From keying a transaction and swiping a customer’s card to consolidating online and in-person sales, the best POS systems make life easier for your customers and your team. After vetting 15 of the top POS solutions on the market, Square is our top pick because its familiarity makes it easy to use, it has no monthly fees, and it comes with free entry-level equipment to help you get started.
The Best POS System for Most
Using our own experiences with POS and in-depth research, Square POS slid its way into the #1 spot. Whether you’ve never taken payments in-person or have been doing it for a while, Square is easy to use and flexible enough to support your business as you grow. You can also get a free card reader if you need one.
The best part is that there are no monthly fees and you can get started in just a few minutes (today) using your phone, tablet, or computer while you wait for your free equipment.
The 5 Best POS Systems to Consider:
- Square POS – Best POS system for most
- Shopify – Best for Shopify e-commerce stores
- Lightspeed POS – Best for restaurants and quick-service
- QuickBooks Desktop POS – Best for QuickBooks users
- Vend – Best for small retailers
When It Makes Sense to Invest into a POS System
Businesses of all shapes and sizes should invest in a POS system if they sell or plan to sell their products or services in person. Not only does it make facilitating credit card payments easier than ever, but it also helps consolidate sales into one platform and keep an eye on inventory levels at the same time.
A POS system is a smart choice for everyone with something to sell, including:
- Family-owned brick and mortar shops
- Local shops, restaurants, breweries, and bars
- Hobbyists who make infrequent sales in person
- 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, investing in a POS system is a great idea if you accept in-person payments.
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 inventory reporting to help you stay on top of inventory levels and ensure you never run out of products again.
Since POS systems record every transaction, you’ll always have everything you need in case of disputes or discrepancies, like inventory loss and item returns. Most of them will even help you handle returns, refunds, and exchanges as well.
And this doesn’t just benefit your business—it’s great for your customers too.
#1. Square POS – The Best POS System for Most
Square offers mobile payment and ecommerce payment solutions, but its point-of-sale hardware and services are where they really stand out.
It’s perfect for beginners because it’s incredibly easy to use and you can get started in just a few minutes with a free account. However, the best part is that there are no monthly fees and you can use the equipment you already have.
Square also offers a free card reader that attaches to your phone’s headphone jack or charging port to new users. Yup. You can get everything you need to run credit cards and accept in-person payments from your phone without paying a dime.
Free hardware paired with no monthly fees makes it an extremely low-cost and simple POS system that helps you start generating revenue as soon as possible.
If you need something more robust than a simple phone-based POS, there are dozens of high-end hardware options to choose from, as well. Some of Square’s most popular hardware includes a terminal that takes payments and prints receipts, a contactless chip reader, an all-in-one POS register system, and an iPad stand.
For your brick and mortar businesses, there are excellent touch screen solutions that allow you to accept card payments via a distinct credit card reader that’s familiar to both your team and your customers.
As such, it’s easy for customers and it’s easy for you. Plus, you can consolidate your online and in-person sales under one account.
All free Square accounts also include:
- Robust reporting and analytics
- Inventory management features
- A loyalty program to reward loyal customers
- A free card reader for your phone
- Online payments and invoicing
- Next-business-day deposits
It’s an excellent choice for anyone just getting started or looking for a simple way to accept in-person payments with no monthly fees. However, there are transaction fees associated with using Square. You’ll pay 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction for in-person purchases.
#2. Shopify – The Best POS System for Shopify E-Commerce Stores
Best for Shopify Stores
Shopify is an ecommerce solution with a fantastic POS service and more than 1 million users. Comes with everything you need to streamline online and in-person sales, including fully-synced customer profiles, inventory management, and built-in product reviews. Paid plans start at $29 per month.
It works best if you already use Shopify or are planning to use it to create an online store. When you use both solutions, you can consolidate all of your sales in one place and use Shopify as the hub of your entire operation, both online and in-store.
1+ million businesses use Shopify’s POS system for their sales needs, making it one of the most popular options on the market. Furthermore, businesses that use the POS solution see a 30% growth in revenue year over year.
So, it’s a great place to start if you want to continue growing your shop, whether you’re starting from scratch or adding a new channel to an existing business.
One area where Shopify truly shines is simplifying the checkout process to create life-long customers and repeat buyers for both online and in-person sales.
On top of that, Shopify’s fully-synced customer profiles work in tandem with simplified checkouts. With it, you can leverage things like past orders, lifetime spends, and personal notes about them to give visitors a fully customized shopping experience.
If you want to up the ante and reward customers with a loyalty program, there are several integrations to choose from.
On the business side of things, Shopify POS includes everything you need to manage employees, inventory, product reviews, list building, exchanges and returns, and order fulfillment.
