The 5 Best POS Systems For A Cashless Society: How To Accept Digital Payment Methods
Want to go cashless? Cashless stores are becoming a hot trend in the retail world as both technology and public health trends impact commerce. Consumers are carrying less cash these days, and digital, cashless payment technologies are becoming more prevalent. These include not only credit card payments but also contactless payments (such as Apple Pay) and web-based payment platforms (such as PayPal). Many businesses have gone cashless as a response to COVID-19, pushing us that much closer to becoming a cashless society.
While fully cashless stores — businesses that do not accept cash at all — still aren’t the norm in America, they are becoming more prevalent, particularly as coronavirus concerns have caused many merchants to cut out the potential health risk of handling germy cash, in favor of safer credit card and contactless payments. Digital payments are also quicker than cash transactions and can allow for social distancing during the checkout process. Some cashless payment systems even allow customers to pay directly from their phones by scanning a QR code on a screen or printed receipt.
In addition to making things safer for your patrons and cashiers, going cashless can also make for more streamlined and data-rich transactions. For example, let’s say a customer makes a purchase on a Square point of sale system using a credit card or mobile wallet. You (the merchant) will automatically obtain the customer’s email address from the last time they paid with that card on a Square POS, allowing you to send them an email receipt or sign them up for your loyalty program. Going cashless may also save money, as you won’t have to deal with the cost of handling and transporting cash. Customers also tend to spend more when they’re paying with a card rather than cash.
In the broadest sense, any credit card machine can make a POS system cashless. But which POS systems really take it to the next level and make it safe and easy to go cashless? A truly great cashless POS will include features, such as strong security, NFC support for contactless payments, kiosk mode for self-service, paper-free electronic receipts (SMS or email), a strong offline mode to accept credit cards even if the internet goes out, and eCommerce integrations that support online ordering and in-store pickup. Keep reading to learn about the best cashless payment solutions that make it easy for your business to go cash-free.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
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The Best POS Software With Cashless Payment Systems
Cloud POS systems support cashless transactions as well as other digital payment technologies for social distancing, such as electronic receipts, contactless payments, online ordering, kiosk mode, and more. Read on to learn about the best cashless payment systems for an increasingly cashless society.
- Free mobile POS
- Works on any device
- Multichannel selling options
- Low barrier to entry
- Can be difficult to reach live customer service
- Occasional issues with withheld funds
Square is a portable POS that works great for startups, small retailers, and fast-casual restaurants. This easy-to-use POS works on any smartphone, iPad, or tablet, as well as on the proprietary mobile hardware sold by Square (Square Terminal and Square Register). And customers are increasingly accustomed to using Square in many settings, so it will seem familiar. You do have the option to process cash transactions, or you can opt for a completely cashless setup with no cash drawer.
At a flat 2.6% + $0.10 on every swiped, dipped, and tapped transaction, Square’s in-house payment provider does not provide the absolute lowest processing rates in the industry. However, there is no monthly charge to use this handy pocket POS, so there is a very low barrier to entry. Similar to PayPal, Square is a third-party payment processor, which means you don’t need your own merchant account to use Square, so there are no merchant account fees or any intimidating merchant services contracts to sign. Overall, low-volume businesses with small ticket amounts might save money with Square versus a merchant account.
Some great electronic payment features Square offers include email receipts, NFC support (for Apple Pay, Android Pay, and contactless cards), a free eCommerce website, curbside pickup, and an offline mode that queues credit card payments if you lose your internet connection. Square is always innovating, and its latest online checkout feature lets merchants send online payment links that allow customers to pay from their own device. You also get unlimited devices on your free Square account, which can be handy if you have multiple employees selling from their own devices.
A couple of downsides to Square are its somewhat impersonal customer support and a touchy security system that may flag/freeze your account if you process a very large transaction or a higher-than-usual monthly sales total. Be sure to read our Square review to learn more about this digital payment system.
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- Sleek, multipurpose hardware options
- Can be used in any industry
- Customizable functionality
- Some Clover resellers are disreputable
Clover is a compact and customizable POS that might be just right for your cashless store or restaurant. Clover offers several sleek, proprietary POS options, including Clover Station, Clover Mini, Clover Flex, and the mobile Clover Go, and you can mix and match different devices for different uses. For example, the Clover Flex also doubles as a portable barcode scanner. Clover also has several software plans that cater to various industries and has excellent digital payment features, including contactless payments, paperless receipts, online ordering, and more. As for Clover pricing, the popular “Register” plan is $39.95/month with in-person processing rates of 2.3% + $0.10 per transaction and no long-term commitment.
The ideal countertop setup for a cashless business is probably the Clover Mini (pictured above), which you can use alongside other Clover devices or on its own. The Mini is an all-in-one POS, it has a 7″ touchscreen made with antimicrobial glass, and comes with a built-in receipt printer, a front-facing camera, and the ability to read barcodes/QR codes. You can plug in additional hardware (such as a weight scale) via one of its USB ports. The system is also portable, giving you the option of a “floating terminal” set up where employees can take payments from anywhere in your store/restaurant.
