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Updated Oct 24, 2023

The Best POS Systems for Retail Businesses

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Shayna Waltower, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
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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 Overall Value
  • Versatile hardware options
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Built-in encryption
Visit Site
Links to Clover POS
  • Versatile hardware options
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Built-in encryption
Best for Omnichannel Businesses
  • Leading e-commerce platform
  • Offline mode
  • Mobile compatibility
Visit Site
Links to Shopify
  • Leading e-commerce platform
  • Offline mode
  • Mobile compatibility
Best for Fast-Growing Businesses
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing model
  • Numerous payment options
  • User-friendly interface
Visit Site
Links to Helcim
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing model
  • Numerous payment options
  • User-friendly interface
Best for Retail Businesses
  • Workflow customization
  • Advanced reporting and analytics
  • Diverse marketplace of integrations
Visit Site
Links to Lightspeed
  • Workflow customization
  • Advanced reporting and analytics
  • Diverse marketplace of integrations
Best for Small Businesses
Square POS
Square company logo
  • Email and text message marketing
  • Simple contactless payments
  • Easy setup
Links to Square POS
  • Email and text message marketing
  • Simple contactless payments
  • Easy setup

Table of Contents

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Gone are the days of logging sales in a manual spreadsheet. Point-of-sale (POS) systems have become fundamental to growing and managing retail businesses. The best POS systems efficiently process payments and track sales while offering a range of other features designed to improve your operations.

To simplify your research process as you choose a POS system for your retail business, we’ve thoroughly examined several POS solutions. From there, we compiled a list of the five best POS systems for retail businesses. Below, we’ve reviewed the features, pricing options and many other benefits that put these platforms above the rest.

Compare Our Best Picks

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

Overall value

Omnichannel businesses

Fast-growing businesses

Retail

Small businesses

Free trial

30 days

3 days

None

14 days

30 days

Starting price

$14.95 per month

$5 per month

No monthly fees

$69 per month

No monthly fees

Third-party apps and integrations

Yes (300+)

Yes (8,000+)

Yes (5)

Yes (190+)

Yes (300+)

Customer service

Phone and email

Phone, live chat, email

Phone, email, mobile app

Phone, X (Twitter)

Phone, live chat

Payment methods

Credit and debit cards, PayPal, prepaid cards, gift cards, EBT cards, custom tenders, mobile wallets, cash, checks

Most major credit and debit cards, mobile wallets, cash, checks, PayPal, cryptocurrency,

Credit and debit cards, bank-to-bank transfers, digital wallets

Major credit and debit cards, cash, gift card, credit account

Major credit and debit cards, mobile wallets, cash, checks, gift cards

Credit card processing fees

Starting at 2.3% + 10 cents for card-present transactions, 3.5% + 10 cents for card-not-present transactions

Starting at 2.4% for card-present transactions and 2.15% + 30 cents for card-not-present transactions

1.94% + 8 cents for card-present transactions, 2.51% + 25 cents for card-not-present transactions

2.6% + 10 cents for card-present transactions, 2.9% + 30 cents for card-not-present transactions

Starting at 2.6% + 10 cents for card-present transactions, 2.9% + 30 cents for card-not-present transactions

Review Link
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Reviews

Clover POS: Best POS System for Overall Value

  • Clover offers robust reporting and analytics tools you can use to track sales trends.
  • You can tailor your system to your business’s specific needs with Clover’s many hardware options.
  • You can’t use Clover’s equipment with another payment processing service, so you’ll have to purchase new hardware if you decide to switch POS systems.
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10
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Clover is a standout choice if you’re looking for exceptional value in your POS solution. We were especially impressed that Clover strikes a balance between affordability and functionality. Its competitive pricing structure gives you direct access to advanced features, such as inventory management, integrated payments and reporting and analytics without breaking the bank.

Clover’s real-time inventory management feature is an especially invaluable tool. You can automate inventory updates as sales occur and receive alerts when items are running low. User-friendly features and customizable options are also wrapped into Clover’s system. With a variety of hardware choices, you can ensure you’re only paying for the devices and features you need for your retail business’s operations. This flexibility translates into a truly customizable system that adapts to your retail business no matter your industry or setup.

