Looking for point of sale software? Ran a Google search and got overwhelmed with your options? Let me help you get started. I’ve compared five of some of the most popular POS systems available today, hopefully one of them will work for you.
Before we jump into it, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page vocab-wise. Each of the systems below is either locally installed, cloud based, or a hybrid.
- Locally installed means that you can’t access your data etc. from anywhere except the registers/computers that the solution was installed on, but it is completely functional without any Wi-Fi, etc.
- Cloud-based is basically the opposite – data’s fully accessible from anywhere, but if the Wi-Fi’s out, you can’t do anything.
- Hybrid models attempt at being the best of both worlds: data is fully accessible and you can still make sales with the Wi-Fi out.
Lightspeed is a well-established name in the POS world. They’ve been around for years and really know their stuff. They’re a cloud based system and work really well for small to mid-sized retailers.
Pros: Lightspeed comes with expansive inventory management capabilities and integrates well with Shopify and MailChimp. Lightspeed’s inventory management allows you to categorize stock by whatever you want (month it was released, type, anything). Reviews find LightSpeed incredibly easy-to-use. It’s mainly intended to be run off a tablet, so its app functionality is extremely good. (It can also be run on a PC through a web browser for the traditional paystation.)
Cons: One thing mentioned in the above review is that it is very difficult to sell an item without scanning the barcode. This can be a real issue, of course, given how easy it is for barcodes to go missing (a problem I know is widespread from personal experience).
They’re the most expensive solution on this list for both software and hardware kits, so you need keep this in mind when budgeting.
- $76/month: 1 register, 5 employees
- $128/month: 2 registers, 10 employees
- $222/month: 4 registers, 20 employees
- POS Hardware Kit: $999, for iPad
After you hit the top level, you can continue adding a single register for $49/month with 3 employees, or add another employee for $10/month. You can add Lightspeed eCommerce for $49/month and if you want to run more complex reports, you can pay $21/month for advanced reporting.
2. NetSuite POS
NetSuite’s POS solution is really more of a retail management system, coming fully loaded with eCommerce, inventory management, and more! It’s a cloud-based solution aimed mainly at midmarket sized retailers, but it’s flexible enough to work for both smaller and larger retailers.
Pros: As I said, this is not just a POS system, it’s a retail management system. That means it has inventory management, eCommerce, CRM, marketing automation, order management, business intelligence, and financial software all on a single platform. Phew!
One of the most interesting things about this is that instead of forcing you to roll out the entire suite, NetSuite offers you the ability to roll out just the solution you need. As Brenda Whisenhunt, Netsuite’s Director of Vertical Marketing, filled me in: that means you don’t have to do an entire rip and replace all at once – you can replace bits and pieces of your old system as you go along. It also means if you’re a small retailer who doesn’t need all the features, you only have to buy what you need.
Other than that bundle of features:
- Because NetSuite has a complete CRM system, it’s able to provide you with a full 360 degree view of your customers – customer purchase history, what they like, what their email address is. All that good stuff.
- It’s developed for a touch-screen interface – PC or tablet. At this point in the game, as a mid – large size retailer, if you aren’t using touch screen, you’re in the dinosaur age.
- It’s cloud based, so you check on the system from anywhere you can access the web. You can also ring anyone up from anywhere you can access the web.
Cons: It’s cloud based – so if Wi-Fi goes down you won’t be able to access it. Some users have also complained about NetSuite’s customer service being poor and too expensive.
Pricing: Because NetSuite is extremely customizable, pricing is very customizable, so they have not released a standard pricing model like the other solutions on this list. Pricing is a monthly fee, and is based on the modules bought as well as number of locations and registers. You can click on this link for some averages prices .
ShopKeep is a great option for small and growing retailers. It was developed by a small retailer, so this company understands other small retailers intimately. The product is developed in a hybrid, cloud-based/locally installed model.
Pros: They’re on a hybrid model so you get all your information stored on the cloud, but you can still ring people up when the Wi-Fi goes out. In addition, this is another system that is a fully loaded retail management system, not just POS. Their inventory management features, in particular, are reputed to be extremely useful. The reporting feature is also very in-depth. You can look at reports from all sorts of angles, including visually.
