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Best POS Software for Small Businesses

Zara Hanif
November 10, 2021

Best POS Software for Small Businesses

Finding POS software is a great resource for online and in-person businesses of any size. Some have extra features to help you grow, and others have the perfect hardware for your store and employees. The process of shopping for the right one can be confusing and draining. 

There are processing fees, along with a subscription with monthly fees. You want to find the best POS systems, but they often blend together and cost a lot. You need a payment processing system that doesn’t cost half your budget.

Point of sale systems can come with more than transaction processing. Most platforms offer hardware and integrations like payroll and inventory management. Many of these systems are cost-efficient and have useful integrations to save money elsewhere.

POS Software Available

Best POS SystemsSquare POSShopify POSToast POSLightspeed POSClover POSPOS Nation
PlansFree, Plus ($6/Month), Premium (Request) Separate set for Online Only – Free, Professional ($12/Month), Performance ($26/Month), Premium ($7z/Month)Shopify POS Lite ($29/Month), Shopify POS Pro ($89/Month)Pay-as-You-Go (From $0/Month), Essentials (From $165/Month), Growth (From $272 /Month)Lean ($69 /Month), Standard ($119 /Month), Advanced (&199 USD /Month), Enterprise (Request)No Hardware (&9.95/Month) *All other plans depend on which software you purchase.Flex Monthly ($59/Month) Freedom ($499/Month) Custom Build (Request)
Payments AcceptedApple Pay, Google Pay, UnionPay,Discover, AMEX, MasterCard, Visa, Debit as Credit, PrepaidApple Pay, Google Pay, Discover, AMEX, MasterCard, Visa, Credit Card, Debit Card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Discover, AMEX, MasterCard, Visa, Prepaid, Checks, Cash, Samsung Pay, Credit Card, Debit CardApple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung, Android Pay, All Major Credit Card, Debit CardApple Pay, Samsung Pay, Discover, AMEX, MasterCard, Visa, Credit Card, Debit Card, Cash, Checks, GiftcardApple Pay, Google Pay, Discover, AMEX, MasterCard, Visa, Credit Card, Debit Card, Check
FeesOnline Fees: 2.9%+30c, Premium 2.6%+30c In-Store Fees: Free: 2.6% +10c, Plus: 2.5%+10c  2.4% + 0cSubscription2.6%+ 10c2.3% + 10cSubscription
DevicesAndroid, iOS Smartphones, Tablets, iPadsiOS, Android, Windows, MacTheir HardwarePhones, Tablets, PCPC, Tablet, Mobile Phone, Their Hardware is Android and AppleTheir Hardware

Square: Great for Small and Big Companies

Square is a juggernaut for small, midsize, and even larger businesses. They offer services and special features for retail, food and drinks, health and beauty, and more established businesses.

Square has 3 main plans, Free, Plus, and Premium. Plus will cost you $60 a month, and Premium has custom pricing and is for larger enterprises. There are no hidden fees, and transaction fees are transparent, but differ between online and store purchases.

Square services are endless and personalized. Square offers gift card creation, timecard reporting, payroll, discounts (on items), as well as website building, hosting, and domains. These services are a major benefit for retail businesses, especially ones that are new. 

For restaurants, they have specified plans for different productivity styles, so that any kitchen, whether or home or professional can have organized tickets, menu management, POS hardware, and set up delivery integrations with third parties. 

Square also considers freelancers and professional entrepreneurs like lawyers, accountants, and healthcare providers. Instead of using Paypal or Venmo, contractors can use Square to charge for their services, and also schedule appointments and track customer information.

The hybrid capabilities Square offers are ideal for small business owners that want an online platform, but also need to purchase registers or a tablet and card reader. Business owners in almost any stage of their career will find something worthwhile about Square.

Shopify: An Amazing Growth Platform

Shopify is one of the top e-commerce platforms, and for good reason. They have website building and hosting on their platform for sellers. Advanced marketing and branding, as well as shipping carriers and set up are also available to Shopify sellers. They are definitely a one-stop-shop for diverse merchant needs.

Their POS software can offer customized checkout, integrated loyalty programs, and customer profiles. Plans can be tricky because there are the general merchant account plans, but then there are also the POS plans. Shopify does not offer any free plans, unfortunately.

Shopify POS Lite comes with a regular Shopify account, and the lowest is $29/month. It also has access to the necessary hardware. Shopify POS Pro, has inventory management, in-store analytics, and more selling features for $89/month. 

Shopify is amazing for fair-sized and large online businesses but also offers in-store capabilities. This makes them versatile, and a great environment for growth. 

Toast: Made for Restaurants Big and Small

Toast is a POS software that specializes in providing restaurants with the tools to grow. They don’t actually have a free plan, it’s called “pay-as-you-go,” starting at $0/month. The POS software is free, but the other features are add ons. The next two plans are a heftier jump at $165/month for Essentials and $272/month for Growth. The bigger plans offer setup for more locations, while the $0/month plan just allows for 2 POS terminals. 

The plans can have marketing, loyalty programs, and online ordering and delivery. The pay-as-you-go plan does not have the option to add on payroll and team services, while the others do. 

Toast does their best to help restaurants find fair delivery third-parties that don’t charge an arm and a leg for processing fees and commission. They have various hardware options available to purchase. These include a kitchen printer, receipt printer, cash drawer, spill-proof screens, and even a router to improve internet connection. 

Toast emphasizes growth and expansion as their goals for the POS plans and special features. They boast their merchants outperform their non-Toast competitors by 10-30% overall. 

Any mid-size kitchen looking for a POS system that can upgrade hardware and help with payroll should consider them and their personalized bundles.

