A multichannel POS system allows businesses to sell in-store, on the go, and online using one centralized software program. Every multichannel POS in this guide offers centralized inventory, customer, and order management. The best systems connect to several online sales channels and other business management software for under $100 per month for small businesses.
The top four multichannel POS systems for 2020 are:
- Shopify: (Best Overall) Best POS with native ecommerce and online marketplace sales tools
- Square: Best free multichannel POS for small shops and cafes
- Toast: Best multichannel POS for restaurants
- Lightspeed Retail: Best for retailers with multiple locations or robust inventories
How We Evaluated Multichannel POS Systems
When we evaluated the best multichannel POS systems, we looked at the ability to sell products and process orders across multiple platforms, including physical sales, website transactions, and social media. We also considered inventory, employee, and customer management features, as well as marketing tools and third-party integrations. Finally, we looked at reporting tools, user reviews, and customer support.
We only considered systems that are affordable for small businesses and extremely easy to use, requiring no technical expertise to set up or detailed maintenance processes. Because multichannel systems are a specific type of POS meant for businesses selling equally online and in-person all of the systems on this list also have native ecommerce or online ordering platforms.
Shopify: Best Overall Multichannel POS For Small Businesses
Shopify POS is best for small businesses because it marries the No. 1 online selling platform with a user-friendly POS at a very affordable price. Shopify allows you to process retail and ecommerce transactions, accept payments, manage inventory, and grow your business with marketing and customer relationship tools.
Robust, user-friendly ecommerce platform for online sales
Free POS app has imited functionality
Free POS option
Complicated pricing (ecommerce and POS purchased separately)
Sophisticated omnichannel sales features
Cash tracking only available with Shopify POS Pro
- Monthly POS software fees: $0 for basic POS, $89 for POS Pro
- Monthly ecommerce platform fees: $9 – $299
- In-person processing fees: 2.4% – 2.7% (depending on plan)
- Online processing fees: From 2.4% + 30 cents to 2.9% + 30 cents (depending on plan)
- Tap and chip card reader: $49
- Additional hardware: Download the POS app on iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. iPad stands, and card reader docks available through Shopify.
- Shopify POS: User-friendly, touch-screen app that syncs with ecommerce and centralized Back Office. Create custom payments types, sell and redeem gift cards, manage store credit, and toggle between multiple live checkout screens at once.
- Shopify POS Pro: Omnichannel selling features, smart inventory management (demand forecasting, sale suggestions, and inventory analysis), cash tracking and sales reports, plus unlimited staff logins with custom permission settings and commission tracking.
- Ecommerce platform: Create an online store with a drag-and-drop store builder with mobile-responsive themes and HTML and CSS edit access, SEO tools, and built-in secure payment processing.
- Inventory and order management: Shopify syncs all order, customer, inventory, and sales data across channels. Use built-in shipping tools and order management workflows. However, reporting options are limited.
- Online sales channels: Sell on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.
- Marketing and customer management: Build customer profiles with purchase history, automate abandoned cart recovery and other email campaigns, create targeted Instagram, Facebook, and Google Shopping ads.
What Shopify is Missing
Shopify has no native employee management tools for scheduling, and limited staff management tools outside of individual PIN logins. Most of the other POS systems we evaluated have staff reports and time-tracking available in all of their plans. The checkout page on Shopify isn’t adjustable, which makes it challenging to set custom messaging. At the time of this review, Shopify has not yet launched a native feature for setting up online orders that can be picked up in-store. If this feature is essential for your business, consider using Square.
To learn more about why Shopify POS Pro is the best multichannel POS, read our full Shopify Review.
Square: Best Free Multichannel POS
Square is arguably the biggest name in mobile payment processing. Square POS is free to use and packs sophisticated features into a very sleek and user-friendly interface. Plus, Square comes with a free online store to sell items for shipping, pickup, or local delivery. All data from in-person and online orders syncs in Square’s Dashboard.
Free POS and Online Store
Limited native CRM and inventory management features
Offers the best value for small businesses
Account stability issues
Larger businesses could outgrow platform
Square POS Pricing
- Point-of-sale app: Free—no startup or monthly fees
- In-person processing fee: 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction
- Online processing fee: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction
- Terminal costs: The app downloads onto any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet for free. Optional Square Terminal and Registers are available for $299 – $799.
- Card reader pricing: Square POS comes with a free magstripe card reader; however, we recommend purchasing the $49 chip and contactless card reader for secure payments.
- Add-ons: Businesses can add restaurant or retail tools, email marketing, loyalty program, payroll, and team management for additional fees.
- POS app: Free POS app with built-in payment processing, inventory tracking, offline mode, reports, and customer management, including feedback collection.
- Online Store: Free online store with drag-and-drop builder, flexible integrated delivery and pickup settings, detailed product pages, and connected shoppable Instagram posts.
- Square Dashboard: View sales, inventory, and customer data; access your online store; manage orders; and manage add-ons/upgrades.
- Order management: Easily enable and configure built-in shipping, pickup, and local delivery fulfillment options.
