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Updated Jul 10, 2024

The Best POS Systems of 2024

For a POS system that can manage payments, track inventory, and provide key sales reports, you can’t go wrong with our best picks.

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Jamie Johnson, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.
Best for Overall Value
Clover POS
Clover company logo
  • Starting price: $14.95 per month
  • Cannot use third-party processor
  • 90-day free trial
  • Starting price: $14.95 per month
  • Cannot use third-party processor
  • 90-day free trial
Best for Hardware
Toast
toast company logo
  • Starting price: $0
  • Cannot use third-party processor
  • No free trial
USALinks to Toast
Visit Site
  • Starting price: $0
  • Cannot use third-party processor
  • No free trial
Best for Omnichannel Businesses
Shopify
  • Starting price: $5 per month
  • Can use third-party processor
  • 3-day free trial
USALinks to Shopify
Visit Site
  • Starting price: $5 per month
  • Can use third-party processor
  • 3-day free trial
Best for Customer Experience
CAKE
Cake by Mad Mobile logo
  • Starting price: $69 per month
  • Can use third-party processor
  • No free trial
USALinks to CAKE
Visit Site
  • Starting price: $69 per month
  • Can use third-party processor
  • No free trial
Best for Retail
Lightspeed
lightspeed company logo
  • Starting price: $69 per month 
  • Can use third-party processor
  • 14-day free trial
  • Starting price: $69 per month 
  • Can use third-party processor
  • 14-day free trial

Table of Contents

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At Business News Daily, we’ve spent years researching and testing the technology that enables entrepreneurs to accomplish their goals and scale their businesses more efficiently. Our team of small business tech specialists conducts independent evaluations of the best technology platforms to determine which best meet the needs of small business owners. We also regularly consult with technology experts. including IT professionals, developers, implementation specialists and cybersecurity professionals, to stay on top of the latest tech trends impacting small businesses. And every review we publish is evaluated by our editorial staff to ensure objectivity, accuracy and fairness are at the core of our decision-making. Learn more about our editorial guidelines.

How We Decided

When choosing our picks for the best POS systems, our team of small business tech experts attended live demonstrations, conducted firsthand testing and engaged in thorough research to find the most effective platforms on the market. We started by examining pricing and plans to determine which vendors had the best options for small businesses. Then, we examined the most important features in each POS system, including customer payment options, inventory management, customer loyalty programs and sales reports. Finally, we examined customer feedback about each solution we reviewed to get a sense of how users’ real-world experiences lined up with our own testing.

112

considered

14

reviewed

7

selected

When choosing our picks for the best POS systems, our team of small business tech experts attended live demonstrations, conducted firsthand testing and engaged in thorough research to find the most effective platforms on the market. We started by examining pricing and plans to determine which vendors had the best options for small businesses. Then, we examined the most important features in each POS system, including customer payment options, inventory management, customer loyalty programs and sales reports. Finally, we examined customer feedback about each solution we reviewed to get a sense of how users’ real-world experiences lined up with our own testing.

112

considered

14

reviewed

7

selected

Businesses relying on stodgy, old cash registers risk turning off customers with slow checkout processes, confusing product catalogs, outdated payment methods and a lack of loyalty incentives. Consumers today expect a seamless purchase experience, with both in-store and e-commerce shopping opportunities, digital wallet compatibility and discounts for their repeated patronage.

Fortunately, the best point-of-sale (POS) systems on the market are equipped with the tools businesses need to process sales quickly, track high-selling products and retain customers with inventive loyalty programs. Whether you opt for a retail-specific solution like Shopify, a restaurant-focused setup from Toast or a versatile system with Clover or Square, today’s POS programs modernize the selling process to drive revenue and growth. After testing both leading products and lesser-known offerings, we determined the best POS platforms for a variety of small businesses.

Clover POS system

Modern POS systems, like this one from Clover, include top-of-the line terminals, card readers, customer-facing displays and handheld devices. (Source: Clover)

Find the Right POS System for Your Business

Fill out this questionnaire to find vendors that meet your needs.

Compare Our Best Picks

BND Ribbon
Our Top Picks for 2024
Clover POS
Shopify
Lightspeed
TouchBistro
Square POS
Rating8.9/109.3/108.6/108.9/109.2/109.4/109.3/10
Best use case

Overall value

Hardware

Omnichannel businesses

Customer experience

Retail

Restaurants

Small businesses

Industries served

Restaurants, retail, service-based businesses and e-commerce

Restaurants

E-commerce, retail and hospitality

Restaurants

Retail, restaurants, e-commerce and golf

Restaurants

Restaurants, retail and service-based businesses

Free trial

90 days

Not available

3 days

14 days

14 days

14 days

30 days

Starting price

$14.95 monthly

$0

$5 monthly

$69 monthly

$69 monthly

$69 monthly

$0

Third-party integrations

More than 600

More than 80

More than 8,000

More than 25

More than 250

More than 25

More than 300

Third-party payment processor compatibility

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Customer service

Phone, email, online chat

Phone, email, online chat

Phone, email, online chat

Phone, email, online chat

Phone, email

Phone, email, online chat

Phone, email, online chat, social media

Review Link
Scroll Table

Reviews

Clover company logo
  • Starting Price: $14.95 per month
  • Key Features: Invoicing, inventory management, customer engagement tools
  • Free Trial: Yes, 90 days
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10

Why We Chose Clover

Clover is a feature-packed, all-in-one POS solution that allows you to manage your business — including sales, payment processing, inventory tracking, employee scheduling and more — from anywhere. We found it to be an excellent option for many businesses, particularly those seeking a wide selection of POS hardware and exceptional overall value. One of the advantages of Clover’s proprietary hardware is how easy it is to set up and begin using the system. The devices are ready to use as soon as you take them out of the box, and everything syncs seamlessly with the Clover dashboard.

