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The Best POS Systems of 2022

By
Skye Schooley
,
business.com Staff
| Updated
Sep 21, 2022

Before choosing a POS system, check out our reviews of the best picks for 2022.
Best for Restaurants
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Ingredient-level inventory tracking
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Tableside ordering and payments
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Table management tools
Best All-in-One POS System
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Physical and virtual terminals
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Fast in-house payment processing
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Industry-specific software/hardware
Best for Online Restaurant Ordering
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Free and paid plans
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Commission-free online ordering
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On-demand delivery services
Best for Retail
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Catalogs with over 8 million items
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Built-in CRM and loyalty tools
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Custom templates and dashboards
Best for Small Business
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Free and paid plans
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E-commerce features
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POS customization options
Before choosing a POS system, check out our reviews of the best picks for 2022.
 

The Best POS Providers

A point-of-sale (POS) system is more than a fancy cash register. It rings up sales, accepts payments, manages inventory, and analyzes sales data, to name just a few of its capabilities. It’s an essential tool in commerce for all sizes of business. The best POS systems are easy to use, make managing your sales and inventory a simple process, and are accessible from anywhere. To make the selection process easier, we did the research for you. We spent hours researching and analyzing the best products on the market to help you identify the right POS system for your business. We considered ease of use, tools, hardware options and cost when determining our best picks. 

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
112
Considered
14
Researched
11
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

POS system Overall score Best use case Industries Starting price Free trial Contract length POS hardware Compatible with third-party payment processors? Integrations Payment options Customer support
Clover 9.7 All-in-one POS Restaurants, retail, service businesses, e-commerce $9.95 per month 30 days Monthly and annual plans Clover Station Solo, Clover Station Duo, Clover Flex, Clover Mini, Clover Go (accessories available) No 100+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email, webchat
Toast 9.5 Online restaurant ordering Restaurants Free No Multiyear plans Toast Flex, Toast Go 2, Toast Flex for Guest, Toast Flex for Kitchen, kiosk (accessories available) No 70+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email, webchat
Lightspeed 9.4 Retail Retail, restaurants, golf $69 per month 14 days Monthly, annual and multiyear plans iPad, LAN receipt printer, cash drawers, Bluetooth scanners, Lightspeed iPad stand (other accessories available) Yes 100+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email
TouchBistro 9.4 Restaurant Restaurants $69 per month 28 days Monthly plans iPad, kitchen display system, customer-facing display Yes 25+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email, webchat
GoDaddy 9.2 E-commerce E-commerce $6.99 per month 7 days Monthly, annual and multiyear plans Smart terminal, mobile card reader No Yes Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments Phone, webchat
Square 9.3 Small business Restaurants, retail, appointment booking Free 30 days Monthly plans Register, terminal, stand, card readers (accessories available) No 200+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email, webchat, social media
Upserve 9.1 POS mobile app for restaurants Restaurants $59 per month (plus $60 per terminal) No Multiyear plans POS terminals, tableside devices, EMV payments, printers, kitchen display system, wireless networking No 45+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email, webchat
CardConnect 9 Merchant services Growing businesses Must contact for quote No Monthly, annual and multiyear plans Multiple device options (based on CardConnect solution) No Yes Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email
Epos Now 8.9 Integrations Hospitality, retail $39 per month 30 days Annual and multiyear plans POS terminals, receipt printer, cash drawer, handheld tablet, iPad stand Yes 100+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email, webchat
Helcim 8.8 Payment processing Restaurants, retail (excludes high-risk merchants) Free No Monthly Helcim card reader No 80+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email
Lavu 8.6 Add-on services Restaurants $59 per month No Monthly, annual and multiyear plans POS terminals, starter kits, printers, networking devices, kitchen display system, cash drawers, card readers Yes Yes Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, email, webchat
Revel Systems 8.4 Customer loyalty programs Restaurants $99 per month per terminal (minimum 2 terminals) No Multiyear plans iPad, iPad stands, kiosks, payment devices, printers, barcode scanners, networking devices, cash drawers, scales Yes 50+ Debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, gift cards Phone, online ticket

Our Reviews

TouchBistro: Best for Restaurants

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TouchBistro has more than 200 restaurant-focused features.
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You can add on customer engagement products like reservations, gift cards, loyalty programs and online ordering.
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Since TouchBistro is highly customizable, it could take a little longer to set up than other systems.