What Square is Missing
As a free POS, Square is missing a lot of detailed features found in the other pricier multichannel POS systems we evaluated, such as robust inventory management. For example, the free version of Square does not include purchase order management, barcode generation, or detailed profitability reporting.
If there’s something you need Square to do, you’ll likely find it either in the app marketplace or as a paid service from Square. Like all of the other multichannel POS systems in this guide, Square comes with convenient built-in payments, which, however, also means you can’t shop around for lower rates.
To learn more about why Square is the best free POS, read our full Square POS Review.
Toast: Best Multichannel POS for Restaurants
Toast is a restaurant industry-specific cloud POS with built-in features for online ordering and delivery, handheld mobile terminals for tableside orders, self-order kiosk options, and traditional POS terminals. This reliable software system is incredibly easy to use and offers robust back-office management tools.
Built-in online ordering and delivery
Detailed restaurant-specific features
Android-only operating system
Centralized payroll, reporting, and inventory management
- Point-of-sale app: $75 per month per terminal
- Installation: Starts at $499 (mandatory)
- Toast POS Payments (fixed flat fees): Not disclosed
- Toast Hardware: Standard terminals with flip screens, customer-facing displays, tableside/mobile ordering, kitchen display screens, and self-order kiosks available for quoted fees.
- Add-ons: Payroll, team management, online ordering, marketing, gift cards, and loyalty programs available for additional monthly fees.
- All-in-one software: Toast bundles together POS, payment processing, payroll, team management, online ordering and delivery, and restaurant management tools like menu creating and recipe costing all under one system.
- Restaurant POS: Manage front-of-house operations with table mapping and order tracking, and collect customer feedback. Back-of-house management tools include digital kitchen displays that automatically show dine-in, takeout, and delivery orders.
- Online ordering: Most restaurant POS systems connect with outside delivery services, but Toast has a native system including options for a website and menus that are automatically updated, so you can avoid the fees associated with third-party delivery apps.
What Toast is Missing
There’s no free trial for Toast POS. You also have to buy Toast’s proprietary hardware and use its built-in payment processing. This setup makes Toast a convenient, all-in-one system, but it also means you can’t save on costs by shopping around for better pricing. Also, if you prefer iOS operating systems, you’ll be out of luck with Toast, as it’s an Android-only platform.
Read our full Toast Review to learn more about why Toast is one of the most innovative restaurant POS systems.
Lightspeed Retail: Best Multichannel POS For Large Inventories
Lightspeed is a cloud-based POS system that’s functional across multiple retail locations and online. It’s ideal for large businesses with several brick-and-mortar locations and lots of inventory. It also has a decent ecommerce platform that allows you to sell your products across your website and social media.
Lightspeed Retail Strengths
Lightspeed Retail Weaknesses
Robust centralized management tools
Expensive for small businesses
Native ecommerce platform
Complex system that’s hard to learn
Built-in payment processing
- Monthly software fees: $69 – $259
- Additional registers: $29 per month
- Card-present payment processing: 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction
- Card-not-present payment processing: 2.6% + 30 cents per transaction
- Add-ons: Ecommerce, Accounting, Loyalty, and Analytics
- Setup fees: N/A
- Web and app-based POS: Lightspeed is the only POS on this list that offers a browser-based register and checkout interface. You also have the option of using Lightspeed’s tablet app. The cloud-based system updates in real-time, so reporting and data is accessible from anywhere.
- Ecommerce: Lightspeed Ecommerce syncs with POS data for centralized reporting. It also comes with over 50 themes, integrated shipping and order management tools, plus marketing, CRM, and SEO features.
- Inventory management: Lightspeed’s inventory management is high-end, with options to bulk upload up to 10,000 SKUs at once, manage purchase orders with an integrated product catalog, set low stock alerts, and account for product variants, bundles, and unit costs.
- Analytics: Lightspeed Analytics is a powerful, yet user-friendly reporting platform with over 40 built-in reports, plus customized report builders, options to view data in graphs and other visualizations, and guides on how to use each report to grow your business.
- Management tools: Lightspeed Accounting integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage with automatic updates. Lightspeed also tracks employee performance KPIs, and integrates with over 45 other third-party programs, including solutions for scheduling, customer service, and subscription management.
What Lightspeed Retail is Missing
The most glaring omission in Lightspeed is its inability to sell products on Instagram through Lightspeed Ecommerce. This omission is odd because you can sell your wares on Facebook and list them on Instagram—just not sell them. Otherwise, the biggest flaw with Lightspeed is that it can be a pricey solution if you opt for the plans with the Analytics add-on (which is one of the software’s best features). Because the system offers very granular control options, it’s also much more complicated to use than a more straightforward solution like Square.
To learn more about the top-of-line analytics and inventory management features, read our full Lightspeed Retail Review.
Of all the multichannel POS systems we evaluated, Shopify offers the most robust features at an affordable price. It combines a popular, top-rated ecommerce platform with a user-friendly (and free) POS app, native integrations to social media and online marketplace sales, and a centralized dashboard to manage orders and inventory in real-time. Plus, the company offers a 90-day free trial, so you can see if it’s right for you.