Your POS system is the lifeline of your operations. But choosing a POS system can quickly become overwhelming. So we did the leg work for you to help you find the right POS system for your business. From traditional POS systems (POS stands for point of sale, by the way) to iPad POS systems, we asked around and did the research so you don't have to.
The best POS system is affordable and easy to use, and should also do more than just accept payments and process sales. It should come with additional time-saving features such as inventory management, staff management, marketing tools, customer data gathering, task automation and other capabilities that make it easier to run and grow your business. The vendor should also provide dedicated solutions for your type of business and offer 24/7 customer support.
Here is a roundup of our best picks and how we chose them.
Ready to choose a credit card processor or a POS system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Credit Card Processing Buyer's Guide
- Best Credit Card Processors 2015
- REVIEW: Best Credit Card Processor for Small Business
- REVIEW: Best Online Credit Card Processor
- REVIEW: Best Low-Volume Credit Card Processor
- REVIEW: Best Mobile Credit Card Processing Solution
- REVIEW: Best All-in-One POS System for Small Business
- REVIEW: Best Mobile POS System for iPad
- REVIEW: Best POS System for Restaurants
- REVIEW: Best POS System for Retail
Best All-in-One POS System for Small Business: Vend
Vend has everything you need to run and grow a brick-and-mortar store. Beyond processing transactions, Vend also comes with features to help you run your business, save time and boost sales. This vendor also has dedicated solutions for different types of stores in a wide range of industries. Whether you run a clothing store, a sports store or a specialty business such as a carwash or computer shop, there's a tailor-made Vend solution for you. [Go here for a full review of the Vend POS system.]
Editor's Note: Looking for information on POS systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:
Best Mobile POS System for iPad: Bindo
Bindo is a cloud-based POS system that's built especially for the iPad. It offers an intuitive user interface, is packed with business management tools and comes with advanced capabilities like mobile payments, e-commerce integration and customization options. Best of all, it comes with 24/7 customer support and has the best pricing for the features offered compared with its competitors. [Go here for a full review of the Bindo POS system.]
Best POS System for Restaurants: TouchBistro
TouchBistro is a simple and affordable POS system that focuses solely on a restaurant's unique needs. It is suitable for all types of food establishments, from fine dining to casual eateries, cafes, pubs, food trucks and more. We like that it works with the iPad and iPad mini, giving you flexibility and mobility, no matter your type of restaurant. TouchBistro also offers 24/7 phone and email support, video tutorials and one-on-one training at no extra cost. [Go here for a full review of the TouchBistro POS system.]
Best POS System for Retail: ShopKeep
ShopKeep is a budget-friendly, cloud-based iPad POS system that's packed with all the time-saving features retailers need to run and grow their business. It comes with a wide range of advanced, yet easy-to-use tools to help you save time and boost sales, without any long-term contracts or expensive fees. We were also impressed with the company's wide range of free customer support, which includes 24/7 phone and email support, live chat, social media support, community forums, small business resources and much more. [Go here for a full review of the ShopKeep POS system.]
To find the best POS system for small businesses, we started by looking at POS systems used by small business owners and finding out what they liked and disliked about them. We also read customer reviews to see what users think from first-hand experience.
We then compiled a comprehensive list of POS systems from several sources: customer research, POS systems that appear on review sites and business websites, those we knew about or were previously pitched to us, and our previous research on the best credit card processors for small business. In the end, we had more than 50 POS systems from which to choose.
Next, we researched these vendors and narrowed down our list based on use cases for the Best Picks categories above. Our methodology included browsing each vendor's website, trying out demos, watching videos and reviewing how-to guides, installation manuals, articles and other available resources. Additionally, we contacted vendors ourselves and asked several questions as small business owners considering using their POS system.
After much consideration, our top picks for POS systems for small businesses are Vend, Bindo, TouchBistro and ShopKeep. Our short list included Shopify, Revel, POSGuys, Harbortouch, Breadcrumb, PayPal Here, NCR Silver, LivePOS, GotMerchant, Lavu, iConnect, Square Register and TouchSuite.
Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each POS system:
- Cost, such as monthly fees and swipe rates.
- Ease of setup and use.
- Hardware, such as touch screen, desktop, iPad/tablet and smartphone.
- Backend features, such as inventory management.
- Built-in solutions, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software.
- Industry specific tools, such as online ordering for restaurants.
- E-commerce integration.
- Contracts and service terms.
- Merchant services.
- Customization options.
- Third-party integrations.
- Reporting and analytics.
- Service limitations.
- Customer service.
Here is a full list of POS systems and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks.
Acme — Acme is an on-premises POS system that's built especially for retailers and grocers. It is one of the most affordable POS systems available and comes with a complete backoffice solution built right into the software. It works with standard POS equipment, desktop computers and mobile devices, giving your business flexibility and mobility options. acmepointofsale.com
Aireus — Aireus is an advanced iPad POS system for restaurants. It comes with nearly every possible feature a restaurant would need to function on an enterprise level. Besides floor features like tableside ordering, sales, happy hour mode, bill splitting and more, it comes with other backend features like reporting, built-in CRM software, a time clock with payroll exporting, offline mode and Web ordering. aireus.com
Ambur — Ambur is another robust iPad POS system for restaurants that also works on the iPhone. What makes Ambur different is it doesn't come with any monthly or service fees; you pay a flat one-time fee of $999, which includes unlimited terminals. Ambur also sells hardware bundles and individual units, including iPads that you can purchase outright or lease. amburapp.com
Banq — Banq by iPayment is a tablet POS system that's packed with features for different types of small businesses. The company promises "preferred credit card rates," and offers both a basic plan and a small business plan, so you can scale the system to your business's needs. It also comes with QuickBooks integration and a built-in CRM solution to help you better manage your accounting while nurturing relationships with customers. banqpos.com
*Bindo — Our pick for the best mobile POS system, Bindo comes with a bevy of tools to help you process transactions and run your business straight from your iPad, all at a small business-friendly price. It also comes with e-commerce integration, customization options, mobile payments and 24/7 customer support. Read our full review here.
Bluestore Live — Bluestore is a simple and affordable POS system that works on different types of hardware, including iPads. We like that plans come with unlimited products, users and customers, and that updates and maintenance are all included in the low month-to-month subscription fee. The company is based in the U.K., but is available to U.S. customers. bluefishretail.com
Breadcrumb — One of our favorites is Breadcrumb by Groupon, a feature-rich iPad POS system for restaurants, bars, clubs and similar establishments. We were impressed that it comes with hundreds of capabilities, so you can tailor the system to make it perfect for your business. We also like that Breadcrumb offers 24/7 customer support and free customization setup. breadcrumb.groupon.com
Clover Station — Clover Station is an advanced POS system for businesses that require more complex and highly customizable software. We like that you can start with the basic features, then add on other capabilities from the start or as your business grows. Even better, Clover Station has its own API, so your developers can create a custom solution to make the perfect POS system for your business. clover.com
Dinerware — Dinerware is an easy to use restaurant and hospitality POS system designed for small and medium businesses. It is flexible in design and can easily be set up to support a broad variety of restaurant concepts and workflows, including fine dining restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, pubs, wineries, breweries, golf clubs, hotels, casinos, and more. There is also a remote access tool, called Home Office, which lets business owners securely access to the system, management tools and real-time data from any device. dinerware.com
EdgePOS — EdgePOS is an all-in-one software that uses a touch screen as a terminal. Although it looks like any other traditional POS system, EdgePOS does more than process credit cards. It also comes with additional features such as online ordering, payroll services, inventory tracking, accounting, real-time reporting and more. gosilveredge.com/pos-system-solutions/edgepos
ERPLY — ERPLY is a popular retail POS software that works on the iPad, Android tablets, Windows and online straight from your browser. This all-in-one software does everything a POS system is supposed to do, but also includes powerful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and CRM solutions built right into the software to help you run a single or multi-chain retail operation. erply.com
