The 7 Best POS Software Systems for Small Businesses in 2022
What’s the best point of sale (POS) system for small businesses? The POS system you choose will affect almost every aspect of your business in some way — so it pays (see what I did there?) to choose one that’ll serve you well.
The problem is there are so many small business POS systems to choose from, each with a long and often complicated list of features. So, how can you figure out which one is best for you?
In this article, you’ll learn about 7 of the best POS systems for small businesses. We’ll also explore some crucial things to keep in mind when choosing a POS solution.
But first, let’s get on the same page.
- What is Point of Sale (POS)?
- What is a Point of Sale (POS) System?
- 3 Essential Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a POS System
- 7 of the Best POS Software Systems
- 1. Shopify Point of Sale: Best for Commerce
- 2. QuickBooks Point of Sale: Best for Financial Management
- 3. Square: Best for In-Person Side Hustles
- 4. PayPal Zettle: Best for Existing PayPal Users
- 5. Lightspeed: Best for Retailers
- 6. Stripe Terminal: Best for POS Customization
- 7. Toast: Best for Restaurants
- How to Choose the Best POS System
- Summary: 7 of the Best POS Systems for Small Businesses
What is Point of Sale (POS)?
‘POS’ or ‘point of sale’ is the name given to the place where consumers purchase goods or services. In short, it’s where customers checkout — whether in a brick-and-mortar retail store, in a popup shop, at a market stall, or on an ecommerce website.
What is a Point of Sale (POS) System?
Point of sale systems are a combination of software and/or hardware that enables merchants to process transactions.
The original POS system was a cash register. These days, POS systems provide seemingly limitless features, such as credit card and contactless payment processing, integrated inventory tools, employee management tools, and detailed POS reporting and analytics.
Many leading small business POS software programs also allow merchants to take payments via smartphones, tablets, and computers — all while syncing transaction and inventory updates across devices.
3 Essential Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a POS System
A lot goes into selecting the best POS system for your small business. When you research options, keep in mind these three essential tips:
- Decide on the features you need: Although every POS system will cover the basics of payment processing, many also provide a host of more specialist features, such as restaurant-specific tools, marketing tools, or ecommerce functionality. Take the time to work out what you need before you make a decision.
- Plan for business growth and expansion: You may be looking for the best POS system for small businesses right now, but who knows where your entrepreneurial journey will take you? For example, if you want to start an online clothing boutique, you may want to also open a brick-and-mortar store at some point — or vice versa. So, it’s a good idea to choose a POS with enough features and integrations to support your business’s growth.
- Pay close attention to transaction fees: The best POS systems for small businesses often charge transaction fees — some higher than others. These fees can appear small at first, but they quickly add up over time. As a result, it can sometimes make financial sense to pay a larger monthly subscription price with smaller transaction fees. Make sure to work out which pricing structure is best for your business.
7 of the Best POS Software Systems
Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s explore 7 of the best POS systems for small businesses to help you figure out which one is right for you. Here are our top picks:
All of these systems provide essential POS payment processing features, which is fantastic, but what makes them different? Let’s see.
1. Shopify Point of Sale: Best for Commerce
Shopify started its life as an ecommerce website builder but has since grown into the powerhouse suite of tools for ecommerce businesses of all sizes. And Shopify Point of Sale is a robust POS system with an unbeatable ecommerce integration.
At $29 per month, here’s some of what the Shopify Basic plan provides:
- The ability to take payments via computers, tablets, or smartphones
- The ability to sell via leading online sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon
- Tons of marketing features — like the ability to capture customer information during checkout so you can remarket to them later
- An ecommerce website with customizable themes, drag-and-drop editing, and more.
- More than 7,000 Shopify apps (including many POS apps) to customize the functionality of your POS system and website — such as email marketing and loyalty program apps
- Built-in reporting and analytics tools to help you spot opportunities to do things like cut costs, increase sales, and retain customers
- Flexible point of sale software that syncs your in-store and online sales into one easy-to-manage dashboard
- Integrated in-store and online inventory management features
- A range of stylish POS hardware — including items like barcode scanners, receipt printers, and cash drawers
- 24/7 chat and email support — and an extensive help center
Shopify Point of Sale Pricing
Shopify has 5 pricing plans:
- Shopify Lite: $9 per month + 2.4% and 30¢ per transaction. (Basic POS system for accepting payments in person and online.)
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month + 2.9% and 30¢ per transaction. (POS system, ecommerce website, and all the perks mentioned above.)
- Shopify: $79 per month + 2.6% and 30¢ per transaction. (More features than the Basic plan and lower transaction fees.)
- Shopify Advanced: $299 per month + 2.4% and 30¢ per transaction. (Industry-leading tools and lower transaction fees.)
- Shopify Plus: $2,000+ per month + transaction fees. (Custom plans and pricing for large enterprises.)
We rate Shopify Point of Sale as the best POS system for small businesses. This out-of-the-box solution is flexible, easy to use, low cost, scalable, and customizable. That’s a bundle that dazzles!
So, whether you have a market stall, boutique shop, retail chain, or an ecommerce website (or all of the above), sign up for Shopify’s free trial today.
