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Updated Apr 11, 2024

The Best POS Systems for Retail Businesses

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Nicole Fallon, Contributing Writer
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Best for All-in-One Retail Operations
  • Industry-specific POS plans
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Online pickup order capabilities
Visit Site
Links to Clover Retail POS
  • Industry-specific POS plans
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Online pickup order capabilities
Best for Online Retailers
  • Free trial available
  • Scalable POS service plans
  • Android- and iOS-compatible
Visit Site
Links to Shopify Retail POS
  • Free trial available
  • Scalable POS service plans
  • Android- and iOS-compatible
Best for Retail Inventory Management
  • Four retail-specific pricing plans
  • Built-in CRM and loyalty tools
  • Employee management features
Visit Site
Links to Lightspeed Retail POS
  • Four retail-specific pricing plans
  • Built-in CRM and loyalty tools
  • Employee management features
Best for In-Person Retailers
  • Free POS system
  • Single interchange-plus rate
  • Compatible with any device
Visit Site
Links to Helcim Retail POS
  • Free POS system
  • Single interchange-plus rate
  • Compatible with any device
Best for New and Growing Retailers
Square Retail POS
Square logo
  • No POS software fees
  • Extensive customization options
  • iPad- or POS hardware-compatible
Links to Square Retail POS
  • No POS software fees
  • Extensive customization options
  • iPad- or POS hardware-compatible

Table of Contents

Open row

From small boutiques to large-scale department stores, retailers across the globe rely on point-of-sale (POS) systems to streamline their operations, enhance customer experiences and keep sales data well-organized. A feature-rich POS system designed specifically for retailers can make a huge difference in your business’s overall efficiency and shopping experience at your business.

To help you navigate the options on the market and find the ideal fit for your retail business, we have undertaken extensive research, studying dozens of POS systems available in the market. Our best picks were curated based on criteria that matter most to retailers, such as pricing, ease of use, hardware options, software compatibility, mobile capabilities and more.

Compare Our Best Picks

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Our Top Picks for 2024
Clover Retail POS
Shopify Retail POS
Lightspeed Retail POS
Helcim Retail POS
Square Retail POS
Rating (Out of 10)9.89.59.48.89.2
Use Case

All-in-One Retail Operations

Online Retailers

Retail Inventory Management

In-Person Retailers

New and Growing Retailers

Starting Price

$9.95/month

$29/month

$69/month

Free

Free

Free Trial

30 days

Yes (length varies)

14 days

No

30 days

Contract Length

Monthly or annual

Monthly or annual

Monthly, annual or multiyear

Monthly

Monthly

POS Hardware

Clover Station Solo, Clover Station Duo, Clover Flex, Clover Mini, Clover Go

Card reader, retail kit, barcode scanner, printers, cash drawers

iPad, LAN receipt printer, cash drawers, Bluetooth scanners, Lightspeed iPad stand

Card reader

Register, terminal, stand, card readers

Integrations

100+

50+

100+

80+

200+

Customer Support

Phone, email, webchat

Phone, web chat, web ticket

Phone, email

Phone, email

Phone, email, webchat, social media

Review Link
Scroll Table

Reviews

Clover: Best POS for All-in-One Retail Operations

  • Clover’s ability to accept online pickup orders enhances retailers’ services to meet consumer demands.
  • End-to-end encryption, integrated EMV chip sensors and fingerprint logins make Clover a secure choice for businesses.
  • Clover’s reliance on in-house payment processing may deter businesses with established third-party relationships.
Editor's Rating: 9.8/10
Visit Site

We believe Clover’s software is the top all-in-one choice for retail businesses due to its comprehensive suite of POS features tailored to optimize operations. The platform offers automatic inventory sync that ensures real-time stock updates, facilitating efficient supply management, and it supports pickup and delivery orders, enhancing customer service options for retailers.

Clover also enables retailers to better engage with customers by collecting contact information and marketing preferences and providing options to improve customer loyalty through rewards and promotional features — all of which enrich the customer experience.

