A touch screen POS system is a point-of-sale program that operates on tablets and handheld devices. This type of POS system is easier to use than traditional POS systems, and, being web-based, allows you to sync devices and monitor your business remotely.
Touch screen POS systems require hardware, including a tablet, stand and credit card reader, as well as software that ranges from free to hundreds of dollars per month. This guide covers the full spectrum of price and features, including systems for both retail and restaurant settings.
The best touch screen POS systems are:
- Square: Best overall free touch screen POS for small businesses
- Shopify: Best for online and multichannel sellers
- Lightspeed: Best for inventory management
- ShopKeep by Lightspeed: Best budget touch screen POS for retail and cafe
- Toast: Best overall restaurant touch screen POS
- Clover: Best budget touch screen POS for restaurant
- Upserve: Best restaurant touch screen POS for customer management
- Loyverse: Best free cafe and restaurant POS with built-in loyalty rewards
Square: Best Overall POS for Small Businesses
The free version of Square includes just about everything you need to run a single-location retail store or quick-service restaurant. Besides accepting payments, adding tips, and printing (or sending digital) receipts, Square lets you track employee hours, save a database of customers, and view sales reports—whether for your own reference, or to integrate your sales and payroll data with QuickBooks.
Square is able to offer this all for free because it makes money from its integrated payment processing service, which charges a modest 2.6% + 10 cents for swiped transactions. It also offers optional upgrades for things like bar code scanning, a kitchen display system, or employee sales reports. This exceptional value makes Square the best touch screen POS, and one of the best overall POS systems for small businesses.
Impressive set of retail and restaurant POS features completely free
Limited customer support for free users
Add-on features can get expensive
Huge range of integrations includes QuickBooks, Mailchimp, and Grubhub
Payment processing rates are not easily negotiable
Square POS Pricing
- Software price: Subscription fees range from free to $60 per month. The free version includes all the basic payment and employee management features, while the “Plus” versions add things like bar code printing (with Retail Plus) or a kitchen display system (with Restaurants Plus). The Restaurants Plus edition also requires a $40 per month fee for each additional terminal after your first, while Retail Plus has no such charge.
- Payment processing: The free version of Square charges 2.6% + 10 cents for swiped transactions, and 3.5% + 15 cents for manual entry, which are both pretty standard. Retail Plus users get a discounted rate of 2.5% + 10 cents for swipes.
- Hardware: Square hardware is very reasonably priced compared to its competitors. You can purchase an iPad terminal with a stand and credit card reader for under $500. Its mini touchscreen terminal, which is proprietary, is only $299. You can also run Square on any iOS or Android and use a $49 Bluetooth card reader to accept payments.
Square POS Features
- Employee management: Employees clock in and out at the register, so you can keep track of their hours (including breaks and overtime) and export timecards for payroll.
- Inventory: Add all your items to Square so employees can check out customers more quickly by simply clicking an image of each item on the touch screen. You can add your inventory manually, or import in bulk using a spreadsheet. The free version of Square has surprisingly strong inventory management, including categories, variants, modifiers and low-stock alerts. Although you’ll need to upgrade to print bar codes, create purchase orders, or view detailed inventory reports.
- Restaurant features: The free version of Square includes table and menu management, so servers can open tabs and add items with ease. Square integrates with third-party delivery apps like DoorDash and Grubhub, and also provides its own free online ordering platform. Square for Restaurants Plus adds a kitchen display system, table map, coursing and more detailed employee/server sales reports.
- Reports: Square’s free version includes about a dozen sales reports, including sales by category, discounts applied, and real-time hourly, weekly, and monthly sales charts. Paid versions include more detailed personnel reports such as sales by employee, and revenue per labor hour.
- Customer service: Free users can access phone, chat and email support Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time. Paying users can access support 24/7.
What Square Is Missing
Square is not designed to handle a high volume of inventory. If you’re the type of business that has thousands of unique SKUs, or needs to manage inventory across multiple locations, you’ll want to look into a solution with stronger inventory management like Lightspeed.
Also, Square for Restaurants lacks some of the features a full-service restaurant may expect, such as menu costing and ingredient-level inventory tracking. At the time of this writing, it does not support preauthorization of credit cards, which has become a popular way to open tabs without holding onto a customer’s credit card. By contrast, Clover, Upserve, and Toast all support preauthorization.
