Written by Zara Chechi Reviewed by Ruairi Shirlow Updated on January 11, 2023 On this page Square Clover Vend Zettle SpotOn Alternative Retail POS Systems Our Methodology Ready to Compare Retail POS Systems? 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. Square is our highest scoring POS system with a 4.8/5. Square has free POS software, affordable hardware, and a retail-specific paid plan.Our independent research team has identified the best retail POS systems out of 12 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.While Square comes out on top in all these areas 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. What are the top 5 retail POS systems in 2023? These are the providers we recommend based on our research. Use our cost comparison tool to find the best value service for your businessSquare – Best OverallClover – Best for Medium-Sized BusinessesVend – Best for ScalabilityZettle – Best for Start-upsSpotOn – Best for Small Businesses Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Square Clover Vend Zettle SpotOn Price Free: $0/monthPlus: $60/month Price $14.95-295/month Price Lean – $69Standard – $119Advanced – $199 Price $0/month Price Software: from $25/monthHardware: from $15/month Best Overall Best for Medium-sized Businesses Best for Scalability Best for Start-ups Best for Small Businesses Pros Free POS appSuited to small businesses Pros Handheld POS systemEasy to use Pros Intuitive and easy to useAffordable Pros Several payment methodsNo monthly fee/contract Pros 24/7 supportInbuilt marketing toolsOmnichannel catalog Cons Not as comprehensive as other POS systems Cons Lack of featuresThird party apps do not always integrate well Cons Shopify integration does not always work well Cons Phone support only available on weekdays Cons Lack of transparent pricing Score 4.7 Score 4.5 Score 4.4 Score 4.2 Score 4.2 Compare Quotes Compare Quotes Compare Quotes Compare Quotes Compare Quotes 1. Square – Best Overall Square 4.7 Pricing Free – custom Read our in-depth Square review... 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 $60 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. Read more + Read less - 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 See more See less PackagePrice (per month)Transaction fee Square POS app $0 2.6% + 10¢ for chip and PIN/contactless, 3.5% + 15¢ for online/manual transactions Square Plus $60 2.6% + 10¢ for chip and PIN/contactless, 3.5% + 15¢ for online/manual transactions Square Premium Custom Custom pricing if your business processes $250,000 a year Square Pricing AnalysisWhilst 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, the money won't hit your bank account before it's taken from each transaction, so it doesn't feel like a huge hit.The Zettle POS app is also free – the card reader costs $79, but aside from this there are no other monthly fees or contracts. However, Zettle's POS system is more basic, and doesn't have as many features as Square. 2. Clover – Best for Medium-sized Businesses Clover 4.5 Pricing From $799 Read our Clover review here... Quick overview With a solid 4.5 star rating, Clover takes second place. Clover's inventory tools, such as low stock notifications and the ability to instantly add to or update inventory, make it a great option for retail businesses. Instant updates to your inventory are made possible with a barcode scanner on the Clover Flex, a handheld POS system. This handy device allows you to take payments on the go, and is a good fit if you want the ability to take payments on the shop floor – or you can simply use it for inventory purposes.Many users have noted that the interface is easy to use, so your staff don't have to deal with a difficult and clunky system. If you want to take your business online, a pre-built integration gives you the ability to launch an online store, and manage your online and in-store inventory from one dashboard.Whilst Clover's hardware is well-suited to its purpose, the software leaves a lot be desired for many users. The software is missing many functions and features that need to be added to the system via a third party app. The issue with this is that these third-party apps don't integrate with each other. For example, if you download an invoicing app and a rewards app, the system cannot accurately track this and give the customer their rewards.Another issue is that, if you run into problems with a third party app, you'll need to deal with it with the app provider and not Clover, which can increase the amount of time it takes to resolve the issue.If you want sturdy POS hardware and a payment processor, Clover is a good fit for your business. If you're in need of a more feature-rich POS software, you might be more suited to Square or Vend. Clover's payment processing rates are lower than Square's, however, although you'll still need to fork out a monthly fee.Clover's help and support scores a 4 out of 5 in our research, thanks to its online assistance and dedicated Clover support number. This number is displayed on the Clover hardware, for easy access. But be aware that the software does only run on android, which can be limiting if you currently use or want to use iOS devices. Read more + Read less - Inventor Offers a handheld POS system Easy to use interface Weaknesses Lack of features Third party apps do not always integrate well Pricing See more See less Package Price Starter $799 or 3 payments of $266 + $14.95/month Standard $1,799 or 3 payments of $599 + $44.95/month Advanced $2,298 or 3 payments of $765 + $54.90/month Clover Pricing AnalysisClover'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.Card-present transactions Starter: 2.6% + 10¢Standard: 2.3% + 10¢Advanced: 2.3% + 10¢Keyed-in transactions Starter: 3.5% + 10¢Standard: 3.5% + 10¢Advanced: 3.5% + 10¢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 and Zettle offer free POS apps, but their hardware is limited to card