If your hardware needs are minimal, you can start with the Clover Go card reader and upgrade to its full POS station as your needs expand. We love that you can use the Clover Go app to create orders, accept payments and text receipts, making it perfect for processing sales wherever your customers are. With a large number of sector-specific packages, you’re sure to find a plan that meets your business’s needs.

Clover POS device

Clover’s portable POS devices are so popular that some rival point-of-sale and credit card processing companies rely on the equipment. (Source: Clover)

Clover Costs

Package Features Price
Retail Starter Item and category management, stock tracking, itemized order creation, item and order-level discounts, real-time sales tracking, detailed sales reports, tax reporting, dashboard for online and offline sales, existing online store integration, customer database, promotions, loyalty program, gift cards, shift management, Mini touchscreen device $60 monthly
Retail Standard Everything in the Starter package, along with item variants, itemized returns and exchanges, scale integration, cost tracking by item; Station Duo device in place of Mini touchscreen $135 monthly
Retail Advanced Everything in the Standard package, along with a Flex device $190 monthly
Full-service restaurant Starter Table mapping, open tabs, bill splitting, item and order-level discounts, contactless dining, tipping, online menu, no-fee online ordering, pickup and delivery, item and category management, stock tracking, third-party menu integrations, real-time sales tracking, sales reports, cost tracking by item, shift management, cash drawer, receipt printer, Station Solo device $165 monthly
Full-service restaurant Standard Everything in the Starter package, along with tableside ordering, tap card payments, mobile wallet payments, Flex device $220 monthly
Full-service restaurant Advanced Everything in the Standard package, along with a Station Duo device $325 monthly
Quick-service restaurant Starter Contactless dining, item and order-level discounts, online menu, no-fee online ordering, pickup and delivery, item and category management, stock tracking, third-party menu integrations, real-time sales tracking, sales reports, cost tracking by item, shift management, Mini touchscreen device $105 monthly
Quick-service restaurant Standard  Everything in the Starter package, along with customer database, promotions, loyalty program, gift cards; Station Duo device in place of Mini touchscreen $145 monthly
Quick-service restaurant Advanced Everything in the Standard package, along with line busting and a Flex device $200 monthly
Professional services Starter  No-hardware transactions, email invoicing, online payments, automated recurring payments, automated client notifications and receipts, invoice status tracking, client database, real-time sales tracking, detailed sales reports, tax reporting, item and category management, stock tracking, itemized order creation, item or order-level discounts, shift management $14.95 monthly
Professional services Standard Everything in the Starter package, along with tap card payments, mobile wallet payments, gift cards, promotions, loyalty program, Flex device $50 monthly
Professional services Advanced Everything in the Standard package (excluding tap cards and mobile wallets), along with item variants, itemized returns and exchanges, cost tracking, Station Solo device $125 monthly
Personal services Starter Customer database, promotions, loyalty program, gift cards, real-time sales tracking, detailed sales reports, tax reporting, item and category management, stock tracking, itemized order creation, item or order-level discounts, shift management, Flex device $50 monthly
Personal services Standard Everything in the Starter package, along with item variants, itemized returns and exchanges, scale integration, cost tracking; Mini touchscreen in place of Flex device $95 monthly
Personal services Advanced Everything in the Standard package, along with Station Duo device in place of Mini touchscreen $135 monthly
Home & field services Starter No-hardware transactions, email invoicing, online payments, automated recurring payments, automated client notifications and receipts, invoice status tracking, real-time sales tracking, detailed sales reports, tax reporting, client database, item and category management, stock tracking, itemized order creation, item or order-level discounts, shift management $14.95 monthly
Home & field services Standard Everything in the Starter package, along with tap card payments, digital wallets, gift cards, Go device $49 monthly
Home & field services Advanced Everything in the Standard package, along with item variants, itemized returns and exchanges; Flex device in place of Go $50 monthly

Payment Processing Transaction Fees

  • Starter Card Not Present: 3.5% + $0.10
  • Starter Card Present: 2.6% + $0.10
  • Standard & Advanced Card Not Present: 3.5% + $0.10
  • Standard & Advanced Card Present: 2.3% + $0.10

Clover Pros

  • Clover has a wide variety of POS software and hardware options.
  • The vendor is highly regarded for its payment processing abilities and competitive transaction rates.
  • The POS software prioritizes cybersecurity, protecting user and customer data.

Clover Cons

  • Clover’s numerous plan options can be overwhelming and confusing.
  • You cannot work with a third-party payment processor.
  • You cannot integrate non-Clover hardware.