To learn more about Square’s features, read our full Square POS review.
Shopify: Best Touch Screen POS for Multichannel Sellers
Shopify is the best POS solution for retail businesses that also sell online. Being one of the world’s leading ecommerce providers, in addition to point-of-sale, Shopify allows you to create an online store and manage all of your online and in-person sales from the same system. This keeps your inventory, sales and customer data synchronized at all times. Furthermore, you can use Shopify to sell on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, or Instagram—truly managing all your sales channels from one platform.
Integrated ecommerce store
No offline payments
Low transaction fees
Advanced inventory requires expensive add-on ($89 per month)
Thousands of add-ons and integrations in Shopify App Store
Limited staff accounts without upgrade
Shopify POS Pricing
- Software Price: Shopify begins at $29 per month for standard payment and ecommerce features, but only two staff accounts, and a 2.7% transaction fee. The $79 per month package allows up to five staff accounts and provides a 2.5% transaction fee. Both level accounts come with a free POS app and can add “POS Pro” for an additional $89 per month, which includes unlimited staff accounts and more advanced inventory management.
- Payment processing: Swiped transactions are charged at 2.7%, but this is discounted on higher level plans. Online and keyed-in payments start at 2.9% + 30 cents but are, again, discounted for higher-plan customers.
- Hardware: Like Square, Shopify’s hardware is very reasonably priced. iPad terminal kits begin at $229, and they include a stand, NFC/chip card reader, and cabling (iPad not included). You can also purchase a portable NFC/chip card reader for $49, which connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
Shopify POS Features
- Employee management: Like most touch screen POS systems, you can create employee user accounts and have them clock in/out to track their hours and monitor performance. Shopify does limit the number of user accounts you can set up on basic and standard plans.
- Ecommerce: One of the main perks to using Shopify is the ability to create an online store and manage your orders from the same platform as your in-store sales. Shopify’s website builder is one of the most popular on the market. It’s capable of supporting just about any feature or integration you might require, and you can even use Shopify to sell on Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Omnichannel selling: In addition to taking payments, processing returns, issuing refunds, etc., in person, you can manage all the nuances that come with having both an online and physical storefront. For example, have customers pay online and pick up at your curbside. Likewise, you can accept online returns in person, or vice versa.
- Inventory management: With Shopify’s POS Pro add-on ($89 per month) you get a much more advanced inventory system than what you’ll find from Square. Create purchase orders and track incoming shipments. Once they arrive, use a bar code scanner to confirm the items received and automatically add them to your inventory.
- Customer Service: Phone, live chat, and email support are available 24/7.
What Shopify Is Missing
If you don’t sell online, you won’t have a need for Shopify’s ecommerce or omnichannel selling tools. You might be better suited with Square’s free POS tools instead. Or, if you liked what Shopify was offering in terms of inventory management, you could save money by using ShopKeep by Lightspeed instead. Last but not least, Shopify lacks an offline payment mode, which may be necessary for some businesses.
Lightspeed: Best for Inventory Management & Multiple Locations
Lightspeed is by far the best POS system for big inventories. It was designed to handle all the nuances that go into handling thousands of unique SKUs. Whether it’s sorting through items with searchable tags, automatically adding to your inventory by scanning barcodes, or checking supplier lists and drafting purchase orders straight from Lightspeed—all of these features become tremendously helpful for larger and multi-location retail businesses.
Unparalleled inventory management
Automates purchase orders, receiving and returns
Upgrade required for QuickBooks/Xero integrations
Can connect an outside payment gateway for better rate shopping
- Software price: Lightspeed’s retail POS begins at $69 per month with several premium plans available for a higher monthly fee. For example, its $99 per month plan adds ecommerce, and its $119 per month plan adds QuickBooks and Xero integrations. Lightspeed also has a restaurant package starting at $59 per month. Additional retail terminals are $29 per month, and additional restaurant terminals are $34 per month.
- Payment processing: Lightspeed provides its own payment processing service, which charges 2.6% + 10 cents for swiped transactions and 2.6% + 30 cents for manual entry.
- Hardware: While Lightspeed doesn’t disclose hardware pricing, the fact that it can run on iPad, Mac or Windows computers means it will likely be more affordable than a proprietary system. It’s also compatible with a range of credit card readers, receipt printers, and bar code scanners.
