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Own a restaurant or a boutique? You might want to pick up a point-of-sale or POS system. A POS system is an entire system that’s used to complete transactions; it’s not just a cash drawer or a card scanner. The best systems integrate multiple components to record data about each individual sale. They feature hardware and software that helps keep track of inventory, produce reports and print receipts and keep cash safe and secure. When you’re selecting a system, it comes down to what you want and what you need it to do for you. And that can depend on the nature of your business. To help, we’ve put together a list of the best POS systems you can buy today, so you’re sure to find one that will suit your wants and needs.
Best Overall: Square
The Square POS system is free, but of course, that’s not the only reason why it earned the top spot. It is one of the most user-friendly options on the market, with an intuitive interface and cloud-based software that allows you to access the system from any iOS device. Square’s free plan offers a decent package, providing all the features a small business could need: you can manage inventory, conduct sales transactions, create customer profiles, and print sales reports. Although the point-of-sale app is free, there are certain upfront costs to consider, namely the register, terminal, and card readers; depending on your store’s needs, the equipment will cost you at least $1,500. Additionally, Square charges some processing fees for card transactions.
Ultimately, those fees are balanced out by the POS system’s low monthly costs. Also, Square provides a candid breakdown of its prices, so you’ll never be blindsided by hidden fees. Its free package provides the bare-bones necessities to run your business, but offer remarkably cheap add-ons, such as loyalty programs, marketing, and payroll management, which cost about $15-30 a month and streamline day-to-day operations.
Best for iPad Compatability: Bindo
Bindo is cloud-based and was designed specifically to work with iPad so it’s mobile, but it also comes with an iPad stand if you want to keep the system in one place. You get a barcode scanner, a cash drawer, credit card reader, as well as a receipt printer, and it integrates with QuickBooks. A product database manages inventory for you. Bindo can also handle e-commerce and mobile payments.
One of Bindo’s neatest features is the way it handles employee time-keeping, photographing your workers as they punch in and out. You get free, unlimited, 24-hour customer support, although only via e-mail and in-app chats, and a built-in loyalty program.
Most Comprehensive: Lavu
Lavu offers just about every feature that any business could imagine needing, from tracking employee hours to maintaining data on your customers. It includes sales histories, inventory tracking and order management. Installation and setup is a breeze — just download the app and follow the instructions. If you do find that you need help, a Lavu specialist is available to answer your questions.
Lavu offers marginally different services and packages for different businesses, and each is easily customizable for further fine-tuning. The Quick Service Restaurant version includes all the usual goodies: themal printer, pad stand and credit card swiper, but you’ll have to pay a little extra if you want to accept gift cards.
Best for Restaurants: TouchBistro
TouchBistro was designed to cater to restaurants’ unique needs, from fine dining establishments to food trucks. A variety of features can be tailored directly to the kind of eatery you run. It manages deliveries, tables and reservations, and it’s cloud-based.
It’s compatible with iPad, iPad Pro, and iPad Mini, and TouchBistro offers 24/7 phone and e-mail support. If you need a little help getting started, there’s a full setup guide and video tutorials. TouchBistro offers a variety of plans — it’s not just a single one-size-fits-all package — so you have some flexibility to purchase exactly what you need. All plans accommodate unlimited users and include tableside features and network and community support. The system has won numerous awards and has been named the best restaurant POS system twice. It comes with a free trial.
Best for Online Stores: Shopify
This POS system was created to handle e-commerce, and it’s one of the most popular systems available for that purpose. It’s been upgraded a few times since the original Internet-only version, but it still syncs and integrates effortlessly with your online store. Shopify supports unlimited SKUs and it does not require its own brand’s hardware. It will work with just about any up-to-date equipment, although Amazon does offer a hardware bundle made for this system with a Bluetooth receipt printer and — if you want to use it in a landlocked store — a cash drawer.
Shopify is one of the least expensive POS systems available and it’s 100 percent mobile. You can purchase a basic plan for about $10 a month. The interface is incredibly easy to master, so you won’t lose your staff to hours upon hours of training before you get the system up and running.
Best Free: eHopper
eHopper offers a free version, which can be really convenient if you’re just starting out and you’re not sure yet exactly what you’ll ultimately need from a POS system. You can get your feet wet first then move forward without wasting a lot of money on features you won’t use.
Unfortunately, there’s no support with the free version and reporting abilities are limited, but it’s a great starter system. You can later upgrade to a paid subscription for about $40 per month per register. If you buy the system package, it comes with a Lenovo tablet and an Ethernet thermal receipt printer, along with cash drawer and cables. Users like eHopper’s cash management setup and Amazon shoppers give the system package a great star rating.
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