Point-of-sale (POS) inventory systems are software tools used by retailers and restaurants to process customer sales and track product or ingredient stock levels. Most POS inventory software has tools to ring sales, count inventory, and provide basic reports. The best POS systems also streamline product purchasing at prices starting at less than $100 per month.
Top 6 POS Inventory Software Systems 2019
|POS Inventory System||Best for|
|(Best overall) Brick-and-mortar retailers that needi detailed inventory tracking and reporting|
|Restaurants that need ingredient-level tracking|
|Boutiques that want a POS system with preset reports|
|Retailers that want an inventory POS with a customer loyalty program|
|Multichannel sellers that want centralized inventory to track stock in real time across all channels|
|Small businesses that need free POS with basic inventory tracking|
How We Evaluated POS Inventory Systems
A POS inventory system allows retailers and restaurants to manage the important elements of their businesses through one platform. Every storefront business needs a tool to process sales, refunds, and returns. Using a POS system that also has inventory management allows product or ingredient stock levels to be connected with customer sales so that inventory counts are updated in real time. Many systems also have features to manage purchase orders and prevent stock-outs.
Based on the needs and wants of the reader, the criteria we used to evaluate the best include:
- Price: POS inventory systems need to be affordable for small businesses to set up and maintain.
- Ease of use: POS inventory software should streamline inventory tracking, reporting, and ordering to save businesses time.
- POS features: We only considered inventory systems that are part of a larger POS system that can accept payments, track transactions, and provide sales reports.
- Inventory features: We looked at what inventory features each system has, such as real-time tracking, low stock alerts, bar coding, and ingredient-level tracking.
- Purchase order and vendor management: We considered whether systems have built-in product catalogs or tools to create purchase orders and manage vendor details.
- Reporting and analytics: We looked at what kinds of inventory reports each system provides, such as low stock products, best-selling items, and on-hand quantities.
Based on the above criteria, Lightspeed is our top pick for best overall POS inventory system for small businesses. It has some of the most detailed inventory tracking and reporting available for small businesses. Plus, Lightspeed has a user-friendly custom report module, all for a starting price of less than $100 per month.
Lightspeed: Best Overall POS Inventory System for Small Businesses
Lightspeed is a cloud-based POS system designed for growing small businesses with massive inventories that need to be categorized by multiple variants. Lightspeed’s detailed inventory is paired with a sophisticated custom reporting tool for a starting price less than $100 per month, making Lightspeed the best POS inventory system for small businesses.
Lightspeed starts at $99 per month for software and $699 upfront for hardware. Hardware kits include receipt printers, cash drawers, and bar code scanners. The software can run on tablets, laptops, or desktops. Lightspeed also has built-in payment processing at rates that are comparable to Square and Shopify.
Lightspeed is one of the best POS systems with features to process sales, manage customers, and track inventory. Inventory and reporting are the stars of Lightspeed’s POS system. You can create purchase orders, order new stock, and manage everything from the cloud-based POS system. There are also more than 40 reports, so you can get down to granular data to find out what your best-selling item is, which employees are performing best, and more insight into your business.
Lightspeed Inventory Management
Lightspeed Retail offers the most advanced inventory system among point-of-sale software. Add your items to the inventory, and then tag them with searchable terms—this makes it easy to find in your system. The descriptors help you isolate an exact item—color, material, size, and so on. Plus, Lightspeed uploads vendor catalogs to its system, making it easy for you to reorder stock whenever you run low.
Lightspeed Purchase Order and Vendor Management
Lightspeed, like Vend, has a feature to let businesses manage their product catalog from one central location. However, Lightspeed is the only solution on our list that has a product catalog with different suppliers already built into the POS. Businesses can place orders with these suppliers right through Lightspeed.
Lightspeed Inventory Reporting
Lightspeed POS software includes more than 40 sales and inventory reports, giving you maximum data on your bestselling products, profit margins, and more. Lightspeed also includes employee performance reports so that you can identify your top sales staff easily, view your average transaction value, and properly prepare for rush hours. Lightspeed also has reports to anticipate shopping trends in your customer base. The ability to anticipate inventory needs and shopping trends and build out custom reports are what sets Lightspeed well above the competition.