2. QuickBooks Point of Sale: Best for Financial Management
You probably know QuickBooks as accounting software, but the company also provides a POS system (QuickBooks Point of Sale) that integrates seamlessly with its accounting tools.
Consequently, this POS system streamlines financial management in a big way. For example, every payment you take is immediately reconciled in QuickBooks automatically (which can make life much easier for a budding entrepreneur).
Plus, QuickBooks Point of Sale software provides customer and inventory management features. And if you want to sell online, QuickBooks offers integrations with leading ecommerce providers, such as Shopify.
QuickBooks Point of Sale also offers a range of hardware to suit virtually every business need. And you can take most forms of payment using smartphones, tablets, and dedicated POS terminals.
QuickBooks Point of Sale Pricing
QuickBooks Point of Sale requires you to purchase the software outright, which starts at $960 for the basic plan. If you want features like loyalty programs, layaway, gift cards, and employee management, you must purchase the Pro version for $1,360. Finally, there’s the Multi-Store version that includes advanced POS reporting and inventory tools.
QuickBooks’ transaction fees vary depending on the plan you choose:
- If you pay as you go, QuickBooks POS charges 2.7% per swiped or dipped transaction and 3.5% per keyed transaction.
- If you pay an additional $20 per month, QuickBooks charges 2.3% plus 25¢ per swiped or dipped transaction and 3.2% plus 25¢ per keyed transaction.
Some small businesses or new businesses may not be able to justify the upfront cost of QuickBooks POS. However, if accounting and analytics features are your priority, you may want to look into this POS system.
3. Square: Best for In-Person Side Hustles
Square was one of the first cloud-based POS systems to gain popularity. Today, it provides leading POS software and a great range of hardware, such as all-in-one registers, checkout iPad stands, and contactless chip readers.
Whereas Shopify has its pedigree in ecommerce, and QuickBooks is rooted in accounting, Square is all about finances. Alongside it’s POS system, the company also provides other financial services like banking solutions, loans, and payroll services.
You can also use the service to build an ecommerce website, send marketing emails, manage inventory, and track your business’s performance.
Square POS Pricing
Square is one of the best ‘free’ POS software programs on the market, as it only charges transaction fees — 2.6%, plus 10¢ per transaction for in-person purchases. What’s more, Square will even send you a free card reader so you can take in-person payments via your smartphone.
Like the other point of sale systems on this list, you can purchase additional hardware depending on your specific needs. Alternatively, Square may be able to integrate with the hardware you already have.
All in all, Square is a great choice for offline small businesses or those with a side hustle looking to take payments in person without the burden of monthly fees.
4. PayPal Zettle: Best for Existing PayPal Users
PayPal is a household name in online payments. And PayPal Zettle (previously called ‘PayPal Here’) is the company’s POS offering.
This small business POS software enables merchants to accept every common type of payment in-person. It also has an ecommerce integration with Shopify that allows you to manage your inventory for both online and offline sales in one place. You can also use the service to help manage staff and review performance thanks to the built-in analytics.
PayPal Zettle also has a POS hardware range featuring cash registers and card readers. There’s also a help center and support via phone and live chat.
PayPal Zettle POS Pricing
Like Square, PayPal Zettle doesn’t charge a monthly fee. Instead, the service charges 2.29% plus 9¢ per transaction — your money will usually transfer into your PayPal account within one day.
Still, it’s worth noting that PayPal charges a 1.5% withdrawal fee to move your money out of your PayPal account to a debit card or when making an instant transfer to a bank account. (Standard transfers to a linked bank account are free.)
PayPal also charges $29 for your first card reader and $79 for additional card readers.
If you’re a big fan of PayPal and are already using the service, PayPal Zettle may be a good option for your business.
5. Lightspeed: Best for Retailers
Lightspeed provides 3 small business POS systems — for retail, restaurants, and… wait for it… golf courses.
Although its retail POS software is comparable to the other solutions on this list, Lightspeed provides specialist tools for restaurants and golf courses. For example, the company offers “the most powerful tee sheet in the golf industry,” while restaurants can accept advance orders, manage deliveries, and provide customers with self-order menus.
Lightspeed also has its own ecommerce solution, which means you can manage everything in one place. And, like Shopify, Lightspeed provides 24/7 support.
Lightspeed POS Pricing
Each of Lightspeed’s 3 POS options has separate pricing.
- Retail pricing starts at $69 per month and goes up to $229 per month, depending on what features you choose.
- Restaurant pricing also starts at $69 per month, and it costs $34 per month for additional registers. You can also add other features for between $12 and $39 per month.
- For the golf POS and hardware, you need to contact Lightspeed for a free quote.
Card-present transactions cost 2.6% plus 10¢ — the card-not-present rate is 2.6% plus 30¢.
Although the pricing can be a little confusing, Lightspeed’s POS software is strong all-around. For restaurants and golf courses, Lightspeeds POS systems are particularly attractive.
6. Stripe Terminal: Best for POS Customization
Like PayPal, Stripe is a big name in the payments world. Its core product is a suite of payment application programming interfaces (APIs) that enables businesses to customize and manage their payment processes.