Trustpilot Score: Clover has a TrustScore of 3.6 stars out of five, indicating “average” reviews. “Three months ago, I was offered Clover from my banking institution. I have been using it since. As a new business owner, it was a very good setup for my business. I will recommend it to those who are beginning their business dream. The transaction fees are low,” reads one testimonial.

CHECK OUT OUR FULL CLOVER REVIEW

toast company logo
  • Starting Price: $0
  • Key Features: Tableside ordering and payment, kitchen display screen, mobile menu management
  • Free Trial: None
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10
Visit Site

Why We Chose Toast

Toast is a food-and-beverage POS system with durable restaurant-grade hardware and accessories. The impressive hardware offerings include the handheld Toast Go, the Toast Flex register and the Toast Kiosk. A variety of card readers and other peripheral devices are also available, making Toast a prime destination for hardware-minded food business owners. Plus, you can get started with two terminals at no cost.

Toast’s POS solution can help busy restaurant owners quickly accept payments and track sales with ease. We found that the software has everything you need to manage your restaurant, including front-of-house, back-of-house and guest-facing technology. We especially appreciate that Toast serves restaurants of all sizes, including upscale eateries, casual dining establishments, bars, nightclubs, food trucks and cafes. Best of all, you can get started for free with Toast’s Starter Kit. [See our Toast vs. Clover comparison.]

Toast on desktop and tablet

Toast’s impressive hardware, built specifically for food and drink businesses, won’t falter under the high temperatures often found in restaurant kitchens. (Source: Toast)

Toast Costs

Package Features Price
Starter Kit Restaurant-grade hardware, flat-rate payment processing, table and order management, digital menus, mobile payments, guestbook, employee timekeeping, basic scheduling, hardware configuration for one terminal $0
Point of Sale Everything in the Starter Kit package, along with custom hardware configuration and a wider selection of add-ons $69 monthly
Build Your Own Pick the features you want Custom quote

Payment Processing Transaction Fees

  • Custom flat rates

Toast Pros

  • Toast’s spill-proof hardware is designed to withstand a busy restaurant environment.
  • The Build Your Own option is great for both new food businesses and established ones that prefer to customize their POS package.
  • User-friendly digital tools facilitate online ordering and contactless delivery.

Toast Cons

  • You must use Toast’s native payment processor.
  • The vendor may charge cancellation fees.
  • The system isn’t compatible with iOS devices.

Trustpilot Score: Toast has a TrustScore of 3.4 stars out of five after more than 1,000 ratings. “Great POS we have so far. Manage daily operations, integrations, menu updates, etc. in one place,” reads one review.

CHECK OUT OUR FULL TOAST REVIEW

  • Starting Price: $5 per month
  • Key Features: Unified inventory, order fulfillment network, shipping insurance
  • Free Trial: 3 days
Editor's Rating: 8.6/10
Visit Site

Why We Chose Shopify

Shopify is best known for its e-commerce platform, but the company also offers a comprehensive POS system. This solution is an excellent option for businesses that want to unify their online and in-person sales. While Shopify can work for all types of businesses, we found it to be ideal for e-commerce and retail-focused companies. In particular, the software is a good choice for anyone looking to take advantage of omnichannel features. For example, customers can place an order online and pick it up at the store thanks to Shopify’s convenient purchasing and order fulfillment tools.

Although Shopify’s free trial is rather short at only three days, the extremely affordable pricing for the in-person Starter plan means businesses don’t have to make a significant financial investment as they continue to try the system and evaluate whether it’s the right solution for them. Then, the packages are easily scalable if you want to access more robust tools and don’t mind the added expense.

Shopify on a tablet and mobile device

The Shopify POS system lets businesses seamlessly manage sales across channels — and devices. (Source: Shopify)

Shopify Costs

Package Features Price
Starter (in-person) Limited online store, POS Lite, one POS login, encrypted payments, unlimited registers, unified inventory, order management and fulfillment network, cash tracking, split payments, gift cards, refunds and returns, analytics, mobile apps, 24/7 chat support $5 monthly
Retail (in-person) Everything in the Starter package, along with POS Pro and unlimited POS logins $79 monthly
Basic (in-person and online) Full-featured online store, POS Lite, unlimited POS logins, encrypted payments, unlimited registers, unified inventory, order management and fulfillment network, cash tracking, split payments, gift cards, refunds and returns, analytics, mobile apps, 24/7 chat support $29 monthly
Shopify (in-person and online) Everything in the Basic package, along with five additional staff accounts, discounted USPS rates, shipping insurance $79 monthly
Advanced (in-person and online) Everything in the Shopify package, along with 15 additional staff accounts, custom reports and analytics, third-party calculated shipping rates, duties and import taxes, enhanced chat support $299 monthly

Payment Processing Transaction Fees

  • Determined based on the chosen plan.

Shopify Pros

  • Shopify supports multiple sales channels, meeting customers where they are while allowing businesses to manage them through one platform.
  • The mobile app allows users to track sales and inventory while on the go.
  • You can integrate an existing online store with the Shopify platform.