Shopify: Best POS System for Omnichannel Businesses

  • Shopify integrates with thousands of third-party applications and programs.
  • Shopify POS offers a range of customization options, allowing you to tailor your interface to suit your business’s needs, brand aesthetics and sales process.
  • Shopify does not offer a free plan and its free trial lasts an atypically short three days.
Editor's Rating: 8.6/10
Visit Site

Shopify is a great POS solution for businesses that make sales online, in person and through social media. While it comes with all the basics, Shopify extends well beyond your everyday POS features. This vendor is widely known for its e-commerce platform, which we agree is a cornerstone of the online shopping world. Shopify also supports a wide range of payment methods, from credit and debit cards to mobile wallets and cash. This flexibility accommodates various customer preferences and makes shopping with your business more convenient.

Shopify POS seamlessly integrates with your online store. This means your inventory levels, product information and customer data stay updated in one place. Shopify plans suit small businesses and scale to enterprise level too. Its intuitive interface makes setting up and managing your online store simple with customizable themes. Whether you’re selling products at pop-up events, in a physical store or online, Shopify wraps a POS solution and omnichannel management into one package.

Helcim: Best POS System for Fast-Growing Businesses

  • Helcim can track inventory across multiple locations.
  • You can add an unlimited number of user accounts to your system at no additional cost.
  • Helcim offers an unusually low number of third-party integrations.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
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Helcim’s pay-as-you-go retail POS suite features an array of tools designed to help your business expand. Invoicing, payment links and a virtual terminal are all a part of the Helcim package. We like that you can use these tools to accept online payments easily and securely. Plus, with its streamlined and integrated payment processing, Helcim allows you to maintain efficient transactions even during periods of heightened demand. This ensures your checkout process remains smooth and error-free, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction.

Helcim also helps you manage the smallest yet still important details involved with managing your retail business. You can customize your receipts, invoices and payment pages so customers can recognize your brand wherever they shop with you. We also like that Helcim’s user management features streamline employee onboarding and grant your team different access levels based on everyone’s roles. This way, you can maintain security while expanding your operations.

Lightspeed: Best POS System for Retail Businesses

  • Lightspeed is easy to set up and use, creating a seamless transition for you, your employees and your customers.
  • Lightspeed provides 24/7 customer support for all its plans.
  • Lightspeed is one of the more expensive POS solutions.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
Visit Site

Lightspeed POS is an ideal solution for retail businesses looking for an efficient and comprehensive POS system. What impressed us most about Lightspeed is its healthy mix of solutions, including inventory management, customized reporting and employee performance monitoring. You can also store customer purchase histories, collect demographic information and create customer profiles based on these details. Lightspeed makes it easy to stay on top of your shoppers’ preferences and tailor your marketing and promotional efforts accordingly.

Lightspeed’s line of wireless devices includes a cash drawer, barcode scanner and receipt printer, allowing you to take payments from any part of your store. With this system’s cloud-based setup, you can access your business’s data in real-time from anywhere on any web-enabled mobile device. If you decide Lightspeed is the best POS option for you, you’ll get access to a dedicated account manager and one-on-one onboarding too. We like that this makes setting up and using your new system a total breeze.

Square POS: Best POS System for Small Businesses

Square POS
Square company logo
  • Square POS offers a straightforward pricing structure with no upfront costs, which can be particularly beneficial for businesses with limited budgets.
  • You can use Square POS on various mobile devices, including Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.
  • Square’s transaction fees vary depending on the type of transaction you’re processing, so the fees can be higher than those of other POS services.
Editor's Rating: 9.3/10

Square stands out as an exceptional choice for retail businesses of all sizes. That said, we found it to be particularly strong as a POS solution for small businesses. We especially like that Square offers a plan that comes with free software so you aren’t charged for any upfront costs ― only transaction fees. This option is especially beneficial if you’re starting a business and trying to keep your startup costs low.

We also like that Square’s software integrates seamlessly with popular third-party apps, including QuickBooks. Square also allows you to sell your products on social media platforms while accepting various payment methods. You can manage payments, track customer preferences and run loyalty programs easily too. Square’s software is simple to use, with no special training needed. If you need help during setup, you can chat easily with the support team. You’ll also find a variety of how-to articles and tutorials online, plus a helpful community forum.

Costs of POS Systems for Retail Businesses

The cost of a retail POS system is mainly based on the price of the software, transaction fees and hardware devices. Some vendors, such as Square and Helcim, charge no monthly fees, so you’ll only pay processing fees. Other POS solutions charge a monthly fee. These vendors’ higher-priced plans cater to larger businesses and include more advanced features. Examples include accounting, customer loyalty programs, detailed inventory management and omnichannel selling.