GiftLogic — GiftLogic is a simple, easy-to-use retail POS system. In addition to processing sales, GiftLogic can help you boost sales and manage your business. Its built-in CRM software comes with MailChimp email marketing integration, purchase histories, customer accounts, loyalty programs and more. GiftLogic also comes with a full-featured inventory management tool that helps you save time with automatic reorders, discount scheduling and other capabilities. giftlogic.com
Gotmerchant — One of our runner-ups, Gotmerchant is a free POS system for retailers and restaurants. This system, which is a favorite among review sites, uses the Harbortouch software below. gotmerchant.com
Harbortouch — Also a runner-up, Harbortouch is a "free," complete POS system. We say "free" because although you don't have to pay for the system, you do have to pay for Harbortouch's processing service and hardware. We like that Harbortouch works with a wide range of devices — touch screen, iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry — and offers additional services like payment systems, online payments, check services and merchant cash advances. harbortouch.com
iConnect — Another favorite of ours, iConnect is a powerful POS system for all types of small businesses. We like that it gives you flexibility in hardware, so you're not forced to stay in one ecosystem. It works on the iPad, iPhone and Windows mobile, as well as over the Web, so you can access it from any device. iConnect is particularly useful for service businesses, such as salons and gyms, because it comes with features like booking and scheduling, check-in and check-outs, and membership sales. iconnectpos.com
Imonggo — Imonggo is a free and simple POS system for startups and very small businesses, specifically those with less than 1,000 products and less than 1,000 sales per month. It's also a Web-based POS system, so you can access it anytime, anywhere, whether you're on a Mac, Windows, Linux or mobile device. Features include inventory management, sales analytics, digital receipts, loyalty programs and more. imonggo.com
Instore — Instore is an all-in-one iPad POS system for restaurants, cafes, bakeries, delis, bars and other types of eateries. We like how easy it is to set up — just download the app to start a free trial. Instore lets you manage everything from menu and sales to staffing, inventory and other areas of your business. It also comes with a free credit card reader that turns your iPad into a mobile POS system. instoredoes.com
Lavu — Lavu is a free iPad POS system for restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, bars, pizzerias and other types of eateries. We like how intuitive and easy to use the software is, and that it comes with many of the features available in paid POS systems. This includes order management, inventory tracking, employee hours, customer data, analytics, sales histories and more. Setup is also a breeze — just download the app from the Apple app store or contact a Lavu specialist to get started. lavu.com
LightSpeed — LightSpeed is a full-featured POS system that offers dedicated solutions for retailers and restaurants. On the retail side, you get rich back-office tools to help you manage your business, as well as inventory management and e-commerce integration. Restaurants also get a wide range of features, such as a full touch-screen menu, table-to-kitchen ordering, floor-plan designing and more. Both versions work on the iPad so you can take your POS anywhere and sell anytime. lightspeedpos.com
LivePOS — LivePOS is one of our top picks for the best POS system for retailers. This robust, hybrid cloud POS solution lets you automate different areas of your business so you can spend more time making sales and growing your business. We like that it comes with an app marketplace and its own API, giving you plenty of options to fully customize the software and tailor it to your business. LivePOS also offers 24/7 customer support, so you can reach a live person whenever you need help. livepos.com
NCR Silver — Another runner-up, NCR Silver is a cloud-based big-business POS system on a small-business budget. It works on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and there are different versions for retailers, restaurants and service providers. We also like that it comes with a built-in e-mail marketing solution and 24/7 customer support. ncrsilver.com
PayPal Here — Our top pick for the best low-volume credit card processor, the PayPal Here credit card reader and mobile app turn your iPad, Android and Windows tablet into a robust POS system for anytime, anywhere credit card processing. Features include barcode scanning, automatic invoicing, digital receipts and debit card PIN processing. Read our full review here.
