2018 Point of Sale (POS) Systems Reviews & Pricing Guide
A point-of-sale (POS) system allows retailers, whether ecommerce or brick-and-mortar, to make sales transactions. It can also combine inventory, management, and other business functions in one piece of software, or through integrations. A cloud-based POS system can work with a cash register, tablet, or even a mobile phone.
POS System Reviews
Most POS systems are easy to implement and learn, and they work well for a variety of businesses. Below we feature some of the best POS systems reviews. Keep reading this guide if you’d like to learn more about the features, types of POS systems, and what you’ll need to get started.
NCR Silver offers solutions for EMV chip payments, detailed sales reporting, and store management. Prices range from $79-$149/month. View Profile
Touch Pro is a customizable POS software specifically designed for restaurant business owners. Prices are customized. View Profile
eHopper is a POS system that can be used on multiple devices and platforms. Prices range from $0-$129.99/month + $39.99/month/additional register. View Profile
Springboard Retail is a cloud-based POS software geared towards brands in the retail industry. Prices range from $69-$139+/station/month. View Profile
POSist is a POS software that allows business owners to automate their restaurant operations. Prices are customized. View Profile
Auphan Dining is a customizable POS software designed for restaurants and hospitality businesses. Prices are customized. View Profile
RealTime is a cloud-based POS software specifically made for retail business owners. Prices range from $79 to $149/month for hosted subscriptions. View Profile
Cash Register Express offers solutions for barcode creation, credit card processing, and more. Prices range from $649 to $849 (one-time). View Profile
BPA Retail Touch POS is a fully customizable POS system designed for retail businesses. First station software license costs $50. View Profile
Retail Sales Manager is a POS software that is specifically made for retail business owners. Prices are customized. View Profile
Instore POS offers solutions for sales analytics, payment processing, customer rewards, and more. Prices range from $99 to $149/month. View Profile
Types of POS Systems
In addition to all the basic and advanced features of modern POS systems, some software are designed to help specific businesses with tailor-made features and tools for your business.
Restaurant POS System
Restaurants and quick-service eateries have specific needs compared to, say, a retail or ecommerce business. You have plenty of options when it comes to the restaurant category of POS apps, so just make sure the one you pick includes the features listed below.
Table Management: You should be able to create your floor plan layout in the POS app, number tables, assign servers to sections or tables, and update table status.
Customized Menus: The ability to create custom menus in your POS system means everyone in the front of house and kitchen stays on the same page for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Order Management: The best restaurant POS systems seamlessly integrate with kitchen display system (KDS) software to make order management much easier for both front- and back-of-house staff.
Reservations: Most POS systems for restaurants will include a feature to make it possible for a staff member to record and track reservations for customers.
Top POS for Restaurants: Lightspeed Restaurant
Retail POS System
A POS system for retail businesses needs rarely go beyond the basics that most POS software offers. However, there are a few features that could make your life a little easier and inventory a little faster.
Product Details: Adding product variants in a POS system is vital for keeping track of details such as sizes, styles, colors, and more.
Social Media Sales: A retail POS system that allows you to connect to your social media, such as Facebook, for online sales is one way to get inventory moving (and it’s part of the future of POS systems and retail).
Shipping: Many retail shops offer the option of shipping an item to a customer, so having a POS system that integrates with shipping services is important.
Top POS for Retail: ShopKeep
Service POS System
Service-based businesses have different requirements of a POS system than other business types. Of course, the basics could be all you need, but if you’re running a salon, auto repair shop, or design shop, you might appreciate a niche POS system.
Appointments: A service-based POS system lets you enter and track appointments with calendars for each employee, SMS appointment reminders for customers, online booking, and customer check-ins (with the right equipment).
Specialized Inventory Management: You likely have separate categories of inventory for products you use and products you sell to customers, so having a POS system that anticipates your needs is helpful.
Top POS for Service: Clover
Ecommerce POS System
An ecommerce-based business can easily get away with using almost any POS system. If you’re looking for the most complete package, then you want one that offers ecommerce-specific features.
