Looking for a free POS with a free card reader?
- Phone Number
- Date Established
- New York, NY
- Reasonable pricing
- Intuitive design
- Robust back-office features
- Excellent customer service
- No offline card processing
ShopKeep is a simple, elegant piece of software. It is aimed squarely at small businesses and has carved out a space catering to food and beverage sellers. That said, most retailers, food-seller or not, will feel at home with this iPad POS (point of sale) system.
ShopKeep remains one of the best values on the market, though it has recently changed its flat-rate pricing to a quote system. You’ll need to speak to a representative and let them know exactly what your business needs to do with the software before getting a price.
ShopKeep offers a system that is easy to use, has dynamic features, and boasts all-around increased efficiency. While ShopKeep definitely performs as advertised — quickly and responsively — it’s not completely without its flaws as there are still some complaints of bugs in the software and its lack of offline functionality to process credit cards during an internet outage is unfortunate. That being said, this point of sale’s offline functionality and excellent (award-winning) support offers are huge draws that may outweigh any potential downsides for most small businesses. ShopKeep recently partnered with an eCommerce platform, BigCommerce, and now offers it as an integration to their customers. This is a pretty big deal, especially this day in age when more and more consumers are turning to online shopping.
If you’re looking for a new POS or are already using ShopKeep and wondering if it is worth it, read on, or fill out the form below to get started with Shopkeep…
Table of Contents
ShopKeep is a no-contract, pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. The company recently switched over from its simple, fixed-rate system and now can be purchased exclusively via a quote system. That process is fairly simple. You can either call or answer a few simple questions online, and a representative will get in touch with you quickly.
ShopKeep’s previous plans started at a fairly reasonable $69 per month. Fortunately, even with the new system, it’s unlikely you’ll end up paying more than that for a basic package. The complete point of sale system comes with a register, real-time analytics, inventory management, employee management, unlimited users and unlimited inventory items, as well as free support.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
ShopKeep utilizes a hybrid setup. The app runs locally from an iPad and syncs data back to the cloud when there is an internet connection. In the event of an outage, the app continues to run with all features except for integrated credit card transactions. You can always work around this by setting up a backup hotspot router or by running the application on iPads with cellular data plans.
ShopKeep is excellent for small specialty vendors, such as wine shops, specialty food, gift shops, toy stores, concession stands, bakeries, cafeterias, and mall kiosks. It is also well-designed for use in food service applications, like small cafes, ice cream shops, coffee shops, and food trucks. Smaller full-service restaurants might also be a good fit for ShopKeep since it recently introduced open check and server-less syncing (open a check on one iPad, close it on another). That said, it does not offer table mapping (a feature I’m told are currently being worked on).
Specific Size Of Business
ShopKeep is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses. Though it can handle multiple locations, it isn’t necessarily for the large retailer. This is by design, and ShopKeep has done well to stay in this niche. The company continues to expand what it can handle in the back office, now allowing an unlimited number of users and unlimited inventory, but the interface and back-office functions don’t attempt to be a large-scale replacement.
While ShopKeep offers tableside ordering functionality, the continued lack of table mapping makes it a less than ideal choice for larger full-service restaurants. The iPad register can only host up to 270 item buttons. The rest of your inventory can be rung up by barcode scanner or manual search.
Hardware & Operating System Requirements
ShopKeep requires iOS 8.2 or higher to run and is compatible with iPads and iPad minis. As for peripherals, ShopKeep has an online hardware shop. You don’t need to purchase your hardware through ShopKeep, but keep in mind that you do need to purchase the brands and models that the company supports. Peripheral compatibility with the iPad can get very specific so it’s best to stick with what has been proven to work. ShopKeep does offer a few bundles, ranging from a starter kit (with an iPad stand, cash drawer, receipt printer, and card swipe) to kits geared specifically for retail or quick serve establishments. Most are around the $1000 mark so they won’t carve out a massive dent in your budget.
ShopKeep offers two EMV readers and is now completely EMV-integrated. Users have the option to choose a reader that connects through Bluetooth or one that can be hardwired in. Both will run you about $300.
Ease Of Use
I can usually make a snap judgment about whether or not I will enjoy using a piece of software. It seems to me that most user interfaces fall on a spectrum: lifeless and corporate on the one hand, warm and intuitive on the other. ShopKeep rests happily in the latter category.