The software also simplifies administrative tasks with employee management and sales trend-tracking capabilities, which can help improve efficiency for retailers of any size. Seamless integration options with leading platforms, such as BigCommerce, QuickBooks and Gusto, enhance business efficiency and scalability by allowing retailers to grow with their preferred software. The versatility and comprehensiveness of Clover’s software make it a must-have tool for retail businesses aiming for sustainable growth.

Shopify: Best POS for Online Retailers

  • Shopify’s customer support offers prompt assistance via phone, web chat and web tickets, ensuring swift problem resolution.
  • Shopify’s diverse POS plans offer flexible customization, allowing businesses to adapt and scale as their needs evolve.
  • ​​While Shopify offers a cheaper starting price than many competitors, additional costs, such as third-party transactions, domain name and currency conversion fees, can be burdensome.
Editor's Rating: 9.5/10
Visit Site

Shopify’s widespread reputation as a reliable e-commerce platform helps it stand out as the ultimate choice for online retailers. Shopify offers seamless payment acceptance and efficient inventory management, ensuring a smooth and secure customer checkout process, reducing cart abandonment and boosting conversion rates. Its efficient inventory management features allow retailers to track stock levels easily, preventing overselling and stockouts, enhancing customer satisfaction.

With an array of POS service plans, retailers can customize their plans as their business grows, enabling swift adaptation to market fluctuations and higher demand, while ensuring uninterrupted growth for businesses. With Shopify’s user-friendly interface and extensive app ecosystem, retailers can customize their online stores easily, enhancing brand identity and improving their user experience (UX). The platform’s built-in SEO features boost online visibility, driving organic traffic through website optimization and ultimately increasing sales opportunities.

Lightspeed: Best POS for Retail Inventory Management

  • Lightspeed’s retail-specific plans enhance operations by offering personalized home dashboards and mobile-responsive templates.
  • Lightspeed offers diverse payment options, accommodating debit and credit cards, mobile payments and gift cards seamlessly.
  • Lightspeed’s higher-end pricing of $69 per month and limited customer support options, available only via phone and email, may deter potential users.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
Visit Site

Lightspeed’s exceptional inventory management features make it the ideal solution for retail inventory management. With industry-specific POS plans designed for retailers, Lightspeed’s inventory management tools provide a comprehensive and intuitive interface, making it easy for retailers to manage their stock efficiently. With the software, retailers can upload thousands of stock keeping units, simultaneously saving time and effort while allowing them to focus on other critical aspects of their business. The access to a vast catalog with over 8 million items ensures that retailers can source and offer a wide range of products, meeting diverse customer demands.

Additionally, stock alerts ensure businesses stay on top of inventory levels, preventing stockouts and maximizing sales opportunities. With Lightspeed’s comprehensive inventory management tools, retail businesses can streamline their operations, optimize inventory and enhance overall efficiency to achieve greater success.

Helcim: Best POS for In-Person Retailers

  • Helcim charges low interchange-plus rates, allowing retailers to streamline their operations while managing costs.
  • Helcim’s ability to operate across numerous channels makes it a comprehensive solution for diverse retail business operations.
  • Helcim’s lack of a free trial may deter retailers looking to test the system’s capabilities and compatibility with their specific business needs before committing.
Editor's Rating: 8.8/10
Visit Site

With a no-frills approach, we see Helcim as the optimal solution for in-person retail businesses (except those that are high-risk) due to its versatile functionality as both a payment processor and a POS system.

What sets Helcim apart is its universal compatibility. Its free POS application can be utilized across an extensive array of devices, such as computers, tablets and smartphones, enabling retailers to process transactions and manage their sales seamlessly from virtually any platform. This unique feature surpasses many competitors who often limit their POS systems to specific devices and simplifies the transaction process, boosting efficiency and enhancing the overall customer experience for retailers.

Helcim’s continual updates to its tools and features reflect its commitment to customer satisfaction, ensuring that retailers always have the most up-to-date solutions.

