Point of Sale (POS) systems enable you accept payments from customers in exchange for goods or services.
At one end of the spectrum are simple machines that have a cash drawer, calculate totals, and display the change to give the customer.
At the other end are POS systems that allow you to accept multiple payment types (including gift cards), handle coupons and discount codes, sync with loyalty programs, and manage inventory. Some POS companies also offer handheld devices or iPad apps for mobile use.
The right POS for you depends on the type of business you’re running, what features you’d like, whether you want it to integrate with other tools you’re using, and your budget.
Prices can range from a couple of hundred dollars for a no-frills system to a couple of thousand dollars for the fanciest options.
The Top 16 POS Systems for Small Businesses
These overviews should help you decide which POS to explore further.
Square offers a variety of systems to help you accept credit and debit cards, both in-person and online. Square is one of the easiest options to set up. You’ve probably seen the Square attachment on people’s phones or their iPad app.
It is also inexpensive. The app is free, and users can get their first Square Reader free of charge. But Square also offers cash registers for brick-and-mortar locations in addition to their popular iPad solutions.
Shopify is known for powering e-commerce websites. But it also offers a POS that makes it easy for you to sell across multiple locations and channels.
It has digital checkout features, plug-and-play hardware for in-person sales, and multi-channel inventory management.
Prices start at $29/month and include access to the POS app and a free card reader.
This POS system includes tools to manage inventory, data, staff, and customer relationships. It’s aimed at small- to medium-sized retailers and restaurants.
Lightspeed’s POS system comes with import tools, stock catalogs, support for product variations, and custom and purchase orders.
In addition to the mobile payments features, the POS system allows you to accept cash and change and offer refunds.
ShopKeep brands itself as a one-stop-shop for your POS Software, payments hardware, and credit card processing needs.
You can opt for a full cash register system including cash drawer, receipt printer, and credit card reader that integrates with iPads.
ShopKeep offers personalized onboarding and 24/7 support to all of its customers.
Vend is a POS system featuring support for multi-outlet retailers and inventory management. Those selling goods both online and in-person will appreciate its online payment processing features and integration with iPads.
All you have to do is add a barcode scanner and credit card reader.
PayPal Here offers you the ability to accept credit and debit cards in person.
You can also send invoices and record cash and check transactions. However, PayPal Here does not come with additional functionality for cash and check transactions.
Prices are assessed on a per-transaction basis and depend on the type of payment transfer (e.g., swiping a credit card will be cheaper for you than sending an invoice).
QuickBooks POS is a digital replacement for traditional cash registers; you can ring in sales with a barcode scanner, accept credit and debit cards, and sync with QuickBooks for accounting purposes.
If you have a loyalty program, QuickBooks helps you track and reward customers for their purchases. QuickBooks also comes with inventory management features.
The QuickBooks POS, powered by Revel Systems, works with iPads or the Microsoft Surface tablet.
The Revel Systems POS offers iPad integration for easy checkout (even offline), a reporting dashboard, and customer relationship management features.
If you want a more robust POS system, you can opt for the optional barcode scanner, receipt printer, and credit card reader. Revel does not offer additional hardware to support cash/check transactions.
Brilliant POS aims to be a simple-to-use POS system that includes reporting, inventory control, and customer tracking features.
With Brilliant POS, you can accept all major credit cards, as well as support PIN-based debit transactions, Apple Pay, and gift cards.
Brilliant POS provides you with the hardware you need, and if you have an online store, you can use the digital payment processing features.
Bindo POS is an iPad-based POS system that offers inventory management, CRM, rewards/loyalty programs support, and analytics functionality.
You can accept credit cards both in-person and online, and options to expand the functionality of your iPad include a cash drawer, barcode scanner, credit card reader, and receipt printer.
Bluestore Live POS is a cloud-based option that offers e-commerce payment processing and in-person transactions using an iPad.
You can support as many stores as you’d like, and you can sync inventory information across all your sales channels.
The goEmerchant POS allows you to accept cash, checks, credit cards, and gift cards, either online or in person.
goEmerchant bills itself as a free option, which means there are no setup costs or contracts.
You can take advantage of the free trial. If you proceed with goEmerchant, you’ll pay per iPad on a monthly basis and you must provide your own iPads.
Tillpoint offers several POS systems, including all-in-one options that can be used for payment processing, printing receipts, and storing cash and complete options that offer the same functionality (but with individual components for each function, e.g., a receipt printer).
You can also opt to purchase just the software if you have your own Apple devices. The Tillpoint software is comprised of modules, each dedicated to managing one part of your business.
You can curate a custom solution for your business by purchasing the modules that you need.
CashierLive offers users the ability to ring up purchases, accept payment track inventory, and generate sales-related data and reports.
Those with iPad devices can purchase complimentary items to create a full-service POS system, while those who do not will find all the hardware they need for sale.
Springboard Retail offers multi-channel support for sales, order handling, inventory management, payment processing, and analytics.
Springboard Retail is a cloud-based tool, but you can set up “selling stations” to accept payments from phone orders or in-person.
Booker by MINDBODY is a POS system that includes the ability to accept payments, allows clients to create appointments, and supports gift cards.
Booker was designed to appeal to spas and salons, but its feature set makes it a popular option with anyone who works one-on-one with clients, such as fitness trainers and coaches.
What’s the Best POS For My Small Business?
Too many choices? We’ve whittled down our list to give you a handful to start exploring, based on use case.
- If you need a POS that is is easy to use and works with iPads, consider Square, Shopify, ShopKeep or Booker.
- If you need a POS that can manage inventory, and work with multiple locations, consider, Square, ShopKeep, LightSpeed, Brilliant POS, or Bindo POS.
- If you need POS that can manage inventory and provides loyalty rewards consider: QuickBooks POS, Revel Systems, LightSpeed, or Bindo POS.
Here are some common questions about POS systems. Have a question of your own? Leave it in the comments section below this article and we’d be happy to answer it.
Does Square POS work with QuickBooks?
Yes, the Square POS system integrates with Intuit QuickBooks.
With this integration, you can:
- Import sales figures, fees, taxes, discounts, and tips from one or more locations
- Set up an automatic daily sync
- Create item and product category reports,
- Record refunds and chargebacks
The integration won’t accept split tender information, but according to Square, you can use the CommerceSync app to do that.
Who created the first POS system?
It depends on how you define a POS (point of sale) system. For example, you could consider a manual cash register to be a POS system. We’ll use the definition of a computerized cash register. In 1974, William Brobeck and several associates filed a patent for a cash register that used the Intel 8008 microprocessor.
These registers were first used at McDonalds’ restaurants according to Wikipedia.
POS systems are expensive, even the cheapest options, and it can be difficult to identify the option that is best for your business. In this article, we covered 16 of the best options on the market today to help you decide on the one that meets your needs.