Want to jump straight to the answer? The best retail POS system for most people is Square for Retail or Clover.
In today’s competitive landscape, retailers need functionality beyond simple processing. Luckily, modern retail point of sale (POS) systems come packed with several powerful features, including inventory management, detailed reporting, and sales history tracking, to meet and exceed this requirement. This guide will take a deeper look at the best retail POS systems that will help you drive revenue and customer loyalty.
The Top 5 Best Retail POS Systems
- Square for Retail — Best for Small Retailers
- Clover — Best All-In-One POS System
- Shopify — Best for Shopify Store Owners
- Lightspeed — Best for Customizable Inventory Management and Analytics
- Epos Now — Best for Hassle-Free Setup
Now that you know my top picks, let’s understand why they make it on my list.
Square for Retail — Best for Small Retailers
- Affordable and user-friendly
- Supports popular card processing vendors
- No setup fees
- No contract requirements
Square for Retail is usually the go-to POS system for retailers for many reasons.
For starters, it has no setup fees or monthly subscription charges—even its POS hardware (Square POS Reader) is available for free. Note that you’ll have to pay a transactional fee that’s higher than a few other retail POS solutions. If your retail business does a large number of credit card transactions, you’ll be better off with another solution—but if not, Square for Retail is an affordable option to try.
Next, Square supports payments from popular credit card brands like Visa, American Express, and MasterCard, as well as contactless transactions through Google Pay and Apple Pay. This gives customers the flexibility to pay for products in their preferred manner, helping drive sales. Issuing digital or physical gift cards is also possible.
Another significant advantage of Square is it has no contract requirements. This, in addition to transparent pricing, means you know exactly what you’re signing up for and don’t have to worry about any hidden charges. The software is also compatible with Android and iOS devices, giving you the flexibility to make on-the-go sales at events like trade shows and flea markets.
While the free plan is admittedly limited in terms of functionality, every Square plan comes with built-in payments, free online stores for ecommerce and curbside pickup, and a user-friendly, barcode-based UI.
Square for Retail currently offers the following three plans:
- Plus — $60 per month, for location
- Premium — Contact sales for custom pricing
A 30-day free trial is also available for the Retail Plus plan.
Square’s register bundle costs $1,329 and its Contactless + Chip Reader bundle costs $49 (including a free magstripe card reader).
Clover — Best All-In-One POS System
- Flexible POS system
- Several innovative ecommerce features
- Innovative loyalty app
- Customizable permission levels
Clover is arguably the most flexible all-in-one POS system offering a diverse range of tailored solutions. Use it to accept payments, create custom reports to monitor sales and business performance, and manage inventory, among several other critical retail tasks.
Clover also has an innovative loyalty app called Clover Rewards that helps encourage repeat buying and retain customer loyalty. It’s incredibly easy to use—the customer simply needs to enter their first name when transacting, after which you can reward them. What’s more, you can tailor the rewards to align with your business.
You also get employee tracking with shift and payroll management to stay on top of your team’s schedules and responsibilities, as well as customizable permission levels to prevent theft and fraud.
Similar to other retail POS systems, you can easily access your data and accept payments on any device (computers, tablets, mobile, and clover devices) and from anywhere, with all information getting safely stored on the cloud. Allow customers to pay via American Express, Visa, and MasterCard cards, as well as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and gift cards.
Other features like digital receipts and one-touch tipping help streamline checkouts.
You’ll have to contact Clover’s sales team for a customized payment processing quote, but here are the prices of its retail systems:
- Starter — $799
- Standard — $1,799
- Advanced — $2,298
Clover offers a free 30-day trial to all users.
Shopify — Best for Shopify Store Owners
- Omnichannel functionalities
- 24/7 inventory and product management
- Efficient customer management
- Customizable checkouts
For Shopify ecommerce stores, choosing the Shopify POS is a no-brainer. But even otherwise, it’s a good option if you want to adopt an omnichannel selling approach.
Thanks to its unified platform, you can manage your entire online and physical store business. Easily manage a business from anywhere and keep 24/7 track of your inventory across channels. Offer curbside pickup, accept exchanges and returns for online purchases in-store, and ship purchases to customers’ homes.
Shopify also lets you accept any form of payment, email receipts to customers, apply discounts, and process refunds.
Customizable checkouts mean you can tailor your register’s screen, add shortcuts, customize receipts, and sell on mobile. Effective product and inventory management let you track stock levels and create collections and item variants, as well as manage purchase orders and forecast product demands.
Shopify makes customer management seamless, too. Create dedicated customer profiles and segment them based on predetermined factors. You can also set marketing preferences, add notes to profiles and individual orders, and build loyalty programs to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Note that Shopify POS is only available to Shopify users. That said, here’s how its POS pricing works:
- Shopify POS Lite — Free as it’s included with all Shopify plans
- Shopify POS Pro — Your Shopify plan + $89 per month, per location (or it’s free with Shopify Plus plans)
Shopify offers users a three-day free trial, too.
