This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
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. The best POS inventory software includes tools for tracking stock levels in real time across multiple locations, analyzing and providing reports on inventory data, performing inventory counts, and integrating with a wide array of third-party software—all under $100 per month.
After reviewing the top POS inventory software on the market, we narrowed it down to the following six contenders
- Lightspeed Retail: Best overall POS for inventory management
- Shopify: Best for multichannel sellers
- IT Retail: Best for grocers and markets
- Square: Best free inventory management for new and small businesses
- Lightspeed Restaurant: Best for restaurants
- KORONA POS: Best for specialty and high-risk retailers like vape shops
Do you need more than inventory management? Many of the inventory systems on this list are also some of the best POS systems for small businesses.
POS Inventory Systems Compared
Monthly Software Fee
Payment Processing Fee
$69 to $269+
From 2.6% + 10 cents **
$0 to $89*
$0 to $69
2.6% + 10 cents
$69 to $399+
From 2.6% + 10 cents **
$59 to $89+
Varies by processor
*Separate ecommerce subscription require
**Also integrates with third-party processors; rates vary by processor
POS Inventory Software Quiz
Which POS Inventory System Is Right for You?
Lightspeed Retail: Best Overall POS Inventory System
Lightspeed is a cloud-based POS system designed for growing small businesses with large inventories that need to be categorized by multiple variants, like large retailer stores and convenience stores. Its detailed inventory features are a great fit for retailers, and its sister POS—Lightspeed Restaurant (featured below)—offers excellent tools for restaurants. Paired with a sophisticated custom reporting tool for a starting price of less than $100 per month, Lightspeed Retail is the best overall POS inventory system for small businesses.
In our evaluation, Lightspeed received a 4.73 out of 5. Granular inventory tracking, built-in purchase ordering, and the most sophisticated analytics platform earned the system a high score. However, unlike competitor Square, Lightspeed does not have a free plan (though it offers a 14-day free trial).
Since our last update: You can now connect Lightspeed online stores with Google Analytics 4.
Lightspeed Retail’s standout inventory management features include:
- Customizable matrixes: Sell unique product variations that are bundled and serialized, or case-broken to sell various quantities of the same product.
- Work order management: Process and follow work orders in the POS system.
- Categorization and tracking: Use serial numbers and/or stock-keeping units (SKUs) to identify each piece of inventory.
- Integrated vendor catalogs: With more than 3,000 preloaded catalogs, you can upload up to 10,000 items, consolidate all purchases into one order, set custom reorder points, and fulfill special orders for customers.
- Scanner App: Count inventory by barcode scans using a POS-integrated scanner or the built-in camera of an iOS or Android device.
- Vendor catalog: Allows you to discover products, submit purchase orders (POs), and track stock shipments from within Lightspeed POS, making a more efficient supply chain.
- Detailed analytics: More than 40 built-in reports, plus customizable settings, data visualizations, and actionable tips.
- Synced eCom: Lightspeed POS syncs with Lightspeed eCom to manage online sales from the same system.
Take a deeper look at Lightspeed’s inventory tool kit with our guide to Lightspeed inventory management software and our retail expert Brigitte Hodge’s video walkthrough of the Lightspeed Retail Inventory dashboard.
Although its reporting is cloud-based and accessible from anywhere, Lightspeed does not have a mobile reporting app like Square and Shopify. It also does not support expiration date tracking. If you operate a market or grocery, IT Retail is a better option.
Shopify: Best Multichannel POS Inventory System
Shopify is an ecommerce platform with an equally detailed POS app that has tools to manage inventory across all sales channels. If you sell online and in person, Shopify is the best POS inventory system because you can track all customer orders and on-hand stock in a centralized system. It includes integrated barcode scanners, detailed inventory reporting, and stock monitoring tools.
Based on our criteria, Shopify’s POS inventory system received a score of 4.40 out of 5, taking the lead against popular competitors like Square and Lightspeed in cross-channel inventory management features. It earned high marks for the system’s granular, multichannel inventory control, purchase ordering tools, mobile apps, and user-friendly interface.
Shopify’s standout inventory management features:
- Omnichannel selling: Centralized inventory management allows for easy omnichannel transactions, including buy online, pick up in-store; buy online, return/exchange in-store; and buy in-store, ship to customer.