Among vendors that charge monthly fees, subscription prices start at relatively low prices, such as Shopify’s starter plan, which costs $5 per month. However, processing fees for this plan start at a very high 5 percent per transaction, making it ideal for businesses with low sales volume. If your retail business processes a higher number of transactions, a plan with a higher monthly cost but a lower transaction rate might be ideal.

Most POS vendors sell hardware devices you can purchase in addition to your subscription. Some POS systems, such as Lightspeed, include at least one device with each of its plans, even its basic plan. Clover’s Starter plan also comes with a touchscreen device featuring a built-in receipt printer, with upfront hardware costs starting at $799.

Transaction fees are another cost to consider. Helcim, for example, uses an interchange-plus pricing model to determine the rate of your transaction fees. This means your fees will vary for each transaction. These rates depend on factors such as the type of card used for the transaction and whether the card was used in person or online.

With this model, businesses with low transaction volumes will achieve higher savings than businesses that process more transactions. Other systems charge flat-rate processing fees based on whether you make an in-person (card-present) or online (card-not-present) transaction.

Features of POS Systems for Retail Businesses

Across their many plans, POS systems come packed with features designed to enhance your business’s operations and improve customer interactions. Here are some key features to consider when looking for a POS system for your retail business.

Inventory Management

Inventory management allows you to track product quantities, monitor stock levels and receive alerts when your inventory runs low. It’s like having an automated stockroom manager. Some POS systems also help optimize your reordering process so that your inventory keeps flowing from storage to your sales floor and into your customers’ hands.

Sales Tracking and Reporting

Sales tracking and reporting gives you insights into your daily, weekly and monthly sales. These POS reports help you identify top-selling products, peak sales periods and overall revenue trends. This data helps you make informed decisions about setting prices and creating marketing strategies.

Employee Management

Many retail POS systems offer features that help you manage your staff efficiently. These tools can add new employees to your system and monitor when your staff clocks in and out for the day. Many POS plans also allow you to add multiple user accounts to the system, and you can manage each user’s permissions for full security.

Payment Processing

Whether customers swipe cards, scan mobile wallets or pay with cash, POS systems can cover it all. With these solutions, you give your customers a convenient payment experience. The best POS systems also ensure that the money you receive quickly appears in your account.

Vendor Management

In some POS systems, you‘ll find vendor management features that help you oversee and optimize your relationships with your suppliers. These features streamline tasks, such as vendor onboarding, communication and payment management. This accelerates your supply chain so that your products keep reaching your customers.

Add-Ons and Integrations

POS systems are loaded with a variety of features, but they might not cover all the bases for your small business. Third-party integrations and add-ons bridge this gap. The best POS systems give you access to a long list of applications that work hand-in-hand with your technology.

Multi-Channel Selling

For an omnichannel business, a POS system should integrate with an e-commerce platform or serve as an all-in-one solution. This way, your online and in-store inventories sync automatically in real time. Customers can purchase items online, be certain they’re truly in stock and pick them up at the store. At every step of the way, you’ll have the information you need to facilitate quick, seamless transactions.

Customizable Options

Many POS solutions allow you to customize your system to your business’s preferences. With this option, you can change your system’s interface to match your brand’s logo and colors, creating consistent and recognizable visuals for your customers. Customization also allows for internal changes such as categorizing your products, setting pricing structures and special discounts and choosing how your receipts’ format.

Customer Management

Some POS systems include built-in customer relationship management (CRM) tools. This feature allows you to capture customers’ purchase histories, shopping preferences and contact details. You can use this information to create customer profiles and build a marketing contact list.

Loyalty Programs

To build a loyal customer base, you need to acknowledge and appreciate your top customers. POS systems that offer integrated loyalty software facilitate this. They collect valuable insights into your customers’ preferences and behaviors, allowing you to craft personalized loyalty and reward initiatives.

Customer Support

Efficient customer support minimizes disruptions to your business operations and provides expert guidance when you’re facing an issue. We find that the best POS systems offer around-the-clock customer support via phone or web chat. This way, you can find help in whatever way is most convenient for you.

Did You Know?Did you know
Some POS platforms, such as Shopify, can process some types of transactions even when they’re offline, ensuring you can continue processing sales during internet hiccups.