TouchBistro serves a variety of restaurants, including full-service establishments, quick-service joints, bars, clubs, food trucks, and breweries. Since its POS hardware and software are specific to restaurants, you can rest assured that it has the features and capabilities you need to ring up orders and accept customer payments for your eatery. TouchBistro’s mobile-friendly software uses iPads as mobile registers, which is great for restaurants that want to offer tableside ordering and payment services. You can process payments through TouchBistro Payments (partnered with Chase) or integrate with a third-party payment processor.

Editor’s score: 9.4/10

The TouchBistro POS software has a plethora of restaurant-specific features, like drag-and-drop table management tools, customizable menu dashboards, ingredient-level tracking, and forced modifiers. We like how you can create customer accounts to track their order histories and manage balances. You can customize the platform with add-on features like online ordering, reservations and loyalty programs. You can also create employee profiles, assign staff roles, and track employees’ performance and attendance. TouchBistro has roughly 85 detailed reports to show you pertinent restaurant information, and it offers 24/7 customer support.

Read TouchBistro Review

Clover POS System: Best All-in-One POS System

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Clover is an all-in-one solution for credit card processing and POS functionality.
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It offers additional pay features like Clover Rapid Deposit and Clover Capital.
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Clover is not compatible with third-party payment processing.
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Clover is an affordable POS system for restaurants, retailers, service businesses and e-commerce. It has industry-specific POS plans, fast in-house payment processing, and additional features like Clover Rapid Deposit and Clover Capital. You can accept online pickup orders and integrate with DoorDash for delivery. Clover offers a variety of hardware options, or you can access a virtual terminal to accept payments without hardware. You can also access invoicing features, save payments, and set up recurring payments as needed.

Editor’s score: 9.7/10

We like that you get access to several POS functions with the Clover software, like automatic inventory sync, pickup and delivery orders, customer contact info and marketing preference collection, options to accept donations, the ability to build customer email lists and customer profiles, and customer rewards and promos. You can manage employees, track sales patterns and trends, and integrate with platforms like BigCommerce, QuickBooks and Gusto. Clover is secured with end-to-end encryption, integrated EMV chip sensors and fingerprint logins. The company offers a variety of customer support options and online resources.

Clover customers can also offer customers a “buy now pay later” (BNPL) payment option via a partnership with Synchrony. This allows consumers to pay in installments, which could help businesses accelerate their growth and gain market share. This option can be utilized via the Synchrony app on the Clover App Marketplace.

In 2022, Clover introduced a “buy now pay later” (BNPL) payment option in partnership with Synchrony. This allows consumers to pay in installments, which could help businesses accelerate their growth and gain market share. This option can be utilized via the Synchrony app on the Clover App Marketplace.

Read Clover POS System Review

Toast: Best for Online Restaurant Ordering

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The Essentials plan comes with three months of free online ordering (valued at $75 per month).
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Toast is cloud-based software that supports a fully functional offline mode.
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Toast is not compatible with third-party payment processors.
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Toast is a restaurant-focused POS system that serves most restaurant types, like fine dining, casual dining, fast casual, bars and nightclubs, cafes and bakeries, and chains. It has a lot of great features, but one standout is its online ordering capabilities for restaurants. We like Toast’s comprehensive online ordering and delivery features, like order scheduling, curbside pickup, contactless delivery, dynamic throttling, an on-demand delivery driver fleet, and the Toast TakeOut app. Toast’s online ordering is entirely commission-free, helping you save money while supporting multiple online orders.

Editor’s score: 9.5/10

Toast offers necessary POS features like inventory management, order and table management, menu management, payment processing, guest feedback, and reporting and analytics. We like the Toast Order & Pay add-on, a mobile solution for dine-in guests to order and pay from their phones. This is essentially another form of online ordering, and it also gives the option for delivery. If you need help with your Toast software, you can access phone, email, and chat support 24/7.

Read Toast Review

Lightspeed: Best for Retail

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Lightspeed gives you a choice of four flexible pricing plans for retail.
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It offers robust e-commerce tools.
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It limits the payment processors you can use.
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Lightspeed offers multiple industry-specific POS plans for retail stores, restaurants, and golf businesses, but we especially like its retail options. Each plan includes one free terminal and the ability to accept payments with Lightspeed Payments or a third-party processor. The features in each plan are tiered, but even the midlevel plans have retail POS capabilities, payment processing, and functions for selling online and in-store. You can create a personalized home dashboard, and the e-commerce options include several mobile-responsive and customizable templates. You can manage your employees with custom permissions and time-tracking functions. Additionally, the platform offers more than 50 built-in reports.

