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6 POS Inventory Management Systems To Keep Your Business Organized

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When casually shopping for a new point of sale system, it’s easy to focus on things such as the software’s price point, its design, and how simple it is to use. But for any sizable retail or restaurant establishment, one of the most important components of a POS system is inventory management.

It’s imperative to be careful, or you could find yourself facing an immediate hassle upon purchasing your POS inventory software. If the items you sell are difficult to upload or categorize — or if, in your fast-paced restaurant, ingredient tracking isn’t up to snuff — you could end up burning valuable time. Worse still, the inefficiency could cut into your profits.

Most of the top systems on the market come with built-in inventory tools, but each program is different in terms of the features and functionality on offer. There’s really no excuse to stick with a system that doesn’t quickly help you analyze your inventory and determine how to maximize your profits.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyBest ForNext StepsBest For
Revel POS

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Best for any size or type of business, particularly larger establishments.
Best for any size or type of business, particularly larger establishments.

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Lightspeed POS

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Best for retailers and restaurants -- it can handle virtually any-sized business for either.
Best for retailers and restaurants -- it can handle virtually any-sized business for either.

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Square POS

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Best for small to mid-sized retail and restaurant establishments, while Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants are more robust and can be used for larger businesses.
Best for small to mid-sized retail and restaurant establishments, while Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants are more robust and can be used for larger businesses.

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Vend by Lightspeed

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Best for virtually any sized retail establishment, though the cost may lend itself to mid-sized to larger businesses.
Best for virtually any sized retail establishment, though the cost may lend itself to mid-sized to larger businesses.

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ShopKeep POS

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Best for any small to mid-sized retail store in any industry and some quick-service restaurants.
Best for any small to mid-sized retail store in any industry and some quick-service restaurants.

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Other Featured Options:

  • Hike POS: Best for small to mid-sized retailers, particularly in the clothing industry, and small, quick-service food businesses.

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The 6 Best POS Inventory Software Solutions

Good POS inventory software can help keep your business operating at peak efficiency with the ability to track items, reorder inventory automatically, and transfer products between stores. Lightspeed, ShopKeep, and Square are among our top choices for the best point of sale inventory solutions.

1. Revel

Revel POS



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Revel is best for any size or type of business, particularly larger establishments.

Special Inventory Features:

  • Simple matrices to track and find products
  • Scan items with your mobile device
  • Special app to monitor inventory levels across multiple stores remotely
  • Automatic low stock alerts
  • Create custom purchase orders
  • Easily compare sales numbers across a selected timeframe

Revel has emerged as one of the big players in the POS inventory software world and stays at the forefront of the industry with constant updates and expanding integrations. The company is equipped for both restaurants and retail businesses and features a flexible pricing structure. Revel’s POS system with inventory management has all of the functions you would want in an easily digestible format.

Revel offers a convenient style matrix for adding large amounts of inventory en masse with customizable category options for easy searches. For restaurants, it’s easy to check out ingredient levels and costs. Revel allows you to create purchase orders, including a convenient function where you can note if only a partial order arrives. As with some of the other systems, you can view inventory levels in real-time and set up alerts when products are running low — or you can have the system automatically order new stock. Revel also has an inventory app that can be downloaded, turning your phone into a scanner.

Pros

  • Excellent integrations
  • Robust reporting
  • Easy kiosk functionality

Cons

  • Complex
  • A bit spendy

Get Started with Revel POS

Read our in-depth review

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2. Lightspeed

Lightspeed POS



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Lightspeed is best for retailers and restaurants — it can handle virtually any-sized business for either.

Special Inventory Features:

  • Order stock directly from the POS
  • Create work orders and layaways within the system
  • Thousands of preloaded catalogs
  • Custom labels and barcodes
  • Consolidate purchases, transfers, and orders into a single order
  • Change prices in bulk
  • Automatically remove returned items from inventory

Lightspeed is one of the most consistent and stable POS inventory systems we’ve reviewed. The company offers terrific features for inventory and POS software that caters to both restaurants and retail businesses; packages start at $99 per month. On the retail side, loading bulk items is simple; they can be easily sorted into groups by color, size, material, season, or any other qualification. Getting more advanced, Lightspeed also makes it easy for items that require unique serial numbers (such as electronics) with the ability to create and track those products. If you need to bundle items to sell as a single SKU, Lightspeed also makes that process easy and calculates the cost automatically. As an added bonus, there are thousands of preloaded catalogs as well.

