The Best 4 Retail POS Systems

Retail POS systems

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Our research team has identified the best retail POS systems out of ten different POS suppliers. We know how important it is for retail businesses to have a POS system that’s affordable, has great retail features and a great customer review score. Our researchers focused on these factors, as well as the help and support the providers offer.

Square comes out on top in all these areas, thanks to its free POS app, sleek and easy to use interface, and free ecommerce store. We’ve included four other POS systems that came out on top in our research, so you can find the right system for your business.

You can use our free comparison tool to get tailored quotes from trusted POS providers. With just a few brief details, we’ll match you up with providers who’ll contact you with no-obligation quotes.

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Clover

Vend

SpotOn

Lightspeed

Price

From $0/month

Price
  • Payments – $0/month
  • Essentials – $14.95/month
  • Register $49.95/month
Price

From $89/month

Price

Custom

Price

From $89/month

Best

Overall

Best

for Medium-sized Businesses

Best

for Scalability

Best

for Small Businesses

Best

for Retailers with Multiple Locations

Pros
  • Free POS app
  • Suited to small businesses
Pros
  • Handheld POS system
  • Easy to use
Pros
  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Affordable
Pros
  • 24/7 support
  • Inbuilt marketing tools
  • Omnichannel catalog
Pros
  • In-built CRM system
  • Extensive report templates
  • Advanced inventory management
Cons
  • Not as comprehensive as other POS systems
Cons
  • Lack of features
  • Third party apps do not always integrate well
Cons
  • Shopify integration does not always work well
Cons
  • Lack of transparent pricing
Cons
  • Costly
Score
4.7
Score
4.5
Score
4.4
Score
4.2
Score
4.1
Compare Costs Compare Costs Compare Costs Compare Costs Compare Costs

1. Square – Best Overall

Square
4.7
Pricing From $0/month
Quick overview

Square is our front runner in the retail POS race, with an overall rating of 4.7. Square has a free POS app, specialized retail features, and an easy to use interface.

You'll need to pay $79 per month for more comprehensive retail features, such as advanced inventory tools,  however this is still fairly affordable compared to other POS systems. If this isn't within your budget, Square's free app is still worthwhile as it comes with retail features such as sales reports, integrated payments, and in-store collection or delivery.

For start-ups or small businesses, this free POS app is a great place to start, especially if you're reluctant to invest in an expensive POS system. As your business grows, you can then switch to the paid plan. This POS system includes everything in the free system, plus cross-location exchanges, advanced retail reports, and unlimited team management.

In our research, Square scores high in the retail features department, with a solid 4 out of 5, which is on par with other POS systems such as SpotOn. But Square's high scoring in all our research areas gives it the number one spot.

That said, the free app's inventory tools are rather basic, so if your business needs more in-depth inventory tools, it may be best to opt for the paid version. Square Plus offers a free trial, so you can test out whether this is the right POS system for your business before making a monetary investment.

Whilst Square has options to take your retail business online, you may choose another platform such as Shopify to do this. Unfortunately, Square can struggle to manage inventory levels for online and in-person sales when you combine it with a third-party ecommerce platform. If you're keen on using a third-party platform, Square may not be the best fit for you. But if you're happy to use Square's ecommerce solutions, then you should be able to run the whole system fairly smoothly.

Users have commented on how easy the app is to use – there's no steep learning curve, and even those who might struggle with technology can pick it up fairly easily. An easy to use interface also means users are less likely to make mistakes. Whilst Square is simple, it's essentially a software POS app with a payment processor. If you want a POS system that includes hardware, Clover might be a better fit.

Square is best suited to start ups or small businesses. Medium-sized businesses are also suited to Square – especially Square Plus, as it includes more advanced features. But if you're looking for more employee management features and seamless third-party integration, a better POS system might be Vend.

Strengths

Free POS app

Suitable for small businesses

Both free and paid version has retail features

Easy to use interface

Weaknesses

Not as comprehensive as other POS systems

Does not integrate well with third-party ecommerce platforms

Pricing
PackagePrice per monthTransaction fee
Free $0 2.6% + 10¢ for chip and PIN/contactless, 3.4% + 15¢ for online/manual transactions
Plus $79 2.6% + 10¢ for chip and PIN/contactless, 3.4% + 15¢ for online/manual transactions
Premium Custom Custom pricing if your business processes $250,000 a year

Square Pricing Analysis

Whilst Square’s ‘free’ version means you don’t need to pay out a monthly fee, its transaction fees are fairly steep. On the plus side, you won’t see the money hit your bank account before it’s taken from each transaction, so it doesn’t feel like a huge hit.