Stripe Terminal is the company’s integrated POS system which allows users to build their own in-person checkout. It does this by providing flexible developer tools and cloud-based hardware management.
The service also unifies online and offline sales channels into one cohesive dashboard and provides a range of card readers for taking payments in person.
For these reasons, Stripe offers an incredibly flexible POS system for small businesses, although you need software/cloudware developing experience to get the benefits.
Stripe Terminal POS Pricing
Stripe Terminal doesn’t charge monthly fees for in-person transactions, and its transaction fees are relatively good — 2.7% plus 5¢ per payment. Stripe’s card readers go for $59 or $249.
It’s worth noting that Stripe’s online payments platform has different transaction fees — the Integrated plan charges 2.9% plus 30¢ per card charge.
Stripe’s focus is online payments. So, it’s not ideal for brick-and-mortar businesses. For instance, the service doesn’t offer any hardware other than card readers, so you’d have to source cash registers, barcode scanners, and receipt printers from elsewhere.
That said, Stripe is perhaps the best POS system for small businesses looking to develop a customized online checkout and POS experience.
7. Toast: Best for Restaurants
As the name suggests, Toast is a point of sale system built for toast. I mean, restaurants.
Because of its specialization, the company provides a suite of specific tools that cater (pun intended) to restaurants’ needs, such as handheld POS devices, self-ordering kiosks, kitchen display systems, and delivery and takeout features. The service also integrates with leading food delivery services, like Uber Eats and DoorDash.
Aside from the usual payment processing and analytics, this POS system also enables restaurant managers to track inventory, manage payroll, and manage multiple locations from one dashboard.
Toast POS Pricing
For small restaurants, Toast POS offers a Pay-As-You-Go plan, with no monthly payments and a fee of $2.99 plus 15¢ per transaction. However, hardware is relatively pricey, starting at $389 plus $50 per month for the handheld POS device.
There are two other plans available: the Essentials Plan, which starts at $165 per month and the Growth Plan that starts at $272.
All in all, Toast’s pricing varies greatly based on your needs, so it’s worth contacting their sales team to get an accurate quote for your business.
Toast is probably the best POS system on the market for restaurants.
How to Choose the Best POS System
So, now you have an idea of what you’re looking for in a POS system. Plus, you have a shortlist of potential contenders you’re considering. In this section, we’ll explore 3 essential points to think of when you’re choosing the best POS system for your small business.
1. Identify What Hardware You Need
First, keep in mind where and how you’d like customers to pay. There are so many different pieces of POS hardware available — many of which are designed for a particular industry, such as:
- Countertop terminals
- Barcode scanners
- Cash drawers
- Card readers
- Receipt printers
- Label printers
- Shipping scales
- Kitchen display systems
- Self-service checkouts
You also need to decide whether to turn your computer, laptop, or smartphone into a terminal by installing POS software on the device or opting for a dedicated POS terminal.
You should also think about the types of payment you’d like to accept, as each type will require different hardware. Here are some common payment methods:
- Magstripe credit and debit cards
- Chip cards
- Contactless cards and smartphones (using services like Apple Pay or Google Pay)
- Gift cards (physical or digital)
- Card-not-present transactions (when a customer pays with their credit or debit without being present — typically online or over the phone)
2. Consider Using a Specialist POS System
Many POS systems are made with a particular industry or focus in mind. For example, Shopify is built for commerce, Toast is made for restaurants, and QuickBooks Point of Sale is geared towards financial management.
So, if there’s a POS system that caters to your type of business or main focus area, add it to your shortlist.
3. Avoid Relying on Too Many Integrations
Many POS software programs provide integrations with other services. This is great, as it allows you to access more features than what the service offers.
Nonetheless, you may find that your POS system of choice doesn’t offer the integrations you grow to need in the future. If this happens, you’ll have to create a workaround (which is often manual, at least at first) or go through the hassle of moving to a new POS system. And when you’re a small business owner, there’s no time for that.
To be frank, integrations often aren’t as efficient as having everything under one roof. This way, you don’t have to set up and manage multiple software programs to run your business. Plus, there’s less to go wrong, and you (and your staff) only have to learn how to use one system.
Look at Shopify, for example. It covers every ecommerce feature imaginable thanks to its extensive commerce software and its suite of more than 7,000 apps. Whether it’s inventory or employee management, marketing and sales, or shipping and logistics, Shopify unites your business activities.
Summary: 7 of the Best POS Systems for Small Businesses
In summary, here’s a rundown of our favorite POS systems for small businesses in 2022:
- Shopify Point of Sale — best for online and offline commerce
- QuickBooks Point of Sale — best for financial management
- Square — best for in-person side hustles
- PayPal Zettle — best for existing PayPal users
- Lightspeed — best for retailers
- Stripe Terminal — best for POS customization
- Toast — best for restaurants
Remember, the POS system you choose will play a massive part in your business success. So, take some time to learn everything you can about your top choices before pulling the trigger.
Which POS system do you think is the best? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!