Top 5 POS Systems For Boutiques
Much like the word “artisan,” a lot of people seem to be using “boutique” as an adjective these days, creating strange-sounding business descriptions like “boutique hotel” and “boutique consulting firm.” Used in this way, “boutique” means … tiny and expensive? (I’m not really sure; that’s just my best guess.) But speaking of boutiques in the traditional way — as small retail shops — these are the hip little businesses that keep local communities thriving; small retailers have a major impact on the national economy.
An alternative to big box stores and online retail Goliaths like Amazon, boutiques offer unique products and a friendlier shopping experience. Cloud-based point of sale systems help boutiques accentuate these strengths, giving shopkeepers the ability to do things like look up customer purchase histories and track which items are best sellers. But which cloud POS system is the best for your boutique biz? In this article, I’ll investigate and evaluate the top 5 POS systems for boutiques.
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Used by more than 23,000 small business merchants across the U.S., ShopKeep (see our review) is an affordable, easy-to-use POS system that runs on iPads. This POS offers responsive 24/7 customer support (included in the straightforward $69/month/register fee) and competitive credit card processing fees via its in-house payment processor, ShopKeep Payments. ShopKeep includes inventory management features, in addition to employee management and customer management. You can also view real-time back-office reports from any web browser or on your mobile device with the ShopKeep Pocket app.
Here are some more great things boutiques can do with ShopKeep:
- Generate detailed sales reports (item- and department-level) that help you determine which best-sellers you should stock
- Capture customer information at point-of-sale to analyze purchase patterns and create tailored marketing campaigns
- Use with MailChimp, QuickBooks, BigCommerce and AppCard
- Manage thousands of SKUs and import via CSV
- Print barcodes for any item for easy scanning at the register
In 2017, ShopKeep announced a partnership with BigCommerce, allowing seamless eCommerce integration for ShopKeep businesses. Another recent ShopKeep partnership is that with First Data, which will enable ShopKeep to be used on the Clover Station proprietary register in the near future.
Learn more about this boutique POS in our ShopKeep review.
According to Capterra, Shopify POS is the second-most-popular POS software system currently in use (Square is the most popular). More than 500,000 businesses in 175 countries use Shopify POS (see our review), though many of these may only use it for eCommerce, sometimes in conjunction with another on-premises POS, like Vend or Quetzal (more on those guys in a bit). But in addition to hosting your online storefront, the flexible, retail-centric Shopify POS can power your brick-and-mortar store sales. This online POS is extremely easy to set up and start using. Like ShopKeep, Shopify also provides competitive credit card rates via its own in-house payment processor, so you don’t even have to have your own merchant account if you don’t want to.
The typical Shopify POS setup uses an iPad register, but you can also take your boutique on the go — to farmer’s markets, pop-up shops, etc. — selling and accepting payments from your Android or iPhone.
Some features of Shopify POS that make it great for boutiques include:
- Option to use with your existing payment processor and credit card equipment
- Robust inventory management with online and offline inventory syncing
- One online dashboard to manage your retail and online stores
- Customer sales profiles
- QuickBooks and Xero integration
- Detailed reporting and analytics — identify bestsellers, see which items are running low, etc.
- Accept partial payments, deposits, split tenders, and debit payments, and EMV payments
Some downsides include limited offline functionality and sluggish email support (though they also offer 24/7 support via phone call and live chat). Find out more in our Shopify POS review.
Vend (see our review) is another popular retail POS that you can operate from a web browser or an iPad app. Vend also integrates seamlessly with your Shopify online store, making it a good alternative to Shopify POS (if you like your Shopify e-Store but aren’t crazy about Shopify POS). Like the other cloud POS systems on our list, Vend is very easy to set up and get started with, and you may be able to use it with your existing POS equipment and preferred merchant services provider. Vend offers 24/7 email support in case you do run into any issues.
Vend is scalable for businesses ranging from mobile boutiques to multi-store outlets. This POS provider offers a free plan for micro-businesses selling 10 or fewer products, and paid plans start at $69/month. Vend doesn’t come with every single feature out there (for example, it does not allow for item modifiers) but it is a reliable POS that is very good at what it does.
Some features boutiques will like:
- Super easy to add, edit and remove products.
- Product catalog includes images, prices, variations (by color, size, etc.).
- Real-time inventory and sales reports
- Customer and inventory management
- Lots of software integrations for accounting, inventory control, staff management and more
Negatives include limited cash management features and the fact that phone support costs extra. Read our Vend review to learn more.
Bindo (see our review) is a feature-packed iPad POS for boutiques and other small retail businesses. This POS is specifically made for local mom-and-pop establishments that want to sell online in addition to in-store. Bindo also supports mobile commerce and offers some advanced features, such as purchase order support. The aesthetically pleasing interface is so intuitive and easy to use that the company claims you can train your staff in under 30 minutes. Bindo POS works with most credit card processors.
Some of Bindo’s boutique-friendly features include:
- Loyalty and CRM module with gift card support
- Employee management with time clock
- Supply chain management
- Multi-store support
- Online storefront with unified online and offline inventory
- Can support high-volume transactions and unlimited SKUs (monthly pricing is primarily based on the number of SKUs you need)
- Robust reporting and analytics
- Quickbooks and Xero integration
- Invoicing features
- EMV card support
While Bindo boasts more than 300 features, one complaint customers have is that the POS software can be a little buggy at times. With that said, free 24/7 support should help you resolve any business-critical issues. Learn more in our Bindo review.
Quetzal (see our review) has the distinction of being the only cloud POS made specifically for clothing and shoe retailers. Like most of the others on our list, Quetzal is an easy-to-use iPad POS that also works from a browser. This sleek POS offers cool features like a rear customer-facing display and the ability to “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” a customer in the system. You can keep track of everything a customer buys, along with vendor, size, color, and material, and then market to these customers with targeted email promotions.
You also get:
- Clothing/shoe matrix
- Shopify integration for your online store
- Ability to see your best customers by vendor, or merchandise type, or season
- Colorful, graphical reports
- Sleek “Apple aesthetic”
- 24/7 email support
- EMV-compliant system
- Up to 10,000 items and 2,000,000 SKUs
With the “Standard Support” plan starting at $75/location/month, you will definitely want to consider this affordable yet powerful POS if you run a clothing and/or shoe boutique. One of the only negative things about it is that not that many merchants use this POS yet, so there aren’t too many user reviews out there. But you can find out more in our Quetzal review.
Which Boutique POS Should I Choose?
Just in case you skimmed the above article (I don’t blame ya; time is money!), here’s the quick-and-dirty rundown on these five boutique POS systems:
- ShopKeep: iPad POS; in-house payment processing; $69/month
- Shopify: iPad POS; in-house payment processing; $79/month
- Vend: iPad/browser POS; multiple payment processors; $69/month
- Bindo: iPad POS; multiple payment processors; cost depends on number of SKUs
- Quetzal: iPad/browser clothing store POS; multiple payment processors; $75/month
All five of these POS systems are easy-to-use, iPad/web-based systems that will cost you a lot less than the traditional on-premise, Windows-based software. The cool thing about cloud-based systems is that you can pay as you go and try out the software before you commit to purchase it. And because they often use the same (or mostly the same) equipment, you can usually use the same iPad, card reader, bluetooth scanner, etc., for another POS system if you decide you don’t like the one you initially signed up for.