Shopify Cons

  • Businesses seeking comprehensive e-commerce tools will have to pay for a higher-tier plan.
  • If you opt for third-party payment processing, you may have to pay an additional fee.
  • There is a separate subscription fee for Shopify’s POS Pro service.

Trustpilot Score: Shopify has a TrustScore of 1.5 stars out of 5, which Trustpilot understandably categorizes as “bad.” But one user review raves, “Super easy to jump start your online business! I love all of the integrations and apps!”

CHECK OUT OUR FULL SHOPIFY REVIEW

Cake by Mad Mobile logo
  • Starting Price: $69 per month
  • Key Features: Bill-splitting tool, QR code payments, Cake University training
  • Free Trial: None
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10
Visit Site

Why We Chose Cake

Cake is our pick for the best POS system for restaurants prioritizing the customer experience because of the wide variety of diner-focused features the company offers. The guest management tools allow you to accept online reservations, set up a waitlist and provide real-time status updates to waiting guests. Meanwhile, we like how you can improve the speed of service by offering tableside ordering, self-checkout and even payments facilitated through QR codes. These functions enable you to provide exceptional service without hurting profits.

Notably, all Cake plans come with complimentary POS hardware, which we find particularly valuable. Similar to Toast, the vendor provides devices that are built to withstand the messy, high-temperature environments common in restaurants.

Cake POS table management

Cake’s POS system digitizes table management, so you no longer have to track seatings with pen and paper. (Source: Cake)

Cake Costs

Package Features Price
Essentials POS station, menu management, reporting, QR code payments, system health monitoring, remote training, Cake University, unlimited 24/7 support $69 monthly
Plus Everything in the Essentials package, along with commission-free online ordering, gift cards $125 monthly
Pro Everything in the Plus package, along with Guest Manager, email marketing, loyalty tools $295 monthly

Payment Processing Transaction Fees

  • Competitive rates

Cake Pros

  • Cake’s POS system facilitates online ordering and curbside pickup.
  • The software is easy to set up and intuitive to use.
  • The 24/7 customer service includes phone support.

Cake Cons

  • There are recurring fees for additional POS devices.
  • The most appealing guest management features and loyalty tools are restricted to the top-level plan unless you pay an add-on fee.
  • Cake has the fewest integrations of all our top recommendations.

CHECK OUT OUR FULL CAKE REVIEW

lightspeed company logo
  • Starting Price: $69 per month
  • Key Features: Inventory tracking, custom reports, e-commerce tools
  • Trial Period: Yes, 14 days
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10

Why We Chose Lightspeed

Lightspeed is a leading POS provider for businesses in the retail and restaurant industries. It has an especially impressive set of features geared toward retailers, including advanced loyalty and inventory management tools. Plus, with e-commerce capabilities, Lightspeed can enable your company to sell its goods online, whether through a website, marketplace or even social media.

We appreciate how easy it is to sync product catalogs between your brick-and-mortar and online store, monitor stock levels and offer both local pick-up and shipping with the Lightspeed platform. Thanks to customized reports, we like how businesses can gain sales insights and adjust their product offerings, sales strategies and customer engagement tactics accordingly.

Lightspeed program on tablet and mobile

Lightspeed enables businesses to sell products online, in addition to on-premises. (Source: Lightspeed)

Lightspeed Costs

Package Features Price
Retail Basic Retail POS, one register, integrated payments, inventory management, access supplier catalogs, Lightspeed Capital, onboarding and professional service options, 24/7 chat support $89 monthly
Retail Core Everything in the Basic package, along with in-store loyalty; advanced sales, safe and inventory reports; accounting, e-commerce and marketing integrations, mobile scanner app $149 monthly
Retail Plus Everything in the Core package, along with custom reporting, API access, workflows, custom user roles, 24/7 phone support $239 monthly
Restaurant Starter Customizable POS, menu manager, floor plans, advanced insights, take out and delivery, single-view reconciliation, pre-auth bar mode, CRM and loyalty, integrated payments $69 monthly
Restaurant Essential Everything in the Starter package, along with online ordering, contactless orders, tableside ordering and payment, Lightspeed Live app, multilocation management, advanced inventory management $189 monthly
Restaurant Premium Everything in the Essential package, along with raw API access, multiple revenue center support for hotels $399 monthly
Golf Tee sheet, online booking, players database, dynamic pricing, event management, promotional engine, SMS marketing, monthly updates, Business Intelligence Lite, live support Custom quote

Payment Processing Transaction Fees

  • Card Not Present: 2.6% + $0.30
  • Card Present: 2.6% + $0.10

Lightspeed Pros

  • With Lightspeed, you can easily track inventory across locations.
  • The customer loyalty program enables targeted offers and deals for select customers.
  • Even the Basic retail plan includes 24/7 support.

Lightspeed Cons

  • Lightspeed doesn’t list hardware costs on its website.
  • While the vendor allows third-party payment processing, your preferred processor may not be compatible.
  • Newly launched retailers may find the cost prohibitive compared to Shopify and Square.

Trustpilot Score: Lightspeed boasts nearly 2,000 reviews and a TrustScore of 4.4 stars out of 5. One user says, “Lightspeed is a very easy system to use and has a great support system should you need it.”