- Employee management: All Lightspeed plans let you create an unlimited number of user accounts for employees to clock in and out. This allows you to track hours, and monitor employee performance with reports like sales, average basket size, email capture rates, and how many customers each employee is helping.
- Inventory: Lightspeed Retail offers the most advanced inventory management of any touch screen POS on this list. It’s equipped to handle hundreds or even thousands of unique SKUs thanks to handy features like the ability to tag items with searchable terms. Plus, Lightspeed Retail uploads vendor catalogues to its system, making it easy for businesses to reorder stock whenever you run low. Most other POS systems don’t have built-in product catalogues or features to directly manage purchase orders.
- Marketing: Lightspeed also has a very strong loyalty program. You can create a branded smartphone app for customers to check their points and view rewards. This also allows you to send push notifications as well as SMS or email alerts for any special offers or eligible rewards. To access the loyalty program you’ll need to be on an “Advanced” plan or higher, which starts at $169 per month.
- Reports: Lightspeed includes more than 60 built-in reports covering inventory, sales, and customer behavior. While this alone is more than most POS systems will offer, the “Pro” plan ($229 per month) also lets you build custom reports using any data points in the system.
- Customer Service: Phone, live chat, and email support are available 24/7.
What Lightspeed Is Missing
While Lightspeed does offer ecommerce and restaurant management features, they’re not quite as advanced as Shopify or Toast, respectively. Lightspeed works best for retail businesses that have big inventory and need a POS that can handle it. If you don’t have a lot of unique SKUs, you can likely get by with a less-expensive POS like Square or ShopKeep by Lightspeed instead.
To learn more about Lightspeed’s pricing and advanced inventory features, read our full Lightspeed Retail review.
ShopKeep by Lightspeed: An Affordable Option for Retail Shops
For retail businesses that have outgrown Square’s free POS tools, but aren’t quite ready for a high-powered system like Lightspeed, ShopKeep by Lightspeed offers a more affordable solution. Starting at $49 per month, ShopKeep by Lightspeed provides a leg up on Square when it comes to inventory and reporting. You can manage suppliers, streamline receiving, and run useful employee sales reports.
ShopKeep by Lightspeed Advantages
ShopKeep by Lightspeed Disadvantages
Stronger inventory management
Expensive to set up multiple terminals
Age-verification (e.g., for alcohol products)
Upgrade needed for gift cards, ecommerce
Unlimited user accounts
ShopKeep by Lightspeed Pricing
- Software price: ShopKeep by Lightspeed begins at $49 per month for one terminal. The $79 per month plan adds gift cards and a QuickBooks integration for one terminal, while the $179 per month plan adds a loyalty program and supports an unlimited number of terminals per location.
- Payment processing: ShopKeep by Lightspeed’s built-in payment processing service charges 2.5% + 10 cents for swiped transactions.
- Hardware: Lightspeed’s hardware is a little more expensive than its closest competitors, Square or Shopify. Chip card readers begin at $249, compared to only $49 for Square. ShopKeep by Lightspeed sells a basic hardware kit for $809, which includes an iPad stand, cash drawer, receipt printer and credit card reader. It does not include an iPad, however.
ShopKeep by Lightspeed Features
- Employee management: ShopKeep by Lightspeed lets businesses create unlimited employee logins with different permission levels. Employees can clock in and out on the touch screen POS, allowing managers to run time sheet reports for payroll, or view individual employee sales reports, including tips and discounts.
- Inventory management: ShopKeep by Lightspeed inventory is an improvement over Square, and designed to handle a greater number of SKUs. The system can estimate when you’ll run out of items and when you need to reorder, and provide reports on your inventory value and profitability. ShopKeep by Lightspeed also provides features to help you keep track of suppliers, and manage receiving, although it does not integrate supplier catalogs, nor does it let you add items via bar code scanner, as you can with Lightspeed.
- Spotlight: Advanced users ($179 per month) can take advantage of ShopKeep by Lightspeed Spotlight, a tool that automatically scans listings and online information about your business such as location, hours, and contact information to spot inconsistencies.
- Customer Service: Phone, email, and live chat support are available 24/7. Priority phone support is available for customers on the “Advanced” plan ($179 per month).