The visual design of the iPad app is sleek and modern, with fluid animated flourishes. There are sound effects for the buttons but (fortunately) a mute option is located close by. It’s enjoyable to use, and it is never a hassle to locate rarely-used functions. ShopKeep also does a good job listening to its customers and routinely updates its design to fix bugs and make it more user-friendly. It also strives to give customers more autonomy with updates that allow users to hide various buttons or functions or move others that are used more prominently.
When you first log in to your Back Office, you’re guided through a comprehensive setup process. You are given a rundown of basic features and also the opportunity to define any basic details of your store (name, address etc.) that will be shown on receipts.
You’re then shown how to add inventory (on an item-by-item basis or by CSV mass import) and how to add buttons on your iPad register. With these basics covered, you’re ready to go. As I mentioned, it is a very intuitive interface, and simply exploring the different menu options is enough to get you acclimated to the system and its features. Once set up, you will do all your reporting, employee time tracking, and inventory receiving on the web platform. Beyond that, most of your interactions are with the iPad app. In addition to the register functions, there are also a handful of managerial actions that can be accessed from the iPad.
ShopKeep offers a large variety of features. Instead of listing them all here, however, I am going to go through some features that really stand out.
- Register: The register’s capabilities are comprehensive: ringing up items, adding modifiers, taking payments, splitting tenders, quick discounting (item and order level), easy returns and refunds. As mentioned before, the in-app functionality is very intuitive and doesn’t require any additional expertise or training. Setting up your iPad button layout is also a seamless process, managed from your back office.
- Back Office: What’s truly impressive about the back office is the wealth of features included. Again, large businesses may find that it falls short of their needs in some areas, but a small business that operates one register will be paying for some relatively advanced tools. The same is true for outlets with more than one register. For a low cost of entry you get access to a system that manages your inventory, your customers, and your employees’ time, keeps a record of all your transactions, offers a variety of reporting options for analyzing all this data, and provides unlimited technical support by live chat and email.
- Inventory Managment: The inventory functionality, in particular, deserves to be highlighted because it goes above and beyond what you’d expect from a product aimed at small businesses. In addition to keeping track of the quantities of each item, you can also set reorder points and use a reporting function to designate what, how much, and from which vendor to order any low stock item. One of ShopKeep’s recent updates added a matrix inventory feature, which is a big deal for most retailers. Users can now create a parent item and then add all the variations and view it on one page. Most impressively, though, ShopKeep is able to inventory items as raw goods then create assemblies based on this information. While this could be useful for a retail setting that bundles items together, its greatest value is to food service providers who need to manage inventory at an ingredient level. If you’re running a diner, for example, you’re not keeping track of how many patty melts you have on hand; you need to know the quantities of each ingredient: the patty, the rye bread, the cheese, the onions. All this said, ShopKeep’s inventory features are not quite as advanced as some other implementations I’ve seen. Users aren’t able to define the unit measurement of each raw ingredient, so it’s up to you to know that you’re tracking potatoes by the pound and cheese by the slice. And though you can define the cost of each raw ingredient, when you create an item composed of those ingredients, ShopKeep doesn’t total them up and auto-define the cost of the item. In the case of our patty melt, you would have to add up the costs and enter them in manually. I’ve seen stronger examples of this feature (POS Lavu), but it comes at the expense of other features. Needless to say, each system is going to have its trade-offs.
- Reporting: ShopKeep offers an extensive reporting suite and recently added average cost reporting, sales by customer reporting, and sales by discount reporting to the mix. You can also print out up-to-the minute reports straight from the register.
- Tax Rates: Notably, ShopKeep has recently fixed one of its most glaring problems: the inability to set different tax rates. Now, in addition to being able to set a default tax rate for your merchandise, you can assign special tax rates to specific items with the new Tax Groups feature.
- Multi-Store: ShopKeep currently has multi-location capability and the company is looking to expand that feature in the near future. One of ShopKeep’s recent updates includes the ability to view all your stores on one parent website; clicking a drop-down box allows you to view each individual store. You can also get a comprehensive view of your separate locations with a dashboard overview.
- The Pocket App: The ShopKeep Pocket App, now available for iOS and Android, gives you the ability to keep track of how your business is doing no matter where you are.
- Customer Management: ShopKeep offers gift cards integrations and can print email receipts, helping you keep track of customers for promotions down the road.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Currently, ShopKeep integrates with the following services:
- MailChimp: Though some POS systems do offer in-house email marketing, they’re often lacking features that only dedicated ESPs (like MailChimp or AWeber) can provide. By partnering with a third-party, ShopKeep deftly sidesteps this problem.