Choosing a POS System for Retail Businesses

Here are a few pointers to help you choose the best POS system for your business.

1. Consider what your business needs.

Before you start your detailed research into various vendors, be confident in your business’s unique requirements for a POS system. It’s like going to the grocery store with a list of the items you need. This makes for a much simpler shopping experience.

Consider the size of your store, the channels through which you sell your products and the number of transactions you make on a regular basis. You should also determine whether your business can benefit from other features, such as customer, staff or inventory management.

2. Research vendors.

You can often find pricing tables that outline the cost of a vendor’s POS plans on its website. Compare and contrast these tables across various vendors to identify the ones that offer the most value for your investment. Consider whether your potential vendors meet the needs you identified for your business and only consider platforms that check these boxes.

3. Read customer reviews.

One of the best ways to learn about a POS provider is to read reviews from retailers that already use it. Check out reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot to assess whether a vendor’s statements match customers’ real-world experience. These reviews can give you insight into many factors, including a platform’s ease of use and the quality of its customer support.

4. Request a free trial or demo.

Once you’ve shortlisted some POS vendors, give them a try. Some services offer demos, which walk you through their systems’ devices, features and integrations. Other POS services offer free trials. This hands-on experience can give you a feel for how well a system handles tasks specific to your retail business. Ask your customers what they think of the new software and devices and consider their feedback as you prepare to make your decision.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
You can check a POS vendor’s website or contact its sales team to see whether a free trial or demo is available.

Advantages of POS Systems for Retail Businesses

Below are some advantages to using a POS system for your retail business.

Streamlined Sales Reporting

Many POS systems give detailed reports on your business’s sales, helping you analyze trends and identify the products your customers gravitate to most. These reports lead to smarter business strategies that get your customers what they want when they want it.

Efficient Transaction Processing

A POS system can speed up your checkout process, reducing wait times for customers. This improves their experience and frees up time for your employees to assist more customers ― even during your busiest hours.

Heightened Data Security

POS systems are designed to prioritize data security, safeguarding customer payment information so that your business can comply with industry regulations. Data encryption, for example, helps prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive customer information. With this security in place, you can increase trust with your customers.

Stronger Customer Relationships

With customers in mind, POS systems often include CRM features, allowing you to capture customers’ information and buying behaviors. You can use this data to create loyalty programs and tailor your email marketing efforts to their preferences. The result is stronger relationships with your shoppers.

Effective Marketing and Promotions

You can use a POS system to run promotions, discounts and loyalty programs directly at checkout. This encourages customers to spend more money with your business and encourages repeat visits, contributing to increased revenue.

All-in-One Solution for Business Management

A POS system allows you to oversee different facets of your business from one central hub. With your POS app, you can monitor sales, inventory and customer information. This makes your system a powerful tool for increasing your efficiency and productivity across the board.

POS Systems for Retail Businesses FAQs

Like any technology, POS systems can experience technical glitches or downtime. Such issues can disrupt your daily operations, leading to frustration for both customers and employees. You also need to ensure your system has the latest software updates. Although you can set these updates to install automatically, ensuring they’re completed can add another task to your to-do list.

The amount of time it takes to set up your POS system depends on the number of devices you’re connecting to your system. It also varies based on the complexity of the plan you selected. On average, setting up a new POS system can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a few days.

Yes, although employees who have experience with POS systems might have an easier time adjusting to a new platform than employees with no prior experience. However, most POS systems offer a user-friendly interface, online forums and customer support to assist you with any questions.

Most POS systems run on a Windows operating system. Other systems use Linux, Android and OS X.

Occasionally, more advanced POS systems include hardware devices with built-in cameras. Simpler, more common devices, however, including traditional card readers and machines, typically don’t come with cameras.

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Shayna Waltower, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
Shayna Waltower is a business journalist with a multimedia background. She spent years doing on-the-ground reporting in local communities from coast to coast before narrowing her focus to helping small businesses nationwide streamline operations, attract customers and improve profitability. Waltower, with her previous experience in storytelling across mediums (broadcast, social media, etc.), enjoys not only producing digestible guides for business owners that break down complex topics but also helping entrepreneurs competently convey their brand stories to consumers. Over the years, Waltower has developed expertise in a number of wide-ranging but critical business areas and topics, including POS systems, workplace management and cybersecurity.
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