5 POS Systems With Exceptional eCommerce Integrations 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 in nature, 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 mostly 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 to serve as a primary channel to sell their goods during times like these, when consumers’ physical movement is limited.
I put together this post to help small retail businesses modernize their operations by bridging the gap between online sales and physical retail sales. Maybe you have only sold in-person at your brick-and-mortar store until now, or you already do sell online, but your point of sale doesn’t work with your eCommerce solution so you want to switch. 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 multichannel retail point of sale systems.
| ||Best for advanced in-house eCommerce|
| ||Best for affordability|
| ||Best for flexibility|
| ||Best for free online stores|
| ||Best for ease of use|
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
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 complete 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 key. According to U.S. Census data released in February 2020, eCommerce is on a strong upward trajectory. And with the recent national emergency that began to unfold in March 2020, 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 as well as 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 do things like:
- 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.
5 Great eCommerce-Friendly POS Systems
All of the following multichannel POS systems are slightly different, but they have some important commonalities, including 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. (However, some of these systems do offer lower monthly pricing if you commit for one year.)
1. 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% + 10¢ for in-store sales (or another 2.6% + 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
- Webstore 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. While Lightspeed Retail is best suited for small to medium businesses, including multi-location businesses, Lightspeed also has an enterprise version of its software for large businesses.
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2. Shopify POS
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 1-5 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 eComm solution:
- Online sales channels include Shopify website, your existing website with Shopify “Buy” button, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Facebook Shop, & eBay
- Choose from online store themes and/or edit HTML & 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 which lets you take payments on your mobile phone and sell on Facebook.
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Vend, est. 2010, is another top POS system for online retailers and, in fact, was one of the first browser-based cloud POS systems in existence. Vend 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 multiple 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 its own 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 multi-store retailers with 6+ outlets can qualify for Vend’s Enterprise plan; you can request a quote on Vend’s website.
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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% + 10¢ for in-person transactions or 2.9% + 30¢ for eCommerce transactions). Square POS is typically used with an iPad setup, though you can also use with another device of your choice, including a smartphone for on-the-go sales. Square even sets up its POS users with a free eCommerce website that’s powered by Weebly. For many small, low-volume businesses, a free Square Online Store will be sufficient, but for businesses with more advanced eCommerce needs, Square also offers paid online store plans, as well as integrations with numerous other eCommerce solutions.
Here are some of the features included in Square’s free online store:
- Automatic inventory, orders, & 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*
- Showcase featured products & upcoming events
- Accept appointments & 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 their in-house website builder, there’s a good chance Square already integrates with your eCommerce platform. Square has pre-built 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.
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ShopKeep is a popular iPad POS for small businesses in both the retail and restaurant industries. Shopkeep’s award-winning POS is capable, affordable, and colorful, with thoughtful inventory management features, attentive customer service, and in-house payment processing via ShopKeep Payments. ShopKeep can also be used on Clover POS hardware. Additionally, ShopKeep has partnered up with BigCommerce and Ecwid to provide an in-house eCommerce solution called ShopKeep eCommerce, available to ShopKeep POS users as a paid add-on.*
Overall, ShopKeep eCommerce is a fairly basic eComm solution, mostly relying on Ecwid’s Instant Site functionality, though at higher price tiers. ShopKeep offers advanced eCommerce features, which I imagine take advantage of BigCommerce’s more nuanced functionality. Shopkeep’s monthly pricing is quote-based.
Here’s what you need to know about ShopKeep’s multichannel selling features:
- “Instant Site” makes setup super fast and easy for eCommerce newcomers
- Item names, prices, quantities on hand, SKUs, modifiers, and variants all sync from BackOffice to ShopKeep eCommerce
- Advanced eCommerce options available at higher price tiers (email email@example.com)
- Integrates with existing BigCommerce & Ecwid stores
*Take note of the following:
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, and the need for brick and mortar businesses to shift their operations online, ShopKeep is offering subscribing retail businesses 3 months of access to its eCommerce features at no additional charge. Restaurant subscribers can access ShopKeep’s online ordering tools for 3 months at no additional charge as well.
You can also check out our coronavirus small business hub for more support and resources to help during this challenging time.
For more information about ShopKeep POS and its eCommerce features, read our full ShopKeep review or sign up for a free demo on ShopKeep’s website.
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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 properly.
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.
15 Features You Should Look For In An Integrated POS 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 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 your site looks good on both a computer browser and a smartphone
- Attractive, customizable templates so your website doesn’t look generic
- Integrated shipping (calculate rates, print labels, track shipments, etc.)
- Curbside pickup option
- 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 your website performs well on search
It’s possible that not all of these features will be important to you, or you may need additional features for your specific industry. For example, a clothing retailer with a large catalog of items will need more robust eCommerce features such as advanced inventory management, whereas 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. Or, 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:
- The Complete Guide To Starting An Online Store For Your Brick & Mortar Business
- What The Coronavirus Means For eCommerce & What Your Business Can Do About It
- The Best Free eCommerce Platforms & Shopping Carts
A Last Look At Our Top Picks
- Lightspeed POS
Summary - Best for advanced in-house eCommerce
- Shopify POS
Summary - Best for affordability
- Vend POS
Summary - Best for flexibility
- Square POS
Summary - Best for free online stores
- ShopKeep POS
Summary - Best for ease of use