CHECK OUT OUR FULL LIGHTSPEED REVIEW

TouchBistro company logo
  • Starting Price: $69 per month
  • Key Features: Menu management, staff management, online reservations
  • Free Trial: 14 days
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
Visit Site

Why We Chose TouchBistro

TouchBistro provides a full suite of restaurant-specific POS features, from mobile tableside ordering and self-service to an ingredient-based inventory tracking system. When demoing the platform, we found it simple to monitor table turnover, easily communicate recipe changes and even create customer accounts to store information about your most loyal diners.

We like that you can create an iPad POS system by running this mobile-friendly POS solution on an iPad, iPad mini or iPad Pro. TouchBistro also supports third-party POS hardware, like barcode scanners, cash drawers and receipt printers. This helps keep your accessory costs down, though you’ll have to contact the company to see if TouchBistro is compatible with your current hardware.

TouchBistro product availability

When using the TouchBistro menu tools, you can decide whether items are available for online ordering or can only be enjoyed in-house. (Source: TouchBistro)

TouchBistro Costs

Package Features Price
Point of sale Floor plan and table management, menu management, staff management, reporting and analytics, tableside ordering $69 monthly
TouchBistro Payments (add-on) Payment processing Custom quote
Customer-Facing Display (add-on) Countertop screen Custom quote
Kitchen Display System (add-on) Order ticket views $19 monthly
Profit Management (add-on) Inventory and finance tools $330 monthly
Online Ordering (add-on) Commission-free ordering $50 monthly
Reservations (add-on) Table reservations and status tracking $229 monthly
Loyalty (add-on) CRM and rewards platform $99 monthly
Marketing (add-on) Marketing platform $99 monthly
Gift cards (add-on) Physical and digital gift cards $25 monthly

Payment Processing Transaction Fees

  • Cost plus pricing model

TouchBistro Pros

  • TouchBistro’s drag-and-drop tools are ideal for managing and changing your restaurant’s seating arrangements.
  • You can use TouchBistro Payments or a third-party processor.
  • The system works with third-party POS hardware, such as barcode scanners and cash drawers.

TouchBistro Cons

  • TouchBistro’s costs can quickly add up if you opt for the extra features, many of which rivals include in standard packages.
  • There are relatively few integration options compared to a competitor like Clover, which also serves restaurant businesses.
  • The system is only compatible with iOS devices.

Trustpilot Score: Across hundreds of reviews, TouchBistro has earned a TrustScore of 3.9 stars out of five. One person says, “In my prior job, I was a POS technician. I’ve installed many POS systems from TouchBistro, I must say that their POS systems are very reliable and customer care reps are always great to deal with.”

CHECK OUT OUR FULL TOUCHBISTRO REVIEW

Square company logo
  • Base Price: $0
  • Key Features: Virtual terminals, NFC mobile payments, free add-ons
  • Free Trial: 30 days
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10

Why We Chose Square

Square is the best POS option for small businesses thanks to its free plans for a variety of business types. To take advantage of this no-cost platform, you must process payments through Square’s in-house service. The vendor offers free mobile readers for new customers, so you can get started right away, although its other well-regarded POS devices, such as the Square Register and Terminal, are available for purchase.

Companies will appreciate the ability to use Square’s generalized POS solution or the opportunity to choose a POS package geared toward their sector (such as appointment-based businesses). We love that the software is increasingly incorporating AI features, like tools for creating realistic images for your business’s website.

Square card reader

The Square card reader allows customers to tap their phone for contactless payments or insert their credit card for a chip reading. (Source: Square)

Square Costs

Package Features Price
Point of sale End-to-end encrypted payments, contactless payments, offline payments, POS mobile app, Square magstripe reader, dispute management, takeover protection, fraud prevention, gift cards, item modifiers, customizable item grid, itemized refunds, digital receipts, customized receipts, custom tips, automatic discounts, customer directory, order notes, online ordering, order manager, online checkout links, Square Analytics, low-stock alerts, multilocation management, Square Team Management, phone support $0
Square for Retail Square Retail Point of Sale app, online store, social media selling, Google product listings, basic inventory and catalog management tools, payments and invoicing, gift cards, refund management, order management, shipment manager, sales reports, customer profiles, unlimited passcodes, employee time tracking and scheduling $0
Square for Retail Plus Everything in the free package, along with advanced inventory tools, barcode scanning, customer accounts, cross-location returns, additional sales reports $89 monthly
Square for Retail Premium Custom features, professional website tools, one-on-one onboarding Custom quote
Square for Restaurants Unlimited countertop POS devices, unlimited locations, open checks, menu management, table management, cash management, auto-gratuity, order manager, advanced discounts, ticket routing, real-time order updates, multidevice sync, kitchen performance reports, offline payments, remote device management, service chart reporting, analytics reports, online ordering, employee time tracking and scheduling, weekday phone support $0
Square for Restaurants Plus Everything in the free package but only one countertop POS device, along with order-ready texts, additional reports, unlimited kitchen display devices, 24/7 phone support $60 monthly
Square for Restaurants Essentials Bundle Everything in the Plus package, along with mobile POS, Square Online Ordering Premium, Advanced Access, Square Shifts Plus, Square Team Communication, Square Payroll $153 monthly
Square Appointments Mobile app, unlimited calendars, custom schedule, text and email reminders, Square Assistant, Square Online booking website, booking integrations, credit cards on file, invoices, Cash App Pay, tap to pay, item search and barcode scanning, discounts, prepayments, offline payments, stock counts and low-stock alerts, item categories, sales reports, customer groups, automated marketing campaigns, Square Go, Square Messages, customer profiles, appointment and sales history, automated contract sends, Square hardware, read access for Bookings API $0
Square Appointments Plus Everything in the free package, along with multilocation management, class booking, waitlist, Google calendar sync, email and text confirmations, custom text notifications, cancellation policy, additional reports, write access for Bookings API $29 monthly
Square Appointments Premium Everything in the Plus package, along with resource management, unlimited permissions and advanced access tools, employee scheduling and time tracking, service costs tracking, custom contract fields $69 monthly