Website: Some POS systems meant for ecommerce businesses include a turn-key website that’s designed just for your business with a shopping cart and everything you need ready to go.
Discount Coding: The ability to create discount codes through your POS system and accept those codes automatically through your e-retail website is important for any ecommerce business.
Top POS for Ecommerce: Shopify
Small-scale POS System
Whether it’s a food truck or a merch table at concerts and farmer’s markets, if you’re running a small-scale business that’s always on the go, you need a POS system that’s as mobile as you.
Mobile Functionality: You’ll need a mobile POS system that lets you use a tablet or mobile phone along with a card reader or other equipment that’s portable, secure, and easy to use.
Affordability: Small businesses or microbusinesses typically don’t usually have a lot of money to spend on a POS system, so it’s important to find one that keeps costs down.
Third-party App Integration: A pared-down POS system for the mobile business might be light on features, but they should offer lots of integration options with other helpful apps.
Top POS for Small-scale: Square
What Type of Hardware You’ll Need for Your POS System
The bare minimum of hardware required to run your business is none, if you’re operating your business online only. A cloud-based POS system is all you’ll need to take credit cards, manage inventory, and even do a little bit of light marketing to your customers. If you’re running a mobile business or a traditional B&M shop or restaurant, you’re going to need a bit more than that.
Many POS system providers are also resellers of hardware, or they have their own branded hardware that you can buy or lease. You can get the hardware separately or you can find bundles that include everything you need. Whether you buy or lease only depends on how much you’ve budgeted for hardware. Keep in mind that leasing means you can easily and affordably upgrade if something better comes out soon.
Mobile or Traditional Card Terminals
Depending on the POS system you choose, you may not need to purchase a separate credit card terminal. For example, Square includes a mobile card reader when you sign up for its service. If you would prefer a more traditional terminal or multiple terminals at your checkout counter, then you may need to purchase them. Many POS systems are compatible with the various brands of terminals available.
Tablet or Computer
Choosing a cloud-based POS system means you don’t have to have it installed in your shop by a professional. All you need is a tablet or computer (or mobile phone), which means you can likely already use existing hardware you own. Make sure the POS system you choose is compatible with your chosen type of tablet or computer (i.e., iPad vs Android, PC vs iMac, etc.).
People have been moving away from cash and reaching for debit and credit cards more often (plus Google and Apple Pay, too) — in fact, only 12 percent of people surveyed recently said they preferred using cash payments. Even with that low percentage, you’ll need a cash drawer if you have a physical store.
As technology advances and public trust in tech grows, more people are choosing to have receipts texted or emailed to them. Not only does that save you in receipt paper, it also gives you a chance to market to those customers. However, you have to anticipate some people are still going to want a printed receipt for in-store purchases.
You have a few options when it comes to barcode scanners, which are helpful for inputting inventory and sales. The traditional scanner is wired and can be cumbersome, but they’re affordable and generally reliable. There are wireless Bluetooth-enabled barcode scanners, which makes it much easier to scan items, regardless of the product’s bulk, shape, or how far away it is from the checkout counter. Alternatively, you could use smartphones as barcode scanners with an app.
6 Questions to Ask Before You Pick a POS System
Choosing a POS system is a big deal for any business owner. The good news is you’re here to do your due diligence. Before you’re ready to commit, ask these questions.
- Which features do I need?
Consider the must-haves of your POS system, whether it should be mobile, extra user-friendly, or if it offers marketing features.
- What can I afford?
Beyond the monthly fee for the software, think about the hardware and peripherals you’ll need. Also, consider how much the POS system provider charges for extras, such as a loyalty program or the ability to offer gift cards.
- Do I need a niche POS system?
A regular POS system will likely work for retail or ecommerce, but if you’re running a restaurant or you’re in the service industry, you may need an industry-specific POS solution.
- Can I easily scale the POS system as my business grows?
As your business grows, so will your POS system needs, whether that’s adding more terminals, more robust software, adding features, or training for new employees. Make sure the POS software provider offers excellent support.
- Does the POS software integrate with other software and hardware I use?