It’s also widely held to be so user friendly that any of the old ladies I used to work with at the women’s clothing store could use it.
Oh, I almost forgot! Shopkeep also offers incredible customer service – it’s 24/7 support via chat, phone and email. As put by Brian Zang, Shopkeep’s VP of Sales and Marketing, “Customer care [is] the core to who we are and … we invested a lot in this from the beginning…We believe that the system you choose to run your business should do more than just take payments and process transactions; it should help you grow your business and make your life easier.”
Cons: A fairly common complaint with Shopkeep is that they’re not as feature-rich as other solutions – they aren’t able to support multiple sales rates, for instance.
- $49/month/register. No contract; you just pay as you go.
- POS Hardware Kit: Starts at $669.
Shopkeep’s hardware seems to be a little more expensive than some products I’ve seen. This reviewer spent $1100 with Shopkeep to get fully outfitted – and that didn’t include the cost of the iPad. However, Shopkeep does make it very clear that the app is designed to be used from an iPad with absolutely no other hardware if necessary, so if your store is very small, that’s the option for you.
Vend is a New Zealand-based POS system that works for all sizes of retailers. They are very reasonably priced, and even have a free version, ideal for small business retailers, but they have larger plans that can suit even an enterprise level retailer.
Pros: Vend has integrated inventory management and CRM. And the CRM comes with a customer loyalty program. Which is pretty awesome. Vend’s reporting capabilities, like Shopkeep’s, are also phenomenal. They’re in depth and you can set sales goals for employees. These guys also offer 24/7 customer support. You do have to pay monthly for the support, but they give not just support, but constant training and set-up assistance as well.
Cons: It’s cloud based – so when the Wi-Fi’s out, you’re pretty much out of luck. The register will still have some limited functionality – it can still take cash sales. However, in this day and age, if you can’t take card sales for an hour, you’re pretty much not going to make a sale. Also, Vend has no employee management capabilities, even ones as simple as punching in and out.
- Free – 1 store, 1 register, 10 products, 10,000 customers, 1 user, only community support
- $59/month* – 1 store, 500 products
- $85/month* – 1 Store, Unlimited products
- $169/month* – Unlimited stores, Unlimited products
- $35/month* – Each register after the first free one.
- $19/month – Phone and set-up assistance, on-going training
*When billed annually.
5. Shopify POS
Shopify is best known for its pretty stellar eCommerce system, but their POS system is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a small business solution intended to be fully mobile, and while it’s technically a hybrid system, Shopify POS is more cloud based than anything else.
Pros: Like I said, Shopify has a really great eCommerce system. Their POS was made with the intention of fully integrating with the eCommerce side. Basically, if you’re a small retailer looking for a POS solution that is going to seamlessly and easily integrate with an eCommerce store, this is one of the best solutions available.
- Shopify accepts a large array of payment methods, including store credit, gift cards, and split payments.
- You have complete store management features – that means order tracking, and employee management.
- CRM integrated.
- The biggest complaint people seem to have with Shopify is the fact that they charge fairly high credit card processing fees.
- Even though it’s technically a hybrid system, you can’t process credit cards when Wi-Fi is out.
- Another thing that can cause problems with the software is that the stock tracking feature does not alert you when an item is low or no longer available. That means you can technically sell products you no longer have. It’s not a huge issue, but it does mean you need to keep an eye on your products.
- Finally, the reporting can be costly –$50/month to get more than basic reports and another $100 on top of that to be able to customize your reports.
- $49/month – Unlimited products, unlimited staff, unlimited registers, 24/7 support, 2.7% credit card rate
- $99/month- All that plus gift cards and professional reporting, 2.4% credit card rate
- $199 – All of the $99 level plus customized reporting, 2.15% credit card rate
- $20/month – online store
- $649 – iPad hardware kit
So that’s my comparison of five of the top POS systems currently available on the market. Have any you’d like to see added? What has your experience with any of the above solutions been? Add your thoughts in the comments below!
Looking for Point of Sale software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Point of Sale software solutions.