For restaurants, you can toggle stock levels on and off. When you switch the function on, you can see exactly how much of each ingredient you have on stock across multiple locations and set up automatic alerts when an item runs low. A unique ingredient management system allows you to individually create an ingredient and add it to an item, allowing it to be tracked.

If you would like to learn more, read our full review of Lightspeed Retail or sign up for a free 14-day trial.

Pros

  • Strong reporting
  • Solid eCommerce
  • Excellent usability

Cons

  • Costly for smaller businesses
  • Occasional glitches

Get Started with Lightspeed POS

Read our in-depth review

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3. Square

Square POS



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Square is best for small to mid-sized retail and restaurant establishments, while Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants are more robust and can be used for larger businesses.

Special Inventory Features:

  • Easy CSV spreadsheets
  • Downloadable reports
  • Daily stock alerts
  • Barcode labels
  • Item categories
  • Vendor management
  • Purchase orders

Square is one of the biggest names in the point of sale industry, and for good reason. The company has made convenience its brand with one of the most user-friendly interfaces you’ll find. The Square system is highly scalable, featuring a generous array of features in its free app, which is best for small businesses, and bulked up inventory in its Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants offerings.

Square comes with everything a small business might need, including its built-in processing and access to its extensive app store so that you can get up and running in a matter of minutes. Square also has a number of modern hardware choices to fit your needs, whether you’re looking for customer-facing displays or handheld devices for your employees, giving them the flexibility to take orders from anywhere in your store.

Even with its free app, Square comes with basic inventory features. To access Square’s more advanced inventory, you can subscribe to one of its more extensive services. Here, you’ll have an impressive body of inventory reports, purchase ordering management, low stock alerts, and the ability to manage and send inventory across multiple locations.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • All-in-one software
  • User-friendly

Cons

  • Fund holds
  • Customer service can be tricky

Get Started with Square POS

Read our in-depth review

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4. Vend

Vend by Lightspeed



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Vend is best for virtually any sized retail establishment, though the cost may lend itself to mid-sized to larger businesses.

Special Inventory Features: 

  • Bulk importing from a CSV file
  • Product bundling and separating
  • Import barcodes or create new ones
  • Centralized product catalog
  • Duplicate products with a click
  • Automated promotions and discounts
  • Customizable taxes and pricing

Vend does a lot of things well (that’s why it’s already earned one of our coveted 5-star ratings). It numbers among the most user-friendly systems on the market, requiring very little training to install or operate. Vend is continually updating and integrates with dozens of companies. Vend has robust plans starting at $99 a month.

Vend’s POS inventory management is easy to maneuver without sacrificing functionality. This POS allows you to import a CSV file to transfer large amounts of inventory easily. You can also import existing barcodes or print new ones. There is a wide variety of options for organizing your products, making it possible to build customizable reports. The centralized product catalog is also a nice function.

Vend comes with a built-in way to automate promotions, making it possible to set discounts across multiple stores or create discounts for individual customers. Stock orders can be automatically generated once a certain item dips below a set point. What’s more, Scanner by Vend simplifies stock counts.

Pros

  • Great loyalty package
  • Free plan available
  • eCommerce integrations

Cons

  • Affordability
  • Average reporting

Get Started with Vend by Lightspeed

Read our in-depth review

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5. ShopKeep

ShopKeep POS



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Read our Review

ShopKeep is best for any small to mid-sized retail store in any industry and some quick-service restaurants.

Special Inventory Features:

  • Bulk importing of thousands of SKUs
  • Best-seller tracking
  • Track costs and profit margins per item
  • Bluetooth scanning available
  • Unique and customizable modifiers
  • Manage multiple stores in real-time with the pocket app

We’ve considered ShopKeep one of the best POS inventory systems on the market pretty much since its inception. Inventory wasn’t always its top-selling point, but it has made dramatic improvements in that area over the past couple of years and now ranks alongside its competitors. ShopKeep is a very affordable option for everything it comes with, and it offers a quote-based system for pricing.

ShopKeep has a strong point of sale inventory management package included in its basic package. You can import items via a CSV file and hold thousands of SKUs. Viewing your top-selling items and departments is simple, and you can get immediate updates when stock is running low. You can track the costs of each item to assess how profitable it is compared to other sellers. Another nice feature is that, with the addition of a Bluetooth scanner, you can look up or add new items from anywhere in the store.

