Small businesses need a fast and simple way to check out customers—regardless of the customer’s payment method or transaction environment. Things like tracking inventory, printing receipts, managing your cash drawer, and accurately tracking sales for bookkeeping purposes shouldn’t be a hassle for your employees or back office.
POS systems simplify payment acceptance and accounting while streamlining the checkout process for your customers. You can use this guide to find the perfect POS system for your small business.
The Top 5 Best POS Systems For Small Businesses
- Square — Best Versatile POS Hardware For Simplicity
- Shopify POS — Best For Retailers Selling In-Person and Online
- Lightspeed — Best For Restaurants
- Clover — Best POS System With Built-In Payment Processing
- Vend — Best For Multi-Location Businesses
The following reviews cover features, benefits, highlights, and recommended use cases for the best small business POS systems on the market today.
Square — Best Versatile POS Hardware For Simplicity
- Integrated payment processing
- Industry-specific solutions
- Sell from anywhere
- Customizable POS
Square has quickly become one of the most popular POS systems for small businesses in nearly every industry. That’s because they have such a wide range of hardware solutions to accommodate varying needs and checkout environments.
For small business retailers, quick-service restaurants, full-service dining, professional services, and so much more, there’s a good chance Square has an option that fits your needs.
For such a feature-packed POS solution, every piece of hardware from Square is surprisingly easy to use. Square accommodates contactless payments, online orders, phone orders, pickup and delivery, invoicing, and more.
You can choose from a wide range of POS hardware that works as a fixed register, mobile throughout your store, and even manage checkouts on the go.
- Square Register — All-in-one cash register with a customer-facing display
- Square Stand — iPad POS that lets you add printers and cash drawers
- Square Terminal — Portable POS terminal with built-in payment processing and receipt printing
- Square Reader — Turn any phone or tablet into a payment processing system and POS solution
- Reader With Contactless Chip — To accept payments on the go
All of these solutions make it ultra-easy to set up and use, regardless of the checkout environment.
Stands and Terminals start at $149 and $299, respectively. If you want a complete Square Register, pricing starts at $799. Financing is available for all hardware, and you can even get a free card reader.
Shopify POS — Best For Retailers Selling In-Person and Online
- POS free with any Shopify plan
- Inventory management
- Integrated ecommerce
- Easy returns
Shopify is best known for its industry-leading ecommerce platform. But it’s also an excellent option for small businesses that sell both online and in-person.
That’s because you can manage all of your inventory, sales, and customer information from a single source of truth. It also has advanced inventory management features, including forecasting tools, so you can prepare your stock accordingly.
This is an excellent option for brick-and-mortar retailers that are expanding to online sales. It also works really well for ecommerce stores that want to establish a retail presence.
Keeping everything organized for your customers is another great perk. If someone buys a product online and wants to return it in person, Shopify POS can easily handle the transaction.
Customers can also buy online and pick up their purchases in your store. Let’s say an in-person shopper wants something, but you don’t have the right color or size on-site. You can use Shopify POS to process the transaction and ship the right product to their home—so you never miss a sale.
The setup and onboarding process is ultra simple. So you can get started right away and easily train your staff. If you have any questions, the Shopify support team is available 24/7 via phone, email, or live chat.
Best of all, Shopify POS is free with all Shopify plans. For those of you who want more advanced features, there’s a Pro version that starts at $89 per month.
For new users, you can try Shopify for free with a three-day trial and get the POS software included.
Lightspeed — Best For Restaurants
- Starts at $39
- Tableside checkouts
- QR code menus
- Easy to split checks
Lightspeed offers industry-specific POS solutions for retailers, golf courses, and restaurants. But the restaurant systems are ideal for small businesses, as they accommodate such a wide range of needs within the food and beverage industry.
This POS system is versatile enough for bars, cafes, quick-service restaurants, full-service dining, hotels, and more. If you sell food and drinks, Lightspeed has you covered.
Lightspeed has everything you need to scale your business and accommodate your customers. You can easily diversify your service offerings with online ordering and contactless delivery.
The POS system makes it easy to change your floor plan and adjust tables—ensuring your staff always knows where to go. This also helps you handle large group reservations without confusing your staff.
You can use Lightspeed to turn tables faster with tableside checkouts. The system also lets you set up QR codes for menus, ordering, and payments.
Menu modifications and custom orders? No problem. Splitting the check and accepting multiple payment forms from a single party has never been easier.
Lightspeed also syncs with third-party apps, like OpenTable, for reservations. It seamlessly integrates with popular food delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash.
Plans start at just $39 per month. You can try it free for 14 days with unlimited access to every POS feature.
Clover — Best POS System With Built-In Payment Processing
- PCI Compliant
- $100,000 fraud protection
- Next day deposits
- Accept payments offline
Most modern POS systems come with payment processing. But Clover is unique in the sense that it’s branded a payment acceptance solution first and a POS solution second.
But don’t think that Clover’s POS tools are an afterthought. It’s still a feature-packed solution with plenty of options for businesses in different industries.
You can use Clover to accept virtually any type of payment from your customers:
- EMV chip cards
- Contactless NFC payments
- Swipe cards
- Phone orders
- Online orders
The list goes on and on. The software is fully encrypted and PCI compliant. You can also take payments without WiFi, and everything will sync when you connect to a network.
With Clover, most businesses get bank deposits the next day. You’ll also benefit from fraud protection of up to $100,000.