Editor’s score: 9.4/10

One thing that sets Lightspeed apart from the competition is its inventory management functions for retailers. Its inventory management tools allow you to create product variations and bundles, upload thousands of SKUs at a time, access preloaded catalogs with over 8 million items, and set stock alerts. Its built-in CRM and customer loyalty tools let you track customers’ purchase histories, create customer profiles, and build rewards programs and custom promotions.

Read Lightspeed Review

Square POS: Best for Small Business

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Square offers free and paid plans, with several customization options.
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The retail POS plans come with a free online store.
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The Square Register POS hardware isn't compatible with third-party payment processors.
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Square is one of the top companies in the POS industry, and for good reason. It offers POS options for restaurants, retail stores, and small businesses, as well as an appointment-scheduling POS system for customer-booking businesses. We like that the Square POS software is free to use; the only stipulation is that you must process payments through Square. This allows small businesses to get up and running with minimal upfront costs. Square has several software capabilities that integrate with its POS system, making it an excellent one-stop shop for SMBs. 

Editor’s score: 9.2/10

Every plan includes some level of sales and reporting features. You can customize your plan with add-on features for team management, payroll, customer loyalty programs, gift cards, marketing, online sales and invoicing. This allows you to create a more versatile POS system for your needs as your small business grows. The Square mobile app is compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices, and you can pair your Square POS software with an iPad or purchase POS hardware from the company. This variety of hardware lets you develop a unique POS setup that fits your needs and budget. 

Square also recently announced that it would add a contactless payment feature to its mobile POS app, which will work via Apple’s Tap to Pay feature on iPhones. This new feature conveniently requires no additional hardware. This can help small businesses stay up to date with consumer payment preferences and further ensures they don’t miss a sale.

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Helcim POS: Best for Payment Processing

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Helcim offers low payment processing rates.
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Helcim doesn't charge setup fees, monthly fees, deposit fees, PCI fees, user fees or cancellation fees.
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Helcim doesn't work with high-risk businesses, so you'll need to check its acceptable use policy to make sure it supports your type of business.

Helcim is a payment processor first, but it offers an application that operates as a POS system on any device, including computers, tablets, and smartphones. The Helcim app pairs with the Helcim Card Reader, which costs only $109 per unit. Notably, the company recently introduced a choice of colors (pink, purple, and yellow) for the card readers. Among payment providers in North America, this color optionality is unique to Helcim. A pop of color on a key piece of customer-facing hardware could potentially help businesses stand out from competitors.

Editor’s score: 8.8/10

Helcim offers low-cost payment processing for businesses, with in-person rates averaging 1.92% plus 8 cents per transaction, keyed and online rates averaging 2.38% plus 25 cents per transaction, and PIN-debit rates averaging 0.91% plus 8 cents per transaction. These rates are much lower than what you’d pay with many other POS systems we reviewed. Helcim can accept a variety of card types, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, as well as digital options such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

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GoDaddy POS: Best for E-Commerce

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GoDaddy lets you build a company website and e-commerce store and integrate that customer data with your in-store POS sales.
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GoDaddy Payments has competitive processing rates.
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GoDaddy's selection of POS hardware is relatively narrow.

GoDaddy offers comprehensive POS and e-commerce features, which is ideal for businesses that want to take in-person and online sales. Some of these e-commerce features are ones we didn’t find in many POS competitors, such as website builder templates, custom domain connections, website security (SSL), and online store creation. We like that you can list thousands of products online, automatically sync your inventory across various locations (e.g., Amazon, Etsy, social media sites), and manage your inventory from a single GoDaddy dashboard. You can also take advantage of marketplace and social selling features.

Editor’s score: 9.4/10

GoDaddy offers traditional POS loyalty options like coupons, online sales and gift cards. It takes customer management one step further with marketing tools like abandoned cart recovery, shoppable social media posts, email marketing and list segmentation. You can track sales, transactions, returns and receipts all from one location. GoDaddy offers 24/7 customer support and a wealth of online resources for customers. Additionally, GoDaddy POS plans include automated website chatbots so that you can help your own customers with ease – and thus improve the user experience of your e-commerce store.

Read GoDaddy POS Review

Upserve POS: Best POS Mobile App for Restaurants

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Upserve offers mobile POS hardware for tableside ordering.
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The mobile app enables on-the-go restaurant management.
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Upserve is not compatible with third-party payment processors.