Square: Best POS for New and Growing Retailers

Square
Square logo
  • Square’s services, like Square for Retail and Square Appointments, centralize business processes on one device.
  • Square’s contactless payment feature keeps retailers up to date with modern consumer payment preferences without needing additional hardware.
  • Square requires all payments to be processed through its system, potentially limiting options for diverse payment methods.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10

With a zero-fee model, we believe Square POS software is optimal for new and growing retailers. Its lack of usage fees makes it a cost-effective choice for startups aiming to economize, and its comprehensive customization options allow retailers to incorporate services, such as marketing, invoicing, online sales, customer loyalty programs, team management, gift cards and payroll. This adaptability enables retailers to mold a POS system that mirrors their unique needs and scale as their business develops, ensuring they are fully equipped to manage future development.

Square’s mobile POS app’s contactless payment feature requires no additional hardware, facilitating startups to adapt to modern consumer preferences. The app’s compatibility with iOS and Android devices, and the option to pair the software with an iPad or purchase POS hardware, increases the system’s accessibility and eliminates the need for businesses to commit to one type of operating system or hardware.

Pricing for Retail POS Systems

The market for POS systems has changed significantly in recent years, thanks to technological advances and an overall decrease in pricing. POS hardware, which used to come in the form of expensive, bulky devices, can now be as simple as a tablet or smartphone dongle attachment, making these systems much more accessible and affordable to small businesses and multilocation retailers.

A POS system’s total cost depends on the software and hardware options available from the provider you choose. For cloud-based systems, monthly software charges can be as low as $0 or as high as $200 or more. Depending on your retail business’s needs, POS hardware can cost up to $1,200 for a comprehensive POS register system, which can include a card reader, barcode scanners, signature-capture devices, a terminal, tablet or computer, a cash drawer and a receipt printer. Alternatively, you may opt just to purchase a card reader that attaches to an existing mobile device and run POS software from there, which means your hardware costs will be minimal.

When choosing the best retail POS system, It’s essential to weigh the total cost against the return on your investment. The right system for your business may be a bit more expensive upfront but, ultimately, it can streamline operations and improve customer experience, potentially boosting sales.

Features of Retail POS Systems

While most POS systems offer similar core capabilities, each of the top contenders on the market offers a unique combination of features and benefits. Knowing which features your retail business needs will help you find a suitable POS solution.

Here are five essential POS system features to consider in your research.

Inventory Management

Retail businesses need to track a wide variety of products, sometimes across multiple locations, such as between a storefront and warehouse. A POS system with robust inventory management tools can offer real-time updates on product stock levels and track item popularity so you can avoid overstocking or understocking certain items.

Mobile Apps

POS mobile apps allow you and your employees to conduct transactions from anywhere, whether you’re moving around a brick-and-mortar retail location or selling your products at an event. This can speed up the checkout process and reduce lines forming at a single register, enhancing the overall customer experience.

TipBottom line
If you’re choosing a POS system for its mobile app, ensure it is compatible with the device you plan to use, whether Android or iOS.

Reporting

Your POS system should offer robust reporting features to give you insights into sales trends, inventory levels and employee performance. These POS reports help make data-driven decisions that improve profitability.

Integrations

Your retail business likely uses tools like accounting software, a top customer relationship management (CRM) solution and a marketing platform. The right POS system communicates seamlessly with the rest of your tech stack. These integrations and data-sharing capabilities help streamline business operations and provide a more unified view of the business.

Hardware

Retail POS hardware varies greatly depending on your store setup. Before investing in a POS provider, ensure it offers all the hardware you want to include in your configuration. At a minimum, you will likely need a card reader and mobile device, but you may find it prudent to invest in other hardware like a cash register, receipt printer, signature capture device and display screen.

How to Choose a Retail POS

If you’re unsure where to start when choosing the right system for your retail business, here is a step-by-step guide to help you make a well-informed choice.

1. Assess your retail business’s hardware and software needs.

Start your search by evaluating the specific needs of your retail business. A small, single-store retailer likely only needs a relatively simple, cost-effective solution, but a larger retailer with multiple physical locations or a business that wants to expand its e-commerce presence, might require a more complex, integrated system. Consider factors, such as your average number of sales transactions, inventory management needs, CRM goals and whether you need multilocation or online integration.

