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Can you remember the last time you used a traditional cash register?
It’s probably been a while. Most modern businesses use a POS system rather than a traditional register because they offer more flexibility and double as an automatic inventory management system too.
From keying a transaction and swiping a customer’s card to consolidating online + in-person sales, the best POS systems are easier for everyone involved.
But with so many options out there, it may feel impossible to choose one that’s right for your business. To make things easier, we took a look at some of the best systems — and reviewed them all.
In this article, I cover what a POS system is, when it makes sense to invest, my top recommendations, and how to decide which system is right for you.
Let’s dive in!
What is a POS system?
A point-of-sale system (POS) is the software and hardware that allows customers to pay for goods from your store.
At its simplest, a POS system is a cash register. However, a good POS system does so much more including:
- Managing inventory
- Printing receipts
- Collecting customer data
- Reporting sales
- Managing employees
- Managing memberships
- Ordering products
And more. The best POS systems help you encourage employee productivity as well. They do this by tracking the number of customers they help and how often they work.
While POS systems come in many different shapes and sizes, they’re typically a piece of hardware, such as a cash register and credit card reader, as well as the software to help process those payments.
The 5 best POS systems of 2020
- Shopify – Best for customer loyalty
- Square – The best for new business owners
- Quickbooks – Best for Quickbooks customers
- Shopkeep – Best for small businesses
- Vend – Most bang for your buck
#1. Shopify – Best for customer loyalty
1+ million businesses use Shopify’s POS system for their sales needs. According to their website, businesses that use the solution see their revenue grow 30% year over year.
Shopify’s best at creating customers for life.
With features like their fully-synced customer profiles, you’ll be able to leverage things like past orders, lifetime spend, and any notes about them to give people a fully customized shopping experience.
There is one downside though: Unlike Square, Shopify doesn’t come with its own loyalty program. Instead, they offer a variety of different apps from third-party loyalty programs.
That can be a good or bad thing depending on which app you choose and how well it fits your business. However, these apps are fully integrated into Shopify POS so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Other features for Shopify include employee management systems, inventory management systems, easy to use hardware like a touchpad and card reader for your checkout counter, and great marketing tools like product reviews and customer email collection.
Pricing starts at $29 / month for their basic plan with a 2.4% plus 0 cents rate per transaction.
#2. Square POS – Best for new business owners
Square was created in 2009 when co-founder Jim McKelvey couldn’t accept credit cards for some glass faucets he was trying to sell. After collaborating with his friend Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter), the two developed one of the most popular POS and mobile payment systems out there.
Though Square offers mobile payment and ecommerce payment solutions, their point of sale service is where they really stand out.
First, it’s incredibly easy to use. The interface is incredibly streamlined and beginner-friendly. Which makes it a perfect choice for new entrepreneurs and business owners.
Square is also chocked full of features that make it great for any business size. Say you’re a smaller business owner who runs a farmer’s market stand each weekend.
Square has a mobile POS system that allows you to accept payments no matter where you are.
For your brick and mortar places, Square offers a fantastic touch screen solution that allows you to accept card payments via their distinct credit card reader.
This includes a very robust reporting and analytics tool, inventory management features, as well as the option to create your own loyalty program to reward your regulars.
Pricing starts at $0 and comes with a free reader. However, the processing rate for each transaction can be a bit expensive with 2.6% plus 10 cents being taken from each transaction.
#3. Quickbooks POS – Best for Quickbooks customers
Quickbooks is typically known for their invoicing solutions. However, they also offer a fantastic POS program that integrates fantastically with their other services.
That means you can refer back to your Quickbooks invoices and make sure that all sales, payments, and costs match and are accounted for. This makes sure there are less mistakes and less data cluttering your system.
Your reporting and analytics are going to be MUCH more accurate as well.
When it comes to hardware, you’ll get a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet as your POS. However, you’ll be on the hook to purchase them yourselves.
But Quickbooks does offer a wide variety of items you can use including a barcode scanner, a credit card reader, and cash drawer.
The pricing structure is very much different than the other offerings on this list too. Rather than have a monthly plan, business owners pay a flat one-time fee. It starts at $1,200 for the basic plan and can go to $1,900 for their multi-store plan.
This can be a drawback or benefit depending on how willing you are to spend the money. Overall, it’s a pretty good deal over time.