- Product organization: Create collections for different seasons or categories, manage multiple variants, and assign SKUs.
- Inventory status: Track and share status/location of products as they are received and transferred and orders are fulfilled.
- Smart inventory management: Transfer products between locations, perform quick counts using a barcode scanner, and receive orders with a barcode scanner.
- Purchase ordering: Create and manage POs; track vendors and suppliers.
- Reporting and analytics: Demand forecasting, inventory analysis, sale item suggestions, low-stock reports, and more.
- Stocky app: Stocky is an inventory management app by Shopify for POS Pro users. Many of the Shopify inventory features can be managed through Stocky.
- Customer self-serve returns (NEW): This feature allows customers to submit return requests through your online store. These returns will then appear in your Shopify dashboard for you to manage.
While Shopify has a lot to offer omnichannel retailers, pricey software fees and a lack of customization options prevented it from landing higher in our rankings. If you need a lower-cost option, consider Square. And, if you need greater flexibility, consider Lightspeed.
Additionally, as you have to subscribe to Shopify’s ecommerce plans to get access to the POS system, you will be paying for things you don’t need with Shopify if you are primarily a brick-and-mortar retailer. Consider Square or Lightspeed in this case.
IT Retail: Best for Grocers & Markets
IT Retail is a comprehensive POS designed for markets, supermarkets, and other stores that manage both perishable and non-perishable goods. It includes essential grocery features like electronic benefits transfer (EBT) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) compliance and scale integration.
On the inventory side, it also includes the ability to track products by lots and expiration dates. This is crucial for businesses like markets that sell perishable items and are sometimes bound by food safety laws to retain records of products’ origins in case of recalls or foodborne illness outbreaks.
This provider earned a 4.37 out of 5 on our POS inventory scoring criteria. It earned massive points for its niche inventory functions like the expiration date tracking mentioned above. It also scored well for ease of use.
IT Retail also stumbled a bit when it came to price. Starting at $199 per month, it can’t compete price-wise with others on this list that start at $0 or at least offer a free trial. But if you are a high-volume market that needs to track product expiration dates, IT Retail’s cost is well worth it.
Unlike other systems that rely on smartphones for stock-taking applications, IT Retail provides a purpose-built handheld device. This can help keep your team focused on inventory tasks, with no chance of being distracted by a text message or social media notification.
IT Retail’s other standout inventory management features include:
- PO management: You can create POs in your IT Retail dashboard based on low stock alerts or generated from completely new items.
- Shrinkage tracking: IT Retail generates a shrinkage calculation by comparing your sold items with items received and previous inventory counts. This can alert you quickly to spoilage, breakage, or theft.
- Lot and expiration date tracking: Expiration date tracking helps your team adhere to the principle of first-in, first-out (FIFO). It also ensures that you sell items before they expire so you make your expected profit margin and keep your sales on track.
- Mobile scanner: IT Retail’s mobile scanner can speed physical inventory counts, receive orders, generate shelf tags, change product entries, and even generate POs on the fly.
If you are a high-risk business like a vape shop, IT Retail will not support your business; try KORONA instead. And if you are a restaurant, IT Retail cannot track items to the ingredient level; check out Lightspeed Restaurant instead.
Square: Best Free POS Inventory System for New & Small Businesses
Square is a free POS system that includes features to manage payments, customers, orders, and products. You can create a product catalog with a few clicks in the browser-based Square dashboard and track inventory counts based on sales. Square offers unbeatable value for new businesses and businesses such as salons and coffee shops with few item variations.
Square’s Pro POS plans offer additional inventory management tools, and you can expand the inventory functions with several third-party integrations, such as Yellow Dog, for example, which supports expiration date tracking and vendor management.
In our evaluation of POS inventory systems, Square earned a 4.30 out of 5. Aside from its forever-free plan, its Pro-level tiers are priced at just $60 to $69 per month, making it the most cost-effective choice for startups.
Square has basic inventory features like variant tracking and low-stock alerts. However, a lack of detailed purchase ordering, vendor management, customizable reporting, and unlimited phone support prevented Square from earning a higher score.
Square’s standout inventory management features include:
- Good free features: The basic Square POS inventory supports unlimited SKUs and item categories and even has some ability to generate new items from scanned barcodes.
