Point-of-sale apps make running a business easier by handling sales, inventory, staff, and other business management tasks all in one system. You can download mobile POS (mPOS) systems to tablets or smartphones, although many offer terminals, credit card processors, and other tools.
The best mPOS apps for 2020 are:
- Square: Best overall free mPOS for most small businesses selling in-store or on-the-go
- Lightspeed: Best browser-based or iPad POS for retailers and specialty shops
- Toast: Best mobile POS for restaurants and cafes
- Clover: Best mobile POS for strong customer management and loyalty features
- Shopify: Best mPOS for online stores looking to sell in-person
If you’re not sure which mobile POS app is best for your needs, take this 2-question quiz:
How We Evaluated Mobile POS Apps
The best mPOS apps work on tablets or smartphones but offer hardware and the ability to expand beyond the app. We chose only those with good reviews and ease-of-use. In addition, we considered software and payment processing prices, device compatibility, mobility, checkout functions, business management tools, and reporting and analytics. Most of the solutions we chose can operate via smartphone app, all can run on a tablet, and all have built-in payment processing.
Square: Best Overall mPOS for Small Businesses
Square is a popular POS system because it is so flexible. It works for retailers from weekend craft fair booths to brick-and-mortar stores that also sell online. Restaurants, salons, and gyms can also use Square. Many find the free plan sufficient, but as you grow, you can move to paid plans or add modules. The card processing fees are slightly higher than average but predictable and transparent.
Square mPOS Strengths
Square mPOS Weaknesses
Must use built-in credit card processor
Highly customizable with add-on modules
Add-on modules can get pricey
Very flexible, easy to use
Live support hard to reach
Free online store
Square POS Pricing
Standard Square POS including an online store and appointment booking for one employee is free to use. In addition to retail and restaurant POS, businesses can add on staff management, payroll, loyalty, marketing, and gift cards modularly as needed, or as part of a Retail or Restaurant POS plan. Discounted processing fees available with paid plans.
- Square POS: Free.
- Square POS for Retail: $60-$299 per month per location.
- Square POS for Restaurants: $60-$299 per month per location.
- Square Appointments: $50-$90 per month for 2-10 employees.
- Card-present transaction fee: 2.6% + 10 cents per tap, dip, or swipe.
- Keyed-in payment transaction fee: 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction.
- Ecommerce transactions: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.
- Hardware costs: You can use Square on a smartphone or tablet. Every account comes with a free magstripe card reader. Other card readers and hardware available for $39 – $639. Payment plans are available for hardware.
Square POS Features
- Standout feature: Square is a very flexible system. Affordable and simple enough for solopreneurs, it nonetheless can handle complex inventories, multiple locations, and even work with delivery companies like DoorDash.
- Mobility: Offline mode holds payment information for 72 hours. You can sync multiple terminals to Square, even the ecommerce store. The mobile app lets you sell anywhere, with a card reader connecting to your smartphone or tablet.
- Device compatibility: Designed to work with Android or iOS tablets or smartphones, Square also offers fully integrated POS registers with customer-facing displays. It’s compatible with a variety of accessories, like receipt printers, bar code scanners, kitchen display systems, and more.
- Business management tools: Create menus for checkout, including custom orders. Process discounts, split-payments, and tips. Inventory items and make low stock alerts. Create customer profiles to track purchase history, send email receipts, and gather customer feedback.
- Ecommerce: Online store, Instagram sales, online appointments, donation capability, scheduled pickup or delivery orders, all sync with Square POS, and come included with your free account.
- Integrations: Websites and online stores, email marketing apps, gift card apps, project management software, forms, and accounting software.
- Reporting and analytics: In-app sales reports offer metrics on gross sales, sales count, refunds, and inventory. With paid programs, you get reports on sales by team members, team activities in the POS and work hours, loyalty program data, marketing performance, labor costs, and more.
Visit our Square POS review page to learn more about why Square is the best mobile POS app.
Lightspeed: Best POS App for Retailers
Lightspeed’s feature-rich all-in-one POS solution for iOS is terrific software for retailers, bike shops, or other stores that have complex inventories, sell kits, or offer repairs and other services. Its inventory management functions and reporting are some of the best available for a small business price point.
Lightspeed Retail Strengths
Lightspeed Retail Weaknesses
Easy to use
Plans are more expensive than other POS software on our list
Does not work for Android
Ecommerce costs extra
Lightspeed Retail Pricing
- Additional registers: $29 per month each.
- Card-present transaction fee: 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction.
- Keyed-in payment transaction fee: 2.6% + 30 cents per transaction.
