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The Best Retail Payroll Software & Practices

These payroll software options include essential retail-focused payroll features, such as payroll runs, benefits, time tracking, commissions, and more.

    Davina Ward
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Retail payroll

Retail payroll software can help automate your business and save time running payroll. With an employee mobile app, off-cycle payroll runs, accounting software integrations, and new-hiring onboarding, the best retail payroll software can handle your payroll needs.

We’ve got you covered if you’re in the market for a new retail payroll software solution. This guide covers everything you need to know about retail payroll processes and lists our picks for the best retail payroll software solutions.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyBest ForNext StepsBest For
Square Payroll

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  • No payroll user limit
  • Pricing starting at $35/month + $5 per person paid
  • Best for retail businesses using Square POS
  • No payroll user limit
  • Pricing starting at $35/month + $5 per person paid
  • Best for retail businesses using Square POS

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ADP Payroll

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  • Businesses with up to 1,000+ users
  • Custom pricing model
  • Most flexible retail payroll software
  • Businesses with up to 1,000+ users
  • Custom pricing model
  • Most flexible retail payroll software

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Gusto

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  • No payroll user limit
  • Pricing starts at $6/month per person paid for the Contractor's Only Plan
  • Affordable, feature-rich contractors only plan
  • No payroll user limit
  • Pricing starts at $6/month per person paid for the Contractor's Only Plan
  • Affordable, feature-rich contractors only plan

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Intuit Online Payroll

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  • 150 user cap
  • Pricing starts at $45/month + $5/employee per month
  • QuickBooks Online Accounting integration
  • 150 user cap
  • Pricing starts at $45/month + $5/employee per month
  • QuickBooks Online Accounting integration

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Patriot Payroll

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  • Up to 100 users
  • Pricing starts at $17/month + $4 per employee or contractor paid
  • Affordable payroll software for small businesses
  • Up to 100 users
  • Pricing starts at $17/month + $4 per employee or contractor paid
  • Affordable payroll software for small businesses

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

What Is A Good Payroll Percentage For A Retail Store?

A retail payroll percentage is the portion of your sales revenue that is used to cover payroll expenses.

There’s no official guidance that sets a good payroll percentage for retail stores, though most publications seem to favor a 30% or lower payroll percentage for retail stores.

However, all businesses are unique, and many factors influence payroll percentage, including total sales revenue, operating costs, employee benefits packages, and salary costs.

So while one retail business may operate under a lean 15% payroll percentage, another might be set at 32%. A lower payroll percentage is better, but a financially sustainable payroll percentage that suits your business is best.

To calculate the payroll percentage for your retail store, you can use the following equation:

(Total Payroll Cost /Total Sales Revenue) X 100 = Payroll Percentage

For example, let’s consider a business that generated $1,000,000 in revenue and spent $200,000 on payroll costs. Plugging the numbers into the payroll percentage equation, we get:

($200,000/$1,000,000) X 100 = 20%

In this example, the business is operating under a 20% payroll percentage.

Top 5 Retail Payroll Tips

Running payroll for a retail store doesn’t require too much industry specialization, but there are a few universal tips that will help your retail business’s payroll operation run more smoothly.

Create A Retail Payroll Budget

To reduce the chances of overspending on payroll, support payroll tax compliance, and make hiring decisions based on your business’s finances, you’ll need to create a payroll budget for your business.

If you’re new to business budgeting or want to ensure your payroll budget is as comprehensive as possible, check out our beginner’s guide to creating a payroll budget. There, we dive into everything from how to calculate payroll taxes to what to include in your payroll budget.

Save On Payroll Training Hours By Limiting Retail Employee Turnover

Employee turnover can be costly. Not only will your business have to contend with new-hire training costs, equipment, salary, and benefits, but you’ll likely experience a significant drop in productivity until the new hire gets acclimated to their role.

Your business can save time and money and improve productivity by keeping current employees happy and content to stay with your business.

Outsource Jobs To Contractors

Contractors can help your retail store save money on payroll, as contractors are responsible for paying their own payroll taxes and can be hired on an as-needed basis.