Payment Processing Transaction Fees

  • Card Not Present: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Card Present: 2.6% + $0.10
  • Keyed In: 3.5% + $0.15

Square Pros

  • Square is one of the few providers that offers free POS solutions.
  • Even the free packages are incredibly comprehensive, with a laundry list of valuable features.
  • There are no chargeback fees.

Square Cons

  • You must use Square’s payment processor.
  • Existing users have had challenges contacting customer support and resolving issues.
  • The vendor is more quick to freeze funds or accounts than competitors.

Trustpilot Score: Square has a TrustScore of 4 stars out of 5 and more than 4,500 ratings. Says one review, “I love using Square for my business. It’s very versatile. And all the extra add-ons that are available are super awesome. I utilize a bunch [of] them.”

CHECK OUT OUR FULL SQUARE REVIEW

POS Systems Costs

Lightspeed terminal

The more advanced your terminal setup is, the more you’ll pay in hardware costs. (Source: Lightspeed)

When you invest in a POS system, you’ll typically incur three primary costs: a one-time hardware fee, a monthly or annual software fee and a payment processing fee. Here’s an overview of what you can expect to pay for each expense.

  • Hardware: The average cost for POS hardware is $799, but you could spend up to $1,500. The exact price depends on how many registers and accessories you need. If you already own point-of-sale hardware, you could save money by choosing a POS provider that allows third-party hardware integrations.
  • Software: Software plan costs range from free to nearly $400 per month. You may have to pay for a higher-priced plan if you have many users, need to track a lot of inventory or want multiple add-on services.
  • Payment processing: The payment processing fees range from 1.5% to 3.5% per transaction. The fees often vary slightly based on whether the transaction is in person or is a card-not-present transaction, such as an online payment.

POS System Features

Toast loyalty programs

Today’s POS systems go beyond ringing up sales — the software can also facilitate customer loyalty programs. (Source: Toast)

The right POS features will make it easier to run your business and streamline your operations. Here are some features you should look for when choosing a POS system.

Payment Processing

Most businesses begin looking for a POS system because they need a way to complete customer transactions. Many POS providers go beyond accepting credit cards and debit cards, allowing you to take online and contactless payments. In the process, you’ll receive detailed insights about your daily sales, so you’ll always know how your business is performing.

Inventory Management

Basic POS systems may support only a product catalog, while others have POS inventory management features that allow you to track inventory at the component or ingredient level. Some plans include purchase ordering and vendor management features to simplify your reordering process. Consider whether standard inventory tools will be sufficient or if you’ll need advanced features to keep your business well stocked.

Customer Management

Customer management features vary among POS systems. Some allow you to capture basic information, such as your customers’ email addresses so you can build an email marketing contact list. Other POS systems are CRM-enabled, with features that let you generate CRM metrics and create customer profiles, including contact information, purchase histories, preferences, birthdays and notes.

TipTip
If you prefer more extensive customer relationship management features than you can find in a POS system, read our reviews of the best CRM software. Many of them integrate with POS platforms.

Loyalty Programs

To ensure a loyal customer base, you must reward your best customers. A POS system enables that with built-in loyalty tools. The top POS systems can collect information about your customers’ shopping and dining preferences and help you design customer loyalty programs and rewards programs around that data. You can customize rewards based on how frequently customers shop at your store and the products or services they purchase.

Did You Know?Did you know
Many POS systems allow you to run a gift card program, which can strengthen your brand and boost customer loyalty.

Employee Management

You can usually onboard your employees to the POS system and manage their access to various features and information. Some systems have role-based access controls, while others let you customize the controls for each worker. We like platforms that have built-in time clocks, which let your employees use the POS system to clock in and out. Others can let you schedule shifts, track individual employees’ sales and manage tips.

FYIDid you know
Access-control features are crucial because poor access management can lead to data breaches.

Reporting

All POS systems can generate POS reports. However, some have only basic report functionality with preconfigured reports and limited customization. Others are advanced with dozens of reporting options and filters to help you analyze data for your sales, inventory, customers and staff. The best POS systems provide real-time reports you can access from any device with a browser or mobile app. Before you purchase a POS system, ensure that it offers the specific reports you need to run your business efficiently.