ShopKeep’s ingredient tracking for restaurants is extremely detailed, and the software offers numerous modifiers that are all customizable. ShopKeep’s pocket app also allows you to check on your inventory from anywhere with a wireless signal.

Pros

  • Cost-friendly
  • Robust back office
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Occasional bugs
  • Mediocre integrations

Get Started with ShopKeep POS

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

6. Hike

Hike POS



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Read our Review

Hike is best for small to mid-sized retailers, particularly in the clothing industry, and small, quick-service food businesses.

Special Inventory Features:

  • Bulk importing
  • Full and partial inventory counts that can be scheduled ahead of time
  • Automated re-order reminders
  • Simple stock transfers between stores
  • Easy purchase order creation
  • Taxes by location

Hike is an affordable retail system (starting at $49 a month) with surprisingly robust inventory management that could also be utilized for small food carts or cafes. Hike’s mobility makes it an attractive option for businesses that want their employees to be able to interact on the floor with customers. To that point, its employee management is also strong.

The system can handle an unlimited number of products and is custom-made to handle large amounts of inventory. Custom barcodes on receipts make it easy to look up products. Virtually everything can be automated, from re-ordering to setting up reminders and shipping items between stores.

Hike’s purchase ordering is intuitive, as is its ability to track orders online. This POS software with inventory control capabilities allows for quick bulk imports of inventory data. The central inventory system also makes it possible to keep tabs on your stock across multiple locations from one system. You can schedule a full or partial inventory count in advance to save time as well. There are myriad categories and subcategories that you can place items into, making it easy to search for them.

Pros

  • Customization
  • Strong reporting
  • All-in-one software

Cons

  • Clunky purchase ordering
  • Occasional crashes

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

4 Major Features To Look For In Inventory POS Software

Here are a few things you should look for in quality inventory POS software:

  • Ease Of Use: Some POS and inventory systems are incredibly in-depth, with the ability to store information on thousands of items. But that doesn’t do you a lot of good if the interface is clunky, and you constantly struggle to remember how to get to exactly what you’re looking for. You could also burn valuable hours training every new employee on a complicated system. This carries over into the set-up process as well. Make sure that your system allows you to import items in bulk; otherwise, you’re in for hours of painstaking data entry.
  • Basic Features: It’s never a bad idea to do a quick run-through of what features a system’s inventory management includes and that those features are offered with the plan you’ve selected and not in an advanced plan that is only available if you shell out more money. Most point of sale inventory systems come with real-time monitoring and low-stock alerts as well as raw ingredient tracking, virtually a must for the restaurant industry.
  • Easy Integration: This is one of the benefits of an all-in-one system. If you’re using an outside inventory program, it may not sync up seamlessly with your POS or perhaps with your accounting software. Make sure that whatever inventory software you’re using will run smoothly with any potential add-ons that you’re using elsewhere with your POS system.
  • Multistore Functionality: If your business is large enough to be operating out of more than one location, you’ll want your inventory management to run fluidly between stores. Most good inventory software should have you covered here. Be sure that you can keep an eye on your inventory at all locations and check for features such as the ability to set up transfers and delivery of stock from one location to the other.

4 Tips For Effective POS Inventory Management

Just because you have a strong inventory system at your disposal doesn’t necessarily mean you’re utilizing it in the most efficient way. Here are a few industry tips on things you could and perhaps should be doing with your point of sale inventory management system.

  • Audit Your Inventory: It’s a scary word, and audits of any nature are never anyone’s idea of a good time. However, even if you think you have a good grasp on what’s coming in and out of your store, it’s always wise to set aside time periodically to do a full inventory audit. Double-check that you have the items your software claims you have and to prevent fraud or even simple accounting errors.
  • Prioritize Best Sellers: The 80/20 rule in retail is broad but can be a good jumping-off point. It states that you should (very roughly) be making 80% of your profits from 20% of your products. You should single out the “heavy hitters” in your inventory and make sure that they are getting preferential treatment when it comes to ordering and marketing. Your software can easily help you analyze your top sellers and discover buying trends at your business throughout the year.
  • Analyze Suppliers: It’s not just your inventory that should be looked at carefully. You should also periodically analyze your supply chain to make sure that you’re getting the best prices available and that there are no inefficiencies in the process of ordering your products and receiving them.
  • First In First Out: This is another standard industry line, but it’s a good thing to keep in the back of your head. As a rule of thumb, you should be trying to sell the products that you have had in your inventory the longest so that they don’t languish. This is especially important in the restaurant industry, where much of your inventory may be at risk of spoiling. Again, your POS inventory software can track how long all of your inventory has been on hand.