2. Clover – Best for Medium-sized Businesses

clover logo
Clover
4.5
Pricing From $1,190
Quick overview

Clover integrates a POS system, cash register and card payment terminal to give you a comprehensive system. It also includes accessories such as receipt printers and a customer interface screen.

Clover's POS system has been created for the hospitality industry so it's chock-full of features designed to provide a great experience all around. You can create custom floor plans, manage staff, streamline payments and customise orders. You can track sales in real time and run reports on the Clover dashboard or via the app.

Clover’s payment processing rates are lower compared to some other POS systems which is great, plus, users have reported that their customer service is helpful. Unfortunately, the system cannot communicate between multiple locations which is a drawback if you want all your locations to develop cohesive practices.

Strengths

Offers a handheld POS system

Easy to use interface

Weaknesses

Lack of features

Third party apps do not always integrate well

Pricing
PackagePriceTransaction fees
Starter $1,190 2.6% + 10¢ for card-present transactions and 3.5% + 10¢ for keyed-in transactions
Standard $2,460 2.3% + 10¢ for card-present transactions and 3.5% + 10¢ for keyed-in transactions
Advanced $3,140 2.3% + 10¢ for card-present transactions and 3.5% + 10¢ for keyed-in transactions

Clover Pricing Analysis

Clover’s Starter package comes with a mini 7″ touchscreen POS with an in-built receipt printer, and the other two packages come with a 14″ merchant facing POS system with a 7″ customer screen. The Advanced package also includes the Clover Flex.

As a small business, the Starter package should be fairly suited to your needs, as you typically don’t want a larger POS system and you may not need a customer facing screen. Larger businesses tend to have more space to accommodate a larger POS system.

Clover’s hardware is fairly pricey, however this hardware cost is a one-off payment – once this has been paid, the only costs for the system is the monthly fee for the software. Other POS providers, such as Square, offer free POS apps, but their hardware is limited to card readers and tablet stands, which can be too simplistic for large businesses.

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3. Vend – Best for Scalability

vend logo
Vend
4.4
Pricing From $89/month
Quick overview

Vend scores a 4.4 out of 5 star rating in our research, thanks to its high scores in the pricing area and help and support. It also offers some great retail-specific features such as store credit, so you can give your customers the opportunity to come back by giving them store credit instead of issuing a refund.

Vend works on iPads, Macs, and your desktop computer, so if you're already using a POS system but want to switch to Vend, the software will most likely be compatible. You can create a customer facing display by pairing Vend Display with the Vend Register iPad app so customers can see their order being processed, plus you can easily record customer details.

You can make checkouts faster and smoother by creating custom buttons for your most popular products, and as the system is cloud-based, this template can then be used across multiple stores. Users have reported that the system is easy to use, and if you do run into any issues, Vend offer online tutorials. Our researchers score its help and support a solid 5 out of 5.

As a retail business, adding discounts correctly is important. Vend allows you to add discounts to all the items in a customer's basket or only to specific items, making it easier to carry out promotions. You can also customize receipts with your business's logo and website, as well as create receipts for a specific purpose or in a different language.

Despite having many retail-focused features, Vend lacks some key features, such as in-depth reporting. Sales reports are also not accessible unless you're paying for a higher pricing tier, which is limiting and expensive. If you're not too fussed about reporting features, this may not be an issue for you, but if you are, you might be more suited to a POS system such as Square or Clover.

Vend integrates with ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, so you can take your retail store online, and deal with both from one system. Some users have found the integration between Vend and Shopify does not work very well, which can be a huge problem when it comes to inventory levels and orders.

We recommend Vend for businesses to scale and expand, as it offers core retail features, and the higher tiers contain more in-depth features that are more affordable as your business grows.

Strengths

Intuitive and easy to use

Affordable

Weaknesses

Shopify integration does not always work well

Pricing
PackagePrice
Lean $89/month (billed annually) or $119/month (billed monthly)
Standard $159/month (billed annually) or $199/month (billed monthly)
Advanced $229/month (billed annually) or $319/month (billed monthly)
Enterprise Custom

Vend Pricing Analysis

The pricing above is for one register for one location. If you want more than this, Vend’s pricing will increase. For example, for two registers at two locations, the Lean package increases to $178 per month (billed annually) and $238 per month (billed monthly).

Additional registers are priced at $69, so if you had one location but two registers on the same package, your monthly cost would be $158 (billed annually) and $188 (billed monthly).

Although you make a significant saving with annual billing, billing monthly prevents you from making a bigger monetary investment, making it easier for small businesses to opt for this system. Vend isn’t quite as expensive as Clover, and it’s not quite as inexpensive as Square, so it comfortably suits small to medium sized retailers who want a cloud-based system with retail-specific features.