Clover is exceedingly easy to use and learn, and you can customize the system’s functionality via the Clover App Market. Clover gives you the option to run the Mini over ethernet, Wi-Fi, or a data connection. If your internet goes down and you don’t have a data plan, you can continue to accept and queue offline transactions until your connection is restored. Since Clover a number of different banks and merchant services providers sell Clover, it’s important to choose a reputable Clover reseller or buy from Clover directly. Read our Clover Mini review to learn more about this pretty little POS.
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- Multiple sales channels
- Socially-distanced selling features
- Affordable for very small businesses
- Smartphone apps for iPhone and Android
- Complex pricing
- Weak offline mode
Shopify started as eCommerce software but has evolved to become a popular in-person selling tool as well. With its retail-focused tablet-and-smartphone POS, Shopify provides plenty of tools to bridge the gap between online and offline selling seamlessly. These tools range from an eCommerce website to social media selling to in-person payments. Shopify works great for cashless businesses because all you really need to start selling is a mobile device and a card reader — though you also have the option to do a full countertop point of sale setup, depending on your needs.
With plans ranging from $9 to $299/month, Shopify is completely scalable and can support micro-businesses just starting out with in-person selling as well as growing multilocation retail outlets. However, its pricing can get a little complicated, so it’s good to make sure you understand the various Shopify pricing plans and add-ons before making your selection. Shopify includes in-house, flat-rate payment processing, but you can use Shopify with your own processor for an added fee.
Shopify POS comes loaded with lots of selling features geared toward retail stores, such as discounts, store credit, customer management, inventory management, and the ability to accept multiple forms of payment for the same transaction. Shopify has kept up to date with newer electronic selling methods, including local delivery, curbside pickup, digital gift cards, and a ship-to-customer option that lets customers pay for an item at your store that is shipped to their home. Alternatively, customers can order and pay online and pick up an item in your store. Another cool socially-distanced selling feature Shopify offers is product detail QR codes in your store that customers can scan with their phone to learn more about your products and buy them from your website.
Perhaps one of the only negatives about Shopify POS is its offline mode is not super robust — you can’t process transactions if you’re offline. But if you have a stable internet connection or data plan, this shouldn’t be an issue. Read our Shopify POS review to learn more about this electronic selling powerhouse.
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- Restaurant-specific features
- Restaurant-grade hardware
- Multiple digital ordering and payment options
- Comes with your own merchant account
- Requires a multiyear merchant services contract
Toast is the smart POS choice for a restaurant, large or small, that wants to go cashless. Android-based Toast is not just a POS; it’s a complete business management solution with features, such as CRM, inventory management, employee management, and more. Made specifically for the foodservice industry, Toast also includes restaurant-specific features, such as service areas and split-check functionality. Toast’s Android-based hardware is also custom-designed for the restaurant industry.
Toast has lots of tech-forward features, including contactless payments, kiosk mode, tableside ordering devices, a QR code payment option that lets customers pay on their phone, and an offline mode so that you can continue to ring up transactions and perform other essential features even during an internet outage. You can also set your credit card authorization so that it will always behave as if it were offline. This makes the system faster since you don’t have to wait around for an official authorization, though it is slightly riskier to operate in this mode.
Toast pricing starts at $69/month, though add-ons for online ordering and delivery, a customer-facing takeout app, gift cards, and loyalty cost extra. Toast offers in-house payment processing and a custom-built flat rate that meets or beats the rates you’d get with another processor. However, you cannot use an outside merchant account with Toast; if you want to use your own existing merchant account, or don’t want to get locked into a long-term contract, then Toast is not right for you.
Learn more about what you get with Toast in our Toast POS review.
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- Full offline functionality
- Accepts PayPal in-store
- Customizable feature-sets for different industries
- Excellent customer support
- Expensive for very small businesses
- May require a long-term contract
Revel Systems is an excellent POS for cashless stores. Not only is it sleek and modern, but it also offers a full suite of digital payment and ordering options and is powerful enough to serve as a complete cloud-based business management hub. Revel is also fast and reliable and robust enough to power enterprise-level businesses in either restaurant or retail industries.
This iPad POS is mainly marketed to quick-serve restaurants and retail stores, and some big names, such as Cinnabon and Goodwill, use it to power their franchises. One big advantage with Revel is its full offline functionality. Very few point of sale systems will allow you to process electronic payments and execute all other POS functions offline the way Revel does. For an even faster and more reliable POS, you have the option to connect your Revel-equipped device to a proprietary iPad-ethernet connection — another rarity in the world of tablet POS systems.
Some of the many POS features you get with NFC-ready POS include built-in PayPal acceptance in-store, online ordering options for customers who want to order ahead for pickup/delivery, kiosk mode, QR code payments, a mobile loyalty program, and a direct QuickBooks integration.
