5 eCommerce-Friendly POS Systems For Online Sellers
For retail, online selling is becoming increasingly important, as coronavirus-related closures of non-essential businesses have all but eliminated millions of small retailers’ ability to sell in-person.
While these government-mandated closures are temporary, there is no telling exactly how long they will last or what the small retail landscape will look like when this is all over. It may be the case that non-essential goods will be sold primarily online, even after the imminent threat has passed. Ideally, all physical retail businesses should also have an online presence to augment their overall sales and serve as a primary channel to sell their goods during times like these, when consumers’ physical movement is limited.
We’ve put together this post to help small retail businesses modernize their operations by bridging the gap between online sales and physical retail sales. Whether you’re looking to establish your brand in the online sphere or want to replace your current online POS with a better system, read on to learn about the best eCommerce POS systems.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
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Multichannel eCommerce Is The Future
Multichannel approaches to running a business are becoming the norm. Multichannel selling offers more touchpoints with customers, a seamless experience, and the ability to accommodate different buying preferences.
With multichannel eCommerce, you can run trendy pop-up shops for promotions, sell on your website, and maintain one or more physical stores. Even if you don’t regularly sell in-person aside from mobile channels, such as farmer’s markets or local deliveries, you can be a successful multichannel retailer.
But wait, what is multichannel selling again? I thought you’d never ask! In short, it’s selling your products online as well as in person. Here’s a more detailed definition from our Brief Guide To Multichannel Selling:
Essentially, multichannel selling involves selling across multiple channels (no surprises there). That means you have your products listed on at least two of the following platforms:
- Online Marketplaces: Your products are available on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, etc.
- Social Media: Social media listings can take many forms. You might have a Facebook Store or you might be using buy buttons on Pinterest or Instagram posts.
- Your Own Online Store: You maintain your own online store. If you’re still figuring out how to set up an online store and sync your inventory across channels, keep reading for some advice.
- Your Brick-And-Mortar Store: You sell products in the real world, using a POS system to keep track of everything.
Merchants can engage in many different levels of multichannel selling. If you use two or more of the above methods, you’re a multichannel seller.
For a growing majority of retailers, a fully integrated POS and eCommerce solution is vital. According to US Census data released in February 2020, eCommerce is on a strong upward trajectory. And with the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, the role of eCommerce will doubtlessly be even stronger this year than previously predicted. Thus, retail stores need a point of sale system that allows them to sell online and in-store, and a multichannel eCommerce POS can do both.
While syncing your sales and inventories across platforms is the primary reason for implementing an integrated multichannel POS, multichannel also lets you:
- Sell on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, Pinterest, etc.)
- Provide a seamless customer experience across all your channels
- Sell digital gift cards that work on your POS or your website
- Track customers across multiple channels
- Establish trust and relationships
Read on to learn about some excellent eCommerce-friendly POS systems that will turn your retail business into a multichannel-selling powerhouse.
How To Integrate Your POS With A Website
If you’re looking for how to integrate your POS with a website for online selling, it could be in your best interest to sync up your point of sale system with an eCommerce platform. This can be an easier process than you might think, and many of these companies integrate with each other. We’ll briefly give you a few pointers on how to combine these two platforms.
You Have A POS, But Not A Website
If you already have a modern point of sale system, you very likely already have the ability to set up a website for your company either through your POS’s platform itself or third-party integrations, such as Shopify or Wix. The first thing you’ll need to do is see which of these is available.
If your POS has its own eCommerce platform, you may simply need to activate that service. Sometimes access to retail POS integrations is an add-on or only available with a higher tier, so you may need to contact your provider.
From there, the eCommerce software is generally quite user-friendly, but there are a few steps and things to keep in mind to help ensure your success.
- Choose Your Theme: You can create your own theme, but many platforms come with pre-loaded themes for your convenience. You will want to make sure you choose one that matches your business’s aesthetic.
- Sync Your Payment Gateway: If you have a POS system, you should already have a payment gateway and processor. You will just need to make sure that it syncs up for online selling as well. Keep in mind that online purchases come with higher processing fees than card-present transactions.
- Import Inventory & Customer Data: This may seem like a huge chore, but a POS system that integrates directly with a website should allow you to import your inventory through a simple process. The same goes for any customer data you want to transfer to your online site, such as loyalty points.