- QuickBooks Online: The ability to integrate directly with your accounting software saves you time and frustration. This integration will cost you $15/mo.
- AppCard: This is an “integrated loyalty program that provides personalized offers, impressive reporting, and syncs with your ShopKeep sales data.”
- BigCommerce: This new (and much-needed) eCommerce addition to ShopKeep will cost users an additional $15/mo but will finally give them the opportunity to set up an online store. If you’ve already set up a ShopKeep account, you can painlessly transfer your inventory over to your BigCommerce account.
- ChowBot: ShopKeep recently acquired this online order and delivery system, adding that option for businesses to increase sales.
ShopKeep also offers a gift card integration which syncs seamlessly to its app and makes it easy to create and process cards as an added way to increase profits.
Compatible Credit Card Processors
Though the company favors its own payment solution, ShopKeep Payments, a number of integration options for card processors are offered; you’ll almost certainly be able to keep the processor you’re using or find one that better meets your needs. ShopKeep recommends getting in touch directly to check if your processor is supported.
Customer Service & Support
ShopKeep owes much of its success to the fact that it is a customer-centric operation. In fact, ShopKeep has won a Bronze Stevie Award for sales and customer service three years in a row.
Unlimited 24/7 support–by live chat, email, text and web inquiry–is included in the monthly price, a huge plus when compared to other similar, low-cost POS options.
The support micro-site also offers clear and comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software. And of course, ShopKeep maintains obligatory Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter pages; the content on these social media channels is relevant and engaging, mostly because it provides links back to the ShopKeep blog, which goes far beyond the standard corporate “blogorrhea.”
The blog is the point of entry to ShopKeep’s Small Business 101, a collection of business advice for the small time entrepreneur, with information on zoning, permits, licenses, a small business guide to social media, and tons of other material. I’m doubtful most entrepreneurs will actually read the bulk of this material, but it does reflect ShopKeep’s intention to offer as much advice and guidance to their customers as is feasible.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
While the bulk of online customer comments about ShopKeep are positive, there are a growing number of negative ones to consider. After scouring the internet here are the main trends that I see:
- Customer Service: This is a subject I’ve seen mentioned again and again in recent months. Customers state that customer service is great when they first start out but its quality begins to decline from there. People report being shuffled from person to person and dealing with long response times — some even say they’ve even experienced rude customer service representatives. While ShopKeep is easy to get in touch with initially, there are many complaints claiming that, when it comes to more complex issues, the company can take a long time responding and needs constant reminding.
- Bugs & Issues: Several customers have complained of bugs or issues with the system, especially when it comes to inventory management. Others have had problems with unreliable hardware. Any attempts these customers made to have the problem resolved was reportedly ignored or not dealt with properly by the company.
- Connection Issues: A few reviews mentioned that the product would update at inconvenient times and contribute to connectivity problems. Others claimed that the card processor was routinely slow or failed to connect while being displeased with ShopKeep’s offline functionality in general.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Even people who find fault with elements of ShopKeep are quick to point out how happy they are with the overall product–especially when it comes to customer service. The software is currently being used by many satisfied small businesses across the United States, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out some testimonials on the ShopKeep website for more info. After searching the internet, I found the following trends in positive comments:
- Ease Of Use: Most of the comments I saw noted that ShopKeep is extremely easy to use and to train employees on.
- Good Customer Service: Many customers are happy with the level of support they receive and like the fact that it is offered 24/7.
- Reasonable Pricing: ShopKeep is inexpensive, especially for the level of features that it offers.
ShopKeep continues to impress, especially in light of recent feature additions, including an integration with BigCommerce, EMV transactions, matrix inventory, and several updates to the reporting suite.
That said, there are still some features I’d like to see added — specifically table mapping, which I am told the company is currently working on producing in future updates. With many of its competitors increasing their products’ offline functionality, this is an area where ShopKeep is increasingly lagging behind. Even with the hybrid system which allows for the app to function during an outage and accept cash payments, ShopKeep’s inability to process cards in any capacity is a bummer.
Interestingly, ShopKeep has recently expanded their partnership with First Data; within the next year or so, the two companies are working to make ShopKeep available on the Clover hardware terminal. Once implemented, this would allow Shopkeep to be available in both iPad and Android form.
ShopKeep remains one of the best iPad POS systems out there. Those familiar with our reviews know we don’t give 5-star reviews lightly. If you’re a small business owner in the market for a new POS and want something you can use out of the box, is reasonably priced, full-featured, and flexible, ShopKeep deserves a look.