Add-Ons and Integrations

POS systems typically have many features, but the offered packages may not be enough for your small business. That’s where add-ons and third-party integrations can help. For example, you may want to integrate your POS system with the best credit card processors, high-quality accounting software and top marketing platforms. Or you may want to use a specific email marketing service or offer a customer loyalty program from a specific provider. The best POS systems give you many integration and add-on choices so you won’t be limited as your business grows.

FYIDid you know
If your business uses QuickBooks for accounting, look for a POS system with a QuickBooks POS integration to easily sync financial data and save time.

Customer Support

While not a feature per se, you should be able to contact your POS provider around the clock to receive help with the system when you need it, even if your business keeps irregular hours or you’re working on the weekend. Look for a POS vendor you can easily reach via your preferred communication mode, whether by phone, email, live chat or social media. The best companies offer 24/7 support.

Benefits of POS Systems

Shopify sales data

Among the advantages of using a POS system with robust reporting functionality is the ability to dive deep into your sales data. (Source: Shopify)

The best POS solutions do much more than let businesses accept customer payments. With a combination of modern-day hardware technology and increasingly smart software, your company can use a POS platform to attract and retain customers, capitalize on business intelligence and even track staff performance. Below are a few of our favorite POS system benefits.

  • All-in-one system: A POS system allows you to manage various aspects of your business from a single platform. You can track sales, inventory, customers and reports from your POS application without needing multiple software programs.
  • Cloud-based software: Most POS systems are hosted in the cloud, which means you can access your data from anywhere and complete customer transactions on the go. Cloud-hosted systems also bring more reliability and efficiency than on-premises solutions.
  • Advanced features: Many POS systems boast advanced features, like inventory management, e-commerce functionality and customer loyalty programs. These features allow you to provide better and more personalized service for your customers.
  • Mobile payments: The most advanced POS systems offer mobile compatibility through apps that can be installed on tablets and smartphones, converting them into portable POS terminals. Retailers can utilize these mobile checkout devices to process customer transactions from any location, and restaurants can use them to take orders and process payments at diners’ tables.
  • Reporting features: The data your POS system collects will give you details on how your business is performing. Along with your general sales data, you can see detailed information about your customers’ buying habits and identify your best-performing employees. These metrics should inform your business decisions.
FYIDid you know
Three POS reports you should run regularly are sales summaries, sales per product and sales per customer. Learn how to interpret your POS sales reports so you can use that info to boost your business.

Square POS on a tablet

When choosing a POS system, businesses should consider whether they only need standard features or advanced tools like invoicing. (Source: Square)

The best POS system for your business will depend on your business type and the specific features you need. Here are three steps to take when you’re evaluating POS systems and choosing one for your company.

1. Conduct market research.

The first step is to research the POS products currently available on the market. You can use online guides like this one to compare and contrast different options. It’s also a good idea to browse user reviews and customer comments on third-party review sites and the Better Business Bureau website. Based on your research, identify the platforms that best meet your organization’s needs.

2. Contact vendors for demos.

Once you’ve done your initial research and narrowed your search to a few companies, reach out to each vendor to ask for a product demo. You should also sign up for any free trials to test the software. Ensure the POS system setup process is straightforward so you don’t get bogged down with implementation.

Remember to consider the unique circumstances of your business when trying each solution. The best POS system for restaurants will offer different features than the best POS system for retail, for example, so think through how this software will impact your team’s day-to-day workflow. Will there be a learning curve? Do you need a lot of integrations or API access to make the system function as you wish? Does the provider offer hands-on customer service? The answers to these questions should help you further narrow your list of options.

3. Evaluate pricing.

Once you’ve done the demos and explained to each company what you’re looking for, ask for quotes from each vendor. Compare what each package includes and see which product gives you the most bang for your buck. Ideally, at this point in the process, you can determine which POS system best meets your business’s needs at a cost you can afford.

Alternative POS Systems to Consider

While we’re confident our top recommendations above can meet your company’s POS needs, we understand you may want to know what else is out there. We tested and evaluated a number of other solutions and found some notable strengths in the POS systems highlighted below.

Lavu

Similar to Toast, Cake and TouchBistro, Lavu is another restaurant-specific POS solution suitable for food and beverage businesses, ranging from fine-dining establishments to nightclubs to ice cream shops. This cloud-based iPad system can include terminals, self-order kiosks, a kitchen display system and more. We’re particularly fond of the software’s dual pricing feature, which allows businesses to set one price for customers paying by cash and another price for those using credit cards. Cash discounts can incentivize diners while offsetting your credit card processing fees, so this is a smart tool to have.

Helcim

Helcim provides credit card processing services while also offering POS features and tools through its integrated app, terminal and card reader. We love that Helcim doesn’t charge a monthly subscription fee, giving businesses free access to its POS software. As a payment processor, Helcim also eschews monthly fees. Instead, you’ll only pay for interchange-plus processing rates. With a virtual terminal, online checkout and invoicing in addition to the in-person POS hardware, you can accept payments in a multitude of ways.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy may be best known for offering custom domains and websites, but it’s also a great POS solution for those who want to set up a site, accept customer payments and track sales. Every plan includes a website builder, custom domain and detailed website and marketing analytics. If you purchase one of the advanced packages, you can also access gift cards, discounted shipping and promotional features. Note that the system doesn’t integrate with third-party payment processors, so you’ll have to use GoDaddy Payments.

