It’s the most exciting point in any small business owner’s life: making the sale. But if you don’t manage your Point-of-Sale (POS) system properly, it can quickly turn into something that’s overwhelming, inconvenient for the customer, and ultimately, a way to drive away business. Modern retail is increasingly mobile and utilizes more payment options than ever before. The proliferation of contactless payment options, like Apple & Amazon Pay, demands a user-friendly POS solution that can process payments beyond the cash register.
You aren’t the first small business that’s ever tried to optimize payment processing. That’s good news for the shopkeep, because it’s led to an abundance of competition for your POS systems. The only challenge is discerning which one is best for the type of business you run, as well as customer expectations. Let’s browse by reviewing some of the best POS systems available:
Square POS is an ideal pick for any small business that’s starting to make more real-time sales and needs a convenient way to record them—in a hurry. Square also provides the hardware you need to accept credit card payments in person, making it great for vendors and any eCommerce small business that interacts with customers directly.
On pricing, Square is competitive, though for online payments it tends to charge a higher percentage per transaction than a POS like Shopify. The higher percentage structure (rather than a smaller percentage and an additional flat fee) also makes it a potentially bad choice for any small business with higher-end items to sell online.
Shopify isn’t a stranger to the POS game, providing terminals for secure in-person payments, such as accepting credit cards, gift cards, and supporting discount and promo codes you’ve already established online. It can make a seamless transition for anyone who runs both an online shop and a brick-and-mortar business that doesn’t want to juggle a complex infrastructure.
Shopify also shines when it comes to pricing. Charging a smaller percentage than Square for online payments, in addition to a 30 cent flat fee, Shopify will produce a larger profit margin for anyone accepting payments for high-end products online. Typically, people view Shopify as an option for an online store and those particular business needs, but Shopify POS is a dedicated POS platform for physical swipe and multi-store needs.
Vend is a POS solution aimed at retail, allowing you to manage and sell your products and inventories from a unified dashboard. Like the options above, Vend POS makes it possible to get mobile with your orders, using the Vend Register iPad app, or grow a customer list and incorporate online gift cards and promotions. You can also use a barcode scanner with ease.
The pricing structure of this particular retail POS is $90/month for up to $20,000 in monthly turnover and goes up to $129/month for unlimited turnover in the “Pro” plan. The advantage here is that you won’t find a bunch of hidden transaction fees; Vend is built for a retail presence and prices based on how many registers/users you have rather than the number of transactions.
Clover excels at the physical point of the sale for retail stores thanks to unique features like identifying customer birthdays or easy dashboard management of promotional programs at the retail POS. Clover’s hardware requires more of an upfront investment than the hardware you’ll see from other POS systems like Square, which means that this is a purchase for larger businesses that know that they’ll have to use physical terminals on a regular basis. For businesses that tend to make occasional sales at the POS and otherwise depend on digital sales for the rest of their business, a POS system like Square or Shopify POS would work much better.
Shopkeep POS is exactly how it sounds—designed for a customizable retail environment rather than a mostly digital environment with occasional retail sales—but it excels at what it does. Though you’ll have to get a quote to find out precisely what the prices are here, there’s a lot that you get for your money. That includes automation for your most frequent business tasks, which is great for bulk purchases and impulse buys, as well as personalized setups for your retail POS system so you end up with a specific product bundle for your space. Inventory management is included here as well, along with simple, intuitive interfaces that make it easy for you to check on specific items for customers or employ debit card acceptance.
Shopkeep POS typically aims to retail, quick-service, and restaurant/bar setups, but given that they’ll provide a free quote, it’s worth finding out if they have a bundle option for your typical POS case.
We have to include an honorable mention here, even though TouchBistro isn’t aimed at all retail situations. You might know from the name that this is a restaurant POS directed at food services, but it’s earned enough clout that it’s worth mentioning here for any small business in the food industry. Payment works on an account subscription-and-license basis, rather than a percentage of purchases. At a flat monthly fee of $69/month for its software-only end, and $109/month for a software/hardware bundle, TouchBistro is an affordable way for a restaurant to get on its feet and start accepting payments in a hurry.
Other honorable mentions:
They may not have topped our list, but here are some other POS solutions worth checking out:
Choosing the best POS system for your business:
How can you determine which POS system is best for you? Keep the following tips in mind:
Invest in a card reader. Accepting a credit card from a customer is going to happen at some point, no matter what kind of business you’re in. Even digital services will require a payment system of some sort. At the very minimum, shop around for the best credit card readers from simple systems like Square and Shopify to ensure that you’re capable of at least sending a payment through your system.
Maximize your promotions. A great POS can implement promotions and gift cards to ensure that your POS software does more than accept payments. It should also make people feel like they have exclusive options when they shop with you, enticing them to return to your POS for future benefits as well.
Test it yourself. Some of the options on this list include free trials that allow you to test the system before you make a full investment. Make full use of that! Charge credit cards, use the receipt printer, download the Apple or Android app—do what you would do if you purchased the service and were already using it. See which one strikes you as best for your business.
There are plenty of POS systems available to you. Once you know your goals, you should be able to select one from this list that will suit your small business—and your budget.