How To Choose The Right POS Inventory Software For Your Business

Now you should have at least enough information to get started in your search for a point of sale system with strong inventory management software. While there’s no catch-all answer for what product is perfect for you, companies are continuously improving their inventory packages, and there are plenty of very good options out there.

Keep a few basic things in mind, such as price, ease of use, and depth of features. Make sure that the POS inventory system meets your needs in other areas as well, such as customer service and integrations. Before purchasing a new system, do your research and ask as many questions as you can about the available inventory features. Whenever possible, take advantage of free trials.

Good luck, and happy selling!

In Summary: The 6 Best POS Inventory Software Solutions

  1. Revel POS: Best for any size or type of business, particularly larger establishments.
  2. Lightspeed POS: Best for retailers and restaurants -- it can handle virtually any-sized business for either.
  3. Square POS: Best for small to mid-sized retail and restaurant establishments, while Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants are more robust and can be used for larger businesses.
  4. Vend by Lightspeed: Best for virtually any sized retail establishment, though the cost may lend itself to mid-sized to larger businesses.
  5. ShopKeep POS: Best for any small to mid-sized retail store in any industry and some quick-service restaurants.
  6. Hike POS: Best for small to mid-sized retailers, particularly in the clothing industry, and small, quick-service food businesses.
Matt Sherman

Matt Sherman

Point of sale writer at Merchant Maverick
Matt Sherman has been immersed in point of sale systems for over a year now. Previously, he spent 14 years in the newspaper industry, the majority of which was as the sports editor for a pair of weekly newspapers in suburban Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon where he majored in English because he knows where the money is. Matt is the father to a pair of energetic boys and can easily be distracted by Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go.

Sources

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15 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.

    Ethan

    I appreciate this review. We have three retail stores (between 2,000 – 3,000 unique items on our retail floors) that would be considered a small business. Our largest store is about 14,000 sq/ft and our smallest is around 6,000 sq/ft. We were old school (counting all inventory by hand and ‘REMEMBERING’ what we had on hand in all three stores – nothing was computer-based) for the past 15 years and knew we needed to adapt in order to stay competitive. A POS system was something we needed and we adopted the Clover POS system into our stores in November 2018.

    As with anything there is good and bad, however, Clover’s inventory management is not ideal (politically correct language – aka PCL) or in other words horrible (honest language – aka HL). There are so many limitations to variants, parent-child relationships, receiving, and even exchanges at the register. Clover is being pushed by many large banks for small businesses, however, their lack of adequate inventory management inefficient register functions make them less than an ideal choice (PCL) or not an option for any business with more than 100 items in their inventory (HL).

    Clover is limited even on their register; like only being able to return items of equal value, NO EXCEPTIONS. You can’t even return an item and get credit for it, you have to exchange for something of the same value. AND you can’t scan for that item, nor can you type in the barcode or name of that item, you have to literally scroll through all the items with the same price which could be literally a thousand items, AT THE REGISTER!

    Nevertheless, we found an app in the Clover market called Shopventory and it seems to correct ALL of the inventory management issues that Clover cannot address. (They still can’t change the register inadequacies that Clover has). Shopventory seems to be an app, while still flawed, is making tremendous gains in their services. We have enjoyed working with them but all things come to an end as Shopventory has changed their user login to one session logins. Shopventory only gives you three (3) user logins, that’s it, no exceptions. We complained but it wasn’t in their pipeline…so, we adapt.

    Owner, Manager, and Employee – these are how we designated the user logins. So, when employees are doing stocktakes at each store, there isn’t an issue because we can log in with the same username at multiple locations. We set up our system and it’s been working for us. Recently, Shopventory has changed this policy to one-time session logins which means we can no longer work across three stores simultaneously. They do offer an alternative – buy 5 more user logins at $50/month or $500/annually (a 52% mark up) for the EXACT SAME SERVICE! Which feels a lot like bait and switch.

    So, we are on the hunt again to find a POS system that does what Clover and Shopventory do intuitively. I see VEND is a choice for good inventory management software, however, I would love to speak with someone a little further…if possible.

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

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Ethan,

      Thanks so much for sharing this feedback. You can leave a question here in the comments or feel free to reach out via email at service@merchantmaverick.com and we will see if we can help!

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

        Clinton Moroz

        Little help please.