Whether your business requires a skilled worker to take the lead on a project for your business or you want to outsource recurring administrative tasks, a contractor can be a long-term investment.

Just be sure to keep contractor payment records and file form 1099-NECs on time.

Keep Detailed Payroll Records

Keeping detailed payroll records means that you’ll need to track every payroll transaction, including benefits payments, bonuses, commission, payroll taxes, and more. These payroll records will support your business in the following ways:

  • Payroll Tax Management: The IRS can audit your business’s tax returns for up to six years after you’ve filed them. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll be audited for a six-year-old filing, keeping records that support your filings is just good business.
  • Bookkeeping: Keeping detailed payroll records can help you reconcile your general ledger should an issue crop up.
  • Financial Forecasting: With detailed payroll records, you’ll have an accurate history of payroll data to pull from, whether you’re forecasting your business’s expenses or carving out funds for a new hire’s salary.

Use Retail Payroll Software To Pay Your Employees

Retail payroll software can save your business time by automating tasks you may have been handling manually. Moreover, payroll software can serve as a hub for all your payroll-related documents and data, from employee tax forms to benefits spending reports.

On the employee side of things, retail payroll software features such as employee mobile apps and easy access to pay stubs can make getting paid and tracking payments that much easier.

Overall, adopting the right retail payroll software solution for your store is an investment that allows your business to reap the benefits of saved time, money, and effort.

The 5 Best Retail Payroll Software

Retail payroll software should include essential payroll features, such as an employee mobile app, support for off-cycle payroll runs, self-managed employee onboarding, and support for commission payments. Our picks for the best payroll software are ADP, Square Payroll, Gusto, QuickBooks Online Payroll, and Patriot Payroll.

1. Square Payroll: Best Retail Payroll Software With POS Integration

Square Payroll



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Pros

  • Square POS integration
  • Transparent pricing
  • Strong tax support
  • Square Team app for employees
  • QuickBooks integration

Cons

  • Few third-party integrations
  • Limited benefits administration

Square Payroll is full-service payroll software that offers payroll services, including unlimited payroll runs, time tracking, PTO, garnishments, and full federal and state tax support.

As a part of the Square ecosystem, Square Payroll integrates with Square’s other business solutions, including the free Square POS app.

So whether your retail store is already using Square POS or wants to maintain its business solutions on a single platform, Square Payroll is a solid option.

Square Payroll Pricing

Square Payroll offers straightforward pricing at $35/month + $5 per person paid for its Pay Employees & Contractors plan. Square’s Pay Contractors Only plan costs $5 per month per person paid.

If you’re looking for an affordable payroll solution for your retail store, you’ll find that Square Payroll is competitively priced with all essential payroll features.

Square Payroll Features

We’ve selected Square Payroll as our choice for the best retail payroll software with POS integration due to its seamless integration with Square’s suite of POS solutions.

However, Square Payroll also boasts a solid set of payroll features that make it a great standalone payroll solution for retail stores in need of simplicity and affordability when it comes to payroll.

Here’s a look at the best payroll features you can expect from Square Payroll:

  • Federal and state tax calculations and filing
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Employee mobile app through Square Teams
  • Pay contractors and employees
  • New-hire reporting
  • Benefits administration options
  • Square Timecards attendance management
  • QuickBooks integration

Is Square Payroll Right For You?

If your business already uses Square’s POS or another Square business solution, it might be worth sticking to the Square ecosystem to get the most out of the system’s seamless integration.

However, if you’re operating a large retail business or have more complex payroll needs, it may be worth looking at other payroll solutions that offer more flexibility and third-party integrations.

Get Started With Square Payroll

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2. ADP: Best Retail Payroll Software For Growing Retail Stores

ADP Payroll



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Pros

  • Scalable
  • Employee mobile app
  • Strong reporting features
  • Plenty of third-party integrations
  • Robust payroll features

Cons

  • Non-transparent pricing
  • Add-on fees

ADP is a full-service payroll software provider with features that can support the payroll needs of retail stores. In addition to essential payroll features, ADP boasts a large selection of third-party software integration, including POS, accounting, benefits administration, ERP, and recruiting solutions.

