Top 3 POS Systems for Online Retailers
Retail eCommerce is on the rise in 2016, and POS systems for online retailers are more popular than ever. Increasingly, retail stores want a point of sale system that allows them to sell online and in-store, syncing online and offline store information for a seamless selling experience. If you’re looking to build your brand in the online sphere or want to replace your current online POS with a better system, read on to learn about the three best omni-channel retail point of sale systems.
Best For: Virtually any sized retail or food service establishment.
Lightspeed (see our review) has two unique POS offerings: one specifically for restaurants and one specifically for retail stores. Pricing for Restaurant starts at $69 a month and Retail begins at $99 a month. The product is incredibly versatile and tailor-made for specific businesses. It comes with free updates, basic reporting, and 24/7 support, plus loads of integrations and flexible card processing options.
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- Cloud-based iPad POS
- POS + eStore plans start at $29/month, plus $40/month for Retail package
- Website and blog with SSL certificate
- Unlimited products
- Unlimited devices
- Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter sales channels
Since the release of Shopify POS in 2013, Shopify (see our review) has evolved from mere shopping cart software to a full-fledged retail POS. Today’s Shopify includes both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar sale functionality, allowing retailers to sell with ease both online and off. Shopify has packages to suit merchants who sell strictly over the internet or exclusively in-store, but it is best fit for retailers who do both.
Shopify, which operates via an iPad app, is scaleable for businesses small to large, and is very easy to set up and train your employees on. It includes integrated payment processing with Shopify Payments; in-person rates range from 2.2 to 2.7% depending on which monthly plan you purchase; online transaction rates range from 2.4% + $0.30 to 2.9% + $0.30. If you already have your own payment gateway that you prefer to use you can probably continue to use it, though you will have to pay an additional transaction fee.
Now that you know the basics, here are a few more important things to know about Shopify:
- 24/7 support via phone, email, live chat
- Online and in-store inventory syncing
- Discount code functionality
- Gift card functionality
- Detailed reporting and analytics
- Customer sales profiles
- Mobile sales with iPhone or Android app
- QuickBooks and Xero integration
- Choose from online store themes and/or edit HTML and CSS (learn more about the Shopify shopping cart)
- Calculate fixed-price, weight-based, or location-based shipping rates for online sales
Note that you will need to purchase the “Retail” package if you have a brick-and-mortar store–this package includes POS hardware integration (barcode scanner, cash register, and receipt printer) and employee management features.
Some downsides to Shopify include its limited offline functionality–for example, you can process cash transactions without internet, but you can’t run credit cards. So you will need a reliable internet connection to use this POS. Also, even though Shopify will let you manage multiple stores, the system overall works best for small to medium businesses. Here’s just one example of why Shopify works better for smaller businesses: discounts need to be applied manually, so it’s pretty difficult to apply store-wide discounts, let alone set up multi-store promotions. If you need an online retail POS for your large business or franchise, try Shopify Plus (see our review) for enterprise-level POS functionality.
- Cloud-based POS for iPad, Mac, and PC
- POS + eCommerce plans start at $85/month (billed annually)
- Use Vend eCommerce for your online store, or integrate your Shopify, Storbie, or Ecwid store
- Unlimited products, users, and customers
Vend (see our review), est. 2010, is another top POS system for online retailers and, in fact, was one of the first browser-based cloud POS systems in existence! As with Shopify, Vend is very easy to use for both in-store and online retail sales. Vend is more flexible than Shopify in that you can run it from any web-browser in addition to its dedicated iPad app. Its online caching capabilities also let you continue to ring up sales from your store during an internet outage.
In terms of selling online, you can set up an online store from scratch using Vend eCommerce, or you can integrate Vend with your existing e-store. For example, you have the option to sync your Vend POS with your Shopify online store. Similar to the Shopify POS, you can seamlessly sync your in-store and online store inventories, sales information, customer information, etc. Vend eCommerce’s functions are not quite as advanced as Shopify’s (for example, there is no weight-based shipping calculator or FedEx/UPS integration), but you do have most key components, like an SSL certificate, pre-made themes, and the ability to edit HTML/CSS. Vend’s inventory management capabilities are also more advanced than Shopify’s so you’ll have more control over your stock and be able to track more data.