What ShopKeep by Lightspeed Is Missing
ShopKeep by Lightspeed is pretty affordable if you only need a single terminal. However, it charges the full monthly service fee for each register you set up, so ShopKeep by Lightspeed can get expensive fast for larger stores. Likewise, certain features like gift cards, and the QuickBooks and Mailchimp integrations require an upgrade to the “Essential” plan ($79 per month). By contrast, Square offers all of these for free.
Lastly, while ShopKeep by Lightspeed does offer a restaurant package, its features are quite limited compared to the similarly-priced Clover POS. For this reason, we primarily recommend ShopKeep by Lightspeed as a retail POS system.
Toast: Best Touch Screen POS for Restaurants
Toast is the most innovative touch screen POS when it comes to order and table management. The system is designed to keep servers in constant communication with the kitchen. For example, whenever an order is ready, or if a menu item is 86ed, servers are given a notification on their handheld terminal. A powerful touch screen kitchen display system allows the back-of-house staff to keep track of all orders—whether they come from the dining room, or from a third-party delivery app—and send notifications back to the waitstaff.
Toast also has detailed inventory management, an array of touch screen hardware options, and flexible ordering tools, making it the best overall touch screen POS for restaurants.
Highly-praised table management
Competitive credit card processing
Gift cards, inventory aren’t included in base package
- Software price: Toast begins at $69 per month for all the main POS, table and menu management tools. The next highest plan adds online ordering for $99 per month, and then loyalty and gift cards for $189 per month. Additional terminals cost $50 per month each.
- Payment processing: While Toast does not disclose its credit card processing rates, clients have revealed they’re paying somewhere between 1.71% + 15 cents on the lower end to 2.49% + 15 cents on the higher end. This is quite competitive, especially for full service restaurants where you’re likely to have a higher average transaction value.
- Hardware: Though not quite as inexpensive as Square, hardware prices are reasonable. A Toast Flex terminal costs $799, and it includes a large 14” rotating touch screen, a chip/NFC reader and a wireless router. Prices are not disclosed for the handheld Toast Go, however, sources indicate it is around $450. All tablets are proprietary, so if you switch to another POS, you will not be able to repurpose the hardware.
- Employee management: Allow employees to clock in and out to track hours including breaks and overtime. Toast offers its own payroll solution for an additional fee, or you can integrate with one of several restaurant payroll providers.
- Table management: Many users like how Toast improves communication between front-of-house and back-of-house staff. When servers are using Toast’s handled tablets, menu item quantities are updated in real time, so they’re aware of 86s before taking a customer’s order. Likewise, servers are given a notification as soon as a course is ready out of the kitchen and reminded where it’s headed. Toast is also the only POS on this list that offers fully contactless ordering, allowing customers to order and pay from their smartphones.
- Online ordering: Users on the $99 per month plan and higher can set up their own commission-free online ordering system. Toast also integrates with Grubhub, as well as DoorDash, UberEats, and Caviar via Chowley.
- Inventory: Toast provides a powerful inventory management system, allowing you to keep an eye on your food costs, wastage, and menu profitability. It is not quite as advanced as Upserve, however, as far as integrating with food suppliers for real-time pricing.
- Customer Service: Toast offers 24/7 phone, chat, and email support.
What Toast Is Missing
While the base rate of $69 per month is fairly low, many simple features require a paid upgrade. Gift cards are $50 per month, loyalty is $25 per month, and inventory and employee management also require extra fees. If you don’t need the high-tech order management tools that Toast offers, you can save a lot of money by using Clover or Square instead.
To read more about Toast’s pricing and features, read our full Toast POS review.
Looking for POS systems that exclusively run on iPads? Check out our guide on the best iPad POS systems.
Clover: A Low-Cost Option for Restaurants
Clover is a restaurant POS that fills the gap between a simple program like Square and more advanced POS like Toast. With a starting price of just $10 per month, Clover includes a lot of powerful features such as credit card preauthorization and employee sales reports. Clover also includes a lot of marketing tools like email/SMS promotions, loyalty rewards and gift cards at no extra charge. By contrast, Square charges $45 per month for their loyalty program, while Toast charges $25 per month extra for loyalty and $50 per month for gift cards.