Overall, ADP is one of the best options for retail stores looking for payroll software that plays nicely with their current software stack and will work well with the new software solutions as their business grows.

ADP Pricing

While ADP Payroll boasts several feature packages, the platform operates under a custom-pricing model with no published pricing. So you’ll need to contact ADP directly for price estimates.

ADP Features

ADP is one of those payroll software solutions with a plethora of features. ADP’s features range from basic payroll functions, such as direct deposit and new hire onboarding, to more advanced features, such as a general ledger interface.

Fortunately, all those features don’t mean you’ll have difficulty navigating ADP. The software is easy to use and fully functional.

Here are the payroll features you can expect from ADP Payroll:

  • Multistate and county payroll runs
  • Off-cycle payroll runs
  • Direct deposit and check printing
  • Auto-scheduled payroll
  • New-hire onboarding
  • Employee self-service portal
  • ZipRecruiter integration
  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Benefits administration
  • Federal, state, and local tax support

Is ADP Right For You?

There are several reasons behind ADP earning Merchant Maverick’s pick for best retail payroll software for growing retail stores. With hundreds of integrations, customizable service packages, advanced employee management, and HR support, ADP is flexible enough to handle the payroll needs of most retail stores, from their first hire to their 100th.

Retail businesses wary of payroll software prices should be cautious when customizing their payroll packages with ADP, as the company is known to be heavy on fees.

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3. Gusto: Best Overall Retail Payroll Software

Gusto



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Pros

  • Unlimited payroll runs in all 50 states
  • Tax support
  • 170+ third-party integrations
  • Easy to use
  • Strong HR features

Cons

  • Limited reporting
  • Benefits administration is not available in all 50 states
  • Few POS integrations

Gusto is full-service payroll software with features that include direct deposit, time tracking, scheduling, PTO management, payroll tax support, employee management, onboarding support, and more. For retail stores looking for basic payroll software, Gusto fits the bill and adds useful features via its third-party integrations, benefits administration solutions, and HR tools.

Gusto also stands out for its contractor payments features. When it comes to paying contractors, Gusto and Square Payroll are very competitive options with their Pay Contractors Only plans. However, Gusto edges out Square as the best option for paying contractors because it handles new hire reporting and state-level 1099-NECs for contractors, while Square Payroll does not.

Gusto Pricing

For businesses paying employees and contractors, Gusto’s Simple plan starts at $40/month + $6/month per person paid. If your retail store will be paying contractors, Gusto offers a Contractors Only plan priced at $6/month per person.

Gusto Features

Gusto does payroll exceedingly well, with a robust set of essential payroll features plus employee management, benefits administration, and HR features that make for a complete payroll and HR solution.

Here’s a look at Gusto’s best payroll features:

  • Direct deposit, check-printing, and payment cards
  • Federal, state, and local tax calculation, filing, and payment
  • Supports multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Autoschedule payroll
  • Time tracking
  • PTO management
  • Self-service onboarding
  • Customizable reports
  • Benefits administration

Is Gusto Right For You?

Retail stores looking for a solid payroll solution that can handle basic payroll functions will be happy with Gusto. The software’s support for third-party integration, consistent service improvements, HR services, and wealth of employee management features make it a versatile solution that can streamline the payroll process.

However, retail stores looking for retail payroll software that offers benefits across all 50 states should look elsewhere, as Gusto doesn’t currently offer health benefits plans in 13 states.

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4. QuickBooks Online Payroll: Best Retail Payroll Software For Monitoring Payroll Percentage

Intuit Online Payroll



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Pros

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Full-service tax support
  • QuickBooks Online Accounting integration
  • 600+ integrations

Cons

  • Many fees
  • 150 user limit cap
  • Customer service complaints

QuickBooks Online Payroll is QuickBook’s take on full-service payroll software and offers a rich payroll feature set that can make running payroll a painless experience. QuickBooks Online Payroll supports all basic payroll features, including unlimited payroll runs across all 50 states, multiple payment methods, deductions, garnishments, and payroll tax support.