- Square for Retail Pro: The highest level Square subscriptions offer expanded inventory tools. Pro users can receive stock shipments, adjust stock levels for returns and exchanges, create and send POs by email, create vendor lists, create item libraries for each vendor, track inventory value by item, view COGS, and other advanced reports.
- Product catalog: You can add items individually or upload in bulk using a spreadsheet. Include details and variants, create product categories, and add designated products for sale exclusively in-store, online, or both.
- Integrated ecommerce site: All Square accounts come with the free Square Online store. You can quickly build your site using Square’s setup wizard and host it on your own domain or for free on a Square-affiliated domain. Your stock levels sync across your Square system, so if you sell out of an item in-store, your online store updates automatically.
- Low-stock alerts: Receive daily emails that detail low-stock or out-of-stock products.
- Downloadable reports: Export reports, including inventory levels, to a printable spreadsheet.
- Integrations: For more robust inventory management, upgrade to a Pro plan or integrate with third-party tools like Stitch Labs, Shopventory, SKU IQ, Yellow Dog, or MarketMan.
- Mobile app: Download the Square mobile app to turn any phone or tablet camera into a barcode scanner—perfect for making sales on the go or performing inventory counts without the need for a separate scanner.
Square’s inventory is user-friendly, but it is not a good fit for established businesses with lots of SKUs or restaurants that need ingredient-level tracking. For matrix-level inventory management, you’re better off with Lightspeed Retail. Restaurants are better served by Lightspeed Restaurants.
Lightspeed Restaurant: Best for Restaurants
Lightspeed Restaurant, like its sibling POS Lightspeed Retail, is a user-friendly cloud POS. The restaurant system’s inventory tools have always been ingredient-level, but with Lightspeed’s acquisition of Upserve, the restaurant inventory tools became even more automated. If you want a POS to automatically generate suggested orders when you run low on ingredients, Lightspeed restaurant is your solution.
This system earned a competitive 4.18 out of 5 on our scoring criteria. With a perfect 5 out of 5 for ease of use and a 4.75 out of 5 for general inventory features (the highest score on this list), Lightspeed Restaurant has a lot of bases covered. The only real drawback is the price. Advanced inventory tools and the accompanying advanced reporting are only included in the two highest subscription levels. Essentials and Plus users need to get a quote to add these tools to their subscriptions.
Lightspeed Restaurant’s standout inventory management features include:
- Flexible hardware: You can operate Lightspeed Restaurant on your internet browser or iOS device, including smartphones. Managers can view reports and even edit checks from the Upserve Mobile smartphone app, which can also be used to process orders and payments tableside or at offsite events.
- Easy physical counts: You can create custom count sheets that match each of your storage areas and count items by barcode scan or tablet or use the free inventory smartphone app for Android or iOS smartphones.
- Inventory app: In the Upserve inventory app, you can do more than just count. You can view and edit purchase orders, receive stock, add suppliers, and add barcodes to track and scan inventory items.
- One-click reordering: Once you set order pars and enter all your vendor information, your Lightspeed Restaurant POS will automatically generate suggested orders when you run low on stock. Orders are arranged by vendor, and you can place simultaneous orders with multiple vendors by clicking a single button.
Lightspeed Restaurant’s inventory is one of the most foolproof systems available, but it can be pricey. If you need restaurant-level inventory tools included in your baseline POS, try Square’s restaurant POS instead.
KORONA POS: Best Inventory for High-risk & Specialty Retailers
KORONA is a cloud POS that serves a wide variety of industries. It regularly appears on our rankings for the best POS systems for liquor stores, convenience stores, vape shops, and bakeries. In addition to being affordable, operating on a wide variety of hardware, and integrating with high-risk payment processors, KORONA includes detailed inventory with case-breaking tools, vendor management, and shipment tracking. So, specialty retailers of all kinds can know exactly when to expect their supplies.
This provider scored a 3.75 out of 5 on our POS inventory ranking. It earned points for its free trial subscription that has no time limits (though note that you can’t enable payment processing during the free trial) and is well-reviewed by real-world users. Where it stumbled is in the lack of a few niche functions like allowing custom fields and tracking expiration dates of perishable items.
KORONA POS’s standout inventory management features include:
- Smartphone inventory app: You can perform physical inventory counts directly in your POS or use KORONA’s free inventory mobile app, KORONA.mde, which is downloadable from Google Play.