Pose — Pose is a cloud-based POS system for retailers, cafes, service providers, booths and other similar businesses. It doesn't require you to install anything, so you can access Pose on any platform, whether you prefer to use a desktop computer, laptop or tablet (a native iPad app is also available). This also gives you a lot of flexibility, so you can take your POS system with you anywhere you go. getpose.com
POSGuys — POSGuys is one of our runner-ups for the best POS system because the company offers a wide range of products for retailers, restaurants and salons. Solutions include traditional POS terminals, as well as mobile POS options. POSGuys also sells a complete inventory of POS equipment and offers low-cost system financing, so you can conveniently purchase everything in one place at an affordable price. posguys.com
Premiere Wireless — Premiere Wireless is a wireless POS system designed for retailers. The company has partnered with several retail industry leaders to offer a robust set of features to help retailers boost sales and grow their businesses. Features include a built-in inventory system, shift management, CRM, bill payment, merchant services (such as credit card processing through Authorize.net) and more. mypremierwireless.com
Quetzal — If you are a clothing or shoe retailer, Quetzal has a solution for you. This could-based iPad POS system is packed with big-box features at a small business price, such as better inventory management and customer engagement tools. We also like that it's fast and super-easy to use, making it an efficient POS system for your business. quetzalpos.com
QuickBooks POS — QuickBooks' POS software transforms your desktop into a powerful POS system. Besides securely accepting credit cards and processing sales, QuickBooks POS also lets you manage inventory, nurture customer relationships and perform other tasks to manage your business. As expected, QuickBooks POS also easily integrates with QuickBooks' accounting solutions, such as automatic data syncing, payment reconciliation and more. quickbooks.intuit.com/point-of-sale
Retail Pro — Retail Pro is an enterprise-level retail POS system that focuses on strengthening your staff and providing excellent customer service. Features include customized workflows, personalized shopping for customers, CRM, inventory management, merchandising tools, accounting and more. Retail Pro is also a scalable POS system, so you can start with the basics and add on capabilities as your business grows. retailpro.com
Revel — Revel is one of our runner-ups for the best iPad POS system. Besides POS capabilities and e-commerce integration, Revel comes with a ton of additional business features, such as such as payroll management, appointment scheduling, analytics and QuickBooks integration. The company also offers solutions for all types of businesses, from retailers and grocery stores to restaurants, convenience stores, self-service kiosks, sports stadiums, events and many more. Revel also lets you create a custom POS using its API to tailor the system to your business's needs. revelsystems.com
SalesVu — Another of our runner-ups is SalesVu, a cloud-based, all-in-one POS system and business management solution. This means you can run your entire business straight from the POS with the following integrated features: credit card processing, inventory management, employee scheduling, customer management, online store, accounting and bookkeeping, recurring billing, email marketing, social media marketing and many more. SalesVu works on iPhone, iPad and Android devices, and is available for retailers, restaurants and bars, professional service providers, beauty and wellness companies, wineries, health clubs and other types of businesses. salesvu.com
Shopify — Shopify is one of our favorite POS systems for retailers because it is affordable, easy to use and completely mobile. Shopify plans start at less than $10 per month, making it one of the most inexpensive POS systems available to small businesses. Shopify also has a simple, easy-to-use interface, so it won't require much training for your staff. It also works on the iPad and the iPhone, so you can sell in-store or on the go. And because Shopify began as an e-commerce solution, the Shopify POS easily integrates and syncs with your Shopify online store. shopify.com/pos
*ShopKeep — ShopKeep is our pick for the best POS system for retailers. This cloud-based iPad POS system comes with a ton of time-saving features that retailers need to run their businesses and boost sales. We also liked that it offers the most customer resources, including free 24-7 phone and email support, live chat, community forums and more. Read our full review here.
Springboard — Springboard Retail is a cloud POS and retail management system that's built by retailers and specifically designed for multi-store, multichannel businesses. Whether customers are shopping in person or online, Springboard aims to help you deliver consistent service across locations and at your online store. It also comes with a mobile and iPad POS system, as well as advanced features like inventory management, custom reporting and APIs. springboardretail.com
Square — Our top pick for the best mobile credit card processor, Square's POS system, Square Register, turns your iPad or Android tablet into a robust POS terminal that lets you process credit cards at the checkout counter or on the go. We like that it's both user- and consumer-friendly, with features such as digital receipts, inventory tracking, automatic discounts, online ordering, appointment setting and more. Read our full review here.