Lightspeed: Personalizable Options and Resources

Lightspeed is another highly rated POS software with diverse resources for businesses. They have plans for retail, restaurants, and strangely enough golf. There 4 plans are Lean, Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. They do not offer any free plans but they have great options for hybrids retailers. Their plans come with 1 register, 24/7 support, and an investment account manager. 

Lightspeed has services for loyalty programs, analytics for tracking real-time profit as well as tools to set up delivery. They also do their best to consider different needs by using detailed guides for specific business types, like jewelry, pet, CBD, cafe, and bars. Merchants can benefit from these resources and personalized business models. 

Lightspeed offers different services for different businesses, but they have also acquired other POS systems on the market as well. Lightspeed owns Upserve which is another restaurant POS service, and Vend which is a retail dedicated POS system. The platforms are separate but are a good alternative if you want to move from Lightspeed to something more specific to your needs. 

Lightspeed is great for in-person businesses that need standard, new software, and great support. You may find some of their other companies like Vend, and Upserve may be more detailed oriented to your specific products. Lightspeed’s brand is definitely a good option to consider. 

Clover: Modern Hardware and Interface

Clover is a POS platform with high usability and beautiful, modern hardware. They offer free custom loyalty programs and do not charge per employee. Their main revenue comes from transaction fees and their hardware. Clover also has a subscription service for no hardware businesses at 9.95/month. 

Clover has specialized products for almost any business need such as scan-to-order QR codes for restaurants. They offer variety and great technology, so physical stores like spirits, restaurants, and would benefit a little more than online only. 

POS Nation: Standard Hardware for Small Business

POS Nation is a powerhouse in the customization and consideration of clients. They have services for package stores, grocery markets, restaurants, hardware stores, and more. For in-person sales, you can purchase industry-standard barcode scanners, cash drawers, and a touch screen PC. 

Their point of sale software accepts most forms of payment including checks, EBT, and cash. You have a choice of multiple integrations including websites and accounting software like Quickbooks. 

POS nation plans do not include a free plan, and all include hardware. Generally, POS does better serve businesses that are hybrid or completely in-person. Their plans are $59/month, $499/month, and there is a custom option to build your plan.

Stores that want to grow and need to buy the software to do business should definitely consider POS Nation. Online-only stores will find cheaper plans elsewhere.

Which is the Best POS System for You?

Ever POS software has there own strength, and many of these want to be used for more than one type of business and integrate the tools for it. It comes down to your size and where you are in your career. POS Nation offers so much for restaurants, but the cost may not be worth it. Toast and Square may be the better option cost-wise. It’s a balancing act between each software. 

Best POS Software for Retail 

Most of this software can accommodate retail, and even have very personalized guides for retail, like Clover. The best one for small retail stores that are completely online is hands down Square. After Square, completely online stores should look at Shopify.

Bigger retailers that have one or two physical stores, but don’t have a big budget can look at Square, Clover, and Shopify. Square and Shopify will be better if you need an amazing website builder and want access to shoppers that specifically use their individual platforms. 

The better ones for in-person bigger, retailers still could be Square or Clover, but Lightspeed and POS Nation will fit into a bigger budget. Lightspeed plans come with 1 register, and POS Nation has a plethora of hardware to look at.

POS Nation has updated but standard hardware anyone who worked retail in the last 5 years will recognize. Clover has sleek and modern hardware but if your employees are older they will need to adjust. In terms of hardware that helps with POS, and with the daily tasks, POS Nation has more choices while Clover is more useful for transactions. 

All the software on the list excluding Toast has retail options. Each one has hardware and a number of features and plans, but some are just better for certain retail sizes. 

Best POS Software for Food and Beverage 

All the systems here offer restaurant tools and features, Lightspeed especially wants to be chosen by small restaurants and has been buying other POS for that market. New, stylish restaurants, and food trucks, or popups are a big market and everyone wants to cater to it.

Toast only caters to restaurants, and their pay-as-you-go plan can benefit small stands at open markets that are just starting out. After their starting plan, their costs get steep, so businesses that don’t have a fast growth plan or generally stay steady might not benefit from Toast.

Square has a free plan and tools and integrations for the food industry as well. Small jam and cupcakes shops should definitely start with Square. If you have more employees, then it gets tricky. Most plans charge a fee for each employee account. Square can still be worth it, but Clover does not charge per employee and has amazing modern hardware. 

When it comes to the best kitchen POS hardware, Square, Clover, Lightspeed, and Toast are the ones to consider first. Most new restaurants are using modern, light, and smooth hardware and not the old, heavy products. You don’t want to use anything clunky or could be hard to install in say an outdoor stand or tiny kitchen.

Best POS Software for Freelancers

Square is the best starter for a new business or freelancer. Their professional guide has features for lawyers, accountants, therapists, and any other kind of freelancers that needs to schedule people to provide a service. 

Generally, businesses that are small like this don’t need hardware, but maybe you handle payments when clients are on the way out. You could look at Square’s hardware which will have the essentials you need. You can look at other POS software, but the majority here don’t cater to individual freelancers. They cater to commercial products.

More Resources

We have more resources if you haven’t found the one or just need more time to look. Click here to read reviews about all the POS options available to you. You may find you want more information on retail software and below there’s a great tutorial for that. 

You may find the options for small kitchens and fair-sized restaurants are different enough or you need more to make a decision. Below is a great video that covers some of the software here, and some other lesser-known ones.

You may be a very new business and have heard of Square and want to see how its used. Here’s a great video to show you the interface.

About the Author

Zara Hanif
Zara is a Research Content Writer/Editor for TrustRadius. She has an English BA and Web Design and Development AS. She enjoys the creativity and freedom of the tech world. In her free time she loves to create art, make jewelry, and work on sci-fi stories

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