Upserve by Lightspeed offers stellar POS options to fit a wide range of restaurant needs. You can add supplemental features like commission-free online ordering, gift cards and customer reporting. One thing we especially like about Upserve is its mobile app for iOS and Android devices. All Upserve clients can use this app to access a wealth of restaurant information that the POS collects, like sales, labor costs, discounts, guest behaviors, and out-of-stock items.

Editor’s score: 9.1/10

Upserve has inventory capabilities like a logbook, menu optimization, automated inventory management, recipe costing, vendor management, one-click purchasing and low-inventory alerts. Employee management tools are also available, allowing you to use a training or offline mode, create staffing schedules, and track server performance. You can use reports to track your sales, product levels, labor performance and more. You can even view this information on the mobile app, allowing you to make critical business decisions even when you’re out of town. Upserve offers 24/7 U.S.-based customer support, which is a great resource when you have questions about the Upserve software or mobile app.

Read Upserve POS Review

CardConnect: Best for Merchant Services

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CardConnect is a highly secure credit card payment integration.
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CardConnect offers several merchant solutions, including CardPointe, Clover, Gateway and Plugins, Bolt, CoPilot, and Contactless Payments.
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CardConnect does not share its pricing online; it requires you to call for a quote.

CardConnect is different from our other best picks, as it is not necessarily a POS system. Instead, it is a merchant services provider that offers various solutions for businesses of any size. Its primary solutions are CardPointe (for businesses), Clover (for small shops), Gateway and Plugins (for e-commerce), Bolt (for software), CoPilot (for partners), and Contactless Payments (for software). It is a leading credit card payment processor for ISV partners, merchant accounts, agents, ISOs and VARs. Since CardConnect offers a variety of solutions, it can support you as your business grows. Its mission is to grow commerce with simple, secure, and integrated payments, so it’s a secure payment processing solution with PCI-validated defenses. 

Editor’s score: 9/10 

If you are looking for a POS system with CardConnect, you may want to consider CardPointe or Clover. Each system offers something unique. Whichever CardConnect solution you use, you can rest assured that your payments will be processed securely. CardConnect also offers 24/7 team support and a plethora of online resources. CardConnect is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has an A rating with the agency.

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Epos Now: Best for Integrations

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You can process payments with a third-party processor like EVO Payments or Bancard.
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Epos Now offers one-on-one onboarding and training.
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Select users must pay for the monthly customer support plan.

Epos Now serves businesses in retail and hospitality, with POS software to fit each industry’s specific needs. It offers numerous hardware options, including touchscreen POS systems, iPads, Samsung tablets, a mobile POS called Epos Pocket, receipt printers, and cash drawers. The Epos Now software is rich in features and easily scalable, which is great for growing businesses that want to start with a simple POS solution. However, where it really shines is its integrations. It can integrate with credit card processors and more than 100 third-party applications, allowing your business to create a completely custom solution.

Editor’s score: 8.9/10

The software has competitive inventory, customer and employee management features, and it can integrate with other applications to enhance these functions. On the Epos Now dashboard, you can run reports and view real-time sales data, which can help you boost efficiency and profits. The company boasts easy-to-use software, though you have the luxury of contacting customer support representatives 24/7 by phone, email, or live chat if you do run into problems. The company also offers one-on-one onboarding and unlimited training and coaching to help you and your team navigate the software.

Read Epos Now Review

Lavu: Best for Add-on Services

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Lavu has more than 15 of its own add-on integrations and several third-party integrations.
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Lavu offers its own processing service but can also work with third-party payment processors.
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Lavu is not compatible with Android devices.

Lavu is a mobile POS system that caters to restaurants, with more than 200 customizable POS features and tools. Restaurants of any size can customize a Lavu plan to fit their needs. The plan with a single POS terminal costs $69; you can contact Lavu for a custom quote if you need multiple terminals or an enterprise plan. Where Lavu shines is its add-on features and services. It has nearly 15 in-house integrations that you can add on to the POS offering, making it easy to customize your setup. Few competitors offer this many in-house integrations to support their POS systems. You can also integrate with several third-party apps, allowing you to tailor the system to your needs. 

Editor’s score: 8.6/10

Lavu uses iPad-based hardware, and it has an online shop where you can choose from a variety of hardware and peripherals. This is great for adding on new hardware as your needs expand. We like that Lavu not only offers an in-house payment solution, LavuPay, but also permits you to connect with third-party payment processors if needed.

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Revel Systems: Best for Customer Loyalty Programs

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You can tailor custom loyalty programs for your business with Revel.
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Revel is compatible with some third-party hardware and payment processors.
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Revel charges a fee for onboarding and implementation.