Lightspeed POS Features
Lightspeed POS app delivers an array of advanced business management features within one system. In addition to advanced inventory and reporting, Lightspeed has customer relationship management (CRM) features, built-in payment processing, and an optional loyalty program. Lightspeed also offers different versions of its app, with features designed to meet the specific needs of retailers, restaurant, and ecommerce businesses.
What Lightspeed Is Missing
Lightspeed is one of the few systems on our list that has a setup fee, which makes starting out with Lightspeed much more expensive than a free program like Square. Lightspeed could also be too expensive for businesses that would not take advantage of the full inventory tracking and custom reporting features. There are also extra features like loyalty programs and ecommerce that are only available with additional fees.
Overall, most users agree in Lightspeed Retail reviews that the POS is easy to use, offers several helpful tools for inventory and reporting and that it offers excellent customer support. However, there was a bit of frustration regarding extra costs for add-on features like loyalty and ecommerce.
Get Started With Lightspeed
Lightspeed is an excellent POS inventory system for small businesses. Businesses with larger inventories will appreciate the detail with which they can tag and categorize items, and reports help highlight areas where your business is succeeding or where it could use improvements. Visit Lightspeed for a free trial.
Revel Systems: Best POS Inventory System for Restaurants
Revel Systems is a cloud-based iPad POS with inventory features specific to the foodservice industry. It has precise ingredient-level tracking, reports to evaluate food waste, and manage ingredient prep for recipes. Starting at $99 per month, Revel Systems is a great POS inventory system for restaurants.
Revel Systems Pricing
Revel Systems starts at $99/register per month, which is a higher base cost than most of the other systems on our list. However, Revel is one of the only systems with such detailed recipe and ingredient tracking, which is needed for restaurants. Revel also has an onboarding and installation fee that starts at $649.
Revel Systems Features
Revel Systems is a full-featured POS system with built-in payment processing, customer relationship management, and inventory tracking and reporting. Plus, Revel Systems has restaurant-specific features like the ability to design menus and preauthorize payment cards for bar tabs.
Revel Systems Inventory Management
Revel Systems lets restaurants create menus and enter recipes for each menu item with specific ingredient amounts. When a menu item is sold, Revel deducts those ingredients from the on-hand inventory count automatically. Restaurants can set up custom low-stock alerts for each ingredient and receive a notification when items are low. Revel also has an inventory app for smartphones that businesses can use to take inventory counts, scan bar codes, and receive purchase orders.
Revel Systems Purchase Order and Vendor Management
Restaurants can use Revel to automatically generate purchase orders when items reach their designated low-stock alert threshold. Revel also stores vendor information for each ingredient so businesses can send our purchase orders.
Revel Systems Inventory Reporting
Revel has sales reporting to show daily totals and popular menu items and inventory reporting that shows which menu items are most profitable, where there is food waste, and costs vs profits for recipes and menu items. Revel lets businesses enter specific recipes with individual ingredient quantities for accurate stock tracking.
Revel also lets businesses tie specific wholesale costs to ingredients so restaurants can price out items. Businesses can also set up custom low-stock alerts for ingredients. All of this reporting data is available online and on smartphones with the Insights by Revel app.
Revel Systems POS Features
Revel has built-in payment processing so restaurants can process sales and ring up customer orders. Revel lets users easily pre-authorize credit cards, open tabs, and split bills as needed. Revel Systems has standard CRM features like the ability to create customer profiles and collect information. It has a basic loyalty program built into the base price and tools to send out email marketing.
Restaurants can create logins for each employee with different permission levels. There is also a built-in scheduling tool that uses POS data to forecast how busy your business will be. Schedules can then be emailed to employees or exported.
What Revel Systems Is Missing
Revel Systems has a built-in payment processing system called Revel Advantage that all Revel POS customers have to use, so you cannot shop around for better payment processing rates. Revel also has a three-year contract agreement, whereas many of the POS systems are month-to-month.
Revel Systems Reviews
Revel Systems user reviews are generally positive. Users like the detailed reporting tools and 24/7 customer service. The most common complaint is unexpected downtime from software glitches, bugs, and database errors.
Get Started With Revel Systems
Revel Systems is a robust POS system with detailed ingredient-level inventory tracking for restaurants. Revel also has great POS features like built-in payments, payment preauthorization, employee scheduling, and a reporting app. To get started, visit Revel Systems to schedule a free demo.