- Hardware costs: You can use Lightspeed on an iPad or on a computer using the browser. Other hardware including iPad stands, Bluetooth scanners, cash drawers, and receipt printers are available.
Lightspeed Retail Features
- Standout feature: Lightspeed’s inventory system is top-notch. It can handle purchase orders, create kits of assembled products, set reorder points, and process spot counts (cycle counts), negative stock inputs, and more.
- Mobility: It does not process credit cards when offline, but you can ring up items. Bar code scanners are Bluetooth or USB. Use Lightspeed on a tablet or smartphone to carry it with you.
- Device compatibility: Lightspeed Web works on Firefox or Chrome; otherwise, it needs iOS devices.
- Retail tools: Process consignments, layaway, quotes, special orders, and more. Create customer profiles and types (ex: nonprofit for discount). Manage discounts, multiple stores, and different taxes. Clock employees in and out.
- Ecommerce: Online store syncs with Lightspeed POS; import stock from your physical store, create discounts, showcase products, enable customer wish lists, process shipping, connect to social media, and create marketing emails. Handles international sales in 14 languages and multiple currencies.
- Integrations: Accounting software like QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage, Mailchimp, Perkville, and various bike shop apps.
- Reporting and analytics: Over 50 built-in reports including sales, profit, sell-through, low stock, dusty inventory, team performance, upselling performance, customer lifetime value, and more. Plus, create custom reports along with visualizations and guides on how to interpret data.
Check out our full Lightspeed Retail review to learn more about why Lightspeed is a top-rated retail POS.
Toast: Best POS App for Restaurants
Toast is specifically designed for restaurants, which need a different type of POS system. Toast has exceptional menu features including interactivity with online menus and the kitchen to make sure orders are done right. Plus, Toast is a leader in restaurant technology with affordable solutions for online, tableside, and touchless ordering. Prices start at $75 per month, and there are solutions for casual, fast-casual, cafe, fine dining, bars, and more, making Toast the best POS app for restaurants of all types and sizes.
Easy to learn
No free plan/free trial
Touchless ordering and payments
The basic plan is limited
Kitchen operations, online ordering, and delivery
Toast POS Pricing
- Monthly software fee: $75+ per terminal per month + $499 installation.
- Remote or self-install: 50% off installation fee.
- Optional add-ons: Online ordering, marketing, loyalty, kitchen operations, payroll, team management, gift cards.
- Card transaction fee: Flat rate, call for a quote.
- Hardware costs: While you can use Toast on any Android device, the Starter Kit is $999 and includes POS station, chip and tap card reader, cash drawer, printer, and router. You can also purchase handheld POS terminals with built-in card readers, kitchen display screens, self-service kiosks, bar code scanners, and additional card readers.
Toast Mobile Features
- Standout feature: Toast offers delivery services with a network of local drivers. Start for free and pay a flat rate per order, with fees decreasing as volume increases. Guests order directly from you, so you have all the customer data and can set your own minimum orders and delivery charges.
- Mobility: With the handheld device, your waitstaff can take orders and process payments at the table or curbside. Devices also alert waitstaff when an order is ready. Offline mode lets you take payments even without internet connectivity.
- Device compatibility: Toast is Android-based and can be used on a tablet.
- Restaurant Tools: Handle menu management, see item countdowns, track inventory, connect to kitchen display systems, and text guests when orders are ready. You can also add order and pay-at-the-table functions so guests can order and pay using their own smartphones.
- Business tools: Process split tenders, partial payments, discounts, refunds, and exchanges. Create customer profiles with tags, contact information, loyalty programs, and more. Manage inventory across multiple locations. Add marketing functions, online ordering, team management.
- Reporting and analytics: Review sales and labor by location, see summary performances, monitor product mixes. You also get variance reporting and waste tracking.
Our Toast POS review offers additional insight on why Toast POS is the best restaurant POS app.
Clover: Best mPOS for Customer Management and Loyalty Features
Clover is a fully-featured POS system with excellent hardware that caters to the retail and restaurant industries. It stands out in its many ways to reward customers, with timed discounts (happy hours), loyalty programs that can activate after repeat businesses, and a Clover Rewards app that joins your business to other Clover users in a rewards program that encourages patrons. Plans start at $9.95 a month.
Customer support is slow to respond
Customer relationship management tools
Software boots up slowly
Timed discount functions
Hardware is pricey
Clover POS Fees
- POS software: $9.95 – $69.95; some options free for 90-days.
- Card-present transaction fee: 2.3% + 10 cents.