Revel Systems provides iPad-based POS systems to quick-service businesses, restaurants, retailers, pizza joints, and coffee shops. The Revel software has several POS capabilities, including kitchen management, online ordering, and delivery and inventory management. You can manage, track, and count products across all your sales channels, including all your stores if you have multiple locations. You can also streamline administrative processes by managing your labor operations from a single console. 

Editor’s score: 8.4/10 

Where Revel shines is its customer loyalty capabilities. You can capture customer info from your POS, create loyalty programs, and designate how customers earn loyalty points (e.g., with each transaction, based on purchase amount, and/or for specific products). Revel Systems has developed an in-house loyalty reward card program for you to customize and build your own gift card program (with setup videos online), or you can integrate with Paytronix, Punchh, Como, LoyaltyPlant, Spendgo, Pepper, LevelUp, or Repeat Returns. Not many POS systems we researched have such a wide selection of loyalty programs.

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How Much Does a POS System Cost?

Thanks to advances in technology and a decline in POS prices over the years, there is a POS system for every size of business. The hardware no longer costs several thousand dollars, and the service contracts aren’t hundreds of dollars a month. Today, there are price points to fit a one-shop merchant as well as a retailer with several locations.

POS system costs vary widely, though, depending on the hardware and software features you need. There are three components to consider when determining the price of a system – hardware, software, and payment processing. Plan on comparison shopping for each one.

POS Hardware Costs

Depending on the business, a POS system can include a terminal or tablet, a cash drawer, a card reader, barcode scanners, a receipt printer, and signature-capture devices. The best POS systems are compatible with third-party hardware, letting you shop around for deals (and possibly continue using your chosen hardware if you switch software providers later). They’re also scalable, so you can start with the basics, then add peripherals as your business grows and your budget allows.

For very small businesses that only accept credit cards and can email receipts to customers, a phone or tablet and a card reader will suffice. If you already have mobile devices and only need to buy an EMV-compliant and NFC-enabled credit card reader, this setup usually costs $20 to $100.

Most small businesses will want a few more peripherals, such as a tablet stand, cash drawer, and receipt printer. For this type of setup (using your own tablet), you’ll typically pay $600 to $1,000. Additional peripherals like barcode scanners, kitchen printers and display screens cost extra.

Bottom LineBottom line: POS hardware typically costs $20 to $1,000, depending on what types you need. Peripherals such as barcode scanners and display screens cost extra.

POS Software Costs

POS software costs depend on the services you need. You could pay anywhere from $25 to $250 a month. The most common payment model in the POS software market is monthly subscriptions.

Most of the cloud-based POS vendors offer pricing tiers with different features. Some tiers cap the number of users or the monthly sales volume you can process. There are also POS vendors that offer free POS software, but there’s a catch: You must process your payments through the POS provider.

If you want a basic, free POS system, the best options are from highly rated mobile credit card processors (see our Square review for an example). These credit card processors include POS features in their mobile processing apps. You must use the same company for your payment processing in order to use its POS app, but you aren’t locked into a long-term contract. Processing fees are charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, which is ideal for very small businesses.

If you need more out of your POS system, such as inventory management or e-commerce tools, expect to pay $40 to $100 a month for one register. The more bells and whistles you want, the higher the monthly cost. Be mindful of the features in each tier when shopping for a POS system: One company might include all the features you need in the basic package, whereas you have to pay for a higher tier to access some of those features with another vendor. For example, inventory management with tracking capabilities may be standard in all packages with one vendor and an add-on with another.

TipTip: Compare POS software plans carefully when choosing a POS system. POS software typically costs $40 to $100 per month for one register.

Payment Processing

The final piece of the POS pricing puzzle is payment processing. This is the cost to accept and process customers’ payments through your point-of-sale device. The best POS systems give you a choice of great payment processors so you can shop around for low rates and fees, and if you decide to use a different processor, you won’t have to switch out the entire POS system.

POS providers are increasingly offering in-house processing, which can be convenient but more costly. Some give you a choice to use their in-house processing service or not, while others charge an extra fee (either monthly or per transaction) for using a third-party processor. Others require you to use their in-house credit card processing service exclusively. 

FYIFYI: The average credit card processing fee ranges from 1.3% to 3.5% per transaction.

How to Choose a POS System for Your Business

The POS market is a crowded one, with many vendors trying to differentiate their features and services. Here are a couple things to consider when choosing a POS system.