2. Research the best POS systems for retailers.

To start narrowing down your options, research retail POS systems by checking out online reviews, such as those here on business.com, to get a holistic view of each system you are interested in. Direct side-by-side comparisons of different POS systems can also help you make an informed decision. An example might be looking at how Shopify stakes up against Square.

FYIDid you know
Besides these picks for the best retail POS systems, business.com also has a comprehensive list of the best POS systems for any type of business, plus individual reviews to help with your research.

3. Sign up for free trials and product demos.

When you have a shortlist of potential POS systems, see if you can give them a test run. Many vendors offer free trials or product demos that allow you to test the system’s functionality first-hand. This is a crucial step to help you determine which system combines the right features with a good UX.

4. Speak with vendors directly.

Reaching out to vendors directly can provide additional insights into each platform that may not be obvious in marketing materials. Ask questions about the specific POS needs of your retail business so you can understand how the system would work in your particular retail context. You’ll also want to inquire about pricing and contract terms and get clarification on any features you don’t fully understand.

5. Compare your top choices.

Armed with information from your research, product demos and vendor conversations, you can compare your top choices and make a final decision. Consider the pricing tiers or service plans, including any additional costs, such as transaction fees, as well as its scalability to account for any future growth. We recommend choosing a POS system that suits your current retail needs and can grow with your business so you don’t have to begin the research process all over again.

Benefits of a Retail POS System

Investing in a POS system designed specifically for retailers can be a big boost for your business by helping you achieve the following benefits.

Streamline inventory management

A retail POS system can help streamline inventory management by tracking product sales, stock levels and deliveries and giving you real-time inventory updates. This reduces the risk of human error in ordering stock and allows retailers to make better inventory decisions based on how a product is performing.

Did You Know?Did you know
If you find yourself with excess inventory, you might be able to cash in on it by offering bulk deals to other business owners, donating it for a tax deduction or running a customer giveaway that ultimately brings in new business.

Improve the customer experience

A retail POS system can create a more efficient checkout process, thereby improving your customer experience. For instance, with a mobile POS system, you can check customers out on an in-store tablet or mobile device right where they are and avoid long lines at the register. Modern POS systems can also include CRM features, such as tailored promotions and rewards, for increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Enhance sales reporting and analytics

Many retail POS systems provide comprehensive reporting and analytics features that deliver helpful insights into your business’ performance. The data collected by your system can help you understand sales trends and customer purchasing habits so you can make better business decisions in the long run.

Increase operational efficiency

A POS system can help your retail business eliminate manual tasks like tallying end-of-day cash and calculating sales tax as well as streamline data entry for integrated business tools like CRM and accounting software. These automation features can free up your time to focus more on customer service and drive business growth.

Retail POS FAQs

A POS system can speed up your checkout process significantly. Because POS systems rely on a centralized database of your products, pricing and even customers, you can find products quickly and easily, add new customers to loyalty programs and apply discounts when making a sale.

In a retail setting, a POS system adds up what the customer buys, including any sales tax, and processes their purchase, whether they use a debit card, credit card, gift card or other form of payment. It also keeps track of when the sale happens and issues paper or digital receipts, depending on your POS hardware. The system also helps with inventory management by subtracting what was sold from the store’s stock. It can even add the customer’s details to your shop’s rewards program.

At its most basic, a POS system might just be a mobile device or tablet combined with a card scanner. If you’re looking for a setup with a more classic retail feel, you could integrate hardware like paper receipt issuers, cash storage units and barcode scanners. POS software typically comes with capabilities for processing payments, maintaining a product inventory and generating reports based on sale data.

POS systems can collect information during the customer payment process automatically, including the date, time and location of the sale as well as the specific products purchased. If your business has a loyalty program linked to a customer’s email or phone number, your POS may also be able to collect specific information about a shopper and their purchasing patterns.

author image
Nicole Fallon, Contributing Writer
Nicole Fallon has written hundreds of B2B-focused articles on topics such as marketing, business technology, leadership, and HR/organizational management. In addition to covering small business trends and software reviews, Nicole runs a digital marketing agency, where she and her team create high-quality content for a wide range of B2B and B2C brands.
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