ShopKeep: Best POS Inventory System for Boutiques
ShopKeep is an affordable iPad POS that is known for detailed inventory management features. ShopKeep has preset reports so that small business owners can get a clear picture of their inventory at a glance without having to manipulate data, which is ideal for boutique business owners who are running all aspects of their business.
ShopKeep has quote-based pricing, so contact ShopKeep for specific pricing for your business. However, ShopKeep generally has three POS monthly plans: Basic, Essential, and Advanced plans with slightly different features.
ShopKeep Pricing and Features
|Estimated Monthly Fee|
|Unlimited Inventory Items|
|Pocket Reporting App|
|Advanced Marketing Features|
|Customer Loyalty Program|
ShopKeep has a suite of retail management features that are ideal for small, boutique, and specialty retailers, including bulk inventory management, employee logins and permissions, reporting, and more. Like a majority of the systems on our list, ShopKeep’s checkout register is iPad-based, although you can access the store management dashboard via any computer or smartphone.
ShopKeep Inventory Management
ShopKeep includes a bunch of great business management features, including inventory management with the ability to manage thousands of stock keeping units (SKUs) in bulk with comma-separated values (CSV) files. ShopKeep also has low stock triggers, calculates profit margins, and tells you your best sellers.
ShopKeep lets boutiques add variants to inventory items, such as different sizes and colors. Items can also be categorized into different store departments, categories, and suppliers. ShopKeep also has tools to create and print bar codes, which is ideal for boutiques that tend to carry lots of unique or local items.
ShopKeep Purchase Order and Vendor Management
ShopKeep lets boutiques track the suppliers for each item. ShopKeep also has a Reorder Report that automatically adds products that have reached the threshold for a low-stock alert. Unlike Lightspeed and Vend, ShopKeep does not have a built-in product catalog. Instead, boutiques can export reports or create purchase orders and send directly to their suppliers.
ShopKeep Inventory Reporting
ShopKeep provides preset reports for businesses to track inventory and other POS data, including sales, customer interactions, and employees. Unlike Lightspeed, which has tools to create custom reports, ShopKeep has everything preset, which is ideal for small shops that don’t have time to navigate data or newer shop owners learning the ins and outs of inventory reporting.
All of this data is accessible through desktop or mobile, including ShopKeep’s Pocket app specifically for reports. For accounting, ShopKeep integrates with QuickBooks and can send sales data directly to QuickBooks each night.
ShopKeep POS Features
ShopKeep has built-in payment processing and a suite of retail management features that are ideal for small and specialty stores, including employee logins and permissions, reporting, customer management, and more. ShopKeep’s checkout register is iPad-based, although you can access the store management dashboard via any computer or smartphone.
What ShopKeep Is Missing
ShopKeep doesn’t have a custom report builder like Lightspeed does, so there is not much flexibility to manipulate your inventory data. Like most of the solutions on our list, ShopKeep comes with built-in payment processing, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it means you cannot shop around for the lowest transaction rates.
ShopKeep reviews are generally very positive. Users like that ShopKeep is easy to use and intuitive to navigate. Users also say the customer service is friendly and helpful. Some reviewers report glitches or issues with system updates.
Get Started With ShopKeep
ShopKeep is a popular iPad POS with detailed inventory management that can give boutique owners all the reports they need with little setup or configurations. Plus, ShopKeep has built-in payment processing for customer transactions, customer management tools, sales data, and employee management. Visit ShopKeep to get started.
Vend: Best All-in-One POS Inventory System for Retailers
Vend is a cloud-based POS system used worldwide by small businesses. It also has detailed inventory management features that are similar to Lightspeed and ShopKeep, but Vend also has a built-in loyalty program, making it a great all-in-one POS inventory system for retailers.
Vend’s pricing is similar to Lightspeed if you choose the Vend Lite plan. However, to get the most out of Vend’s features, most businesses will want to choose the Pro plan, which is $129. Vend is one of the more expensive POS inventory systems on our list. It can be used on Mac or PC in stores, or through an iOS app for mobile POS, and it operates in the cloud, so there’s no need for special hardware.
Vend Pricing and Features
|Loyalty & Gift Cards|
|24/7 Phone & Chat Support|
Vend is a retail POS system that works on Macs, PCs, and iPads. Retailers choose their own payment processor with Vend. The inventory features included with Vend are similar to ShopKeep’s but with the addition of a product catalog feature. Vend’s unique feature is that the Pro plan has a built-in loyalty program and gift card features.