- Set Up Shipping: You’ll have to figure out what kind of shipping rates you’ll be implementing and what provider you’ll use to get your products to customers; your software can assist with the set-up.
You Have A Website, But Not A POS
If you are already operating online but are venturing into the brick-and-mortar world, integrating your software is similarly easy. You’ll want to make sure that whatever POS service you purchase is compatible with your eCommerce platform; this can actually be a helpful way to narrow down your options from a huge number of products.
Once you’re up and running, the process is similar as shown above in terms of syncing your website to your POS and importing your inventory and other data. But here are a few other things you’ll want to assess when setting up a POS system.
- Make Sure Your POS Integrates With Your Current Processor: If you’re selling online, you’ll also need to make sure that your payment processor works with your POS, as many now have their own processing service that you are locked into using. It’s always possible to switch to a new processor, but that may be an additional step you want to avoid.
- Check For Add-Ons & Integrations: A good point of sale system should come with a number of features that can help you, such as advanced inventory tracking and reports. It may also integrate with companies that offer niche products that could help you as well or even a full app store with software to choose from.
- Consider Curbside Pickup: Even when the Covid-19 pandemic is over, consumers may continue to utilize options such as curbside pickup and contactless payments for safety and convenience. Many POS companies have added features to assist you with this option, which may help increase your sales.
You Have Neither A Website Nor A POS
If your business is brand new or a very small venture that is looking to expand, you can knock off multiple items on your checklist in one swoop. You’ll want to do a fair bit of research on eCommerce platforms and POS systems, but you will have plenty of options to choose from that integrate one with the other seamlessly, and you can directly import your inventory. If you plan to do a high percentage of your selling online, having a point of sale system with a strong eCommerce platform or partners with one affordably will be crucial.
5 Great eCommerce-Friendly POS Systems
Lightspeed, Square, Vend, Shopify, and Revel are five excellent POS systems with strong eCommerce platforms that include reliability, affordability, integrated payment processing, and a depth of features. These are also all cloud-based POS systems with monthly pricing options, so you do not have to sign a long-term contract.
1. Best For Social Selling: Lightspeed Retail
For $99/month (billed annually), Lightspeed Retail with Lightspeed eCommerce provides a powerful cloud-based POS and integrated online store. The system can be run on an iPad or desktop computer, depending on your store setup and preference.
LightSpeed Retail comes with free updates, basic reporting, and 24/7 support, plus loads of integrations and flexible card processing options — as well as an in-house payments option with flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10 for in-store sales (or another 2.6% + $0.30 for online sales). Best of all, Lightspeed’s advanced eCommerce system is entirely in-house, which means you won’t have to integrate outside eCommerce software.
Some great things about Lightspeed’s eCommerce platform include:
- Integrated shipping
- Built-in SEO tools
- Built-in blog
- Web store analytics
- Social and review site integration
- Easy customer returns
- Item categories and variants
- Use customizable templates or HTML and CSS template editor
Read our full review of Lightspeed Retail for more information about this multichannel POS system. Or, if you’d like to see it for yourself, sign up for a free 14-day trial. Lightspeed Retail is best suited for small to medium businesses, including multilocation businesses. Lightspeed also has an enterprise version of its software for large businesses.
2. Best For Small Budgets: Square
Square is one of the most popular POS systems on the market for small businesses. It’s free, easy to use, and includes flat-rate payment processing (2.6% + $0.10 for in-person transactions or 2.9% + $0.30 for eCommerce transactions).
Square POS is typically used with an iPad setup, though you can also use it with another device of your choice, including a smartphone for on-the-go sales.
Square even sets up its POS system users with a free eCommerce website integration powered by Weebly. For many small, low-volume businesses, a free Square Online Store will be sufficient. For businesses with more advanced eCommerce needs, Square also offers paid online store plans and integrations with numerous other eCommerce solutions.
