Simply put, POS stands for point of sale. It is the system where you ring up a customer, receive money for the transaction, and sales taxes become payable.
POS can be used to be no more sophisticated than a standard cash register, but oh, have the times changed. Today, your typical POS system comes fully loaded with all kinds of features and gadgets, including inventory tracking and reordering, customer retention programs, and employee management tools.
To save you the trouble, we’ve compiled this guide to help you find the perfect, reliable and feature-rich POS system for your business.
Our experts tested loads of POS systems and ranked the Top 10 for quality, efficiency, speed, price, and other important features.
After all the research done, we can say what is the best POS system of 2022: Lightspeed is the best all-inclusive POS provider today, suitable for all business types.
Compare The Best Point of Sales (POS) Systems
POS systems have been advancing together with the technology offered by POS providers. Of course, every POS brand fits a different business need.
We’ve done the research and narrowed the Top 10 best point of sale systems for both small business owners and expansive enterprises.
Keep reading to get the lowdown on outstanding brands. You’ll be able to get the basics on monthly software fees, contract lengths, integrations, and more.
Then, take a look at our comparison chart to help you make the best choice possible.
In the end, you’ll learn more about the ins and outs of POS systems, and optimize your customer and payment processing experiences.
The Best POS Systems & Software in 2023:
- Clover - Best POS system overall
- Lightspeed - Best all-around POS system with pro features
- Toast - Best for all-in-one restaurant management
- Flagship - Best for affordability
- Lavu - Best for restaurant/food industry services
- TouchBistro - Best restaurant reports and analytics features
- Shopify - Best for its powerful POS app
- Square - Best for flat pricing fees
- Curv - Best for managing online food orders
- Oracle Netsuite - Best for large businesses and retailers
|Compare the Top10 POS Systems|
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Expanding businesses in any retail or service
Retail and restaurants, all-inclusive
Food industry services of every size
Fast-paced restaurants and coffee shops
Designed for all food industry businesses
Businesses looking to integrate their online and physical retail systems
SMBs that experience low-volume sales monthly
Quick-service restaurants and bars
Mid-sized and large retailers
Starting at $14
From $0.00 - $165.00 per month
Bundles from $105
From $9 per month for POS only + hardware costs.
Starting at 2.5%
Starting at $99
Starts from $999 per license + $99 per user per month + separate price per module
Proprietary hardware, not compatible with iOS
iPad, mobile extensions
Android-based mobile compatibility
Yes, Android and iOS
iPhone, iPad, web-based
iPhone, iPad, and Android
Fully compatible with iPad and mobile devices
Coming September (est.)
Cloud-based or on-premises
Cloud-based with offline mode
Cloud-based and mobile
Cloud-based and mobile
Compatible Credit Card Processors
Yes (Apple Pay, Google Pay, most credit and debit cards)
A Closer Look at the Top 10 POS Systems
CloverExhaustive set of features for any businessRead Clover Review
- Price rangeStarting at $14
- Best forExpanding businesses in any retail or service
- Mobile CompatibilityProprietary hardware, not compatible with iOS
If you've had any experience with POS systems in the past, then Clover will be a familiar name. That's because this hardware is even used by other POS software providers, and that should tell you something about the system. Clover POS has all of the features you'd expect from a POS system, including built-in payment processing, order management, and customer management system. There are even marketing campaigns, loyalty programs, and birthday promotions to help grow your customer base. Clover offers other tools like shift management, scheduling, and register activity logs, as well.
Clover provides both stationary and portable hardware devices, so you can select the type of hardware that works best for your business needs and layout. Clover POS is also totally customizable with scalable plans, add-ons, and accessories that help you expand your reach as your business grows. Of course, if you want to go all out, Clover has some interesting features like customer feedback, guest management, and gift card generator.
