Retail Pro POS Review
This locally-installed software is highly capable and customizable, and recent updates have modernized it with some web-based options, but this POS model is dying out.
- Highly customizable
- Numerous features
- Multistore capability
- Difficult update process
- Not suitable for very small businesses
Retail Pro Overview
Retail Pro is a Windows-based POS system that has been the go-to choice for many big-name retailers, including The North Face, Adidas, Oakley, and ACE Hardware. With all the great features of other modern POS systems — inventory, customer support, employee management functions, and international business capabilities — Retail Pro software almost seems too good to be true.
But if you take a closer look, you’ll find out this software is locally-installed, in contrast to all the popular cloud-based POS systems. Though it has some cloud features offered through its Retail Pro Prism platform, this POS also suffers from many pitfalls typical with locally-installed software.
Read on to learn more about the positives and negatives of this system.
What Is Retail Pro?
Retail Pro is a locally-installed POS system designed for mid-size and larger retail businesses of all types.
Windows-based Retail Pro requires a sizeable investment in hardware, software, and ongoing support, making this POS better suited to enterprise-level businesses than smaller retailers.
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Retail Pro Pricing
Retail Pro is the developer of its point of sale system and does not sell anything directly, including its own software. Authorized company resellers (a.k.a. “business partners”) provide everything from peripheral hardware to technical support.
As for the full price breakdown, a company rep told me that the entire Small Business Edition system (including software, hardware, technical support, and upgrades) costs about $11,000. The software itself is about 15% of that cost (about $1,600), and that’s the cheapest edition designed for the fewest number of workstations. You’ll also have to pay for upgrades to new releases of Retail Pro. Additionally, you have the option to pay extra for Retail Pro’s Software Assurance program, which provides a higher level of technical support, continuous product updates and bug fixes, discounts on training and new Retail Pro releases, and other benefits.
Retail Pro offers several different editions of the current version, Retail Pro 9. The only edition for which pricing is listed on Retail Pro’s website is the hybrid (cloud- and locally-installed) Prism edition, which starts at $119/month for the initial user ($99/month for each subsequent user). However, this $119/month only includes the “license fee” and not the POS hardware you’ll need to run Retail Prism, including a local server. The $119/month cost also doesn’t include training, installation, or other service fees. So that price doesn’t give you a complete picture of the total cost.
Unlike most cloud POS systems with a subscription-based pricing model, Retail Pro Prism requires a two-year minimum commitment.
Retail Pro Features
Retail Pro offers a solid feature set with a customizable interface and especially strong customer management capabilities.
Now for the meat and potatoes. The Retail Pro 9 system runs under a single module with all features nested within a row of drop-down buttons along the top of the screen:
- Sales (where the terminal is located)
- Merchandise (inventory management)
- Purchasing (purchase orders and receiving)
- Transfers (managing inventory between stores)
- X/Z Out (closing and cash management)
- Customer management
- Employee management
Additionally, you can create another toolbar along the right side of the screen with a series of one-touch buttons that will take you directly to the features you access most.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of features:
- POS: One function worth noting here is that the POS screen is customizable to perform special tasks at different cash wraps (e.g., special orders, layaways, returns/exchanges, etc.). This sort of segregation can benefit customer queue speed by separating lengthy return/exchange transactions to a designated POS. Otherwise, the terminal automatically calculates and adds sales tax, accepts payments in multiple tenders, tracks customer info, tracks employee sales, completes discounts and promotions, and allows for voids or returns.
- EMV Compatible: Retail Pro uses the EMV-compatible VeriFone MX 915 reader.
- Inventory Management: The system updates inventory instantaneously with every purchase or return, allowing for a real-time view of all levels. The system’s style matrix allows for the easy input and tracking of items that may vary by style, color, or size. Additionally, the system enables the transfer of inventory between stores. Plus, the auto-transfer recommendation function prompts you to transfer when stock levels are skewed between stores.
- Purchase Order/Receiving Management: Preset your minimum and maximum stock levels for automatic notices to reorder inventory or set for auto PO creation to simplify maintaining your inventory. The system also supports ASN (automated shipment notice). ASNs are electronic files that usually contain shipment dates, times, ID numbers, packing slip data, freight information, item details (including quantities), and PO numbers — all for in-transit monitoring.
- Price Management: Multiple price levels, suggested pricing (based on costs), and time-based price changes (i.e., sales and promotions) are all possible.
- Employee Management: Basic capabilities include secure login and monitoring, position-based security levels, cashier tracking, commission tracking, clocking in and out, tracking absences and tardies, and managing employee performance or productivity.