QuickBooks Online Payroll’s integration with QuickBooks Online Accounting makes it the perfect solution for retail businesses looking to keep a close eye on their payroll percentage and other essential financial details. While you can create payroll reports in other payroll software solutions, having those details alongside your business’s financials is great.                                                                                                                    

QuickBooks Online Payroll Pricing

QuickBooks Online Payroll pricing starts at $45/month + $5/employee per month, making it one of the more expensive options on the list. However, that price is for QuickBooks Online Payroll as a standalone product.

If you add payroll to your QuickBooks Online package, you’ll save on the service costs. Additionally, QuickBooks Online consistently offers discounts for new customers, so keep an eye out for them.

QuickBooks Online Payroll Features

QuickBooks Online Payroll features are exactly what you’d expect from a payroll software solution and cover payroll basics, such as direct deposit, deductions, garnishments, and unlimited payroll runs. However, the solution isn’t limited to just payroll; it includes HR services, benefits administration, reporting, time tracking, and more.

Here are some of QuickBooks Online Payroll’s most impressive features:

  • QuickBooks Time integration
  • Federal, state, and local tax support
  • PTO management and tracking
  • Multistate payroll
  • Hiring solutions (handbooks, checklists, and more)
  • New-hire reporting
  • Employee onboarding
  • Benefits administration
  • Pay stub printing

Is QuickBooks Online Payroll Right For You?

QuickBooks Online Payroll is a great solution for retail stores already using QuickBooks Online. Adding payroll to QuickBooks Online creates a single, comprehensive hub of information and operations for your business.

Businesses not currently using QuickBooks Online may consider other payroll solutions, as QuickBooks Online isn’t scalable, only supports up to 150 users, and isn’t known for stellar customer service.

Get Started With Intuit Online Payroll

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5. Patriot Payroll: Best Retail Payroll Software For Small Retail Stores

Patriot Payroll



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Pros

  • Robust payroll features
  • Free demo to trial software
  • Great payroll tax support
  • Affordable payroll solution
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No built-in benefits administration
  • Not scalable for larger businesses
  • Limited third-party integrations

Patriot Payroll is payroll software designed for small businesses and offers basic or full-service payroll solutions. In the sea of payroll software solutions, Patriot Payroll stands out as a simple, no-frills payroll solution that’s notably cheaper than other options on the market.

Patriot’s business software suite combines payroll, accounting, HR, and time tracking for a comprehensive business software solution.

Patriot Pricing

Patriot Payroll includes two payroll pricing packages: Basic Payroll and Full Service Payroll. Patriot’s Basic Payroll package costs $17/month + $4 per employee or contractor paid and doesn’t include payroll tax support. Patriot’s Full Service Payroll package costs $37/month + $4 per employee or contractor paid and does include payroll tax support.

Time tracking and HR services are priced separately, with both services priced at $6/month + $2/month per employee.

Patriot Payroll Features

Patriot Payroll’s payroll features are only lacking when it comes to auto-scheduling payroll. Otherwise, Patriot Payroll can handle all of the most common payroll needs, such as paying employees and contractors, deductions, multistate payroll, payroll reporting, and multiple payment methods.

Patriot Payroll’s most notable features include:

  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • PTO tracking and management
  • Patriot Time and Attendance integration
  • Support for multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Employee self-service portal
  • Full-service tax support
  • Download and print pay stubs
  • Customizable reports
  • New-hire reporting
  • Digital document storage

Is Patriot Payroll Right For You?

Patriot Payroll offers an impressively robust payroll feature set that plays nice with Patriot’s suite of business software solutions. Moreover, Patriot Payroll is one of the cheapest payroll software options for retail businesses that don’t need payroll tax support.