CardConnect

CardConnect is a merchant services provider that offers virtual terminals for a browser-based POS system, as well as a mobile credit card app, CardPointe retail terminals and Clover hardware for a robust physical setup. With this combination of tools, businesses can ring up sales anywhere and feel secure knowing CardConnect has built-in features for fraud protection, PCI compliance and other security measures. Payment processing costs are based on interchange rates that are optimized with each transaction. We especially appreciate the integration with QuickBooks, allowing you to streamline financial recordkeeping and accounting processes.

ePOSNow

Epos Now is one of the best POS systems for businesses concerned about ease of use. The software is intuitive; it should take your staff less than 15 minutes to learn how to use the platform, meaning you’ll save on employee training costs. Plus, you’ll receive one-on-one onboarding when getting started. Epos Now offers excellent hardware options, including a touchscreen POS system, a handheld POS option, receipt printers and cash drawers. You can add the hardware you need to create a custom solution for your business. Epos Now also integrates with various third-party products, giving you many options to adjust the system’s functionality to your liking.

Revel

The Revel POS system is ideal for retail and restaurant businesses wanting to focus on multilocation growth. With an open API, you can customize and scale the cloud-based software to serve multiple sales channels as your company expands. Thanks to the “Always On” mode, we love that this solution can process sales even if your internet is out, while the vendor’s “payments agnostic” approach gives you the freedom to work with the payment processor of your choosing. You’ll also find tools for inventory management, employee time tracking and loyalty programs.

POS System FAQs

A point-of-sale (POS) system is a technology platform that enables businesses to accept customer payments. It also includes features that make it easier for merchants to manage sales data, inventory, customers and employees.

All kinds of businesses use POS systems. After all, virtually every business needs some way to accept and process customer payments, and POS systems help them do that. Brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants typically require POS hardware, such as handheld terminals and cash registers. Online and e-commerce businesses usually need little more than a virtual terminal to accept payments. Some may prefer POS solutions with invoicing tools to bill vendors and suppliers.

For another example of a type of business that uses POS solutions, see our roundup of the best POS systems for grocery stores.

A business needs a POS system as soon as it begins selling goods or services, no matter how small your operation is. It enables your business to accept payments and makes the checkout experience easier for you and your customers, reducing errors and the time it takes to ring up a sale.

Yes, a POS system can track inventory. Almost every modern point-of-sale solution is capable of monitoring the items you have in stock; some can even generate purchase orders. POS systems with advanced inventory management tools can track sales from your e-commerce platform or physical retail store in real time or across multiple business locations. Restaurant-focused POS systems often provide ingredient-level tracking and will automatically adjust your menus when an item is unavailable.

Yes, a POS system can help manage your staff. If you choose a platform with robust employee management tools, you can create schedules and give employees a way to clock in and out, as well as monitor which team members are performing the best. These insights can help you make strategic staffing decisions. Some POS solutions also integrate with highly rated payroll services to ensure accurate payment for hours worked.

What to Expect in 2024

POS systems have come a long way since the early days of retail. No longer is a POS system just a register, cash drawer and credit card swiper. These days, they are multifaceted solutions that enable you to manage various aspects of your business from one platform. In 2024, POS systems will likely offer advanced AI-driven features and provide tools that help businesses optimize operations and gain data about their customers.

As POS systems change, we expect to see expanded automation abilities. Vendors are regularly rolling out software features that let you set up automated workflows for inventory management, payroll, reservations, orders and payments, freeing your staff to focus on other areas that may require more attention. Automation can be an effective solution for streamlining processes and maximizing efficiency.

We’re also noticing more POS systems offering self-service options for customers, especially restaurants. Customers can order online and pick up their food without ever leaving their vehicles. They can also use self-serve kiosks to order and pay, and even pay their bill right from their phone. Meanwhile, POS systems that cater to e-commerce companies are offering more ways for businesses to sell their products online via social media, and this trend will continue in 2024 and beyond.

For both online and brick-and-mortar businesses, we expect AI to play an increasingly important role in POS software. Predictive AI can perform functions such as flagging suspicious transactions and recommending products to stock. Another valuable feature is AI-controlled dynamic pricing that adjusts product prices in real time based on supply and demand.

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Jamie Johnson, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
For more than five years, Jamie Johnson has been guiding business owners on financial matters both big and small. This includes investment advice, insights on business loans and funding options, recommendations on insurance and more. Johnson excels at delivering easy-to-understand direction so entrepreneurs can make the best financial decisions for their businesses and, as a solopreneur herself, she regularly tests business strategies and services. Johnson's expertise can be found in a variety of finance publications, including InvestorPlace, Credit Karma, Insurify and Rocket Mortgage. She has also demonstrated a deep understanding of other B2B topics — including sales, payroll, marketing and social media — for the likes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. News & World Report, CNN, USA Today and Business Insider.
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