Looking for a new POS?
Updated as of September, 2021
With so many POS providers to choose from, it can be challenging to decide which one is right for your small business. So we’ve put together a list of the ‘Top 10’ POS software offerings we like for small businesses. You’ll get a brief overview of the product with quick facts and a summary of the pros vs cons to help you find the perfect solution.
The criteria for this list are companies that have proven themselves to be leaders in the market and offer complete products and services specifically for small businesses in retail and the restaurant industry. Let’s take a look at the industry’s current best performers according to our experts.
The 10 Best POS Systems for Small Business of 2021
- Best Overall: Clover POS
- Best Value: Square POS (Free Version)
- Best Android POS for Restaurants: Toast POS
- Best iPad POS for Restaurants: TouchBistro
- Best POS with No Upfront Costs: Harbortouch
- Best POS for Pizza & Delivery: Hungerrush
- Best POS with E-Commerce: Shopify
- Best iPad POS for Retail: Lightspeed
- Best Web-Based for Retail: Vend
- Best with QuickBooks Integration: Quickbooks POS
Clover POS is the overall best pos system for small businesses right now because it provides a complete all-in-one POS with affordable pricing, attractive hardware, easy-to-use software, and tons of features for many business types. Need additional features to expand your POS? The Clover app store provides you with some of the most extensive options available on the market.
We like Clover for small to medium-sized restaurants, counter service restaurants, retail stores, services businesses, salons, and online businesses. It’s easy to set up the hardware and configure the software, even for beginners. While added features add to the overall price, Clover really excels by providing 100’s of apps and add-on integrations to expand the capabilities of the POS to meet any business needs.
We like that you can use your existing merchant provider if you prefer. If you need a merchant account, Clover offers simple processing rates through Fiserv with rates at 2.3% and 10 cents per transaction, which is cheaper than Square. You pay the same rates for all cards, including AMEX and reward cards.
Clover could be more transparent with pricing on its website, but POS pricing starts at $39.95 per month and you will need to purchase Clover’s proprietary hardware to use the software. If you need to accept mobile payments, Clover also offers Clover Go a mobile device similar to the Square reader.
If Clover is an option you’re considering for your small business, we recommend purchasing directly from Clover to avoid middle man fees from independent resellers and banks. Once you’re approved, the system will ship with free overnight shipping, where comparable systems can take weeks to receive. You also get 60 days of hassle-free returns, which is great.
See our Clover POS System Review
- Sleek all-in-one POS
- Free online ordering
- Easy to set up and use
- 24/7 phone and email support
- Works for many business types
- Must use proprietary hardware
- Added features increase the price
- Must work with a sales rep to sign up
Square Point of Sale is a modern POS system that has cemented itself as one of the most recognizable brands in the industry. This San Francisco-based point of sale platform has a unique focus on technology. You’ve probably seen their Square card readers at some point in the wild — they’re small square devices that plug directly into iPads, iPhones, and other tablets.
Square Point of Sale has aggressively targeted the small business industry by providing a range of industry-specific tools that improve efficiency. You can bulk import products and images to quickly get your store up and running — manual import is also available. The system allows you to scan items during checkout, or search across the platform for inventory items.
The POS system automatically collects and records critical reporting data to help you automate accounting and understand your business’s metrics. You can even track customers’ buying habits and sales information to help you offer promotions to loyal shoppers.
It’s easy to sell products online, and Square Point of Sale will automatically link your traditional store and online store to manage inventory across the entire platform. Users can build an eCommerce website directly through the Square platform.
You can run the software on Apple and Android touchscreen devices — it’s great for iPads and iPhones. For those who want additional hardware, such as credit card readers and terminals, you can purchase them directly through Square. If you own a restaurant, you even have the option of using dedicated restaurant software called Square For Restaurants.
We give Square high marks for the starting price (free to get started offers the best value). You can access Square Plus Point of Sale software with a $60 monthly plan for businesses that need more in-depth features. The current processing rate for Square’s free small business POS platform starts at 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. Occasionally Square will offer promos and discounts on hardware, so it’s always a good idea to check before buying.
Square is best for small businesses with low volume and low average ticket sales due to the processing rates. If you serve high volume, high average tickets, or high-risk businesses, it’s best to select another option. Square is free to get started to new users and you can upgrade anytime.
See our Square POS System Review
- Free POS (Best Value)
- Fast setup, easy to use
- Great for small business
- Upgrade when ready
- Must use Square processing
- Not for high-risk business
- Limited support on the free plan
Toast POS has created a name for itself in the food and beverage industry and has become one of the top industry-leading point-of-sale solutions for restaurants available today with over 40,000 restaurants using the system. Toast is currently our top pick for the best restaurant POS system.
