Written by Zara Chechi Reviewed by Ruairi Shirlow Updated on 16 January 2023 On this page The 5 Best POS Systems for Small Businesses: Comparison Square: Best Overall Lightspeed: Best for Retail Shopify: Best for Ecommerce Integration TouchBistro: Best for Restaurants Toast: Best for Android Verdict How We Test POS Systems FAQs Expand Our site is reader-supported – by clicking our links, we can match you with a potential supplier, and we may earn a small commission for this referral. With a score of 4.8/5, Square is our highest rated POS provider in our research. We recommend it to small businesses as it offers free POS software, affordable hardware, and comprehensive features.Our independent research team has compared 12 different POS systems to find the best providers. Each provider was scored against a range of areas including business development, price, and customer support.If you’re short on time, you can get quotes from trusted POS companies directly through our free quote-comparison tool. Simply answer a few questions, and we’ll match you with the most suitable company, who’ll offer tailored, no-obligation quotes. Easy. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Square Lightspeed Shopify POS TouchBistro Toast 4.8 4.3 4.1 4.0 3.7 Price From $0/month Price From $89/month Price Basic – $29/monthShopify – $79/monthAdvanced – $299/monthShopify POS:Lite: $0Pro: $89/month/location Price From $93/month Price Starter – $120/monthEssentials – $175/monthCustom – bespoke Best For Overall Best For Bars Best For Retailers with an online store Best For Restaurants Best For hospitality industry Square: Best OverallPricing: Software price plans range from $0 per month to $79 per month Square 4.8 Quick overview Square scores a 4.8/5 overall in our research, taking the number one spot. Square scores a 5/5 for pricing because of its free POS app. The free software is especially suitable for startups or small businesses that have a limited budget. Square does have a paid version for retail ($79 per month) that features more advanced features such as the ability to accept cross-location returns. It also offers a paid version for the hospitality industry, priced a little lower at $60 per month.Square scores well in the business and stock management areas with a solid 5/5. This is thanks to its high number of features such as online ordering, an ecommerce platform, and third party integrations. You will, however, need to pay an additional monthly cost starting from $45 for a loyalty program. If this is important to you then you might prefer a system with a built-in program such as Lightspeed. Although, Lightspeed is much pricier than Square, these comprehensive features are suitable for larger or multi-location restaurants. Square also scores a 5/5 for its customer service as it offers email, live chat, and phone support. Read more + Read less - Strengths Software is free to use with no setup or monthly fees Scalable software Retail and restaurant-specific packages Weaknesses Slightly higher transaction fees than most competitors Pricing See more See less Software Hardware Free $0 Card reader $59 Plus $60 Key FeaturesFree to installCustomized email receiptsIntegrated payment processorAccess to third-party integrationsIndustry-specific packages Lightspeed: Best for RetailPricing: Software price plans range from $69 per month to $289 per month Lightspeed 4.3 Quick overview Lightspeed score a 4.3/5 overall and offer two different POS systems: restaurant and retail. The split means you can choose the system that's right for your business' needs. Lightspeed doesn't do very well in the pricing area scoring a 3.2/5. Starting from 89 CAD per month, the 'Lean' package is a stripped down plan and doesn't include features such as advanced reporting or omnichannel reporting. For this you'll need to opt for the 'Standard' package, priced at 159 CAD per month. If this isn't within your budget, you might be better suited to Square or Zettle which offer free POS software.While Lightspeed are pricey, it offers features such as the most comprehensive inventory tools out of all the providers in our research. It also offers an integrated loyalty program whereas most other providers in our research only provide this via third party integration or as paid add-on. For small retailers, Lightspeed is a great way to scale quickly as it comes equipped with retail (or restaurant) focused tools and features.The loyalty program is fairly extensive with customer insights, omnichannel loyalty tools, and custom one-time deals. Lightspeed scores a 4/5 for its customer score, offering live chat, email, and phone support. Read more + Read less - Strengths Offers lots of customizable features 24/7 customer support Best option for retail stores Weaknesses Relatively expensive compared to other POS systems on our list Pricing See more See less Lean 89 CAD /month Standard 159 CAD /month Advanced 229 CAD /month Key FeaturesCustomizable gift cardsAutomatically pause ads when products sell outTiered rewards program Shopify: Best for Ecommerce IntegrationPricing: Software price plans range from $38 CAD per month to $389 CAD per month Shopify 4.1 Quick overview Shopify scores a 4.1/5 overall in our research and is best for businesses looking for ecommerce integration. This is because Shopify's ecommerce platform is popular and widely used but you also cannot use Shopify's POS system without signing up to an ecommerce plan. If you're looking solely for a POS system for now something like Lightspeed for higher budgets or Zettle for a tighter budget would work well. If you're not quite sure if you want a an ecommerce platform yet but you may want one in the future, Square could be a better fit as you can then integrate Square's ecommerce platform, which is free.Shopify scores a 4.3/5 for business management, missing out on a perfect score as it lacks an offline mode. This can be problematic if you have spotty reception or you're out on the road. A better option might be Square if this is the case. Shopify scores a 4/5 for business development, as it includes a CRM and a loyalty program which comes with an additional charge. For an integrated loyalty program, Lightspeed is a better option, however, you'll need third-party integration to access an ecommerce platform. Read more + Read less - Strengths Powerful platform suitable for any sized online store Affordable hardware options Easy to use Weaknesses Works best when selling through your own Shopify store, not alternative ecommerce platforms Pricing See more See less Shopify plan Shopify POS subscription Basic $38 CAD/month POS LITE $0 USD/month Shopify $99 CAD/month POS PRO $89 USD/month per location Advanced $389 CAD/month Key FeaturesProfit margin calculatorDiscounted shipping rates from DHL Express and UPSRefund and invoice generators TouchBistro: Best for RestaurantsPricing: Software plans start from $69 per month TouchBistro 4 Quick overview Scoring a 4/5 overall in our research, TouchBistro is best for restaurants as it has been designed by industry experts. Some of these restaurant-specific features include tableside ordering, floor plan and table management, and menu