The 5 Best Salon POS Systems
Spas and salons require specialized point of sale systems, because these businesses do a lot more than just sell and take payments. Hairdressers, beauticians, aestheticians, manicurists, massage therapists, and the like have specialized needs that standard retailers and restaurateurs do not share. Service professionals need robust scheduling tools, for example, and must interact with their customers in a much more personal way than the average cafe or bike shop owner. Fortunately, POS companies have begun to pay more attention to these unique requirements, and many of them now offer features or add-ons that are specifically designed for hair salons, med spas, yoga studios, and other service businesses. Read on to learn about these top POS systems for spas and salons.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Why Should You Use Specialty POS Software For Spas, Nail Salons, Or Hair Salons?
Specialized point of sale systems for salons and other service-based businesses offer certain features that your business can take advantage of to simplify operations. Depending on your business type and needs, you might benefit from services such as:
- Appointment booking at point of sale as well as online booking that integrates with your POS
- Staff scheduling so you can assign staff to line up with bookings
- Commissions that can be assigned to individual employees in conjunction with services they book
- Pre-auths ensure the client has sufficient funds on their credit card before you provide the service (similar to starting a tab at a bar)
- Pre-payment lets you collect a downpayment when booking a service, preventing lost business from no-shows
- Loyalty programs entice repeat clients by offering discounts, free services, and other rewards for loyal customers
- Mobile invoicing so employees can get paid if they do makeup or hair onsite (for example, at a wedding)
- Retail features for salons that sell a mix of services and goods
Depending on your business’s specific industry and requirements, some of these features might be “must-haves,” while you might consider others “nice-to-haves” or “don’t needs.”
Does Your Salon POS Need To Have A Booking/Scheduling Feature?
Built-in booking functionality is not absolutely necessary, but it will make your job a lot easier.
Some salon POS systems come with an appointment scheduling feature included, while others integrate with separate booking/scheduling software apps. If your POS does not at least integrate with an appointment-scheduling app, you will likely end up using a separate booking software program. This can make it complicated to see who’s canceling, no-showing, etc., and it can require a lot of extra work to track everything down.
It’s much easier to have one central hub where you can see everything that’s going on with your business, including appointments, sales, and staff assignments.
A POS with built-in scheduling, or at least compatibility with a third-party service, also allows you to generate more detailed reports, providing better insights for your business.
The Best Salon POS Systems For Small Businesses
Finding the right point of sale system can seem like a daunting challenge for any business. When you need specialized features, wading through all your options can be even tougher! Here are some great POS providers that offer the capabilities you need to run a spa or salon, plus excellent integrations to add even more helpful features.
1. Square Appointments
With its free Square Reader, app-based payment system, and simple pricing structure, Square is one of the most popular processing services on the market for small businesses. Square’s pay-as-you-go system allows businesses that ordinarily couldn’t afford a merchant account to accept credit cards, with no monthly fee.
Since launching as an integrated point of sale system and booking service, Square Appointments can provide just about everything you need to run your salon or spa, not to mention its built-in payment processing. The app runs on both Android and iOS, so you even have a variety of hardware options.
Square Appointments is free for one-person businesses—for example, an independent hairstylist or a personal trainer. For businesses with employees, it’s still quite affordable, especially when you consider that you’re getting both a powerful booking tool and a point of sale system. Multi-employee users of Square Appointments also receive a discount on Square’s standard payment processing rate.
Here are the need to knows for Square Appointments:
- $0/month and 2.6% +10¢ payment processing for individuals; $50/month and 2.5% + 10¢ for 2-5 employees, $90/month and 2.5% + 10¢ for 6-10 employees
- Online booking via free website or Instagram and Google links
- Pre-auth & pre-payment capabilities
- Cancelation fee can be auto-added for no-shows
- Automated text & email reminders for customer appointments
- Square Assistant digital messenger handles confirmations and rescheduling, with 24/7 availability
- Multilocation functionality to track staff, appointments, and sales from various locations all in one account
For the price and the feature set you get for that low price, you really cannot beat Square for Appointments. But of all the features, I think I’m most impressed with the free 24/7 Square digital assistant that can interact with and reschedule customers at any time of day or night. Most POS systems don’t even have free 24/7 availability for merchants, let alone their customers.