- Shipment tracking: KORONA’s Vendor shipment notification feature shows your shipping information in your POS so you and your staff can see when missing or low stock items are expected to arrive.
- Label and tag printing: You can auto-generate price labels from supplier receipts and print price labels while you check in deliveries. You can also print shelf tags, so you can stock and shelf new items quickly.
- Suggested reorder levels: Your KORONA POS will calculate a suggested reorder level based on your store’s sales trends, current promotions, and customer purchase histories.
Currently, KORONA does not support custom inventory fields for unique identifiers like ISBNs or product expiration dates that would serve booksellers and grocers. If you need those tools, you’ll be better off with Lightspeed, which supports custom fields, or IT Retail, which tracks the expiration dates of perishable products.
How We Evaluated Point-of-Sale Inventory Systems
We considered the top POS systems on the market before narrowing down our list of the best POS inventory systems. We evaluated each system based on monthly fees, general features (including reporting), and inventory features (including low-stock alerts and purchase ordering). We also covered ease of use (such as whether or not the system is cloud-based). Finally, we looked at the overall value each software provides for its price point and considered popularity and user reviews.
Click through the tabs below for a full breakdown of how we evaluated POS systems with inventory management:
10% of Overall Score
30% of Overall Score
30% of Overall Score
Here we looked at harder-to-find features including a mobile app for counting inventory and/or receiving orders, built-in barcoding, purchase ordering, vendor management, and customizable fields. We also awarded bonus points for specialized tracking such as perishable goods, expiration dates, and case-breaking.
10% of Overall Score
Busy retailers need a POS system that is functional offline and has 24/7 customer support. We also awarded points to touch-screen systems because they are easy for employees to learn and use. Cloud-based systems earn points as they allow businesses to access data anywhere.
20% of Overall Score
The POS systems that appear in this article were selected and rated by our retail and restaurant experts. Learn more about their experience.
Mary King With more than 14 years of hospitality experience, Mary has used POS systems in coffee shops, food trucks, full-service restaurants, quick-service restaurants, bars, hotels, co-working spaces, event spaces, and retail stores. She has several years of experience advising bar and restaurant owners, and three-plus years evaluating POS systems.
Brigitte Hodge is a retail specialist with several years of retail management experience. Before joining Fit Small Business, Brigitte worked on a variety of POS systems to run a store in downtown Denver. Brigitte has since been writing as a retail expert, evaluating POS systems and working with them firsthand to learn their ins and outs.
Meaghan Brophy has 10-plus years of retail experience, during which she has operated a variety of cash registers and POS systems in different settings and applications.
Since working in retail, Meaghan has seven-plus years of experience writing for retailers and four-plus years of experience evaluating POS systems.
POS Inventory System Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Click through the questions below to get answers to some of your most frequently asked POS inventory system questions.
A POS is a complete software and hardware package that processes sales and payments. An inventory system simply tracks stock as it arrives onsite and is sold. An inventory system may be integrated or built into your POS, or it may be a manual system (like spreadsheets) that you run alongside your POS. Whatever inventory system you use, it won’t have the ability to process sales and payments like a POS does.
Many POS systems include built-in inventory tracking or integrate with third-party inventory systems. Most POS systems offer both options. Since POS systems handle sales transactions, even a basic POS can track whole items as you sell them. But businesses like liquor stores, grocers, restaurants, and large retailers need more than basic tracking. Depending on your business type, you might need to track expiration dates for bulk ingredients or various sizes and colors of the same item. If you need specialized tools like this, look for a POS or inventory tracking system designed specifically for your industry.
The best POS system with the lowest fees is Square, which has a free base plan and paid advanced plans and features at extremely competitive rates.
Lightspeed is the POS with the best inventory management software. It can track your stock at a granular level, provide in-depth reports, give suggestions based on inventory data, and allow you to order many items right on your POS from Lightspeed pre-downloaded products and vendor catalogs.
Every retail and restaurant business needs to process sales and reorder supplies and products. A point-of-sale inventory system allows businesses to handle all of those needs in one place—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. It also offers unparalleled reporting and analytics with customizable reports, graphs, and visual data, and tutorials on how to use reports. It’s the only POS system with inventory management on our list to come preloaded with more than 3,000 product catalogs for easy product ordering. Visit Lightspeed for a free trial.