Vend does not offer in-house payment processing, so you will need to secure a Vend-friendly merchant account. In the United States, MercuryPay and PayPal are your options for in-store credit card processing. As your eCommerce gateway, you also have the option to use Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.Net, or Payment Express.
Vend supports small to franchise level businesses–multi-store plans start at $169/month. However, most businesses who use Vend are on the small-to-medium side.
Some more cool things you get with Vend:
- Product catalog that includes images, prices, variations (by color, size, etc.)
- Real-time inventory and sales reports
- Multi-price books with ability to create multi-store discounts
- Lots of add-ons for third-party software/apps
On the other hand, one thing that kind of sucks is that priority phone support costs an extra $19/month (unless you have the pricier “Multi-Outlet” plan). Another qualm some retails might have is with Vend’s pretty basic cash management features and the lack of purchase order capabilities. All that said, though, Vend users are by and large happy with the quality of the product and the customer support that comes with it (even if you have to pay a little extra).
- Cloud-based iPad POS
- Pricing varies; average monthly price seems to be around $150/month
- Set up your online store or sync your existing Bindo POS with Bindo Storefront
- Unlimited SKUs
In the six years since its founding, Bindo’s (see our review) customer base has expanded to include more than 180,000 merchants. These include retailers who use the cloud/iPad POS system to sell merchandise from their stores and websites. Bindo has one of the strongest feature sets of any online retail POS, boasting more than 300 different functions. With Bindo, you’ll get a sophisticated register functionality, full eCommerce integration, smart reports that show detailed information on all your sales channels, and much more.
Bindo is unique in that it was created specifically to help small businesses compete with large online retailers. However, they have also worked with large franchises made up of 50+ locations. Its cloud-based model makes it easy to scale this POS for whatever size business you have. According to its creator Jason Ngan, the Bindo POS stands out from similar iPad POS systems because of its hyperlocal focus and unique online/offline network.
Bindo says its POS is compatible with “99% of credit card processors,” and as for in-person processing rates, you’ll get a decent 2.49% + $0.15 for swiped transactions using Bindo.
Regarding its eComm features, Bindo makes it super easy to sync your existing online store with your Bindo POS, just by adding a simple line of code. Alternatively, you can easily set up an online store with Bindo Storefront if you don’t have one already. Bindo also has smart features that facilitate meaningful integration between your online and offline sales channels–for example, customers who order something online have the option to pick up their order at your store or have it delivered.
As for its “hyperlocal” focus, Bindo is working on developing its own local marketplace, which allows nearby shoppers to discover your store easily online. (Basically, it’s an app and network that promotes Bindo stores in the neighborhood.) Some of the other perks of this system include:
- Top-notch 24/7 customer support
- Product matrices
- Inventory, employee management
- CRM features
- Purchase orders
- Gift cards
- Loyalty program
- Advanced real time reporting
- Quickbooks and Xero integration
- Access to the Bindo API (on request) to build your own plugins
As with the other cloud-based POS software systems on our list, you will need a steady internet connection to use Bindo. Indeed, some Bindo users say that without a strong WiFi signal, the POS can be downright buggy. However, something that can’t be understated is that Bindo has a tremendous customer support team that’s willing and able to help you fix any problem you might encounter with the POS.
Test Out an Online Retail POS for Free
At Merchant Maverick, we love scaleable, cloud-based solutions that work for online retailers small and large–bonus points if they are affordable and easy to use. Shopify POS, Vend, and Bindo meet all of those criteria and then some. These systems are each a little different, though, so we recommend testing them out before settling on a POS. Sign up for a 14-day free Shopify trial, 30-day free Vend trial, or 14-day free Lightspeed POS trial. Or take a look at some other iPad POS software if you want to see what else is out there–just make sure the system offers some kind of eCommerce capabilities before falling in love.
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