SWIM — Do you own a jewelry business? SWIM's iPad POS system is made specifically to help jewelers process sales and manage their business. It comes with jewelry-specific features like instant quotes, stock counting and custom orders, as well as marketing tools like the ability to collect customer data and view purchase histories. onswim.com
Tiger POS — TigerPOS is an affordable and easy-to-use POS system that's built for bars and liquor stores. Features include age verification, shelf labeling, purchasing and receiving capabilities, reporting and security camera integration. TigerPOS also has a retail-based POS system designed specifically for wine stores. tigerpos.com
Toast — If you're looking for an Android POS system for your restaurant, Toast has you covered. This all-in-one restaurant management solution is packed with features like online ordering, delivery tracking and real-time reporting. It is also fully customizable and can be used for all types of food establishments, from full-service restaurants to quick-service, cafes, bakeries, bars, nightclubs and more. pos.toasttab.com
*TouchBistro — TouchBistro is our favorite POS system for restaurants because it's all about fulfilling a restaurant's unique needs, without all the fuss and bloatware that other POS systems have. It works with the iPad and iPad mini, so your restaurant can run with mobility, efficiency and the latest technologies. TouchBistro also offers 24-7 support and video tutorials, as well as individualized solutions for different types of restaurants: fine dining, casual eating, takeout, cafes, pubs, food trucks and more. Read our full review here.
TouchSuite — One of our runner-ups, TouchSuite is an advanced POS system that also offers specialized solutions for salons and spas. We like that the company extends financial services to customers, such as merchant cash advances and working capital. However, we didn't like that TouchSuite largely comes with long-term service contracts, unless you choose the cloud-based salon month-to-month plan. touchsuite.com
TruePOS — TruePOS is a Web-based system, so we like that you don't have to install anything on your computer or tablet. It's one of the more popular non-U.S.- based POS systems for its advanced retail management tools, easy-billing capabilities, e-commerce integration and more. TruePOS is based in India, but the company does have 24/7 support, so there's always someone there when you need help. gofrugal.com/cloud-solution.html
uAccept — uAccept is a complete POS system that comes with a touch screen, card reader, receipt printer and cash drawer. It is equipped with a robust POS software that can process all types of payments (including bitcoin), maintain a customer loyalty program, perform advanced analytics and more. Note that uAccept doesn't work on the iPad (though you can access data over the cloud), so look elsewhere if you need a mobile POS system. uaccept.com
Veeqo — Veeqo is a complete POS and order management system that streamlines multi-channel sales for small businesses. The POS system works on a tablet, PC or Mac and works together with the order management system to automatically update inventory, fulfill orders, create invoices and more in real time. Data is updated across available sales channels, from physical locations to online stores. It also comes with one-click shipping and reporting tools to help you better manage your business. veeqo.com
*Vend — Vend is our top pick for the best all-in-one POS system. We like that it is affordable, easy to use and packed with features for all types of businesses. Vend also goes beyond the basics with features like inventory management, built-in CRM solution, real-time reporting and more. Vend also has dedicated solutions for different types of stores, from fashion boutiques to carwashes, computer shops, bike shops and other specialty stores. Read our full review here.
VeriFone Cloud POS — Formerly GoPago, VeriFone Cloud POS offers different types of Android-based POS systems to fit your business's needs: the in-store POS for your checkout counter, mobile POS that you can use on your smartphone, and a self-service mobile commerce option that lets customers complete purchases on their own devices. It is also a turn-key solution, meaning you can use it straight out of the box and get started right away. verifone.com/solutions-services/mobile/cloud-pos
Are you a POS system provider who would like to be added to this list and possibly considered for our next round of reviews? Please feel free to contact Sara Angeles at email@example.com.
Editor's Note: Looking for information on POS systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:
Updated July 17, 2015. Additional reporting by Chad Brooks.