From contactless payments to online sales, point of sale (POS) systems improve the customer experience and make it easier for business owners to track inventory, sales, and employee performance. Moreover, your POS solution supports omnichannel experiences, which are seamless transitions between in-store, phone, and online sales.
In fact, 41% of retailers plan on upgrading or replacing their POS, while 59% are prioritizing omnichannel experiences using their existing POS solution, according to a survey by Retail Consulting Partners.
With hundreds of POS systems on the market, selecting the best one for your small business is challenging. We researched more than two dozen POS solutions and compared them side-by-side. We judged systems on their ease of use, hardware and software options, customer service, features, and pricing packages.
The 7 Best POS Systems for Small Business in 2021
Square: Best Overall
Square provides flexibility for small businesses and plenty of room to grow.
Robust free option for online sales
Easily track inventory
Integrated payment system
Expensive processing fees for businesses with high volumes
Free option lacks advanced features
Extra fee for a loyalty program
Founded in 2009, Square POS systems and devices are used in small businesses from retail shops to diners. The platform’s versatility, combined with various pricing options, makes Square the best overall POS system for small businesses.
Square offers three plans, all of which provide integrated payments where you’ll pay credit card processing fees of 2.6% plus $0.10 for in-person payments and 2.9% plus $0.30 for online transactions.
For most small businesses, you’ll want a Square register for $799. But the company also offers mobile square readers and iPad stands so you can customize your setup. All three plans come with standard features like:
- Barcode scanning
- Invoice and electronic gift card options
- Instagram selling capabilities
- Low stock alerts
- Sales reports
- Time tracking
- Timecard reporting
Select from popular Square plans such as:
- Free: It’s free to sell online or in-person while tracking inventory, reviewing sales reports, and overseeing your employees.
- Plus: For $60 per month per location, you’ll get advanced inventory features, sales versus labor reporting, and vendor management tools.
- Premium: Built for enterprises, you can contact Square to develop a custom solution that helps you expand your small business.
Square also offers integrations with your small business software. Just head to your dashboard to connect your POS system with:
- QuickBooks Online
Get more from your services by adding extra services like loyalty, email marketing, and payroll programs. If you need help with your Square POS system, you can contact Square support via phone or email, or get answers from the seller community or support articles.
eHopper: Best Value
Inexpensive software with everything a small business owner needs to run a company.
Most affordable POS system
Built-in inventory management
Works with most tablets
No gift card management
Credit card processing fees charged to customers
Since 2013 eHopper has provided an affordable alternative to pricey POS software. Its low-cost plans give entrepreneurs access to customer and inventory management tools, making it a clear winner in our best value category.
The eHopper POS system offers four plans, all of which include integrated credit card processing features. Currently, the merchant fees are passed to customers via a surcharge. With all versions, you’ll get features like:
- Inventory management
- Print or email receipts
- Self-service kiosk options
- Tip management
- Reporting options
- Customer management
Each of the four plans provides extra features, and the cost covers one POS system. The four programs are:
- Essential: The free plan helps you easily adjust inventory, manage customer accounts, or create barcode labels for your products.
- Freedom: For $29.99 a month, you get employee time tracking options, low stock alerts, and QuickBooks integrations.
- Restaurant: It’s $39.99 a month for menu building, table management, and floor planning tools along with standard POS features.
- OmniChannel: The regular cost is $99.99, but eHopper offers specials. This plan adds loyalty, e-commerce, and enables Facebook sales.
With eHopper, you can use existing hardware or Android tablets, iPads, Windows PCs, and Poynt terminals. But, eHopper offers a variety of hardware options for sale including:
- Hardware bundles
- Thermal printers
- Cash drawers
- Credit card terminals
- Stands and accessories
You won’t get many integrations with eHopper, but you can add optional programs like loyalty or marketing to your plans. You can call, initiate a support ticket, or email customer services for help with your POS system. The company also offers an online knowledge base.
TouchBistro: Best for Restaurants
TouchBistro supplies restaurateurs with cloud-based analytics to boost your food and beverage sales.
iPad POS system
Integrated credit card processing
Must use mostly Apple products
Customer support isn’t always responsive
In business since 2010, TouchBistro offers software designed specifically for the restaurant industry. With restaurant inventory management tools and restaurant-specific hardware, TouchBistro is our top pick for the best restaurant POS system.