Vend Inventory Management
Vend has detailed inventory management features, similar to Lightspeed and ShopKeep. Businesses can add products by bulk with CSV files or add products individually. Apply variants to each product, split groups into singles or pours, or create bundles, if you’d like. Vend also has a bar code scanner app for smartphones so that retailers can take paperless inventory counts.
Vend Purchase Order and Vendor Management
Vend allows retailers to easily upload all of their products into the POS to create a centralized product catalog. Retailers can then manage the one central product catalog for all sales channels in one place. Vend can automatically generate stock orders when items reach their customizable low-stock threshold. Vend can automatically send these reorders to suppliers. Retailers can also create orders and email them to suppliers right from the POS.
Vend Inventory Reporting
Vend is one of the few POS systems that offers two levels of reporting (Shopify is another). Custom reports are available with the basic reporting feature, so you can compare your costs versus your profits, or filter data to discover trends in sales by hour, day, or time of year. More advanced metrics come with the high-tier plan, and they’ll show you employee performance, discount reports, time it takes for an employee to sell a product, and more.
Vend POS Features
Vend has the best built-in CRM features out of all the POS system on our list. Vend includes customer profiles that retailers can use to create customer groups, similar to the VIP customer option in Lightspeed Retail, and give groups special pricing. Vend also has a built-in loyalty program in the Pro plan. Most POS systems charge additional fees for loyalty. Vend is also the only solution on our list that doesn’t offer a built-in payment processor. However, Vend can integrate with Square, PayPal, and Worldpay.
What Vend Is Missing
Vend is a good all-in-one retail POS solution, but its inventory features are not quite as advanced as Lightspeed’s tracking and reporting module.
Vend reviews are very positive. Users like how easy to use the software is and that features like loyalty programs and gift cards are built-in automatically. However, some reviews say the monthly fee is high or that the system is not quite as powerful as they would like.
Get Started With Vend
Vend is a good option for any retailer in need of a POS inventory system, especially one that also has advanced CRM features like a loyalty program and gift cards. Visit Vend to sign up for a free 30-day trial.
Shopify: Best POS Inventory System for Multichannel Sales
Shopify is an ecommerce platform with an equally detailed POS app with tools to manage inventory across all sales channels. If you sell online and in-person at a store, markets, or pop-ups, Shopify is the best POS inventory system because you can track all customer orders and on-hand stock in a centralized system.
Shopify has several different monthly plans ranging from $9 per month up to $299 per month. Most small businesses that need to sell online and in-person and want reporting should choose the standard Shopify plan. At $79 per month, the standard Shopify plan is very affordable compared to most other systems on our list that start around $100 per month.
Shopify Pricing and Features
|Online Processing Fees|
|In-person Processing Fees|
On May 4, 2020 Shopify released POS Pro for $89/month in addition to the free POS app. We will update this article to reflect the new pricing and features.
Shopify combines online selling tools, a POS system, and inventory tracking for a powerful multichannel business management tool. With Shopify, you can make in-person sales, accept payments, collect customer information, and track inventory. Businesses can also sell on a blog, website, social channels, and via email campaigns, and even manage shipping, all in one system.
Shopify Inventory Management
All of Shopify’s POS system plans come with inventory management, so you can add products, include variants―such as size, color, and material―and add SKUs, prices, and more information. It isn’t quite as advanced an inventory tool as Lightspeed’s custom report builder, but it is still a solid product management tool for retail businesses. Shopify also lets businesses create bar codes for products that need them and input existing bar codes for products.
Shopify Purchase Order and Vendor Management
Like most of the systems on our list, Shopify lets businesses assign a vendor to each product to track from where to purchase. Shopify also has integrations with traditional wholesale suppliers and dropshipping companies to order directly through Shopify.
Shopify Inventory Reporting
To get the more advanced reports from Shopify, you need to subscribe to one of Shopify’s high-tier plans. Shopify is the only system on our list that doesn’t include reporting in all of its plans. Even Square, which is free, offers basic reports. Shopify’s reports analyze profits, customers, sales, and more. Businesses can also see which products are selling, most popular product categories, and set up custom low stock alerts. Shopify also has a separate mobile app to view all of the analytics on the go.