management. TouchBistro has unlimited payment partners so it's great for businesses that want to be able to offer customers an array of ways to pay.Its inventory capabilities are fairly extensive with the ability to log recipes, access reports on real-time stock level, and set up customizable pop-up alerts to inform to let servers know when an item is running low. Despite having comprehensive features it scores a 3/5 for business development as it lacks inter-store transactions. If this is important to you an alternative provider is Square which doesn't have as many restaurant-focused features but still has tools to manage and run a restaurant including menu management and floor plans.TouchBistro does well in the customer service department scoring a 5/5 as it offers live chat, email, and phone support. Read more + Read less - Strengths Detailed spending reports to help you plan budgets 24/7 phone and email support Designed specifically for restaurants Weaknesses Some customer reviews complain about small glitches Not the cheapest option on our list Key FeaturesOnline orderingLoyalty programsCustomer-facing displays Toast: Best for AndroidPricing: Software plans range from $0 per month to $165 per month Toast 3.6 Quick overview Toast scores a 4.2/5 overall in our research for small business POS systems. Toast runs on Android, making it a great fit for current or wannabe Android users. Its free plan makes it suitable for small businesses, which can be found in other providers such as Square but, in comparison, Toast's system offers restaurant-specific features. If your business isn't in the restaurant industry, then Square could be a better option.Toasts specialized features include menu engineering, tableside service, and detailed reports. One of its unique features not found in the other providers in this list is that Toast's hardware has been made built to withstand heat, grease, and spills. Making it suitable for a busy hospitality environment. Other restaurant-hardware options include Toast Go, a handheld POS system, self-ordering kiosks, and a kitchen display.Toast scores a 5/5 for stock management as it offers several tools, in the form of xtraCHEF by Toast, an integrated solution for automating accounting and inventory management. Its customer support is lacking, however, scoring a 1/5 in our research. While it offers phone, email, and live chat support, many users have reported that the customer support is slow and unreliable. Read more + Read less - Strengths Designed for the hospitality industry Solid stock management tools Easy to use Weaknesses CRM functionalities only available via a third party app Poor customer support Pricing See more See less Starter Kit $0/month Restaurant Basics $110/month Essentials $165/month Custom Custom Key FeaturesOnline orderingCash discountsIntegrates with QuickBooks Verdict Scoring a 4.8/5, Square is our highest performing provider. It’s affordable, scalable, and offers a generous range of features – everything your small business needs to grow.However, you might have more specific needs such as ecommerce integration, which is best done by Shopify. If you want restaurant-focused features, TouchBistro would be a good fit.Remember, we can put you in touch with trusted POS companies quickly and easily. Simply use our free comparison tool and tell us what you need, then we’ll match you up with suitable companies who’ll offer more information and no-obligation quotes. Our service couldn’t be easier. How We Test POS Systems for BusinessesWe tested 16 market-leading POS systems to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, price, features, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to Canadian businesses.Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in eight main categories of investigation and 45 subcategories – in fact, we covered 61 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs and requirements of Expert Market readers – and that's our product testing algorithm in a nutshell!Our main testing categories for POS systems are:Till: the core functionality of the POS system, which includes the processing of sales transactions. It involves features such as item scanning, item look-up, and price calculation.Business Management: the features and tools provided by the POS system to support various aspects of running a business, such as employee management, shift scheduling, and customer management.Stock Management: the POS system's capabilities to manage inventory and track stock levels, including inventory tracking, stock alerts and transfers, and purchase order management.Business Development: the features and tools provided by the POS system to help businesses grow and improve their operations, e.g. customer relationship management, marketing integrations, and sales forecasting.Usability: how easily and intuitively the POS system can be used by the staff, including the user interface design, navigation, ease of training, and overall user experience during setup.Price: the cost associated with acquiring and using the POS system, such as the initial purchase cost, licensing fees, subscription plans, and any additional charges or ongoing costs.Help and Support: the assistance and resources available to users when they encounter issues or need guidance while using the POS system including documentation, tutorials, or knowledge bases.Features: the functionalities and capabilities provided by the POS product. This can include dedicated restaurant and retail functionality including KDS, loyalty management, and multi employee login. FAQs What is a point of sale system? Point of Sale (POS) systems combine software and hardware in order to help you manage your business more efficiently. The best systems offer features designed to help you with everything from processing transactions to creating email marketing campaigns that’ll encourage repeat purchases. How much does a POS system cost for a small business? For small businesses, software plans for some POS systems, including Square and eHopper, start at $0 per month, with just the hardware costs and transaction fees to worry about. However, most POS systems have pricing plans, starting from $60+ per month. The majority of POS hardware can be bought for around $1,500 What is the cheapest POS system? The cheapest POS system is provided by Square. While eHopper offers a free plan, too, Square’s plan is better value for money thanks to its impressive features. With Square’s software, you can manage and grow your small business easily, at no monthly cost. Written by: Zara Chechi Business Services Expert Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts. Reviewed by: Ruairi Shirlow Business Services Researcher Ruairi uses his 3+ years of research experience to uncover insights which can help Expert Market provide the best business solutions for their users. He has done this by meeting with business owners to find out what is important to them and what challenges they face on a daily basis. Ruairi specialises in tools that can be used to grow your business and has done research for a wide range of categories on Expert Market, such as EPOS, Website Builders, and Merchant Accounts.