Revel is easily the priciest option on this list, starting at $99/month, billed annually, and a three-year contract with Revel’s in-house flat-rate payment processor. You do have the option to go with an outside payment processor using the USAePay gateway or others — but you will have to pay extra. Learn more about this impressive cashless POS system by reading our Revel Systems review.
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Why Small Businesses Need To Adapt To A Cashless Society
Even if you’re hesitant or used to operating a cash-only business, small businesses need to get used to electronic/digital payments. As mentioned in our recent post, A Cashless Future Is Coming. Is Your Small Business Ready?, cash accounts for less than a third of all business transactions and use of contactless payments soared 27% in March 2020. Though COVID-19 surely drove a lot of that growth, once consumers embrace the speed and convenience of paying with contactless payments, there is little reason for them to return to cash post-pandemic.
Besides the convenience factor, a cashless society also provides monetary perks for consumers. Whether they pay via card or contactless, consumers are also getting used to the perks of electronic payments — many personal credit cards offer generous points and cash back programs. For example, if I’m at a store that accepts contactless payments, I can pay with my Apple Watch (which is connected to my Apple Card), and I automatically get 3% cash back. With rewards cards now representing a larger piece of the consumer credit card pie, it may be beneficial for certain cashless businesses to choose a flat-rate payment processor that charges the same rate for all electronic transactions, even American Express cards.
In addition to credit card and mobile payments in-store, online payments are another facet of cashless payments. Even if your store hasn’t traditionally been the type to sell online, interest in socially-distanced selling methods, such as online ordering, local delivery, and curbside pickup, have necessitated many brick-and-mortar businesses to embrace eCommerce. Whether you want to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus or give your customers more options, it’s probably not a bad idea to let your customers order and pay online. Just make sure you check your POS system’s online payment processing rates, as these are usually higher than in-person rates.
How To Keep Your Cashless Transactions Secure
Credit card fraud may be a concern for some merchants when going all digital. Fortunately, electronic payments are more secure than ever, thanks to credit card encryption and tokenization technologies for in-person and online payments as well as biometric authentication (a user signing into their phone with their Face ID or fingerprint) for mobile payments. But even though the technology already does a lot of the heavy lifting for us, there are some things you can and should do as a merchant to ensure the security of your cashless transactions.
Here are some tips and things to know about keeping your cashless payments secure:
- Make sure your POS system is PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)-compliant and includes point-to-point encryption.
- Credit card tokenization is not strictly required for electronic payment security but is a nice bonus to have.
- Old-school swiped credit card transactions are less secure than EMV (chip card) and NFC (contactless credit card and mobile payments), so it’s also important to make sure your credit card terminal can at least accept EMV.
- A POS system with employee permissions and different levels of access can help prevent data theft from within your organization.
Make Way For Cashless Payments With The Right POS System
It doesn’t always pay to dive into fads, as anyone with a Segway or a laser disk player could tell you. But the writing is on the wall for cash as we know it; we are hurtling into a future as a cashless society. Even if we’re not an entirely cashless society just yet, we still want cashless payment solutions for merchants who are accepting cash far less often, and their customers who are not so inclined to carry cash anymore.
Which POS is best for accepting cashless payments at your store? The answer to this question depends on your business’s particular needs and budget, as well as your customers’ demographics. Keep in mind that all of the systems highlighted in this article also allow you to accept cash transactions, so you always have the option to start taking cash if the cashless model doesn’t work out for you.
Key things to keep in mind are that a good cashless payment system should have features, such as:
- EMV and NFC
- Mobile capabilities
- Offline functionality
- Email receipts
- Strong security
- eCommerce integrations
- Socially-distanced selling features (curbside pickup, kiosk mode, QR code payments, etc.)
Many grocery stores, fast-food chains, restaurants, and clothing boutiques might not be ready to go completely cashless yet. Still, by investing in a POS system that handles cashless payments well, today’s merchants are investing in the survival of their brick-and-mortar stores.
If you want to read more about the topics discussed in this post, make sure to check out the following resources:
- Why You Should Consider A Self-Ordering Kiosk For Your Restaurant (Plus The 5 Best Kiosk POS Systems & How You Can Afford Them)
- Mobile Payment Apps 101: How to Get Paid For Anything, Anywhere
- Digital Wallets VS Mobile Wallets
- How To Use PayPal In Stores & Other PayPal Questions Answered
- Everything You Need To Know About NFC Technology & Why NFC Payments Are The Future
- The Complete Guide To Online Credit Card Processing With A Payment Gateway
In Summary: The Best POS Software With Cashless Payment Systems
- Square: Best for low-volume businesses.
- Clover Mini: Best for all-in-one hardware.
- Shopify POS: Best for multichannel selling.
- Toast POS: Best for cashless restaurants.
- Revel POS: Best for advanced iPad POS.