Installation fee: Between $0 to $1,349
Contract length: No contract requiredPros
- Tons of integrations to expand your functionality
- Easy-to-use software and hardware
- Many features included in the basic plan
- Android OS isn’t as sleek as iOS
- Can’t use your own payment processor
LightspeedThe best all-around POS system with pro featuresRead Lightspeed Review
- Price range$99-$289
- Best forRetail and restaurants, all-inclusive
- Mobile CompatibilityiPad, mobile extensions
Lightspeed takes all the frills of TouchBistro and upgrades them for both retail and restaurant usage. So, you get neat features like food management systems and interactive menus for the food industry. Lightspeed's menu functionality is particularly sleek, providing HD photos, descriptions, and pricing for every menu item. You can also create loyalty programs to reward frequent customers and a full-fledged CRM, so you can really keep track of who's coming and going.
Meanwhile, for retailers, Lightspeed offers plenty of hardware options to improve your efficiency and sales, like scanners, printers, and electronic cash drawers. The POS system also comes with sales reporting, merchant services, and an Ecommerce platform. What's more, Lightspeed's inventory management is in real-time, so you can tell customers on the spot whether or not you have a particular item left in stock.
Installation fee: N/A
Contract length: 14 monthsPros
- Lots of extra hardware options
- Advanced features come with basic plan
- Easy to use and train visual interface
- Can be confusing to figure out profit margins
- No confirmation received when sending email orders
ToastSmooth, sleek, surprisingly powerful POS systemRead Toast Review
- Price rangeFrom $0.00 - $165.00 per month
- Best forFood industry services of every size
- Mobile CompatibilityAndroid-based mobile compatibility
Toast is a cloud-based restaurant-geared POS system provider with all the bells and whistles you could ask for. From the online ordering system to a loyalty rewards program, gift card generator, and detailed inventory management system, Toast has thought of it all. Splitting checks, simple order voiding, and closeout day functionality only sweeten the pot.
Unlike most POS systems, Toast runs on the Android operating system. What this means for a business owner is that the hardware is significantly cheaper to purchase and more versatile in terms of integration. Toast Go, the mobile hardware option, allows wait staff to manage their tables, orders, payments, and tabs tableside for faster and more efficient ordering. In general, Toast is a sleeker, smoother, easier POS system to use than most.
Installation fee: From $0 to $799
Contract length: No contract requiredPros
- Excellent restaurant-specific features
- Neat Go hardware for tableside management
- Top-of-the-line customer support
- Have to pay more to get the cool features
- Installation fee
FlagshipAdvanced payment processing solutionsRead Flagship Review
- Price rangeCustom rates
- Best forPayment processing
- Mobile CompatibilityYes, Android and iOS
Flagship is a leading merchant services provider, known for its advanced custom payment processing solutions. It offers solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes, including online stores. In addition, it’s easy to use and is trusted by more than 25,000 small business customers.
On the downside, Flagship’s native POS offerings are very basic. However, it is a certified reseller of the Clover POS system, which is one of the best options we’ve used. Customer support is limited to phone and online contact form, but the team is responsive and available 24/7 to provide assistance.
Installation fee: Starting at $0
Contract length: FlexiblePros
- Custom pricing tailored to your business
- Reputation as a leading payment processing service provider
- Partnered with Clover POS
- Limited native POS features
- No live chat support
LavuEmployee and customer management a tap awayRead Lavu Review
- Price rangeFrom $69/mo
- Best forFast-paced restaurants and coffee shops
- Mobile CompatibilityYes
Lavu is designed for use in restaurants and other food service businesses. Its POS system provides a comprehensive feature set including menu management, inventory tracking, and financial reporting. The software can display menus, receipts and other information in multiple languages, which can be helpful for businesses that serve a diverse customer base. Mobile ordering features bring purchasing to the next level: Customers can place orders via their mobile device, either through the business's website or a branded app. Even more so, businesses can access the system from any device with internet access, which enables real-time data syncing across multiple locations.