#4. Shopkeep – Best for small businesses
Best for small businesses
With their robust set of features and fantastic inventory management system, Shopkeep is a great solution for small businesses.
Shopkeep is a fantastic POS solution dedicated to providing businesses of all shapes and sizes a smooth and intuitive way to manage their payments and sales.
25,000+ small business owners leverage Shopkeep from their POS needs — and with good reason. With just an iPad, a small business owner can keep track of their inventory, get alerts for when products are low in stock, as well as manage their employee’s productivity and payroll.
They also have a great ecommerce solution. This can help your business sell on your website or social media account as well as in person.
Their handy sales reporting and analytics feature is great for numbers-driven businesses too. At a glance, you’ll be able to see your net sales as well as the amount of transactions your business has processed.
Shopkeep runs all of their POS solutions through iPads. That can be a drawback for any Apple-adverse business owners out there.
Pricing for Shopkeep is also a little confusing as they do not give you pricing plans on their website. You can attain a quote from them though by filling out the form on their pricing page.
#5. Vend – Most bang for your buck
Most bang for your buck
With it’s easy-to-use and easy-to-start interface along with fantastic features, Vend is the POS system to turn to if you want to get the most out of your dollar.
Vend bills itself as the “world’s easiest POS to use.” And while the jury’s out on that statement, we can safely say that their user interface is incredibly intuitive, allowing for even the newest POS user to get an easy start selling.
In just 5 minutes, you’ll be able to jump start your store and get selling.
And with their deep line of features, you’ll be able to scale and add more registers and inventory as soon as your business starts growing.
Their inventory management features are top notch, allowing you to reorder products, print labels and barcodes, as well as take inventory with your phone through their app.
Their reporting tool is also very robust allowing you to see revenue, sales counts, customer counts, and net profit at a glance.
And if you have an ecommerce store, you might be able to seamlessly integrate it with Vend POS. Shopify, BigCOmmerce, and WooCommerce all integrate with their service.
Pricing starts at $99 a month and includes no transaction fees.
When Does It Make Sense to Invest in a POS System?
Businesses of any shape and size should invest in a POS system if they plan on selling physical products at any point in time.
In fact, a POS system is a smart choice for everyone, including:
- Family-owned brick and mortar shops
- Farmer’s market stands or pop-up vendors
- E-commerce stores, regardless of their industry
- Digital service providers (like coaches)
At the end of the day, if you need to accept money in person (or online) for your business, you can benefit from a POS system.
Going from no POS system to a modern one can have a massive night and day effect on your business too. With one of the services we reviewed below, you’ll see increased productivity and optimized service due to automating your payment processing.
You’ll also see more accurate reporting of inventory so you’ll never run out of something again (or at least, it’ll happen less often).
Plus, since the POS system records every transaction, you’ll always have everything you need in case of disputes or discrepancies, like inventory loss and item returns.
And this doesn’t just benefit your business. It’s also great for customers because it enhances their shopping experience.
Methodology for choosing the best POS system
The best POS system for one business might not be the best POS system for you. After all, your business is unique and has different needs. However, when choosing the best POS system for this list, we looked at three pieces of criteria that you should take into consideration:
A good point of sale system lets you know exactly how much product you have in stock–and what products you don’t have in stock.
After all, the products are what your customers are going to you for. Making sure you have enough to sell to them keeps them happy–and your sales numbers healthy.
That’s why a good POS system can give you an accurate report of your inventory. It will also alert you to when your products are running low so you can restock them.
A good loyalty program rewards dedicated customers with deals and discounts. That turns a regular old customer into a lifelong one who will choose your brand and business over others.
That’s why a good POS system will also include a loyalty program. If it doesn’t offer its own, it should be able to seamlessly integrate with a third party.
This can increase new customers coming into your business as well as building loyal customers out of your existing ones.
Reporting and analytics
As management expert Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” To that end, a good POS system will also include a robust reporting and analytics system.
This gives you a full picture view of where sales are lagging and growing, what products are flying off the shelves and which ones are gathering dust, and when customers typically like to come to your store.
This helps you adjust and optimize your store for success.
However, there’s no one-size-fits-all POS solution for every business.
And those two may not be the right options for you, depending on what you need. So don’t forget to use the methodology we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best POS system for your business.