If you want to continue using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software or CRM, you want to ensure you can connect all your apps with your POS system, so you have a streamlined process in place for managing all your moving parts.
- Is there a free trial of the software I can try beforehand?
It can be helpful when a POS system provider allows for a free trial, so you can test it to make sure it will be easy to use for all your employees. Shopify is one of the many POS systems that offers a free trial.
- Which features do I need?
The Future of POS Systems
Think about how far POS systems have come, and it might not seem like such a stretch to consider that one day customers may be paying for goods with just a glance. The future of POS systems could offer more autonomy, more customer data, and the ability for a retailer or restaurant to anticipate the needs of a customer better than ever.
Self-checkout with Mobile Phones
This is one of those “the future is now” bits, though it isn’t implemented everywhere yet. Some retailers have made it possible for shoppers to use their smartphones loaded with the store’s app and a saved credit card to make purchases as they shop. Customers only have to show their receipt at the door, and they’re done. If it catches on, it could make checkout counter lines a thing of the past.
Many of us already use our fingertip to unlock our mobile devices, so the next logical step would be to use that same fingerprint to pay for goods or services. It’s already implemented in some setups, but it certainly hasn’t been adopted by the majority of retailers. Someday soon, though, machines will likely take payments from fingers and iris recognition. For now, biometric POS systems are a bit pricey, and it may take a while for customers to feel comfortable with the technology, even though it appears to be one of the most secure methods of payment.
Tracking customers and their shopping habits is nothing new when it comes to Big Data, but times are changing, and so is technology. Using cookies to track a customer online is easy enough, and in-store shoppers are now being tracked through their smartphones and in-store sensors.
You’ll be able to see how many customers pass through your store every day, week, month, etc. Another possibility: Tracking the behavior of those customers as they shop. You’ll be able to examine the path a customer takes in your store, where they stop to browse items, and how much time they spend in your business. That data can be used to help you rearrange your products, pathways, and come up with solutions to help drive sales.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology has been around longer than most of us realize, but perhaps that’s because it only recently became a big part of our everyday lives. The most common places you’ve seen RFID used include warehouses, marathons, key fobs, and kiosks. It’s still a big part of inventory management, but it can also be used to help a customer. Real-time inventory management means you could scan an item and let a customer know instantly whether you have a certain size or color of a product in stock in the back.
You may have heard about Memory Mirrors, which are used by Neiman Marcus. It uses RFID technology to connect the retailer’s inventory and POS system with the mirror that’s seemingly magical. A customer stands in front of the mirror wearing an article of clothing, and they can change the color or pattern, if there are other options, by just waving their hand.
Social Media Sales
As the social media landscape changes, retailers are responding by making it more possible for customers to make direct purchases from Facebook pages, and even from shoppable posts. A shopper who sees an outfit on an Instagram model can purchase all the pieces with just a click. Pinterest is getting on board, too, with Buyable Pins, so browsers can click “buy it” rather than “pin it” on items they want.
Put a bunch of those technologies together, and you could enable customers to walk into your store, try on an article of clothing, stand in front of a mirror, and then change the color of clothing with a swipe of their hand. They can then simply walk out the store with the chosen article of clothing, and receive a digital receipt for the item they purchased without ever having to stand in line or pull out their wallet. Beta stores, like the Amazon Go shop in Seattle, are already doing it.
The Bottom Line
You already know you need a POS system, but when you choose one that delivers all the functionality you need to streamline your everyday processes, you know you’ve picked the right one. The right POS software can scale up as your business grows, integrates with hardware and software you already use, and is easy to use for everyone in your business. Read through the reviews of the best POS systems to find the one that’s perfect for your unique business.
Top Retail Influencers of 2018
We’ve scouted the web for retail influencers that are making a positive impact online and created the list below of the top retail influencers of 2018.
Our goal for this list is to present helpful tips to small business owners who are looking to succeed in the retail industry, right from the experts themselves. We found that the retail influencers listed have remarkable credentials, knowledge, and expertise pertaining to the retail industry, as well as an impressive quantity of social media followers.