Pricing

Some POS vendors sell software only, while others sell both software and hardware. Then there’s payment processing: With some POS providers, that service is part of a bundled package, while others don’t offer it at all. Because of all this, making an apples-to-apples comparison when shopping for a POS can be challenging. Include the costs for all three components (software, hardware and payment processing) in your calculations when you’re evaluating your options.

Features

Each POS system offers a different mix of features based on the service plan you choose. Many systems are customizable, allowing you to add hardware and software programs for an extra cost. As you evaluate systems, decide which features you need so you can calculate the total cost, including add-ons.

Buying Guide

What POS Software Features Do You Need?

POS systems can have hundreds of features, but they are worthless if you don’t use any of them. Depending on the specifics of your business, you may need a full arsenal of features, or you may prefer to keep things simple. As you look for POS software, think about what features you must have, those that would be nice to have, and which ones you’ll never use. Sign up for a few demos and trial versions before making your final decision. You want to make sure the POS app is easy to use and checks off all the boxes on your must-have list.

Besides the basic cash register features that every POS solution has, you should look closely at some key feature sets before selecting a system. Keep in mind that specific capabilities within each feature set vary by system. Advanced features may only be available at higher service tiers, or you may need to add apps or integrations to the POS system.

Mobile App Support

The best POS systems have apps that you install on tablets and smartphones, transforming the devices into mobile POS terminals. Retailers can use them as mobile checkout devices to ring up customer orders anywhere on the store floor. Restaurants can use them to take orders and accept tableside payments. You can also attach the tablet to a stand and add peripherals, such as a cash drawer and a receipt printer, to create a countertop checkout station.

When comparison shopping, be mindful of the platform the mobile POS supports. Although some POS systems can be used with both Android tablets and iPads, some are specific to one platform. If you have a strong preference for one platform or already have tablets and phones you want to use, this is an important consideration. If you’re looking for a dual-platform POS system, check out vendors like Clover, Toast, and Lightspeed.

  • iPad mPOS: iPads are the preferred platform for most POS providers. These devices are well known for their user-friendly interface and stability. iPads also have superior security due to the closed nature of Apple’s iOS. That makes it harder for hackers to install malware on the devices. But you pay for that security – iPads tend to be more expensive than Android tablet POS systems. Popular iPad POS systems include TouchBistro and Revel.
  • Android mPOS: While iOS-based systems are more common, Android tablets tend to be less expensive. With multiple manufacturers, there’s more competition in the market, resulting in lower prices and broader product selections. That can save you money as you set up your system, add devices, or replace broken, lost, or stolen tablets.

Did you know?Did you know? With over 2.5 billion devices in use, Android has roughly 70% of the mobile OS market share worldwide, according to StatCounter. However, most users prefer iOS when choosing a mobile POS system.

Inventory Management

A POS inventory management system does a lot of the work for you, automatically tracking and ordering items. When considering inventory management, think about what you really need. Do you need a basic product catalog or menu-item countdown? Do you need to track quantities, including components or ingredients? Do you need low-stock alerts or automatic reordering?

If you have a retail business, estimate how many SKUs you need the POS system to support. Some vendors support a limited number of SKUs, and others offer unlimited packages. If you do need advanced inventory management features and they’re not available in the POS you want, make sure the POS system integrates with your inventory software.

Customer Management and Loyalty Programs

Customer retention is an important part of running a store or restaurant. Many POS systems have built-in tools and features to help you manage and retain your customers, but you may not need all the customer management and loyalty features some POS vendors offer. That’s why it’s important, again, to consider your needs.

If your business only needs to collect customers’ payment and delivery information, you won’t need a built-in CRM. But if you are looking to create customer profiles with detailed purchase histories and to add notes (such as customers’ birthdays, preferences, or allergies), then you want a more robust system.

Employee Management

If your employees will use the POS system, you need to control the data and functions they can access. For example, you may only want your store managers to handle refunds. It’s important to choose a POS vendor that can deliver on your employee management needs, simple or complex. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you want to set permissions for individual users?
  • Do you need a timeclock for employees?
  • If you’re already using top time and attendance software, will it integrate with the POS system?

Reporting

A big benefit of using a POS system is the reporting. Because the POS tracks all your sales, you get an overview of what inventory is moving and what is languishing. This can help you identify sales trends and ultimately boost your bottom line.

All POS systems can generate reports, but the number of reports, specific report types, and customization options differ between systems. The more advanced reporting you need, the more you’ll pay for the capability.