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2. Lightspeed Retail
While primarily serving retail shops, Lightspeed Retail is also versatile enough to work for service-based businesses such as salons, with the aid of an appointment scheduling integration called booxi. With its excellent inventory features, Lightspeed might be a good choice if your salon also sells retail products, whether in-store or online. You can use Lightspeed with an iPad or a desktop setup, having customers check out from their chair with a digital signature, or on a laptop before they walk out the door. Like Square, Lightspeed also offers in-house payment processing, though you can also opt to use a compatible merchant account.
Lightspeed isn’t the cheapest POS out there, but it’s a high-quality product and one we rate 5 stars.
Here are some more things to know about Lightspeed Retail:
- $99/month and 2.6% +10¢ payment processing for 1 terminal and up to 5 employees
- +$59/month to add eCommerce, Loyalty, or booxi integration for appointment scheduling
- 24/7 support & personalized onboarding
- Omnichannel capabilities to sell products online
- Multilocation management for salons with more than one location
- Integrates with outside payment processors, including Vantiv (Now Worldpay), Cayan, and iZettle
Lightspeed’s booxi integration allows customers to make appointments online or in-store. The integration also includes automated text and email notifications reminding customers of their appointments, as well as the ability to take full or partial payments at the time of booking. The app supports rental management too, though this feature is probably not relevant for a spa/salon.
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3. Clover Station
Like Square, Clover is an unusual POS system, essentially designed to replace standard, old-fashioned POS terminals. On its own, the Clover POS offers just about all the tools salons need to run a functional POS. However, when combined with tools from Clover’s comprehensive app market, Clover can pack an even more powerful punch. And the hardware is compact enough to fit easily into even the smallest establishment.
Clover is always sold in conjunction with a merchant account; you can get Clover from dozens of resellers or directly from Clover.com. While Clover itself is a great product, not all Clover resellers offer high-quality merchant services to go with that Clover system. Payment Depot is one of several Clover resellers we recommend, especially for higher-volume businesses.
Clover’s POS hardware is flexible, with options to work in just about any size space. The actual hardware tends to retail for around about $500 to $1,400, depending on whether you opt for the handheld Clover Flex, pint-sized countertop POS Clover Mini, the full-sized solution Clover Station, or some combination thereof.
- Monthly pricing varies depending on Clover reseller; payment processing rates vary as well
- Proprietary hardware with aesthetic appeal & compact design
- Large app store and wealth of integrations for scheduling, loyalty, email marketing, & more
- Easy to set up and start using
- Mobile hardware options let you bring the POS right to your client
Though Clover on its own is just a point of sale app, its scheduling integrations are refreshingly inexpensive. For $14.99/month, Salon Scheduler gives you the ability to keep a history note journal for each customer, scan and view a customer’s entire visit history, link multiple appointments for the same customer, specify default service categories, choose service times for each employee, automatically send SMS reminders for upcoming appointments, and receive SMS responses from your customers directly on your appointment block.
Another Clover scheduling integration, Appointments Pro, starts at $9.99/month and integrates fully with Google Calendar, allows you to manage multiple employee calendars (with different availability for each employee), set up appointments in 15, 30, 45, or 60 minute increments, send out SMS appointment reminders, and manage customer contact information and appointment histories.
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Vend is a full-featured point of sale solution. Though it is usually used in retail and/or restaurant environments, when coupled with Timely appointments, this software becomes a powerful all-in-one tool that allows you to manage your service business, accept payments, and schedule appointments. In addition, this software makes it possible to schedule your employees (or yourself), maintain a centralized inventory (this is helpful if you sell hair products, nail polish/accessories, massage tools, etc.), and collect data on your business for real-time reporting. It can operate on an iPad, Mac, or PC, and works both online and offline.
Vend is partnered with WorldPay, PayPal, CardConnect, EVO, North American Bancard, and Square, and if you have an online store, you can set it up to process payments via Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, or Payment Express. Find out more about payment processing with Vend here.
- $99 or $129/month (billed annually) for single-register setups, depending on which plan you choose
- Unlimited users on all plans
- 24/7 support via phone & online
- Works on any device—all you need is a web browser
- Customizable receipts let you add notes to include after-care instructions, special discounts, or other targeted offers
- Multi-outlet management if you operate more than one location
- eCommerce capabilities if you want to sell products online
The Timely integration is what really makes Vend a good fit for service businesses. This impressive app can handle one-time bookings and repeat bookings, as well as deal with multiple services and products. It can also help with invoicing and online payments. Best of all, you can actually pull up sales in Vend directly from your Timely appointment calendar (no switching between apps is required). Any products you want to sell can be added to the appointment payment, though you can make one-off sales as well.