        I run an Antique /vintage housewares store with literally thousands of items mostly unique (one off) in a variety of categories.
        We also rent a great deal to film sets.
        2 locations (store and warehouse)

        I am looking for a cataloging inventory system that film sets and customers can browse along with being a proper inventory database for accounting? I’ve looked at many things but nothing seems to be quite on point.

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

          Jessica Dinsmore

          Hi Clinton,
          If you’re currently using a POS system, you may want to see if it integrates specifically with any advanced inventory companies. If you’re looking for a new POS with strong inventory management and a good cataloging system I would suggest checking out Vend first. Cin7 is also one of the better inventory management systems out there and syncs up with QuickBooks and Xero and many other programs. It’s a little pricey, but may be worth looking into.

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

            Jim

            We are taking over a cigar bar business that has a ComCash classic POS. We want to be able to list the inventory in our retail store online as well and then ship when something sells. We also need to label individual cigars in the store so lots of inventory. Which POS would be best to do this integration for ecommerce and run the retail store ?

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

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Jim,

              Shopify is a pretty solid option due to their eCommerce and inventory management and it has an integration for labeling. ShopKeep also can handle a large number of SKUs and is probably the most affordable option. Lightspeed Retail would also fit the bill across the board if you find you need more robust inventory management than the other options offer. Best!

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

                iuioujio

                This site really help.

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

                  Rob

                  Great Read!! Which would you recommend as a POS system and one that would be most beneficial with Inventory management
                  . We are opening up a small cigar company and would like to barcode every cigar.

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

                    Jessica Dinsmore

                    Hey Rob!

                    I think any of the systems that say they are best for small to mid-sized businesses would suit your company. ShopKeep is always a solid option and you can create and scan unique barcodes with their system. If you have a little extra money you might want to look at Vend as their inventory management is a little more robust but it may be more than you need ultimately.

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

                      Sam Wheeling

                      Great Read! However, I am a small business that deals with gift cards as well as cash and hardly any credit cards. I am looking for a POS system that I can use on a PC and or Ipad/Tablet that will also do inventory control. Where can I find such a item?

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

                        Jessica Dinsmore

                        Hi Sam!

                        Pretty much of all the options in the article will be able to handle cash and gift card transactions. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for with any of those, I would check out SalesVu. They are compatible for both iOS and Android and have solid inventory and gift card features. One of the only real issues is a less than stellar offline mode but, as a primarily cash business, that shouldn’t be much of an issue. You could also check out ShopKeep, one of our highest recommended systems, which should be able to handle your needs as well.

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

                          Buddy

                          Hi Matt,

                          We need inventory system with a twist… So far the above systems seems not to be able to handle our situation and I have been searching the interweb high-and-low.

                          We sell sausages that we produce in our own kitchen. That means our stock inventory will need to track Beef and Pork that we buy from our suppliers. We will not sell these items. Instead we will convert them into Sausage stock items. Also, very importantly, if I use 1kg of Beef and 1kg of Pork, I will end up with 2.45kg of Sausages (because I add water and spices that is not in my inventory), and these sausages will be sold as three different products: 1kg pack, 500g pack and 450g packs. If I use 2kg of Beef, I will end up with 920g of Beef Jerkey. So there needs to be a build-in recipe kind of thing for many of our sales products.

                          Other products we sell may come from another supplier that we directly sell on. Also we have our own website (Magenta) with incoming orders (sales), then another website almost like Amazon (also with their own csv format of sales), and then also we have walk-in customers that will pay by credit card or cash. All of these needs to be captured (or imported) for our stock control.

                          VEND is not capable of handling weights at all. The others mentioned above has no free trial period.

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

                            Jessica Dinsmore

                            Hi Buddy!

                            Thanks for your question. We did a little digging, and we are surprised that Revel wasn’t able to accommodate your needs. That said, if you’re sure that can’t help, we’d suggest taking a look at TouchBistro. They have a really good ingredient-based inventory system that should be able to handle all of your specifics.

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

                              N.F.

                              Revel does this type of inventory Mgt, no free trial but if you setup a demo they sill show you. I was looking at Revel last year and setup a demo and this is how the ingredient level inventory feature works.

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

                                Pat

                                SOS Inventory will do what you need. It’s not a POS system but it has the best manufacturing / inventory / assembly system I’ve ever seen, and it integrates with Quickbooks and POS systems. So, if your POS won’t do it all add SOS Inv to the mix and you should be fine. We were in the same situation and SOS bridges a lot of gaps

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

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