Low monthly fees
Includes loyalty and gift cards at no extra cost
High payment processing rates (without negotiation)
Many handy restaurant/bar features, like preauthorization and happy hour discounts
Doesn’t integrate natively with Grubhub, Uber Eats, etc.
- Software price: Clover subscription fees vary since they’re often sold by resellers. The basic POS is $10 per month, while the Counter Service plan, which includes menu variants and a kitchen display system, costs between $30-$40 per month. The Table Service plan is $70 per month and this adds table mapping and tableside payments. All clover plans charge $10 per month for each terminal after your first.
- Payment processing: Clover payment processing begins at 2.9% + 30 cents, which is higher than any other provider on this list. This rate is negotiable, however, and can often be reduced as your sales volume increases. Furthermore, Clover works with many outside payment gateways, like Payment Depot, which can give you much more competitive rates.
- Hardware: Clover hardware is expensive. Full POS stations begin at $1,349, and mini terminals are $749. Clover flex, devices that can take mobile payments but do not provide full POS features, cost $499. All clover hardware is proprietary, meaning it does not utilize iPad or Android devices. If you switch from Clover to another POS, you will not be able to repurpose the hardware.
- Employee management: Employees can clock in and out using the POS. An integration with Gusto allows you to run payroll based on Clover digital timecards. You can also view reports on sales by employee and tips collected.
- Restaurant features: Clover has many restaurant-specific features, including table maps, menu modifiers, credit card preauthorization, and happy hour discounts. While Clover recently launched its own online ordering system, it does not integrate natively with Grubhub, DoorDash, or any third-party delivery services. You can, however, use an app to connect them.
- Marketing: All versions of Clover include marketing tools such as a loyalty program, SMS/email promotions, and gift cards. Most providers charge extra for these features (such as $45 per month for Square Loyalty).
- Reports: Clover includes all the main payment and tax reports you expect to see such as gross and net revenue, tender stats, and payments by card type. You can also run reports to see your most popular items and item modifiers, as well as a report for all discounts provided in a given reporting period.
- Customer service: Clover offers 24/7 phone and email support.
What Clover Is Missing
Clover does not integrate natively with any third-party delivery services such as Grubhub or Uber Eats. You can connect them using a tool called Itsacheckmate, but the integration is not very well received by users. Clover also lacks a QuickBooks or Xero integration.
Many customers also note small issues when it comes to things like editing orders, printing receipts, or adding products. Not that Clover can’t handle these tasks effectively, but there may be a quirk here or there. By and large, Toast and Upserve tend to be more well-regarded for their features and user interface. However, the price for these systems is significantly higher.
Upserve: Best Restaurant POS for Customer Management
While Upserve is a close competitor to Toast in terms of its abundant features and high-quality user interface, Upserve has the leg up in one key area: It has unparalleled customer management with guestbooks, logbooks, and reservation management.
Upserve also rivals Toast in its inventory management capabilities. You can track item quantities down to the ingredient, and calculate your menu profitability and wastage. Upserve also integrates with many major food suppliers, allowing you to reorder supplies directly from the app, and view ingredient costs in real time. View detailed restaurant analytics and get insights on the go with Upserve’s mobile management app.
Powerful reporting and manager tools
Unparalleled inventory management for restaurants
Non-transparent hardware pricing
Highly-rated customer service
- Software price: Upserve begins at $59 per month for all the main POS features. The $199 per month plan adds loyalty rewards, recipe costing, and food supplier integration, and a $349 per month adds custom reporting and an API. Additional terminals are $60-$40 per month each depending on your account level.
- Payment processing: While Upserve does not disclose payment processing rates, we were quoted at 2.4% + 15 cents for swiped transactions, and 2.99% + 15 cents for manual entry. However, Upserve users can pay as low as 1.71% + 15 cents (the same as Toast) by negotiating with its sales rep.
- Hardware: While Upserve does not disclose its hardware pricing, it does reveal its starting price to be $2,000 for a full setup, including a terminal, printers, cabling and accessories. This makes its hardware a bit more expensive than its closest competitor, Toast. However, unlike Toast, Upserve supports both iPad and Android-based terminals.
- Online ordering: Upserve lets you set up your own online ordering system for an extra $59 per month. It also integrates directly with Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash, and Caviar via Chowly.