Toast is an Android-based restaurant management solution. It comes complete with POS software, payment processing, contactless ordering, handhelds, online ordering & delivery, marketing, payroll, and team management. They’ve done a great job of putting many of the features you need in one package.
You have the option of using stand-alone terminals, or for mobility, you can also use Toast Go hand-held terminals (for an additional charge) to take orders and payments table-side, outside, at the drive-through, or where ever needed. You can accept NFC and digital wallet payments and email customer receipts from the handheld for contactless payments.
There is also the Toast Order & Pay service where guests can order and pay from the convenience of their own device. There are additional fees, but this allows faster turn times and gives servers the potential to handle 30% more tables. Prompted gratuity drives higher average tips according to Toast data.
Toast is a great option for most restaurants. We like that Toast offers a free starter kit which is ideal for small restaurants to get up and running with no upfront cost. To obtain the free software and hardware, you can elect to “Pay-as-You-Go” with a slightly higher percentage of sales. We keep track of the latest Toasttab promos here.
Either way, starting at $69 per month, it’s a no-brainer for a small restaurant from a cost perspective in my opinion. If you need more than one terminal, prices go up to $50 per month for each additional terminal. Processing starts at 2.49% and .15 cents per transaction.
If you need more features like online ordering, gift cards, email marketing, and loyalty, you can add them individually or upgrade to an advanced “Pay-as-You-Go” plan by increasing your transaction fees instead of paying a higher monthly subscription.
See our Toast POS System Review
- Designed for restaurants
- Restaurant proof hardware
- Strong data reporting
- Offline mode
- 24/7 customer service
- In-house processing only
- Requires contract
TouchBistro is designed for Apple iPads to give restauranteurs (among others) an edge in a highly competitive environment. It can operate by interacting with a number of other devices in the same location (using the proprietary ‘Pro Server’ application) – however, the software will require an Internet connection in order to process payments.
One of the advantages of the application is without doubt the high level of customer service that is offered. When you sign up the customer service department will assign you a flesh and blood human being to guide you through the setup of hardware and just how to process payments. This is, unfortunately, becoming rare in an increasingly automated world – and for those who are not technically adept, it’s a welcome feature of being a TouchBistro client.
Another advantage of using TouchBistro is that it has been designed by people who come from a restaurant background. They are intimately familiar with the needs of management and servers.
The software also works with a number of popular payment processing service providers including Square, PayPal, Worldpay, and Chase Merchant – and all major credit and debit cards will be accepted. Contactless payment functionality is provided – as well as other forms including swipe. Bills can be split and gratuities automatically added (and where applicable tax calculated for inclusion on the bill) – as well as allowing for the acceptance of gift cards.
The wide variety of peripherals available is also an attraction, as is the ability to punch in menu items at tableside – and automatic interaction with the kitchen. Receipts can be sent to patrons via email. The interface is clean and intuitive and the data available such as seating time, individual patron preferences, and reservation times allows for forward planning to streamline operations. Inventory management and profit margin analysis are also part of the package. 50 Different types of reports can be generated to ensure that management stays on top of its game
Subscription prices for TouchBistro start at $69/mo but are entirely dependant on the needs of the establishment. There are a variety of bundles available – but the option to purchase both hardware and software will appeal to those who are starting out in the restaurant business. That bundle starts off at around $359 per month (billed annually).
There are a massive amount of options when it comes to customizing the services and there are financing options available to pay off hardware and software over time. The high level of customer service also counts in its favor.
All in all, this is the perfect POS solution for restaurant businesses of all sizes. It’s worth a second look by those embarking on a new venture – as well as seasoned restaurateurs.
See our TouchBistro POS System Review
- No lengthy contracts
- Intuitive, easy-to-use
- Tableside ordering
- Financing available
- 24/7 customer service
- Add-ons increase price
- Can’t process credit cards offline
- Can take 2-3 weeks to install
Harbortouch is one of the few advanced point-of-sale solutions with no upfront costs that helps restaurants, retail stores, cafés, nightclubs, and bars to track their inventory levels, review finances to improve operational efficiency, monitor sales, and manage labor. It’s also exclusively recommended by Jon Taffer of Bar Rescuer
It allows you to add various discounts on different products and services, use keywords to find out various items, maintain your customer’s database using a unified interface, and refer special requests made by clients. The platform also comes with a built-in clock that allows managers to lead their teams better.
Harbortouch stands out from its competitors with a healthy list of features that covers a wide range of business types. Harbortouch provides free equipment, provided you agree to its one-year service contract and Merchant Transaction Processing Agreement. Although this is beneficial for many businesses, a few may find it imposing as they may not want to continue with Harbortouch after some time.