Shopify POS Features
Shopify POS offers multiple ways for you to sell your products and services, including through your website and online store, mobile sales, and through social media. Customers can even contact you through Facebook Messenger to shop directly with you. For in-person sales, Shopify works on iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. Like most solutions on our list, Shopify has built-in payment processing. However, Shopify has very transparent and competitive flat-rate processing fees.
What Shopify Is Missing
The biggest flaw with Shopify is that there is no reporting available in the basic plans. Also, if you are not planning to sell online, Shopify is not the best fit as you won’t be taking advantage of its best features.
Overall, Shopify user reviews are excellent. Businesses love that the program is easy to use and simplifies the process of running an online or multichannel retail store. Some reviewers say they wish Shopify had more customization and template options for online stores. Shopify has 24/7 live customer support, but some reviewers report long waiting times.
Get Started With Shopify
Shopify is our top pick for POS inventory software for multichannel businesses. Shopify has a powerful POS system that’s suitable for a variety of sales channels, including online stores, social media, and offline at events and small retail shops. Visit Shopify for a free trial.
Square POS: Best Free POS Inventory System
Square POS is a free business management app with built-in payment processing that can be used to process transactions and keep an inventory count. Square has very basic inventory features, making it a good fit for businesses that don’t have many different products or businesses on a strict budget that need a free tracking system.
Square POS Pricing
Square POS is the only system on our list that is completely free. Anyone can create a free Square account and download the POS app on and iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The free Square POS app also comes with payment processing, which has flat-rate transaction fees, which are affordable for most startups or very small businesses. Square’s free POS app is limited, but there are other features you can choose to add-on for a monthly fee.
Note: Square has recently changed its flat-rate fee of 2.75% to 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. We will update the pricing and our ranking of providers in the next update of this article.
Square POS Features
Square comes with a suite of business management features, including inventory management, sales reports, and a customer directory. Businesses can add additional features like payroll, employee management, loyalty programs, and marketing for an additional monthly fee. The management features, including with the free Square app are basic but cover all the essentials that you need as a small or startup business.
Square POS Inventory Management
Square has basic inventory management features, including the ability to track on-hand stock levels in real time based on sales data. Businesses can manually enter individual products or upload many products at once with a CSV spreadsheet. Businesses can also set custom low stock alerts for each item.
Square POS Purchase Order and Vendor Management
Square lets businesses run a report on low-stock items, and then export that report. However, Square POS does not have any further features for creating purchase orders or managing suppliers.
Square POS Inventory Reporting
Square POS has a feature called Square Analytics, which businesses can access through the website, or by downloading Square’s Dashboard app. Square’s analytics run in real-time, so there’s no need to wait for end-of-day reports. Square includes insights such as top product categories and sales by item.
Square POS Features
Square’s POS app can be downloaded and used on Apple and Android devices. Card readers can be plugged into smartphones and tablets via the lightning cable on Apple or the headphone jack. There are also Bluetooth options for card readers. If you do not have an Apple or Android smartphone or tablet, Square also sells complete register kits like Square Register and Square Terminal. Using one of these products will also give you a discounted payment processing rate.
What Square POS Is Missing
Square does not have as detailed reporting as other systems. In general, the POS is much more limited than other systems. If you have a business that needs variances on items, such as different sizes or colors, Lightspeed, ShopKeep, or Vend would be a good fit. If you need restaurant reporting, Revel Systems would have more features.
Square POS Reviews
Square POS reviews are generally positive. Users love how the system is so intuitive and easy to use. Of course, people also like that the POS app is completely free to use. Some reviewers report having trouble contacting a live customer service rep and are not satisfied with Square’s support hours.
Get Started With Square POS
Square POS provides a great value for new and small businesses with its free POS inventory system. Anyone can create a free Square account and download the POS app. Visit Square to get started.
Every retail and restaurant business needs to be able to process sales and reorder supplies and products. A POS inventory system allows businesses to handle all of those business needs in one place. With POS inventory software, you can ring sales, track products, analyze data, and reorder products easily.
Lightspeed includes standard features like payment processing, inventory tracking, and low stock alerts Lightspeed also offers unparalleled reporting and analytics with customizable reports, graphs and visual data, and tutorials on how to use reports. It’s also the only system on our list to come preloaded with more than 3,000 product catalogs for easy product ordering. Visit Lightspeed for a free trial.