Here are some of the features included in Square’s free online store:
- Automatic inventory, orders, and items sync with Square POS
- Unlimited items
- Connect your website with Instagram and Pinterest to create shoppable posts
- Offer curbside pickup and local delivery options*
- Showcases featured products and upcoming events
- Accept appointments and charitable donations
- Responsively designed website templates look great on any device
- Accept Square gift cards
*Fees temporarily waived in response to the coronavirus crisis
If you’re looking to integrate your existing eCommerce website with Square instead of using its in-house website builder, there’s a good chance Square already integrates with your eCommerce platform. Square’s POS has prebuilt eCommerce integrations for WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Ecwid, Wix, Magento, OpenCart, Zen Cart, X-Cart, and others.
Additionally, Square Online Payment APIs and SDKs allow you to build a custom connection between Square and any eCommerce platform you may use. Read The Best eCommerce Integrations That Work With Square Payments for a more in-depth look at Square’s eComm integrations.
3. Best For Large Inventories: Revel
Revel POS Systems
Revel is a powerhouse of a POS system with one of the deepest feature sets on the market. It retails for an affordable $99/month, which is generous considering everything that it includes. Revel has also joined the payments game with Revel Advantage, which is available on a quote-based system.
It’s a great option for mid-sized to larger retailers or restaurants as its features and back end can be a little overwhelming, but if you’re looking for a system with everything and cost isn’t a major factor, Revel should definitely be under consideration.
For eCommerce, Revel has its Revel Online Ordering system, which makes things easier both for the business and for customers and includes:
- Menu updating
- Customizable interface
- Omnichannel integration
- Customer relationship management
- Loyalty and gift cards
- Built-in search capabilities
Revel also integrates with Kosmos eSync, which helps transfer inventory, loyalty, and customer information from your POS to your online store. Revel has one of the best POS and eCommerce lists of integrations, as it also partners with big names, such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce, giving you plenty of options. If you’re in the winery business, Revel partners with Vines OS, which caters specifically to that industry.
4. Best For Multilocation Operations: Vend
Vend by Lightspeed
Vend is another top POS system for online retailers and is very easy to use for both in-store and online retail sales. Vend is more flexible than iPad-only systems; you can run Vend from any web browser in addition to its dedicated iPad app. So your setup might use a PC, Mac, or iPad register.
Vend’s online caching capabilities also let you continue to ring up sales from your store during an internet outage. Vend integrates with multiple payment processors (Worldpay, PayPal, Square, and more) and numerous eCommerce providers and has an open API. The $129/month “Pro” plan (billed annually) includes eCommerce, along with every other add-on and advanced feature Vend offers.
Vend’s multichannel eCommerce highlights include:
- Integrates with WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Shopify (note that this software charges a monthly fee in addition to Vend’s)
- Open API allows even more eCommerce integrations if you use a different eComm program (e.g., Magento)
- Easily connect your existing eCommerce store to Vend
- Sync your in-store and online inventories
- Real-time multichannel reporting
- View online orders and in-store purchases in the same place
- Publish products online and fulfill orders directly from Vend
- Sync customer details between your store and eComm platform
- View sales and inventory levels by channel
- Integrates with inventory management software, such as Unleashed, for advanced multichannel inventory management
As with the other multichannel POS providers on this list, I encourage you to read our full Vend POS review and/or sign up for a free trial on Vend’s website. Though Vend’s Pro plan is suitable for multi-outlet, multi-register businesses, large multistore retailers with six+ outlets can qualify for Vend’s Enterprise plan; you can request a quote on Vend’s website.
5. Best For Fully Integrated eCommerce: Shopify POS
Shopify is giving Merchant Maverick users a 14 day free trial + 100% off your first month.
Since the release of Shopify POS in 2013, Shopify has evolved from mere shopping cart software to a full-fledged retail POS. Today’s Shopify includes both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar sale functionality, allowing even the smallest retailers to sell with ease, both online and off.
Shopify has affordable monthly packages to suit merchants who sell strictly over the internet or exclusively in-store, but it is the best fit for retailers who do both. Shopify, which operates via an iPad, iPhone, or Android app, includes integrated payment processing with Shopify Payments; in-person rates range from 2.4% to 2.7% depending on which monthly plan you purchase; online transaction rates range from 2.4% + $0.30 to 2.9% + $0.30.
Shopify is also super affordable — its plan that includes eCommerce and a full POS setup for one to five stores is just $79/month (billed monthly; you can get a 10% discount if you pay for the year upfront).