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5. Shopify POS
Another lightweight cloud POS option, Shopify POS is an excellent and affordable choice for salons that want a beautiful eCommerce website for their business in addition to a modern POS. Shopify POS runs on iOS and Android and integrates with numerous appointment scheduling and booking apps that let you manage appointments from your POS and online.
There are numerous price points for different Shopify services, but the $79/month plan gives you nearly everything you need to run your spa or salon, including gift cards and a hosted website complete with eCommerce and a blog, as well as 2.5% + 0¢ payment processing through Shopify Payments. The only added service you will need to pay extra for is whichever appointment booking software you integrate with Shopify—and there are many to choose from, including some inexpensive options. BookThatApp, onHand, Appointment Booking, Zenoti, Sesami, Acerill are some options, and that’s not even a complete list.
Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) is the most convenient option for payment processing, but you can use Shopify with an outside merchant account. Just note that you will have to pay an additional 0.5% to 2% per transaction on top of your processor’s fees.
Here are a few more need-to-knows for Shopify POS:
- Pricing ranges from $9/mo (Shopify Lite plan with payment processing only) to $299/mo for large, multilocation businesses
- In-house payment processing fees range from 2.4% + 0¢ to 2.7% + 0¢ depending on your monthly plan level
- 24/7 support on all accounts
- Automatic inventory syncing across all sales channels
- Accept credit cards anywhere & create mobile invoices with Shopify Lite
- eCommerce website available at $29/mo and higher plans
- Numerous salon-friendly appointment & scheduling integrations available
Of the various scheduling integrations for Shopify, Sesami, in particular, is highly rated and has all the features you need to run a service-based business in Shopify. Sesami lets customers book and pay for appointments directly from your Shopify website or Shopify POS. An intuitive calendar, team-based scheduling, customer notifications, and mobile (smartphone) compatibility are just a few benefits that you get with this app. Best of all, it’s free for individuals and just $19/month for small businesses.
Being first and foremost a retail POS, and an eCommerce-centric retail POS at that, Shopify probably isn’t the first POS that comes to mind when considering salon-friendly systems. Nevertheless, Shopify is more than capable of handling virtually any type of storefront business, and salons are no exception. Especially when you consider all of Shopify’s online booking integrations and gorgeous health-and-beauty themed website templates, Shopify is an amazing tool to bring your salon into the online sphere, and with a price that’s hard to beat.
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Other Salon Software To Consider
Now I’ll talk about some other options for salon software—we haven’t reviewed all of them, but across the internet, salon owners seem to like them! Some of these are complete POS solutions with salon industry-specific features, while others are simply booking software that can be integrated with a POS, or used separately from your POS.
MINDBODY is unique booking software created especially for fitness centers, spas, salons, and other businesses in the health and beauty industry. It also has a POS component, offering 2.75% flat-rate credit card processing through its integrated payment partners. MindBody makes it possible for clients to book appointments online (though you still have power to add appointments and modify, reschedule, or cancel appointments at your discretion). Clients receive automatic reminders for scheduled visits, and are even automatically prompted to book future appointments as well.
This software can get pretty expensive—the cheapest package is $129/month—and it primarily caters to businesses that offer fitness classes, such as yoga studios. So, it may not be the best pick for your business if you do not offer classes. However, MINDBODY did recently acquire booking software company Booker to expand on its appeal to salons.
Appointy is straightforward, easy-to-learn booking software, with excellent customer support and an affordable price tag. Appointy’s free plan includes support for 1 staff, up to 5 services, and unlimited bookings. If you need support for more staff or services, the Pro plan is just $19.99/month (billed annually). Appointy offers SMS/call alerts at an extra cost (approximately 11 cents per message).
Appointy gives you multiple gateway options for payment processing and could be a good choice if you just want to book clients and take payments, but don’t need a full POS. You can take payments in Appointy using one of the following payment gateways: Square, Stripe, Authorize.net, or PayPal. You might also be able to integrate Appointy with an outside POS system using a service like Zapier.
Shedul is free, widely used, and geared specifically toward spas and salons, which should be enough to merit a place on your shortlist of POS options. According to Shedul, it is on track to process $6 billion worth of appointment bookings by the end of 2019, mainly in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada. And unlike a lot of booking software services with a limited free plan, Shedul offers unlimited staff, services, and online bookings. Shedul has pretty good reviews too, with users praising the clean interface, numerous software features, and dedicated team that supports the software.
