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ShopKeep Review: Best POS System for Retail Stores

ShopKeep Review: Best POS System for Retail Stores
Credit: ShopKeep

Our 2017 research and analysis of POS systems leads us to again recommend ShopKeep as the best POS system for retailers. We chose ShopKeep from a pool of the dozens of POS systems we considered. To read our full methodology and for a more comprehensive list of POS systems, visit our best-picks page here.

Best pricing

ShopKeep is our pick for the best POS system for retailers because it is a cloud-based service that offers the best pricing with tons of capabilities to help you run and grow your business.

ShopKeep is a comprehensive iPad POS system for retailers that's packed with big business features at a small business price. It aims to keep pricing simple and affordable, so it charges a flat fee of $49 per month per register. Whereas other POS systems have tiered, feature-based pricing structures and charge additional fees for premium customer support, ShopKeep's one-size-fits-all pricing comes with all capabilities and 24/7 phone and email customer support. There are no maintenance or service fees, so you're not hit with surprise fees in the future.

We also like that ShopKeep works on a month-to-month, pay-as-you-go basis. This means it doesn't require any long-term contracts, so you don't risk paying a hefty earl- termination fee if you decide to switch to a different POS system.

ShopKeep's hardware bundles can also help you save money. Other POS setups can cost you more than $2,000 for the most basic setup, but ShopKeep's starter kit includes all the peripherals you need, for around $800. This includes a cash drawer, printer, iPad holder and Bluetooth credit card reader. You also have the option of using existing hardware or to shop around on your own to save even more money.

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:

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ShopKeep is our top pick for the best POS system for retailers because it comes with a ton of features that go beyond processing sales. The sales rep we spoke with said the company is all about helping retailers save time and boost sales, so it offers plenty of tools to help you spend more time growing your business and less time worrying about back-end processes. You can manage inventories, gather customer information, boost sales, manage employees, generate reports and much more, straight from the POS system.

Here are the ShopKeep features we liked the most and think are particularly useful for retailers:

Credit card processing. ShopKeep uses its own credit card processor, so you don't have to find, apply for and set up your own. ShopKeep does give you the option of using a third-party processor, if you already have a merchant account elsewhere or if you find a better rate from another vendor. When we asked ShopKeep about its rates, the rep said he could give us a custom quote based on our needs and guaranteed that it would be the lowest rate we could find.

Fast checkout. We also liked that ShopKeep is very easy to use, so you can quickly process transactions and keep the lines short and moving. For instance, sales associates can check out products by tapping on its picture, scanning the product or searching for it — whichever is faster or fits their preferences. Other time-saving features include color coding, custom layouts, automatic discounts, preset item modifiers and more.

Inventory management. Managing inventory can be one of the biggest headaches for a retailer. One of the reasons ShopKeep is our favorite POS system for retailers is that it has one of the most powerful inventory management tools available in an iPad POS system. Here are four inventory features we really liked:

  • Create a custom layout so you can easily add, edit and remove inventory in a way that's most intuitive for you and your team (which also makes it easier to train new employees).
  • Quickly upload and edit product information using spreadsheets instead of manually updating each product, as well as adjust things like tax rates and product modifiers (size, colors, etc.) using a simple form.
  • Use inventory triggers to set low-inventory alerts and automatic reorders from suppliers.
  • Access inventory reports with sales data to identify trends and adjust inventory orders as necessary.

Customer management. ShopKeep can help you boost sales by getting a better understanding of your customers and nurturing your relationships with them. One way the system lets you do that is by automatically capturing customer information from each sale and then populating it for email marketing campaigns. You can also gather all types of data from loyal customers, such as how much they have spent during a specific time period, purchase trends and who your top customers are.

Employee management. ShopKeep also lets you keep an eye on employees and measure their performance straight from the POS system. One feature we liked is the built-in time clock that lets employees clock in and out, and then tracks their hours, making it easy for you to manage shifts and handle payroll. ShopKeep can also show you performance data, such as which sales associates are making the most sales, and pinpoint specific details, like who processed which transactions on which day and at what time.

Reporting tools. ShopKeep comes with robust analytics tools that do more than just generate reports — they also deliver real-time analysis of your sales data to help you make better business decisions. You can get broad insight into your company's sales, or go deep into details such as sales data during a specific day and time, or based on specific products. Other in-depth data include sales summaries, daily comparisons, most profitable items, top-selling products and more.