TouchBistro POS software licenses start at $69 per month. With a TouchBistro system, you’ll get various tools and features to support your operations, such as:
- Intuitive touch controls for table management
- Remote menu management
- Add recipes to manage inventory costs
- Access data and reports via the cloud portal
You can add services to get more from your restaurant POS, which are available through TouchBistro, including:
- Reservations system for $229 per month
- Online ordering for $50 a month
- A gift card program for $25 per month
Choose your own hardware or buy from TouchBistro’s hardware partners for equipment such as:
- Apple Mac Mini computer
- Apple TV
- AmpliFi HD Mesh router
- AmpliFi MeshPoint HD
- Kitchen and thermal printers
- Cash drawers
- Networking hardware
- iPad stands
- Payment devices
TouchBistro integrates with many popular programs, including QuickBooks, Sage, and 7Shifts.
If you run into problems, TouchBistro provides plenty of self-service options and 24/7 phone support.
Vend: Best for Retail
Trusted retail software that your employees will learn how to use in minutes.
No limits on products
Works offline (Limited functions)
Lite plan has a $20,000 turnover limit
Gets costly when adding registers
Founded in 2010, Vend is a reliable provider of POS systems that are easy to use and compatible with all equipment types. With advanced inventory management and analytics, Vend wins our best POS system for retail.
Vend offers three plans that cover one register and one location. All versions give you features that are easy to use and support your retail operations, such as:
- Real-time inventory management
- Unlimited products and employees
- Customizable receipts for email or print
- Total cash management
- Inventory control levels and alerts
- Easy-to-personalize reports
- A mobile dashboard
While the Lite plan has a turnover limit of $20,000, the other programs are unlimited. It’ll cost you $49 a month for an extra register when paid yearly, or $59 with monthly payments. Your plan options include:
- Lite: For $99 when paid annually, or $119 for monthly payments, this version contains all standard features and small business analytics.
- Pro: It’s $129 per month when paid yearly, or $159 with monthly payments, for advanced reporting, e-commerce options, and gift card features.
- Enterprise: Call for a custom quote for an enterprise plan that offers a dedicated account manager and onboarding program.
You can choose from tons of hardware options or use your existing equipment. Vend offers deals on value bundles, or you can use Mac or Windows systems. This POS software integrates with nearly all credit card processing companies, along with top retail programs like:
- QuickBooks Online
Get the customer service your retail store needs with Vend’s responsive support systems, including 24/7 online or in-app live chat support, plus a full knowledge base.
Shopify: Best for E-Commerce
Oversee in-store and online sales easily from your mobile dashboard.
No extra transaction fees above interchange rates
Customer profiles come with the free plan
Must purchase a Shopify plan to use POS services
Free plan doesn’t offer omnichannel selling
Since 2004, Shopify has provided e-commerce entrepreneurs with capable online shopping services that are easy for store owners to use and offer a pleasant digital customer experience. Its robust virtual features make it the best POS for e-commerce.
To use the Shopify POS system, you need to select a Shopify plan first. These programs cover your e-commerce website and blog, plus many features, ranging from $29 to $299 per month. Your Shopify plan determines your credit card processing fees:
- Basic: 2.7% plus $0.00
- Shopify: 2.5% plus $0.00
- Advanced: 2.4% plus $0.00
All plans include the Shopify POS Lite plan with features such as:
- Order and product management
- Customer profiles
- Integrated credit card processing
- Quick response (QR) codes
- Customizable check out options
If you opt for the POS Pro version for $89 per month per location, you can take advantage of added features like:
- Smart inventory management
- Unlimited registers
- Omnichannel selling features
- In-store analytics
Shopify offers tons of plug-and-play hardware, so it’s easy to customize your setup. Choose from complete retail kits, tap and chip card readers, and iPad stands. To get assistance, go through Shopify’s 24/7 support center or check out its vast knowledge base.
Lightspeed Retail: Best iPad POS
Take your POS with you anywhere when you use the Lightspeed Retail for iPads.
Free payment terminal
More than 40 retail reports
Many choices for iPad equipment
Must call for complete info about the plan features
No offline capabilities
Since 2005, Lightspeed has transformed its standard POS solution into omnichannel retail systems. With custom hardware bundles and mobile iPad capabilities, you can deliver personal service anywhere in your store. Its simple iPad interface makes it a winner for the best iPad POS system.
All plans come with a free payment terminal, and the system integrates for no extra cost with Lightspeed Payments. You’ll pay transaction fees of 2.6% plus $0.10 for in-person payments and 2.6% plus $0.30 for card not present payments. Prices for each plan are for one register, and an extra register is $29 per month. Select POS plans such as:
- Basic: $69 per month
- Starter: $99 per month, adds e-commerce
- Standard: $119 per month, adds accounting features
- Advanced: $169 per month, adds a loyalty program
- Pro: $229 per month, adds analytics
Prices are for annual billing.