Integrations

Most web-based POS systems have integrations or apps that make it easier for you to share data between systems. For example, connecting highly rated accounting software to your POS system saves you the time of exporting sales data. Integrating with your e-commerce platform will ensure accurate inventory across sales channels. Look for a POS system that integrates with the business programs you already use, such as accounting software, payroll, e-commerce platforms, and email marketing services.

Unattended POS Systems

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a popular trend for POS software is the ability to turn a tablet or smartphone into a self-serve kiosk. Customers can use these devices to choose and purchase items, enabling merchants to transform tablets and smartphones into self-ordering and self-payment stations.

Which POS Hardware Features Do You Need?

You have a lot of options for POS hardware and how you configure your system. A basic POS station has a tablet or a touchscreen, a credit card reader, a cash drawer and till, and a receipt printer. Some POS systems are compatible with additional peripherals.

  • Tablet stand: This holds the tablet in place.
  • Barcode scanner: This makes it faster to enter items into the system at the checkout station.
  • Scales: These allow you to sell bulk items by weight.
  • Customer display screen: This shows the customer their sales ticket as you enter items into the POS system.
  • Kitchen printer: This sends orders to the kitchen for the cooks to prepare.
  • Kitchen display system: This is a digital alternative to the kitchen printer.
  • Kiosk: Customers can use a kiosk tablet to place their own orders.
  • Digital menu boards: These are large screens that display your menu and promotions.
  • Coin dispenser: This reduces errors and speeds up the checkout process by automatically returning change to the customer.
  • Caller ID device: The POS system automatically starts an order when customers call your business.

Buying, Leasing and ‘Free’ POS Hardware

It’s always best to purchase your POS terminal upfront, even if that means starting with just the basics. You could pay much more than the equipment is worth if you lease – not to mention that leases have noncancelable, multiyear contracts. If you go out of business and return the equipment, you must continue making lease payments until your contract is up.

Some companies offer “free” POS terminals, but accepting these can also be more expensive than buying your equipment upfront. To get this deal, you typically have to sign a lengthy contract for the company’s credit card processing service – and there’s a monthly fee on top of that for maintenance or insurance. Then there’s the POS software subscription to cover each month. If it’s a “free placement program,” you’ll be required to return the equipment if you close your account when the lease expires.

Proprietary vs. Open-Source POS Hardware

Proprietary POS hardware only works with the system you’re purchasing it for, so it will be unusable if you switch systems. It’s usually only available from that specific POS provider, so you can’t shop around for a good deal.

Open-source POS hardware can be used with multiple POS systems. If you switch to new POS software that supports open-source hardware, you might be able to continue using the equipment you already own. It’s usually available from the POS company and multiple third-party vendors, enabling you to comparison shop.

Credit Card Terminal or Card Reader

Most of the time, you’ll buy the credit card terminal or mobile reader from your payment processing company. However, sometimes you must purchase it from the POS company. Whether you buy it from the processor or POS company, you want it to be EMV-certified so you can accept chip cards at your point of sale. You also want it to have NFC capabilities so you can accept contactless payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Best POS Software Systems for Small Businesses

In addition to offering comprehensive features and reliable support, the best POS providers give you the most flexibility in contractual terms and setup configuration. They don’t lock you in with contracts, leases, or proprietary hardware, so you can move on if the system isn’t the best fit for your business or you want to try a different solution.

The best POS software also integrates with multiple payment processors and various business apps, allowing you to add more features or connect with other systems you already use. Many also have an open API so you can build custom integrations if needed.

Look for POS software that can grow with your business, whether that means adding more users, more devices or registers, or even a new location, allowing you to manage multiple outlets from a single account.

POS System FAQs

WHAT IS A POINT-OF-SALE SYSTEM?

A point-of-sale or POS system is a combination of hardware and software designed to ring up sales and process payments. Retailers, restaurant owners and online merchants are common consumers of POS systems. POS systems serve businesses of all sizes, from one-person shops to large chains.

Depending on your business’s needs, your POS hardware may include a cash drawer, credit card reader, receipt printer, and/or barcode scanner. On the software front, the POS performs a multitude of tasks, such as ringing up sales, processing payments, managing orders, and promoting customer loyalty. The POS software should integrate with your business’s existing systems.

There are both server- and cloud-based POS systems. Cloud versions are more popular because they are cheaper and easier to use, and they require no maintenance on the business owner’s part.

WHAT TYPES OF BUSINESS USE A POS SYSTEM?

The types of business that use a POS system are retailers, restaurants, and just about any merchant that makes sales. A street vendor or food truck can use a POS system to accept orders and payments, just as an online store or a local merchant can use a POS system to ring up sales. 