Offline mode. Internet outages happen all the time, but this doesn't mean it should stop you from running your business. That's why we liked that ShopKeep has an offline mode to keep your sales moving. Unlike other cloud-based POS systems that are completely reliant on an Internet connection, ShopKeep's offline mode saves all of your transactions locally and then uploads the information once you're reconnected.

Third-party integrations. Although you can run a huge chunk of your business right from your iPad, you'll still likely need a few other tools to run your operations. ShopKeep streamlines your business by connecting the POS system with software and apps you already use, helping you save time and minimize errors from manual entry. Two integrations that are particularly useful for retailers are QuickBooks and MailChimp. ShopKeep can automatically send sales data to QuickBooks at the end of the day, as well as sync new or updated customer information to MailChimp and automatically make these changes for your email marketing campaigns.

Another reason we chose ShopKeep as the best POS system for retailers is because it offers one of the most comprehensive customer support packages available. Whether you need to reach a live customer service representative, prefer to troubleshoot issues yourself or just want to learn more about getting the most out of your investment, ShopKeep comes with plenty of resources at your disposal — all for free.

  • 24/7 support. You can reach ShopKeep anytime you have a problem, thanks to the company's free, U.S.-based 24/7 phone and email support.
  • Chat support. If you prefer to chat with customer service, ShopKeep also offers a free live-chat feature right on its website. We discovered that the chat function isn't available 24/7, but you can leave a message and a representative will get back to you.
  • Social media support. You can also reach ShopKeep on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where the company posts helpful articles and replies to customer questions.
  • Video support. We were very impressed with ShopKeep's collection of tutorial videos. The video library contains dozens of step-by-step guides and demos covering everything from getting started, training employees, setting up hardware and using the many different features ShopKeep offers.
  • Support center. Like its video library, ShopKeep's support center features a searchable knowledgebase and a bevy of articles, how-to guides on getting started, setting up your hardware, managing inventory and other usage documentation.
  • Frequently asked questions. In this section, you can find more information on managing your account, addressing billing concerns and other common concerns customers have about using ShopKeep.
  • Community support. We were impressed with ShopKeep's community forums, which many POS systems lack. In the forums, you can browse questions customers have, post your own, and engage in conversations with other users and ShopKeep's support team. You can also view common problems users have, talk about features you love and share your ideas on how to improve ShopKeep.
  • ShopKeep blogs. ShopKeep has two blogs to help you stay up-to-date and run a smarter business. On the Product Updates blog, you'll find the latest features, announcements, service changes and other ShopKeep news. The ShopKeep Small Business blog, on the other hand, features tips and advice on running a successful small business.
  • Point of Sale University. Learn everything about ShopKeep and how POS systems can help you run a better business. This section offers a free video and a plethora of POS-related articles to help you get the most out of your POS system. 
  • Small Business 101. We really liked this section because it provides small businesses with a comprehensive guide on different aspects of being a retailer. It covers everything from launching a business to managing and exiting one, as well as a myriad of small business topics, such as business planning, finance and accounting, regulations and permits, finding a location, designing your store, staffing, marketing and more. We also like that it comes with a POS primer to help you choose the right POS system for your business.

ShopKeep is an excellent POS system for retailers, but it does have some limitations.

First, ShopKeep accommodates only a limited inventory count. A ShopKeep rep told us that the system can maintain up to 10,000 individual stock keeping units. For most startups and small businesses, this will probably not be a problem, but if you plan on significantly expanding your business and the number of products you carry, ShopKeep may not be for you. Although you can certainly start ShopKeep and then switch to a different POS system, it would be easier in the long run to start with one that's scalable.

This system also limits your choice of hardware. As an iPad POS system, it requires you stay within the Apple ecosystem. Furthermore, ShopKeep works only with the iPad 2 and later (and the iPad mini), so it won't be compatible with older iPad generations. If you prefer more flexibility or an Android- or PC-based POS system, ShopKeep isn't the POS system for you.

Lastly, ShopKeep's pricing may not be the best for your type of business. As mentioned above, ShopKeep charges a monthly fee. For some retailers, it may make more financial sense to go with a POS system provider that offers pay-as-you-go pricing, such as Square, PayPal Here or GoPayment, which charge solely on a per-swipe basis.

Ready to choose a POS system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

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:

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Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.