The Harbortouch POS platform costs $39 per month with no upfront costs. However, you can enjoy a free trial before subscribing to its services. It will give you an idea of how the platform works and its benefits to your business. This plan is suitable for full-service restaurants, bars, and small to medium-sized retailers.
In addition, you get access to menu programming, installation, technical support, and a lifetime hardware warranty for the inclusive monthly service fee.
Harbortouch is undoubtedly one of the best POS solutions for small businesses that allow you to manage everything from one online dashboard. Use this platform to keep track of your business’s finances, manage employees, and maintain a customer database without spending a fortune. We applaud that Harbortouch has removed any contract termination fees which was previously an issue of contention.
See our Harbortouch POS System Review
- No upfront cost
- Low monthly fee
- Intuitive, easy-to-use
- Free online ordering
- Free eCommerce
- No early termination fees
- Shift4 processing only
- Requires 1-year contract
- Can take 3-4 weeks to install
HungerRush is our top pick for delivery and pizza shops. It’s an all-in-one cloud-based restaurant management system that allows you to streamline business operations and serve customers without making them wait.
It can create a digital experience for your customers with a mobile-friendly website and let you record their preferences to serve them better when they come back.
This POS system gives an insight into every essential aspect of running a business, such as monitoring employees and their work, tracking inventory, arranging orders, and many more. It simplifies your task of running a business so that you can focus on how to expand your company and increase sales volume.
The platform also allows customers to place their orders online using their Facebook accounts or Google accounts and add multiple addresses where your business can deliver products. They also offer AI-Driven text ordering which is an innovative and unique feature that allows customers to place orders through text from a smartphone.
It’s an incredible platform for owners and managers to keep track of employees’ working hours and calculate the total labor cost every month. The cloud-based POS system helps you maintain your customer’s database, including their contact details, addresses, names, and order histories which is a necessity for pizza shops and delivery businesses. HungerRush handles delivery better than any other system we’ve reviewed.
The starting price of HungerRush is $89 per month. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide a free trial like many of its competitors, but you can request a demo on their website to see the software in action.
HungerRush is undoubtedly one of the top performers in the hospitality industry, especially for QSR, delivery, and pizza shops. This cloud-based system helps you track sales, manage online orders, quickly perform transactions, manage inventory, create table layouts, track deliveries, and more.
See our HungerRush POS System Review
- Great for pizza & delivery
- Handles complex modifiers
- Marketing & loyalty program
- Online ordering
- Text ordering
- Multi-unit friendly
- No free trial
- Pricing is not available on website
Shopify is the leading small business eCommerce platform with an astounding 1.7 million businesses worldwide. The company is a technology-focused retail service based in Ottawa, Canada. Shopify now offers its users access to an in-house point of sale system that integrates with its eCommerce product.
While Shopify is known for its eCommerce services, Shopify POS is the company’s entry into the brick-and-mortar retail game. While it hasn’t always been involved in traditional stores, you can trust that Shopify understands the small business retail industry as well as any service in the world.
With Shopify POS, you can fully integrate your traditional store with an online store. If you’re looking for seamless integration across all your selling points, this is an excellent option. Businesses can manage inventory, accept payments, process returns, import products, and offers scalability as your business takes off.
We really like Shopify for eCommerce because it’s a platform that integrates seamlessly with Shopify POS. This is great for the unity of online and in-store inventory and sales. In-store, you can process transactions using an iPad. Additional POS hardware is also available for purchase via Shopify. You can access the backend of this platform from your desktop computer or smartphone.
Basic Shopify eCommerce pricing starts at $29/month. Shopify standard plan is $79/month for businesses selling online and in-store. Annual plans will save you 25% if you decide to go that route.
Depending on the plan you choose, online payments start at 2.9% + .30 cents and In-person starts at 2.5% + 0% if you use Shopify Payments. If you decide to use your own payment gateway, there are additional transaction fees, so watch out for that. All new users are entitled to a 14-day free trial with no credit card required, which we like to see.
- Sell online & in-store
- Affordable subscription
- Reasonable processing rates
- Robust eCommerce tools
- Free 14-day trial
- Requires paid subscription
- Extra fees to use own processor
- Limited reporting on the basic plan
Lightspeed is a POS provider that offers both retail and hospitality products to its customers. The company is Canadian-based but provides its services to businesses in the United States and Europe. The Lightspeed Retail POS is built to cater to a wide range of retail niches.
Lightspeed’s retail platform can be used to sell any type of retail product. Users can build customer profiles, view purchase histories, bulk import products, organize items, synchronize with eCommerce platforms, offer gift cards, and more.