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF POS SYSTEMS TO CONSIDER?

The three main types of POS systems are cloud-based, on-premises and hybrid systems. The right type for you depends on your business’s needs.

  • Cloud-based POS: This is the most common type of POS system on the market and tends to be the cheapest. With a cloud-based POS, all the software is online. You don’t need to set up a local server to host your data – the POS provider takes care of that, along with all software updates. The one potential downside is the software’s reliance on consistent internet access and a strong connection.
  • On-premises POS: With this type of POS system, the software is installed on your server instead of hosted in the cloud. That eliminates the need to access the internet to ring up sales, but you have to maintain your own server. A server-based POS system tends to be pricier than a cloud POS system, partly because of the extra IT hardware and support you may need to maintain the system. Then there’s the cost of the software, which can be high, and monthly support or maintenance fees on top of that.
  • Hybrid POS: A hybrid POS system gives you the best of both worlds – the convenience of a cloud POS with the reliability of a server-based system. With this type of POS, the system runs on your local server and backs up to the cloud. If you need to access your sales data on the go, it will all be there in the cloud. There will be no disruptions to your sales process if your internet is down. A hybrid solution isn’t as easy to set up as a cloud-based one, though, and could require extra IT costs.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A POS AND AN MPOS SYSTEM?

The big difference between a POS and mPOS (mobile POS) is the ability to take the hardware on the go. With a POS system, the hardware is fixed within a restaurant or store; you can’t ring someone up as they walk through the store or bring the digital menu to their table. You can do that with an mPOS system, since the terminal is portable. With an mPOS system, you can take your register on the go or to multiple locations. Keep in mind that mPOS and POS systems use the same software, so you can accept and process payments, track inventory, and run reports with both systems.

HOW CAN POS SYSTEMS HELP RESTAURANTS WITH STAFFING ISSUES?

Automation – particularly the tools built into top POS systems – is a way to alleviate issues surrounding staff shortages. The POS tools can help you automate inventory and payroll, which frees up staff to help in other areas of the restaurant. These systems can also manage reservations and orders as well as process payments. All of this ensures the staff you do have available can be where needs are most pressing.

HOW CAN POS SYSTEMS HELP WITH DYNAMIC PRICING?

Supply and demand influences dynamic pricing. Whether it’s purchase patterns, increased demand, or seasonal increases or decreases, dynamic pricing can be a way to maximize profits. With the tools built into POS systems, you can determine the right times to drop or increase prices.

What to Expect in 2022

The POS market has made great strides in features and technology over the years. That’s not going to change in 2022 as POS systems evolve to keep up. Here are a few things to expect in the year ahead.

  •  E-commerce features: If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught business owners anything, it is the need for adaptability. When shutdowns forced retailers to close their doors, another channel quickly rose to the forefront: e-commerce. Recognizing this, POS vendors stepped up to offer more e-commerce features in their services. We’re sure to see more of that in 2022 as e-commerce remains vital beyond the pandemic.
  • Social media sales: In addition to the increasing demand for e-commerce services, selling on social media is a growing trend that POS providers are supporting in 2022. Many POS systems have built-in capabilities for merchants to easily upload products on social media and SEO tools to boost sales online. More tools and features for e-commerce and social media selling are likely to appear this year.
  • Self-service capabilities: Self-serve kiosks have been available in the past, but now they are a POS staple. Expect more businesses to allow customers to place orders and make payments on their own with self-service kiosks. Many POS software vendors are offering kiosk hardware as well as developing features that will turn tablets and mobile devices into self-serve ordering kiosks.
  • Mobile POS: Mobile POS systems should also grow in popularity in 2022. These systems enable merchants and restaurants to take digital menus and cash registers where the customers are. That means shorter lines and quicker table turnover. Merchants and restaurant owners can expect more services around loyalty programs and customer retention this year as well. With competition fierce and businesses suffering because of the pandemic, anything that can boost customer loyalty will be welcome in 2022.

The technology industry is always evolving to meet the needs and expectations of consumers, and POS systems are no exception. These are just a few examples of how we can anticipate POS systems to evolve.

Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
business.com Staff
Skye Schooley is a staff writer at business.com and Business News Daily, where she has written more than 200 articles on B2B-focused topics including human resources operations, management leadership, and business technology. In addition to researching and analyzing products that help business owners launch and grow their business, Skye writes on topics aimed at building better professional culture, like protecting employee privacy, managing human capital, improving communication, and fostering workplace diversity and culture.
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DERO2084 / Getty Images

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