People do mention one major downside in connection with Shedul: it doesn’t have any integrations, which means it doesn’t integrate with a merchant account for payment processing (so, no POS integration), nor does it integrate with Google Calendar. Still, for a free product, it seems to provide a pretty good value. You would just have to use it separate from your POS, which could be limiting. However, a payment integration is currently in the works.
So if the software is completely free, how does Shedul make money? Well, I don’t think they do make much money just yet. But Shedul has raised an impressive $32 million in investment funding to-date, according to TechCrunch. They are also starting to roll out some optional paid features in some markets, though they state that the core feature set will remain free for current account holders.
Salon Iris is complete salon management software, including POS capabilities if you want them. This mobile-friendly software can be used by any type of salon, from large salons to one-person businesses, such as booth renters. Depending on your plan level, Salon Iris includes many advanced features, such as Facebook and Instagram booking, a client loyalty system, payroll, reputation management, automated marketing, and pretty much any other salon-related feature you can think of. Salon Iris is also pretty affordable for all the functionality it offers, with packages ranging from $29/mo to $119/month.
The main negative about Salon Iris is that you can only choose from two credit card processors—XCharge and CardConnect—and neither are very highly rated. However, it’s also possible to use the other features of the software without using the integrated payment processing.
Vagaro is yet another cloud-based salon management software suite that also includes POS capabilities. However, this one might be my favorite and perhaps the only one that could rival the top salon POS systems as a standalone option. Customers seem very happy with this service, and if Vagaro’s clean, friendly website is any indication of their service quality, it’s pretty spectacular. Features include all the basics like online booking (including social media booking), client notifications, mobile invoicing, reporting, and payment processing, plus some useful add-ons such as automated marketing, a web builder, recurring memberships, class booking, eCommerce, and a branded mobile app for your customers.
Rather than integrating an outside payment processor, Vagaro actually offers in-house payment processing at a flat rate of 2.75% per transaction—which is the same rate as MINDBODY’s and cheaper than Square’s standard rate if your average transaction is less than $67. Larger merchants processing more than $4,000 per month can get a rate of 2.2% + 19¢ and $10/month. You also get a free chip-and-tap reader and the option to deposit funds in multiple bank accounts with a single dip, which is useful for businesses with multiple independent service providers.
As for monthly service pricing, you can expect to pay a very reasonable fee of $25 to $85/month for Vagaro, depending on how many staff you have. Add-ons such as the web builder and recurring membership could potentially push your costs upwards of $100/month, however.
Which Salon POS System Is Best For You?
Running a service business isn’t easy—there will always be cranky customers, canceled bookings, and missed appointments—but it doesn’t have to be as hard as it used to be. If you’re relying on un-synced payment processors, inventory trackers, and booking tools, then you’re doing something wrong. With full-featured, integrated software solutions like Square and others, you can sit back and let your POS system do most of the hard labor. Any of the above top five salon POS choices is an excellent alternative to using separate booking and POS software, and all have been tailored to fit the needs of your salon, spa, gym, or clinic.
Have you used any of these spa/salon POS software systems and noticed an improvement in your business? Give us a shout in the comments section below and let us know how you’re doing! Wondering about other tools that can give your business a boost? Check out our article: How To Choose Software for Your Salon or Spa.
A Last Look At Our Top Picks
- Square Appointments
Summary - With its integrated booking system and point of sale app, Square Appointments is a powerful tool. When you add in flat-rate credit card processing with no monthly fees, it's even more attractive to small businesses.
- Lightspeed POS
Summary - Lightspeed Retail offers advanced inventory tools, multi-location abilities, and integrations for appointment scheduling, loyalty, and eCommerce. Salons and spas can opt for Lightspeed's in-house processing, or bring their own merchant account.
- Clover POS
Summary - Clover POS is a powerful point of sale app with a variety of hardware options and built-in credit card processing. If you want scheduling capabilities, the supported integrations are affordably priced. Clover POS is available from a variety of resellers that vary in price and the quality of their service, so make sure you choose a reputable provider.
- Vend POS
Summary - Vend's point of sale app runs on any device that supports a web-browser, making it versatile for small businesses. Its advanced inventory features, combined with the Timely scheduling integration, allow salons and spas to centralize their business management. Vend also supports a variety of payment processors.
- Shopify POS
Summary - While Shopify is best known for eCommerce, Shopify POS is a powerful tool for businesses and syncs seamlessly with the website. Shopify's app marketplace offers a huge assortment of integrations for scheduling. When you consider that Shopify offers both a hosted website and a POS starting at $29/month, its pricing packs a lot of punch. Shopify Payments also offers competitive rates, though you can bring your own merchant account if you want.