Although you need to contact the company to learn about specific plan features, each plan includes functions like:
- Gift card payments
- Inventory management
- Extensive built-in retail reports
- Free one-on-one onboarding session
Lightspeed Retail integrates with email and loyalty marketing programs like Kangaroo, Mailchimp, and TapMango. Plus, you’ll find tons of hardware to support your iPad system, including:
- An iPad hardware kit
- Desktop hardware kit
- USB or Bluetooth barcode scanners
- Cash drawers
- Mobile tap terminals
- EMV payment terminals
You’ll find a comprehensive support center, including webinars, demos, guides, videos, and unlimited 24/7 support.
ShopKeep: Best for Inventory Management
With advanced inventory tracking and a simple interface, ShopKeep is a favorite among small business owners.
Low stock phone alerts
Unlimited inventory items
Inventory reporting features
Basic package doesn’t include online payments
Can only accept gift cards with Essential or Advanced plans
Founded in 2008, ShopKeep is a cloud-based POS system used widely by small retail stores, like specialty shops and cafes. However, its impressive inventory capabilities make ShopKeep the best POS for inventory management.
ShopKeep offers three plans, which all come with one free credit card reader for eligible merchants. Credit processing is included, and you’ll pay one flat rate of 2.5% plus $0.10 per transaction. All plans offer many great features, including:
- Unlimited transactions
- Customer payments via text message
- Unlimited inventory items
- Real-time sales data
- Matrix inventory
- Employee management and rewards
- Inventory reports like sales trends and inventory value
For a limited time, all plans come with e-commerce, online ordering, and invoices. Typically these features are only offered in the Essential or Advanced programs. Each plan covers one location with one register, except for Advanced, which offers unlimited register licenses.
To get the best prices, you’ll want to make one annual payment. You can pay monthly, but it adds $20 more to each plan below:
- Basic: $49 per month for all basic features, including real-time sales data on your phone
- Essential: $79 per month for QuickBooks integration, gift card payments, and Mailchimp marketing
- Advanced: $179 per month for priority phone support, a hardware bundle, and a loyalty program
ShopKeep sells equipment individually or as part of a kit. While the kits are for iPad use, the company also offers all-in-one Android Clover POS systems. For example, the retail kit comes with:
- Cash drawer
- Receipt printer
- iPad enclosure
- Credit card reader
- Barcode scanner
- Label printer
Customers can submit a support ticket online or look through the self-help resources.
What Is a Point of Sale System?
Your point of sale (POS) system puts all your transaction data in one spot. Many programs provide tools to track inventory, manage employees, and see revenue data in real-time. POS solutions go beyond traditional registers to offer you various ways to accept payments from anywhere in your store.
Small business owners use a POS system to better understand their sales trends, available inventory, and customers. Moreover, mobile solutions enhance the customer experience with quick checkout options and integrated customer programs.
What Does a POS System Include?
Today you can build a POS system that works for your store, so you’re not limited to just a cash register. Typical hardware for small businesses includes:
- A standalone POS cash register or an iPad system
- Cash drawer
- Receipt printer
- Credit card reader
However, you can add self-service kiosks, mobile units, and customer displays to enhance the shopping and buying experiences.
What Are the Types of POS Systems?
Although retailers still rely on standalone systems, many prefer iPad solutions, which allow you to place the iPad on a secure stand or carry it throughout the store. Mobile units or self-service kiosks are especially crucial for curbside sales or contactless payments, so many business owners incorporate these types of units into their existing setup.
Most POS systems place some or all features in the cloud. This gives you access to tools using different devices in your store or from home.
What Are the Expected Costs of a POS System for Small Business?
POS systems come with a hefty monthly cost, and if you’re starting new, you’ll also spend quite a bit on hardware. Many larger POS providers offer financing or payment plans for bundled hardware kits along with month-to-month payment options for your POS software subscriptions. Prices ranges consist of:
- Monthly POS software: Free to $299 per month
- Basic hardware bundles: $299 to $899
- Payment processing: Interchange fee (small percentage of the transaction) plus $0.00 to $0.35 per transaction
How We Chose the Best POS Systems for Small Business
To find the best POS systems for small businesses, we reviewed several factors, including subscription prices and fees, hardware types and costs, payment processing options, and features. After searching through more than two dozen POS providers, we narrowed it down to winners in specific categories by the best POS systems for things like e-commerce, inventory management, and retail use.
Retail Consulting Partners. "2020 Survey Download." Accessed November 25, 2020.