The front-end of this system is designed specifically for iPads, but you can now run it on almost any hardware device. You can purchase your hardware independently if you don’t wish to buy directly through Lightspeed. The backend of the Lightspeed Retail POS is accessible from any web browser — you can access all your business’s critical information from anywhere in the world.
As a cloud-based system, Lightspeed Retail POS regularly uploads your key sales data to the cloud. It also automatically updates the software when it comes time to upgrade your service. You won’t have to worry about using an outdated platform, so your business will be future-proof.
Lightspeed Retail POS has an internal credit card payment processor, but you can also integrate with a wide variety of other processors. You won’t be locked into a single provider’s processing rates at Lightspeed POS. Lightspeed processing rates start at 2.6% and 10 cents.
Lightspeed Retail POS pricing starts at $69 per month for essential business needs, $119/mo for standard, and $199 for advanced. If you want a quote, you have to contact Lightspeed POS directly. We like that you can get a free trial before signing up.
Lightspeed has become a POS powerhouse with the acquisitions of ShopKeep, Upserve (formerly Breadcrumb), and Vend. These are all quality small business point of sale solutions. So there are additional options including Lightspeed’s Restaurant POS for small business restaurants to consider depending on specific your needs.
- Strong inventory management
- eCommerce integration
- Multi-store capabilities
- Flexible payment options
- Sync online and offline inventory
- Learning curve
- Pricey for smaller businesses
Vend POS is a retail-specific cloud-based point of sale system that was born and raised in New Zealand, but is now owned and operated by Lightspeed, a Canadian company. Vend has been rapidly expanding into new markets across the globe — it now has a significant foothold in the United States.
This provider offers specific features for a wide range of retail niches. Whether you’re a beauty company, clothing outlet, or supplement company, you’ll find features for your niche at Vend POS. Those who have multiple storefronts can use the Vend POS enterprise system to manage all locations from a single backend platform.
You can synchronize this platform with your eCommerce store. It’s a reliable option if you operate an in-store and online business structure. Vend POS users have access to a broad range of third-party integrations, including QuickBooks, Xero, Timely, WooCommerce, and more.
In terms of hardware, you have plenty of options at Vend POS. This is one of the few platforms that allow you to use its software on iOS, PC, and Mac, which we really like. It’s easy to use on your current hardware system through a web browser.
Vend is best suited for small retail businesses that want the flexibility of a cross-platform cloud POS. For those who want flexible payment processing options, you have access to a handful of different choices in North America. You won’t be tied into a single provider’s rates at Vend POS. While some users report that the system can lag and glitch, the overall intuitive nature of the product ensures it’s easy to use.
Vend POS pricing starts at $99 per month. The company’s ‘Pro’ plan starts at $129 per month, which is starting to get up there in price when compared to other industry leaders. Still, when you consider the feature list available at Vend POS, it’s easy to find plenty of value in this system. They offer a 14-day free trial, which we like to see.
- Cross-platform (iPad, Mac, PC)
- Intuitive & easy to use
- Available internationally
- eCommerce integrations
- Multi-store capable
- Pricey for small businesses
- Some reporting limitations
Intuit QuickBooks Point of Sale
Intuit QuickBooks Point of Sale is a POS system powered by one of the world’s most popular accounting software providers — Intuit. Intuit’s QuickBooks platform is famous for offering integrated accounting management services to businesses around the world. With this POS provider, you’ll also have access to one of the nation’s most powerful accounting platforms.
Intuit QuickBooks Point of Sale offers all the basic features you find with other retail POS systems. You can accept payments, track inventory, view reporting figures, analyze customer purchase history, offer gift cards, and more.
While this platform isn’t as robust as some of the other options on our list, its built-in integration with QuickBooks is a huge advantage. The software interface is easy to navigate and now offers contactless payments and eCommerce integration (for an additional subscription fee).
QuickBooks Point of Sale integrates with QuickBooks Desktop financial software, but not QuickBooks online. So if you’re already using QuickBooks financial software, this could make life easier for accounting purposes. You can synch other platforms with QuickBooks, but this is certainly the most effortless option.
The QuickBooks software works on a variety of compatible hardware systems and tablets — you can access a current list on the company’s website. Users can also purchase a range of additional hardware devices for this system, including credit card scanners, item scanners, cash drawers, and more.
Unlike most of the POS systems on our ‘Top 10’ list, Intuit doesn’t have a subscription service. Instead, you pay for the software in one upfront payment. Prices start at $960 with POS hardware sold separately.