Lightspeed — Best for Customizable Inventory Management and Analytics
- Bespoke POS solution
- Powerful integrated tools
- Deep reporting and analytics
- Excellent loyalty and marketing features
Lightspeed is another robust retail POS system that comes with over 40 sales and inventory reports and analytics tools to facilitate detailed inventory management. It also lets you use custom fields to monitor stock levels, ensuring you’re never out of your top-selling products.
It’s important to note that Lightspeed only offers bespoke solutions. If you’re looking for a quick and easy-to-setup POS solution, you should look elsewhere. But if you want tailored retail POS functionality, Lightspeed‘s hardware and software are just the deal.
Optimize operations and create smooth customer checkouts using Lightspeed’s powerful integrated tools. Accept payments from leading debit and credit card vendors, plus Google Pay and Apple Pay, to offer customers the convenience to pay however they like.
Lightspeed‘s native features are particularly useful for processing custom and work orders, making it a great POS solution for specialty shops like jewelry or bike stores that frequently process repairs or payments for individual parts and components. You can also set up multiple locations and shops to make sales and integrate the software with popular business tools.
The retail POS system also offers excellent loyalty and marketing features. Lightspeed Loyalty is an integrated omnichannel rewards system that lets you create targeted marketing campaigns to boost performance across multiple selling channels.
Lightspeed offers the following retail POS plans:
- Lean — $69 per month
- Standard — $119 per month
- Advanced — $199 per month
- Enterprise — Contact sales to get a custom quote
A 14-day free trial is also available. You can purchase POS hardware, but you’ll have to request a quote.
Epos Now — Best for Hassle-Free Setup
- Staff performance tracking included
- Hassle-free, effortless setup
- Real-time reporting capabilities
- 100+ third-party integrations
Epos Now is a cloud-based POS system specially designed for retail and hospitality businesses. It helps businesses manage inventory and track online and offline sales, as well as print invoices and read barcodes.
You can use this POS system to track staff performance and get real-time reports on inventory levels, sales performance, and other aspects of your retail business.
What sets Epos Now apart is its effortlessly quick setup process, with the company claiming users can be up and running in just 15 minutes flat. It’s compatible with a wide variety of hardware options, including Android and iOS devices, and also offers specialized configurations for different industries to ensure a seamless setup.
Other features include comprehensive third-party integrations (more than 100 apps), a customer loyalty feature, automated stock count, and Barcode management.
Epos Now has published pricing information on its website. You’ll have to request a callback to get a custom quote.
How to Find the Best Retail POS System for You
The best retail POS systems differ for every retail business. That’s why it’s worth knowing how to choose the most suitable option for your business.
Here’s a list of factors I keep in mind when narrowing down POS systems:
You may have the best retail POS system, but if you or your staff cannot use it, it’s useless.
Ensure your chosen retail POS system has a simple and user-friendly interface. Your staff shouldn’t have to constantly ask for help or reach out for the manual. Otherwise, they won’t be able to effectively serve your customers, compromising the level of service.
Of course, any new POS system will require some type of training, which is why the goal isn’t to completely eliminate advanced solutions. Instead, look for systems without a steep learning curve you and your staff can quickly become familiar with to prevent unnecessary delays.
Estimated Fees and Costs
A POS system is made up of three parts: software, hardware, and payments. It’s why you should factor in the POS software fees, hardware costs, and payment processing fees for each prospective option.
- POS software fees: This is a monthly or annual fee—or is based on different plan tiers with different price points.
- Hardware costs: These costs vary depending on your needs, the payment options you want to support, and the number of stores and staff you have. If you don’t want to buy POS hardware, renting or leasing is also an option.
- Payment processing fees: Your payment card processor charges a fee for every transaction, which varies depending on the credit card your customer uses. Select a POS provider that offers integrated payment processing for faster payouts and greater control over your cash flow.
When choosing a POS system for your retail business, think about where you see your business in five or ten years’ time. You see, a system that’s perfect for your business at the present moment may not be appropriate in a few years’ time, especially if you expand, so gauging the scalability of prospective solutions is critical.
Admittedly, it’s difficult to look too far into the future, but considering the hefty investment you’re about to make, the effort is well worth it.
Advanced POS Features and Third-Party Integrations
Alongside accepting payments, your prospective POS systems should also offer advanced functionalities like multi-channel inventory management, integrated payment processing, staff management, flexible order fulfillment, and advanced reporting and analytics. Essentially, you want features that help you address key challenges your retail business currently struggles with or is likely to face.
Besides having top-notch features, you also want your POS system to work in tandem with your existing systems. Solutions offering extensive third-party integrations will allow you to streamline and integrate many of your processes together to save time and reduce errors.
The Top Retail POS Systems in Summary
Square for Retail and Clover are the best retail POS systems. From deep inventory management to convenient customer loyalty programs to efficient online and offline integrated options, both platforms make running a retail business a breeze. You’re also assured of an excellent experience with Shopify, Lightspeed, and Epos Now, so it’s really a matter of your individual requirements, budget, and preferences.