Now that you know the basics, here are a few more important things to know about Shopify’s in-house eCommerce solution:
- Online sales channels include Shopify website, your existing website with Shopify “Buy” button, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Facebook Shop, and eBay
- Choose from online store themes and/or edit HTML and CSS
- Calculate fixed-price, weight-based, or location-based shipping rates for online sales
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Discount codes
- Print shipping labels
- USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing (at $79/month plan level)
- Mobile reporting app
- Multichannel gift cards
If you need an online retail POS for your large business or franchise, try Shopify Plus for an enterprise-level multichannel POS. Or for micro-businesses without an in-person store, Shopify even offers a $9/month Shopify Lite plan that lets you take payments on your mobile phone and sell on Facebook.
What To Expect When Setting Up An eCommerce-POS Integration
As you try to unite your brick-and-mortar and online channels, you may encounter some roadblocks. For example, perhaps you discover that the online shopping cart software you already use doesn’t integrate with your point of sale system. In that case, it may make sense to replace your shopping cart software, your POS software, or both. You might also experience a situation where the two systems you purchased were advertised as being integrated, but in reality, not all data is syncing correctly.
Talking with your POS system’s customer support can help you figure out how to making your multichannel tools work together. Or, to save yourself some headaches, you might consider switching to a POS with an in-house eCommerce solution.
14 Features You Should Look For In An Integrated POS/eCommerce System
Multichannel POS systems can range from rudimentary to advanced in terms of their feature sets. While you may not need a system with all the bells and whistles, you will benefit from a system that has strong core functionality. Here are some of the key features you should look for in an integrated POS-eCommerce system:
- Automatic inventory syncing (including product database, product descriptions, item photos, etc.)
- Centralized control of all orders
- eCommerce sales reporting
- Social media selling options
- Mobile-optimized so that your site looks good on both a computer browser and a smartphone
- Attractive, customizable templates so that your website doesn’t look generic
- Integrated shipping (calculate rates, print labels, track shipments, etc.)
- Discount and promotion functionality
- Gift card options
- Centralized CRM to track customers across multiple channels
- Integrated payment processing (with competitive rates)
- Email marketing integration
- Order-status text alerts
- SEO tools so that your website performs well on search
Not all of these features may be important to you, or you might need additional features for your specific industry. For example, a clothing retailer with an extensive catalog of items will need more robust eCommerce features, such as advanced inventory management. In contrast, a coffee shop that only sells beans, gift cards, and t-shirts can likely get by with a simpler eCommerce website.
The Bottom Line: Your POS Is The Bridge Between Physical & Online Stores
Having two separate platforms for brick-and-mortar and online sales is redundant and completely unnecessary these days. But before you plunge in and buy the first eCommerce-compatible POS system you come across, it’s important to evaluate your options and make sure you choose a reliable, well-regarded system that can meet all of your needs.
At Merchant Maverick, we love scaleable, cloud-based solutions that work for online retailers small and large — bonus points if they are affordable and easy to use. The above POS systems meet all of those criteria and then some. These systems are each a little different, though, so we recommend testing them out before settling on a POS. Take advantage of their free trials before you make a long-term commitment.
Also, take a look at some other iPad POS software if you want to see what else is out there — just make sure the system offers some kind of eCommerce capabilities before falling in love.
Finally, here are a few more resources about starting an online retail store:
- Top 10 eCommerce Trends For Small Businesses
- What The Coronavirus Means For eCommerce & What Your Business Can Do About It
- The Best Free eCommerce Platforms & Shopping Carts
- The 5 Best POS Systems For A Cashless Society: How To Accept Digital Payment Methods
In Summary: 5 Great eCommerce-Friendly POS Systems
- Lightspeed POS:
- Starting at $99/month
- In-house eCommerce platform
- Flexible card processing
- Square POS:
- Free plan available
- Square Online Store and integrations with BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and others
- App store access
- Revel POS Systems:
- Starts at $99/month
- Integrates with BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, and others
- Revel Online Ordering
- Vend by Lightspeed:
- Plans with eCommerce starting at $129/month
- Integrates with BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, and others
- Multiple processing options
- Shopify POS:
- $9/month and $79/month
- In-house eCommerce
- Syncs with Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and other sites