- One-time software fee
- Integrates with QB financial software
- 30-day free trial
- eCommerce integration
- Multi-store capable
- Limited support hours
- Ecom integration increases costs
Why is it Important to Purchase an ‘Industry Specific’ Platform?
There are hundreds of different point-of-sale systems on the market. While some of them are general systems that cover all niches, others are geared specifically towards certain industries. The two most popular POS niches are retail and hospitality.
Each of these industries has its own unique needs and requirements. A general POS system is unable to provide the expertise you need to manage a retail business efficiently. If you want the best retail POS, you need to ensure it’s built explicitly for retail stores.
Retail POS systems will help you manage inventory, ship items, offer promotions, scan products, track customer purchases, process returns, and more. If you don’t have the core tools you need to run your retail business, your staff and clients will notice. The same would apply to the hospitality industry.
What POS Features Should You Prioritize?
If you’re in the market for a new small business POS system, it’s important to prioritize a few features. If you want to offer as much to your customers as possible, it’s critical to subscribe to a system that has essential tools. Below, let’s dive into some ‘must-haves for your next POS system:
- Contactless payments — Customers are going to expect contactless payment options from a secure merchant service provider, especially these days. If the system you’re looking at doesn’t offer contactless payments, it’s best to move on.
- eCommerce or Online Ordering — If you’re like many modern business owners, you probably have a traditional store and an online store. If your point of sale system doesn’t integrate with your online store, you won’t be able to track inventory and orders across the two platforms. Fortunately, this is a core feature available in many modern small business POS systems.
- Bulk Product Import — If you run a retail store, you most likely have an extensive database of products. While you can manually enter these products into your POS, the amount of time it would take would make it next to impossible. Make sure to use a system that allows you to import all of your products at once.
- Scanner Compatibility — If you’re running a traditional store, it’s crucial to have a scanner to read barcodes and automate pricing. While you’ll typically have to purchase your own scanner, having a compatible system will come in handy.
- Multi-Location Synchronization — If you operate multiple storefronts, it’s essential to work with a POS platform that synchronizes your stock and sales across all locations. This makes it easier to move products and keep track of your available items. It also means you can use the same staff at multiple stores.
- Gift Cards — If you run a popular retail store, it’s essential to be able to offer gift cards to customers. Choosing a retail POS system that can issue gift cards, track balances, and process payments is critical if you want to encourage customers to use your store as a gift.
- Loyalty Programs — As with gift cards, it’s essential to have a retail POS system that offers loyalty programs to its users. The best retail POS systems ensure that you can customize loyalty programs for your regular customers. A good loyalty program makes it easy to offer incentives and rewards.
- Customer Profiles — This is another essential feature that enables you to offer better services to your clients. If you’re able to build customer profiles that track previous purchases and take note of preferences, you can offer specialized products and marketing emails to the right customers.
- Promotions — If you want to offer seasonal promotions to your customers, you need to automate discounts and promotional offers. Using a POS system with built-in promotions can help you attract customers with creative offerings.
- Email Marketing — If you want to keep your customers aware of promotions, new products, and sales, it’s essential to use a platform that offers various marketing options. If you collect email data on your customers, some retail POS systems can help you integrate
Tips for Choosing the Right Provider
Whether this is your first time using a POS system, or your switching from another provider, it’s critical to find the best platform for your small business. A point of sale team can help you increase efficiency if it has the right features. So, how can you make sure you choose the best POS for your small business?
- Create a Budget — Before you begin looking for a new retail POS system, it’s important to create a budget. There is a wide range of price points in the industry. Deciding what you can afford is the first step in narrowing the playing field.
- Compare Platforms — It’s always a good idea to compare multiple platforms. Choosing the first POS system you find is a surefire way to sell yourself short.
- Create a Checklist of Features — As you compare providers, create a checklist of ‘must-have’ features. If a provider doesn’t appear to offer any of your required features, ask the company’s sales team for clarification. Some POS companies have more features than they advertise.
- Assess Hardware — While the software is the most critical component of a POS system, it’s still important to choose a system with the right hardware. If you have to purchase in-house equipment from a POS platform, make sure you understand the full costs.
- Use Free Trials — If a system allows you to access a free trial, it’s worth trying it out. Many of the industry’s top POS platforms don’t require credit card details for access to their free trial periods. It’s always best to try before you buy.
Verdict: Don’t Get Left Behind
If you’re currently struggling to effectively process transactions and orders in your retail business, a new POS system might be the best solution. Thousands of companies around the United States are using outdated systems that offer limited features and reduce workplace efficiency. By using one of these ‘Top 10’ small business POS providers, you’ll be able to unleash your retail business’s true potential!
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