- Keyed-in transaction fee: 3.5% + 10 cents.
- Hardware costs: The Clover Lite program works on mobile devices with the credit card processor. You can also access the software via a computer. Payment plans are available for some hardware.
- Clover Stations: $1,349 – $1,549 with options for standard, counter-service, and restaurants.
- Mini POS system: $749 for a station with a built-in receipt printer.
- Clover Flex: $499 Hand-held POS terminal and payment processor.
- Credit card processor: $69 Accepts swipe, chip, or touchless.
Clover POS Features
- Standout feature: Clover offers some unique discount options. The Happy Hour tool lets you program timed discounts. The Rewards program lets you set up deals that only unlock after repeat visits. Customers can download the Clover app for rewards at multiple businesses.
- Mobility: Clover has an offline mode for accepting payments. Clover Flex lets you conduct business anywhere in the store or curbside. The Clover Go mobile app lets you sell anywhere.
- Device compatibility: Works with iPhone and Android, and has a virtual terminal online.
- Business management tools: Process split tenders, partial payments, discounts, refunds, store credit. Manage inventory across multiple locations. Clock employees in and out and set up team commissions.
- CRM functions: Create customer profiles with contact information and purchase history; make rewards programs, gift cards, special offers, and more. Encourage customer feedback, create social media, and run email marketing campaigns.
- Online sales: Set up ecommerce or online ordering. Online orders go straight to Clover POS and your kitchen display. Partner with delivery services like Grubhub or DoorDash via the Chowly app.
- Integrations: Ecommerce, phone orders, HR (Gusto, timeclock), tips, commissions, appointments, simple inventory management, QuickBooks, DocuSign, and more.
- Reporting and analytics: Reports include revenue, busiest hours, bestsellers, sales by salesperson, sales across locations, and tips by shift.
Want to learn more? Read our Clover review.
Shopify: Best Mobile POS for Online Stores
Most people know Shopify for its online stores. However, Shopify also offers a free POS app and POS Pro solution that adds omnichannel sales features to any Shopify store. You still need to have a Shopify ecommerce plan to use Shopify POS, but it is affordable and powerful software for online stores that also need to sell in-person at pop-up shops, trade shows, events, or in-store.
Shopify POS Strengths
Shopify POS Weaknesses
Easy to use
Must have a Shopify ecommerce plan
Omnichannel selling features
Can’t process credit cards when offline
Responsive customer support
Not a good choice for restaurants
Competitive payment processing rates
Shopify POS Pricing
- Shopify POS: Free mobile POS app, $89 per month for POS Pro. Must have a Shopify ecommerce plan to use Shopify POS.
- Shopify ecommerce: $9 – $299 per month.
- Card transaction fee: 2.4% – 2.7%, depending on your Shopify ecommerce plan.
- Hardware costs: You need an iPad to run Shopify. Other accessories include cash drawers, bar code scanners, and receipt printers.
- Retail kit: $299 iPad stand plus chip and contactless credit card reader (also sold separately).
Shopify Mobile POS Features
- Shopify Free POS: Omnichannel selling features including browse in-store, buy online; email customers with invites to purchase online; and QR codes to drive in-store customers online.
- POS Pro: Free POS omnichannel features plus buy online, pick up in-store; buy online, exchange in-store; and buy in-store and ship to customers. Plus, smart inventory management and cash tracking.
- Mobility: It does not process credit cards when offline, but you can ring up items. Shopify supports Bluetooth scanners, or you can use your smartphone. Mobile checkout lets you process sales anywhere in the store.
- Device compatibility: Shopify POS only works with iOS devices or connects to your online store via the browser on any computer.
- Business tools: Process split tenders, partial payments, discounts, refunds, and exchanges. Create customer profiles with tags, contact information, loyalty programs, and more. Manage inventory across multiple locations. Encourage product reviews, create social media, and run email marketing campaigns.
- Reporting and analytics: The free app includes retails sales, cash flow, returns, taxes, discounts, and inventory reports. The paid plan also has cash tracking and daily sales.
Learn more about Shopify’s omnichannel features by reading our Shopify POS review.
A great POS system does not have to be expensive, and the tools it offers for sales, inventory, staff management, and marketing can save you time and money. Mobile POS apps let you take your business anywhere, on the road, or around the store.
Square is the best overall mPOS system for new and small businesses because it is free and has the most important features for setting up and running a business. It’s versatile enough to handle restaurants or retail, but simple enough for the weekend solopreneur. Plus, modular add-ons and more advanced POS plans mean Square can grow with your business. Visit Square to create a free account and get a free mobile card reader.