4. SpotOn – Best for Small Businesses

SpotOn logo
SpotOn
4.2
Pricing Custom
Quick overview

SpotOn offers retail-specific features, so it's no surprise that our researchers scored its retail features a 4 out of 5. These features include a cloud-based catalog, a handheld POS system, and an ecommerce store with in-built tools for shipping and local delivery.

The provider claims to specialize in specific retail industries, such as clothing and apparel, sporting goods, and home decor. SpotOn offers a seamless system to deal with both ecommerce and your physical store, including an omnichannel catalog, so you can make necessary adjustments that will easily inform both your ecommerce and POS.

You can opt for a handheld device or a countertop device – both are great options for small businesses, as you don't need space for either. If you're a larger business, you might want to opt for the countertop device so you can easily access all the different features on the system. Both devices can be used to capture customer data, so you can continue to develop a relationship and keep them coming back.

Add-on features such as loyalty programs and ecommerce come at an additional cost, but you'll need to contact the support team for an exact price. This can be frustrating, as it's difficult to make decisions about your business without transparent pricing. Once you become a customer of SpotOn, its customer support is great, with 24/7 support via email, phone or live chat, which evidences why we've rated them a 4 out of 5 in this area.

You can run your business's marketing from the system, from sending emails to running Facebook campaigns. You can also monitor your online reputation on sites such as Google and Yelp, with notifications every time you receive a new review. You can then easily respond to each review.

Strengths

24/7 support

Omnichannel catalog

Inbuilt marketing tools

Weaknesses

Lack of transparent pricing

SpotOn Pricing Analysis

SpotOn’s pricing is bespoke and you’ll need to contact the provider directly to get an accurate price for your business.

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Alternative Retail POS System

Lightspeed Retail didn’t make it to our top five best POS systems, but we think it deserves a mention. Lightspeed Retail is great for retailers with multiple stores, as it includes advanced features such as a CRM system, and its pricing is less suited to smaller businesses.

If you’re looking for a POS system that packs a punch and you don’t mind a heavier price point, Lightspeed Retail could be the right system for your business.

lightspeed logo
Lightspeed Retail
4.1
Pricing From $89/month
Quick overview

Lightspeed Retail offers comprehensive inventory management tools, which are suited to larger businesses that want to ensure their stock is handled efficiently. Inventory management solutions include being able track items across multiple locations, and get notifications when an item needs to be reordered.

The POS system comes with an in-built CRM (customer relationship management) system, so you can store customer data and tailor marketing. The CRM system also comes with a loyalty program, although this can also be found on other POS systems such as Vend. Lightspeed's CRM system does give your business the ability to offer customer loyalty programs as well as marketing emails and promotions, developing a more customer-focused approach.

You can access over 40 report templates and analyze data on various aspects of your business, including sales, employee performance, inventory, and marketing. Detailed reporting helps you to make more informed decisions and be able to see what may or may not be working.

Accounting platforms such as Xero and Sage can be integrated so you can also run your accounting from your POS system. Integrating your accounting software means your figures can easily be shared, reducing the chances of an error being made.

Pricing
PackagePrice
Lean $89/month (billed annually) or $119/month (billed monthly)
Standard $159/month (billed annually) or $199/month (billed monthly)
Advanced $229/month (billed annually) or $319/month (billed monthly)
Enterprise Custom
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Ready to Compare Retail POS Systems?

Our free quote tool is an easy way to receive no-obligation quotes from trusted POS providers. By providing us with a few details, we can match you up with providers who will then contact you with a quote. This saves you the hassle of seeking out quotes for your business and trying to work out which providers are in your budget.

How We Test POS Systems for Businesses

We 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.

 

Best Retail POS Systems FAQs

What's a retail POS system?
A POS (point of sale) system is made up of software and hardware that give businesses the ability to process payments. Most POS systems also include other features, such as reporting and inventory management.

A retail POS system is a POS system that includes retail-specific features such as loyalty programs or more advanced inventory management tools.

What's the best POS system for retail?
Our researchers name Square as the best system for retail businesses. Square offers a free POS app, but if you want more features, this can be upgraded to the Plus plan, priced at $60 per month.
What's the cheapest POS system?
The least expensive POS system is Square, because it’s completely free! That said, the more advanced version of the system does come at a cost of $79 per month.

The only charge involved with Zettle is the card reader, priced at $59. However, this is a one-off fee that’s is fairly affordable considering most other POS systems charge a heftier cost for hardware, and a monthly price for POS software.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
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 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.