- International Features: The system supports both a multilingual (up to 18 languages) and a multicurrency interface. You can select one currency as your base and then assign exchange rates as needed for foreign currencies along with the dates for those rates to take effect. This allows you to purchase items from foreign countries by assigning different currencies to particular vendors and items. You can also track costs by region or subsidiary. Plus, advanced tax features make it easier to comply with international taxes.
- Advanced Reporting: The system comes with over 150 preloaded standard report options, including stock levels, best/worst sellers, top employees, top customers, sales tax liability, sales activity, sales summary, price levels summary, item summary, profit margin reports, best/worst selling dept/store/style/vendor, PO reports, employee performance, and audit reports. Version 9 introduced enhanced reporting capabilities, including creating custom reports and viewing reports while working offline.
- Customer Management: Customer sales tracking allows you to create special offers, promotions, and discounts based on past purchases, create email or direct marketing campaigns, and special pricing for individual customers. The system also comes with a function to set up, manage, and execute a customer loyalty program where rewards can be determined by either the currency value or point value of purchases.
- Mobile Features: Prism is Retail Pro’s modular platform for touch devices. Depending on how you want to use your equipment, Prism allows you to customize different devices for different uses. For example, you can have a kiosk in the backroom for purchase orders/receiving or perhaps set up an iPad as a mobile POS with the ability to ring up sales and access customer information on the sales floor. With the customization options that Retail Pro offers, Prism is just another tool allowing each merchant to run their businesses their way.
- Omnichannel Inventory: This feature, included in the Prism platform, allows retailers to integrate their in-store inventory, across multiple locations, with their inventory from their integrated eCommerce platform. (See supported eCommerce platforms in Retail Pro Integrations & Add-Ons.)
Generally, Retail Pro customers seem pleased with the system’s features but note that certain functions can be slow, depending on the version and hardware setup.
The Retail Pro 9 version has received a few incremental updates over the years, but updating a locally-installed program can be a difficult process, so these types of software aren’t updated that frequently. The current version is 9.4, although some users still use Retail Pro 8.
Is Retail Pro User-Friendly?
Though Retail Pro’s interface doesn’t have Apple’s clean, modern aesthetic, the system is relatively simple to use and highly customizable. One of the problems with feature-heavy systems is that the screen can get busy with drop-down boxes and fields that you might not even be using. This kind of clutter is not a problem with Retail Pro because everything is customizable.
Making a page as complex or as simple as you want is as easy as right-clicking to add or delete a field within the interface. Depending on the customer or items getting purchased, prompts can also be set up for the cashier to suggest relevant upsells, cross-sells, or volume discounts.
Is Retail Pro as quick or easy to learn as a cloud-based POS, such as Square or Clover? Probably not. But being an enterprise-level POS, Retail Pro has a lot more features to familiarize yourself with.
Customer Service & Support
Since Retail Pro does not sell anything itself, technical support quality and prices depend on which reseller you purchase the software from. There are five major Retail Pro business partners. Retail Pro will assign you to one (based on location, I’m assuming) if you do not contact a partner directly. I highly recommend you do your research and choose a reseller carefully so that you’re not caught off guard by poor service and high technical support rates. Generally, customers seem pleased with the level of support they receive with Retail Pro, particularly if they purchase the Software Assurance package.
To give you a general idea as to the cost, though, I’ve found that technical support, training, and upgrades are, by far, the most expensive part of Retail Pro’s total package. Assuming your starting figure (for software, hardware, support, and upgrades) is $11,000, this part of the purchase takes up a whopping 60% of that (about $6,600). That brings me back to the importance of doing your research before picking your reseller because these rates (along with the quality of service) will vary between providers.
Other than that, the My Retail Pro web portal provides users with access to a support knowledgebase of articles, a TV section of training videos, Retail Pro University (featuring online and instructor-led classes), a documentation section (filled with user guides, technical memos, and release notes), and a discussion board with questions and topics from other users.
Payment Processing With Retail Pro
Pick any processor you like, and Retail Pro will probably be able to make it work. Since the company works with the payments gateway Cayan (now part of TSYS) — “The Payments Possibilities Company” — any payment processor can integrate into the Retail Pro system. Check out our merchant account comparison chart to compare some high-ranking Merchant Maverick payment processing choices.
Of course, Cayan also offers payment processing (through its parent company TSYS) and has promised Retail Pro customers to meet or beat the rates of competing processors for 15 years (make sure to verify this with your reseller).