readers and tablet stands, which can be too simplistic for large businesses. Use our free comparison tool to get quotes from trusted POS providers Compare and save 3. Vend – Best for Scalability Vend 4.4 Pricing From $69/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. Read more + Read less - Strengths Intuitive and easy to use Affordable Weaknesses Shopify integration does not always work well Pricing See more See less Package Price Lean $69/month Standard $119/month Advanced $199/month Enterprise Custom Vend Pricing AnalysisLean $69/month (billed annually)$89/month (billed monthly)Standard $119/month (billed annually)$149//month (billed monthly)Advanced $199/month (billed annually)$269/month (billed monthly)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 $138 per month (billed annually) and $178 per month (billed monthly).Additional registers are priced at $59, so if you had one location but two registers, your monthly cost would be $178 (billed annually) and $208 (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. Zettle – Best for Startups Zettle by PayPal 4.2 Pricing $0 Quick overview Zettle by PayPal offers retail-specific features, though it only scores a 3.5 out of 5 in this area in our research. This is because, despite having retail features, Zettle is a card reader at heart with a POS app to go with it. One of Zettle's biggest selling points is that it's a low cost card reader. And we really do mean low cost, with no monthly fees or contract, just a 1.75% transaction fee, and a one-off fee of $79 per card reader.Zettle's POS system, the Zettle Go app, is completely free. This POS app offers your basic features, such as the ability to built a product library, edit stock levels, and easily add items to your inventory from the app. The app also provides sales and employee reports.You can also integrate the system with your online store and social media, seamlessly dealing with all these different elements from the app.Whilst Zettle offers retail-specific features around inventory, reporting, and online integrations, this is the bulk of its POS system. The real deal lies in its card reader, which accepts all major debit and credit cards as well as Apple, Android, and Google Play. Contactless payments can be taken in less than five seconds, and cash payments can be taken with no daily limit.You can also provide full or partial refunds, send payment links to get paid remotely, and sell and accept gift cards. All of your earnings are deposited from the app into your bank account within two working days.Zettle is best suited to startups or small businesses who don't need complex or comprehensive inventory solutions. If you have a fairly straightforward inventory and mainly want to ensure you can process payments quickly and accurately, Zettle is a good fit for your business. If you need an affordable but more comprehensive POS system, Square could be a better choice.You should also note that Zettle only offers phone support during weekdays, which can be limiting especially if weekends are a busier time for your business. Read more + Read less - Strengths Offers lots of forms of payments No contract/monthly fee Weaknesses Phone support only available on weekdays Pricing See more See less Zettle Go (POS app) Free Card transactions 1.75% Invoice transactions 2.5% Payment link transactions 2.5% PayPal QR code transactions 1.75% Zettle Pricing AnalysisWith a free app, and no monthly fees or contract in sight, Zettle seems like the perfect POS system. Whilst the price is great, this reflects the lack of features and, quite frankly, the lack of a POS system, as it only offers the very basics.The only cost to your business comes in the form of the 1.75% transaction fee, although when compared to other POS systems' transactions fees, this is still fairly low. Square also offers a free POS app, but its transactions are much higher at 2.6% and 3.5%. 5. SpotOn – Best for Small Businesses SpotOn 4.2 Pricing Custom SpotOn POS review 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. Read more + Read less - Strengths 24/7 support Inbuilt marketing tools Omnichannel catalog Weaknesses Lack of transparent pricing PricingSpotOn's pricing is bespoke and you'll need to contact the provider directly to get an accurate price for your business. Compare and save on POS systems with our quote tool Get free quotes Alternative Retail POS SystemsLightspeed 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 Retail 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. Read more + Read less - Pricing See more See less Package Price Lean $69/month (billed annually) $89/month (billed monthly) Standard $119/month (billed annually) $149/month (billed monthly) Advanced $199/month (billed annually) $269/month (billed monthly) Enterprise Custom Our MethodologyWe researched four areas to determine the best retail POS systems:Retail features – this area looked at the number of retail-specific features a POS system had such as inventory management, loyalty management, and delivery supportPrice – this score is based on the average price and whether it offers a free trial, demo, or planHelp and support and customer score – this area looks at the level of support offered, plus, the providers customer reviews and ratings.Each area is scored out of 5 and combined to provide an overall score for each provider. 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. FAQs What is 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 is 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 is the least expensive POS system? The least expensive POS system is Zettle, because it's completely free! Square is also free, but the more advanced version of the system comes at a cost of $60 per month.The only charge involved with Zettle is the card reader, priced at $79. 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 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.