Depending on how you do business, you can offer the option to browse in-store and purchase online, buy online and pick up in-store, or buy anywhere and ship to your customer. All of these options come together to create a truly seamless buying experience for customers, whether they live nearby or across the country.
Shopify’s POS hardware is top-of-the-line with numerous options to choose from, including:
- A mobile app and card reader for taking payments anywhere
- No-contact tap and chip card readers
- Retail stands for iPads
- An entire retail kit
- Hardware accessories
Shopify POS Lite is included for free with all paid Shopify plans. You can also upgrade to Shopify POS Plus for an additional $89 per month per location to unlock unlimited staff members, unlimited registers, omnichannel selling features, in-store analytics, and smart inventory management.
Transaction fees are 2.4% plus 0 cents processing fee per transaction.
#3. Lightspeed POS – Best for Restaurants, Bars, and Quick-Service Businesses
Best for Restaurants and Quick-Service
Get everything you need to manage high volumes of small transactions using Lightspeed's powerful platform on your iPad. Includes inventory tracking capabilities, low-stock alerts, online ordering for in-person pickups, contactless payments, and more.
Lightspeed’s POS software is a fantastic solution built for restaurants, bars, cafes, and other quick-service businesses with a high volume of small transactions.
The company understands the struggle of missing out on revenue because high transaction fees cut away most of your profit when you regularly deal with transactions under $5.
But it also comes with dozens of restaurant-specific features like delivery management, order ahead for in-store pickup, self-ordering menus, QR code ordering, contactless payments, floor planning, reservations, a kitchen display system, and a customer-facing display. So, you get everything you need to manage different types of orders in one package.
With just an iPad, you also get deep insights into your inventory levels. With LIghtspeed, you can create purchase orders, manage operations, and keep an eye on finances anywhere in the world.
The point-of-sale software works on any device, from a desktop kiosk to tablets or even iPhones. Your registers deliver data in real-time to the Lightspeed platform, so you make decisions on the fly or get incredibly detailed reporting for any period of time.
These simple yet powerful reporting features make it a standout option that helps you identify hot products, your most profitable items, and consolidate sales from different locations in one place.
If you don’t want to use your own devices or mobile ones to check customers out and accept payments, Lightspeed also offers all the hardware your restaurant or store could need.
Lightspeed POS is equipped to handle mobile and contactless payments, special orders, layaway, subscriptions, and loyalty programs. Not many of their competitors can claim to offer all of that in one package, while also being easy to use.
Pricing depends on if you choose Lightspeed’s retail or restaurant POS system. The latter starts at $59 per month if you pay annually ($69/month otherwise). But some useful add-ons—like kitchen displays, advanced reporting, and table ordering—are an extra cost per month, starting at $12.
The POS solution for retail is split into tiers:
- Basic: $99/month, paid annually
- Starter: $129/month, paid annually
- Standard: $149/month, paid annually
- Advanced: $199/month, paid annually
- Pro: $259/month, paid annually
Each tier bundles in more Lightspeed solutions, like for ecommerce, customer loyalty, and accounting. You can also save a whole $30/month on each plan by also signing up for Lightspeed Payments for your payment processing needs.
Either way, you can get started on a 14-day free trial period. Or, just reach out to the folks at Lightspeed to discuss your point-of-sale needs today.
#4. QuickBooks POS – Best POS System for QuickBooks Users
Best for QuickBooks Users
If you already use QuickBooks for your accounting and bookkeeping, QuickBooks POS is a no-brainer. Its seamless integration ensures accurate reporting and analytics across your entire business while reducing human error and saving you tons of time. Pricing starts at $1,200 for lifetime access.
QuickBooks is typically known for their invoicing solutions. However, they also offer a fantastic POS program that integrates 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.
You also get a lot of extra features that make things easier on you and on your customers.
Beyond the better bookkeeping and inventory management that comes with QuickBooks integration, its POS solution gives you options to capitalize on sales for new opportunities. Customizable loyalty programs and discounts and offers personalized based on customer data help you sell more and make customers feel appreciated.
You also get to offer buyers a wider array of payment options, from traditional methods, to contactless forms like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and even the ability to construct payment plan options with favorable rates.
Plus, with Inuit’s intelligent software working all together, you can seamlessly manage both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar sales without any worry of overselling stock or losing sight of the wider revenue picture.
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.
#5. Vend – The Best POS System for Small Retailers
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, 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 start generating revenue in no time.
The introductory plan includes one register for free but you can add additional registers for $49 per month, meaning it scales along side your business as it expands.
Plus, every plan includes unlimited transactions, products, and users with a monthly revenue cap of $20,000.
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 can seamlessly integrate it with Vend POS. Shopify, BigCOmmerce, and WooCommerce all integrate with their service, making it easy to consolidate your online and in-person activities.
Pricing starts at $99 a month and includes no transaction fees.
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.
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.