getting The POS System That’s Right For Your Retail Business

As we’ve hopefully made clear in this post, we really like all of the above retail POS solutions. But that doesn’t mean that every one of them is the perfect fit for your business. The best POS system for retail stores depends on your unique needs. 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 POS system for retail is different and excels in certain areas, so you shouldn’t ever have to feel like you’re settling.

Hopefully, this article has given you what you need to make an informed decision about which retail POS system you will choose for your business. The right POS system can make your life easier — and improve your customers’ experience — 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.

In Summary: How To Find The Best POS System For Your Retail Shop

  1. Lightspeed POS:
    • $69+/month
    • Flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10
    • Runs on iPad or desktop PC
  2. Revel POS:
    • $99+/month
    • Custom flat-rate processing
    • Runs on iPad
  3. Square For Retail:
    • $0+/month
    • Flat-rate processing at 2.5% or 2.6% + $0.10
    • Runs on iPad or Square Register
  4. Clover POS:
    • $39.95+/month
    • Flat-rate processing at 2.3% + $0.10
    • Hardware options include Station, Mini, Flex, & Go
  5. Vend by Lightspeed:
    • $99+/month
    • Integrates with multiple payment processors
    • Runs on iPad, Mac, or PC
  6. Hike POS:
    • $59+/month
    • Integrates with multiple payment processors
    • Runs on iPad, Android, Mac, or PC
  7. Shopify POS:
    • $9+/month
    • Flat-rate processing at 2.4%-2.7%
    • 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.

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6 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.

    Alaska CBD

    This is great! Industry know-how really helps the group grow as a whole!

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

      Malik Shahzad

      Thank you.It was very informative.keep sharing.

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

        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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