Contract Length & Early Termination Fees
Retail Pro is a long-term investment that requires at least a two-year contract. But the exact details of your contract — including how long your contract is and whether there is an ETF (which is likely) — will depend on the reseller you purchase your Retail Pro system from.
Be sure to read your contract carefully during the purchasing process, so you can make sure you know how long you are committing for and the repercussions you may face if you try to exit your contract early.
Retail Pro Integrations & Add-Ons
Retail Pro integrates with various retail software applications, including many eCommerce apps. You can also gain access to its API to integrate with any additional software you might use that doesn’t have a prebuilt integration.
Here are some of the popular business software Retail Pro integrates with:
Retail Pro Reviews
Retail Pro has an A+ rating with the BBB, with zero customer complaints. Across the web, you can find some scattered complaints and compliments for the software on user websites; reviews generally skew positive.
Negative Retail Pro Reviews & Complaints
Thorough research uncovered only a few negative reviews, especially since service and technical support varies from partner to partner. Negative reviews regarding the actual software were scarce. Most of them were only lightly critical, with qualifying statements about how great the software was except for one or two minor problems customers had with it.
The main complaints that came up consistently concerned the following:
- High Price: Many customers are not happy with the system’s high price, although those reviewers acknowledge that it provides a lot of functionality.
- Outdated Interface: Compared to a modern, cloud POS aesthetic, the Windows-based RetailPro interface appears out of date, or as one reviewer described it, “Very 90s.”
- Reports Need More Customization Options: While acknowledging that Retail Pro has strong reporting capabilities, several users said they wish they could edit the preloaded report formats to suit their needs.
- Sluggish Operation: Some users say the latest Retail Pro (v9) version is a lot slower than the earlier version (v8). Others report their system has become slower with time (though this could be due to hardware or software needing to be updated). Users with multiple workstations and/or an extensive database with a lot of SKUs seem to have these problems in particular.
- System Crashes & Glitches: Several reviewers complain of system crashes, often during busy times. Again, this can sometimes be attributed to needing to upgrade to a more powerful server or workstation. However, some users complain that they still have system problems after upgrading their hardware. Various system bugs/glitches have also been reported for certain functions, including an error that prevents the merchant from accepting customer gift cards.
- Inadequate Customer Support: A few Retail Pro users feel that they didn’t receive enough training on the system and not enough help from customer support with software updates, hardware upgrades, and other technical assistance. As mentioned, you have to pay extra for support, and it’s not always clear in the reviews whether the user has paid for premium support.
Positive Retail Pro Reviews & Testimonials
Retail Pro provides several testimonials on its webpage. Elsewhere on the web, there are many other positive reviews. Here are a few trends I noticed:
- Great Customer Support: Many positive reviews regarded customer service, complimenting the quality of customer support offered through Retail Pro’s distributors.
- Customizability: The ability to customize the Retail Pro interface to suit the merchant’s needs was mentioned many times as a big plus of the system.
- Wealth Of Features: Reviewers like how many useful features Retail Pro has, though some mentioned that they only use a small fraction of the available features.
- Smooth Operation: Users praised how smoothly the system operates despite the many functions that could easily clutter up the interface and make operation a nightmare (as is the case with a POS such as pcAmerica). This speaks to the overall quality of a good product.
I was surprised by the sheer volume of positive responses to Retail Pro compared to the smattering of negative reviews and complaints.
Final Verdict Of Retail Pro
I have to say that I’m more than a little impressed with Retail Pro’s software. The software is highly capable and customizable, and recent years’ updates have modernized the locally-installed software with some web-based options. So not only can you tailor the POS interface to make operations smoother, but you can also create an online presence through the use of any number of eCommerce applications and improve CRM with Constant Contact or Opt Culture.
With all that said, locally-installed/legacy systems such as Retail Pro are becoming a dinosaur in the POS world. In addition to its high price tag, Retail Pro also suffers from the other problems typical with this type of system, including sky-high upfront costs and infrequent updates. You’ll also pay extra for technical support and software upgrades. And if you wait to upgrade to the latest POS software version or the next version of Windows? Your system will probably suffer performance issues over time. Also, as is typical with legacy systems, you will have to purchase your Retail Pro system and support through a POS reseller — and POS resellers aren’t exactly known for being reputable.
Though the Retail Pro POS has a lot to offer, with no free trial available, it’s hard to know for sure if this system would work well with your business. And for small businesses with a modest budget for POS, this type of system might come with a cost and commitment you can’t make right now. If you suspect a lightweight cloud-based system might work better for your business, check out our top picks for retail POS systems, all of which offer a free trial and month-to-month contracts.
Retail Pro FAQs
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.