If you’re looking for a payments-first POS system that’s easy to use but highly sophisticated, look no further than Clover.
Pricing varies based on your business type and your hardware requirements. Plans start at $14.95 per month, and hardware ranges from $499 to $2,000+. Processing rates start at 2.3% + $0.10 per transaction.
Sign up now and get your first 30 days for free.
Vend — Best For Multi-Location Businesses
- Starts at $69
- Customer loyalty programs
- Advanced inventory management
- Built to scale
As your small business grows, you need a POS system that will grow with you. Having to change your POS system as you’re opening new stores will only complicate things.
But Vend is specifically designed to accommodate small businesses with multiple locations. You can easily expand without any downtime and accommodate your customers no matter which location they’re visiting.
Vend really shines with its advanced inventory management features. It seamlessly tracks all of your stock in real time. You can easily transfer merchandise from one store to another and use the mobile stock-taking features to count items and reconcile your inventory.
All of your customer information can be collected during the sale process. But this only needs to happen once, as that same customer profile can be accessed from any location.
This makes it much easier for you to track and manage customer loyalty programs across every storefront. You can also segment your customer database to further personalize the buying experience.
Vend even has built-in employee management tools. Permissions can be managed by role, and you can set up sales targets to motivate your staff and track their progress.
The solution works with nearly any payment processor, and you can accept all of your customer’s favorite payment methods from all of your locations.
Plans start at $69 per month if you use Vend’s parent company for payment processing. Otherwise, you can get Vend POS starting at $99 per month.
Try Vend for free with a 14-day trial.
How to Find the Best Small Business POS Systems For You
Every POS system offers the same functions. There’s a way for you to add products or services to an order, accept a payment, and complete the checkout.
But the variations come in the details, which is where you need to look closely as you’re evaluating different POS solutions and comparing them side by side. Beyond pricing and feature lists, you need to consider the factors that relate to your specific small business and operations.
We used the key criteria below to narrow down our list of the best POS systems. You can use the same considerations as a buying guide to find the best option for your unique needs.
Hardware Types and Functionality
The first thing you need to consider is your checkout environment.
Do you want a POS system that’s fixed to a specific location on a countertop? Or do you want the flexibility to process orders from anywhere in your store?
From there, think about how the POS system should function for your business type. For example, a quick-serve coffee shop may want a POS solution with a customer-facing screen. But that likely won’t be necessary for a local dry cleaner or hair salon.
Some POS systems are simply a screen with software. But you’ll need to sync them with a separate register and payment processing system.
Others are all-in-one payment stations with built-in cash drawers and credit card machines. So you’ll need to think about which hardware solutions make the most sense for your checkout process.
POS systems and payment processing go hand-in-hand.
If you’re already in business and happy with your payment processor, you shouldn’t get a POS system that forces you to change. So you should immediately see if the system is easily compatible with your processing system.
Others may want an all-in-one system for POS and payment processing from a single provider. While this option keeps things simple, it doesn’t always translate to the lowest possible rates. So that’s another factor you’ll need to consider.
You don’t want to turn away any paying customers. So look for a POS system that can accommodate any type of payment—including all major credit cards, cash, checks, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other alternative payment methods.
Mobile POS systems are critical for small businesses that operate on the go.
Let’s say you have a food truck or you’re a retailer that sells shirts at local farmer’s markets. Or maybe you have a restaurant and want your servers to take orders and process payments tableside.
You need something that’s not only small and easy to transport but also something that works from anywhere. You shouldn’t have to rely on a stable internet connection to check out customers or process payments. Look for a system that can still operate offline and then sync your records when you’re able to connect.
Conversely, small businesses that want a register fixed in a specific location in the storefront don’t have to worry about mobility.
Setup and Training
Since POS systems come in all different shapes and sizes, the setup process varies greatly as you’re comparing different solutions.
Some systems are ultra-simple and don’t require any specific hardware. You can just download software to a smartphone or tablet and turn any device into a mobile POS system.
Others do come with hardware components, but they’re ready to go out of the box.
Generally speaking, the more hardware you have, the longer the setup takes. Complete POS stations with built-in cash drawers and payment acceptance may require a bit more setup.
Beyond the initial setup, you need to think about the day-to-day use by your staff. Look for systems that are easy to use and don’t require specialized training. It should be an easy fix if someone on your team adds the wrong item to an order or needs to print a new receipt.
Otherwise, glitches and errors with your POS system could lead to long lines at your register—or worse, prevent you from accepting certain payments.
Security and Compliance
POS systems contain sensitive data. Many of you are collecting information about your customers, and some of you might even be storing credit card details when you’re processing payments.
You need to make sure your POS system is PCI compliant to avoid fines and potentially damage your company’s reputation. If there’s a data breach and information about your customers gets stolen, people might think twice before they visit your business again.
This is also important for small businesses that sell online in addition to in-person. Both digital and physical transaction environments must be secure—and you can find plenty of options that are safe with the POS systems reviewed in this guide.
The Top POS Systems For Small Businesses in Summary
Square and Shopify POS are the two best POS systems for small businesses on the market today. If you want a simple solution with lots of options for hardware, Square has you covered. Shopify POS is perfect for small businesses that want to sell online while syncing inventory with in-person sales.
Be sure to consider the hardware, payment acceptance capabilities, mobility, setup, security, and recommended use cases as you’re evaluating the top picks on our list.