- Inventory: Upserve’s inventory management system is unique in that it integrates with many major food suppliers, so you can reorder supplies directly from the app and your supply levels will automatically update. Another benefit is that food prices will always be up-to-date, allowing you to track the real-time profitability of your menu.
- Logbook: Another one of Upserve’s highly praised features is the manager’s logbook, a customizable snapshot of each day’s sales, guest count, weather, and notable events. You can also create custom questions or checklists to be filled out by staff at the end of their shift, and have their responses automatically added to the log entry. Toast recently launched its own logbook feature in May 2020, but Upserve gets the leg up.
- Reports: This is another area where Upserve excels, providing all the main sales reports (sales by category, tender type, comp/void activity, etc.), as well as labor reports, including sales and tips per employee, and inventory reports, including food costing, supplier expenditure, and wastage.
- Customer service: Upserve has phone, live chat, and email support available 24/7.
What Upserve Is Missing
There isn’t much Upserve is missing. It tends to be up on all the latest restaurant technology trends, it offers some of the most competitive credit card processing rates, and have highly-praised customer service. Toast is a little bit more sophisticated when it comes to order management and handheld terminals. But for the most part, the only major downside to Upserve is the price. At $199 per month to access all the key features, plus $59 per month for online ordering and $50 per month for each additional terminal, Upserve is in a close race with Toast for being the most expensive touch screen POS on the market.
Loyverse: Best Free POS With Built-In Loyalty Program
Loyverse works best for small vendors like coffee stands or food trucks that are looking to engage their customers with a loyalty program. It’s the only free POS we’re aware of that also includes a loyalty program (Square charges $45 per month for theirs). While it’s not as sophisticated as some of the other programs out there, it does the job: It automatically tracks points as customers make a purchase and prints their balance on the receipt.
Completely free POS with kitchen display system
24/7 support for paid users only
Basic loyalty program also included free
No third-party delivery tools
Bar code printing available for $25/month extra
Limited direct integrations
- Software price: The free version of Loyverse includes all the main POS features, including a kitchen display system. The employee management add-on ($5 per month, per employee) allows you to track hours and run employee sales reports, and the advanced inventory add-on ($25 per month) lets you print bar codes and create purchase orders.
- Payment processing: Loyverse does not offer a payment processing service. Instead, you can integrate with CardConnect, WorldPay (formerly Vantiv), SumUp, or iZettle.
- Hardware: Loyverse can run on Android or iOS devices. While it doesn’t sell any hardware packages, it does provide a list of compatible printers, bar code scanners and tablet stands. What credit card reader is compatible will depend on which payment gateway you connect.
- Employee management: For an extra $5 per month, per employee, the employee management add-on will let you track staff hours, manage account permissions, and run employee sales performance reports.
- Inventory: Loyverse provides basic inventory management tools for free, letting you import items and track their quantities. The Advanced Inventory add-on ($25 per month) allows you to print bar codes, create purchase orders, and run inventory reports.
- Loyalty: True to its name, Loyverse provides a basic loyalty program for free. After being signed up by a cashier, customers can earn points on their purchases, which can be automatically redeemed for a discount. It is not as sophisticated as other POS systems, which allow you to customize rewards, and allow customers to sign themselves up and check their points from a smartphone.
- Reports: Loyverse includes all the basic sales reports, such as sales by item/category, and daily or weekly sales trends. It does not come close to the advance reporting offered by Lightspeed, or the ingredient-level tracking provided by Upserve.
- Customer service: 24/7 live chat support is available to paying users only. All customers can receive email and community support.
What Loyverse Is Missing
While Loyverse can accommodate small food service operations, it does not provide nearly enough features for a larger full-service business such as a table map, Grubhub/third-party delivery integrations, credit card preauthorization, or menu costing.
The reason there’s so many POS systems out there is because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Every business is different and their choice in software will reflect that. For one business, it’s all about managing their vast inventory and multichannel sales. For another, it’s all about the service they can provide through tableside ordering, or a loyalty program.
If you aren’t sure yet where you need to be investing your money, the free POS tools offered by Square provide a great jumping off point. Square offers just about everything a small retail shop or restaurant will need to get started, and it can scale with you as your business grows. To try Square for free, click the button below.