However, Patriot Payroll isn’t a good choice for larger businesses or those that want payroll software that can handle benefits administration, as the service is limited to 100 users and doesn’t offer built-in benefits administration.

Get Started With Patriot Payroll

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Which Retail Payroll Software Is Right For Your Business?

Choosing the right retail payroll software for your business depends on your retail store’s needs, some of which will go beyond payroll.

You’ll need to consider the basics, such as payroll software cost, features, and functionality. However, when choosing the best retail payroll software for your store, you should also consider:

  • Retail payroll software scalability
  • POS integrations support
  • Accounting software integration support
  • Benefits administration tools
  • HR features and resources

If you have the chance to trial retail payroll software, take it. You’ll get a good feel for how the software will support your business’s payroll operation and whether it’s the right fit.

Looking for even more tools and resources for your retail business? Check out the following retail store resources to learn more:

Retail Payroll FAQs

What percentage should payroll be for retail?

There is no set retail payroll percentage that your business should follow. However, your retail business should aim for the lowest retail percentage possible while also maintaining financial sustainability.

What is the best payroll software for retail?

While Merchant Maverick’s pick for the best overall retail payroll software is Gusto, ADP is also top-notch for its scalability, flexibility, its wealth of third-party integrations, and a plethora of features. Beyond Gusto and ADP, there are several excellent retail payroll software options on the market, including Patriot Payroll, QuickBooks Online Payroll, and Square Payroll.

How do you calculate sales to payroll?

To calculate your business’s sales to payroll ratio, also referred to as a payroll percentage, use the following equation:

(Total Payroll Cost /Total Sales Revenue) X 100 = Payroll Percentage

For example, let’s try calculating your payroll percentage over a month-long period where your business made $100,000 in sales revenue and spent $25,000 on payroll. In action:

($25,000/$100,00) X 100 = 25%

In this example, your business would be operating under a 25% payroll percentage.

How do I do payroll for my retail store?

To run payroll for your retail store, you’ll need to calculate your payroll expenses, including earnings for all employers and contractors. Once you have calculated all worker earnings, you’ll need to calculate payroll taxes and benefits costs for your workers. With all your payroll calculations completed, you’ll need to pay your employees and contractors.

The entire process of running payroll for your retail stores can be expedited by investing in a payroll software solution. For more information about the difference between DIY payroll runs and using payroll software to run payroll, check out our guide to running payroll for your small business.

In Summary: The 5 Best Retail Payroll Software

  1. Square Payroll:
    • No payroll user limit
    • Pricing starting at $35/month + $5 per person paid
    • Best for retail businesses using Square POS
  2. ADP Payroll:
    • Businesses with up to 1,000+ users
    • Custom pricing model
    • Most flexible retail payroll software
  3. Gusto:
    • No payroll user limit
    • Pricing starts at $6/month per person paid for the Contractor's Only Plan
    • Affordable, feature-rich contractors only plan
  4. Intuit Online Payroll:
    • 150 user cap
    • Pricing starts at $45/month + $5/employee per month
    • QuickBooks Online Accounting integration
  5. Patriot Payroll:
    • Up to 100 users
    • Pricing starts at $17/month + $4 per employee or contractor paid
    • Affordable payroll software for small businesses
Davina Ward

Davina Ward

Expert Analyst & Reviewer
A New York native, Davina earned her BA in English from SUNY Geneseo in 2018. After graduating, she began her career as a freelance writing generalist before finding a niche writing about SaaS. Davina unironically enjoys testing and reviewing software on her free time but otherwise can be found oscillating between hobbies every few weeks or so — most recently, longboarding.
Davina Ward
View Davina Ward's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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Merchant Maverick’s ratings are editorial in nature, and are not aggregated from user reviews. Each staff reviewer at Merchant Maverick is a subject matter expert with experience researching, testing, and evaluating small business software and services. The rating of this company or service is based on the author’s expert opinion and analysis of the product, and assessed and seconded by another subject matter expert on staff before publication. Merchant Maverick’s ratings are not influenced by affiliate partnerships.

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