Installation fee: N/A
Contract length: From 1 yearPros
- Integrations with diverse hardware options
- Suitable for businesses of all sizes
- Responsive customer support
- Possible stability and reliability issues
- Expensive compared to other POS
TouchBistroThe ultimate, fully loaded restaurant POS systemRead TouchBistro Review
- Price rangeBundles from $105
- Best forDesigned for all food industry businesses
- Mobile CompatibilityiPhone, iPad, web-based
TouchBistro is another good choice for businesses of every size in the food industry. Whether you own a food truck or run a full-service restaurant, brewery, or nightclub, TouchBistro is the POS software that was specifically designed for your industry. That means it comes with features that cater to your needs, pressure points, and clientele. Food managers will appreciate details like self-ordering for faster service, a kitchen display system for faster and better communication between wait and kitchen staff, and a digital menu board for instant menu updates.
In addition to the usual perks, like reporting, analytics, and inventory management, these POS systems come fully loaded with features like tableside ordering, restaurant table management, and menu management. Managers will also appreciate the scheduling features included with TouchBistro hardware because it makes staff management so much simpler.
Installation fee: Starting at $0
Contract length: Month-to-monthPros
- Transparent pricing and fees
- Specifically designed for food industry needs
- $0 commission online ordering, loyalty, reservations, and more
- Not as relevant for retail or clothing markets
- Partially network-based
ShopifyIntuitive dashboard with excellent analyticsRead Shopify Review
- Price rangeFrom $9 per month for POS only + hardware costs.
- Best forBusinesses looking to integrate their online and physical retail systems
- Mobile CompatibilityiPhone, iPad, and Android
Shopify is one of the leading online retail platforms. They’ve taken that expertise and created an easy-to-use retail POS system. If you’re already using Shopify for your online store, then their POS system is a great choice for providing a smooth shopping experience for your customers, both in-person and online. With an established Ecommerce platform, Shopify’s dashboard allows you to manage all the products you sell across all locations, linking in-store and online sales.
The Shopify POS app works on both iPad and Android. You’ll have to purchase the card reader plus any barcode scanners, printers and cash drawers you might need, but this does help keep the monthly costs down as leased hardware costs are not incorporated into your monthly bill. If you’re not looking to sell online, the Lite package presents a cost-effective way of accepting card payments. If you want to unlock all the features on offer, the monthly subscriptions can get expensive, but for larger businesses, the smart inventory management and omnichannel tools are worth the investment.
Installation fee: $49
Contract length: Month-to-month or yearly, two-year, or three-year plansPros
- User-friendly, modern UI
- Integrates with your online Shopify store
- Detailed analytics and reporting
- Higher tier plans are expensive
- Additional hardware costs
Square Online StoreUnparalleled industry-leading POS systemRead Square Online Store Review
- Price rangeStarting at 2.5%
- Best forSMBs that experience low-volume sales monthly
- Mobile CompatibilityFully compatible with iPad and mobile devices
Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you are already more than familiar with Square. It's unquestionably the most well-recognized POS system on the market today, and that's not surprising. Offering no monthly fees and impressively low rates, Square is a favorite for low-volume businesses looking to save money. You can pay a flat rate of 2.6%+$.10 for swiped transactions and 3.5%+$.15 per keyed transactions. In case you aren't in the know, those are really good rates.
Square isn't just a cheap meal ticket, either. The iPad POS system is fully loaded with features like an Ecommerce platform, inventory management, and virtual payment terminals. Square is also mobile-friendly, comes with an API for developers, and tons of third-party integrations. While it's not a good option for high-risk industries, Square is ideal for just about any other type of business, including at-home services, food industries, and retailers.
Installation fee: From $29
Contract length: None, pay as you chargePros
- Huge reputation for quality and affordability
- Easy, flat-rate pricing structure
- No monthly fees and free chip readers
- Not great for high volume merchants
- Doesn’t work with high-risk industries
CurvA commission-free POS built for food serviceRead Curv Review
- Price rangeStarting at $99
- Best forQuick-service restaurants and bars
- Mobile CompatibilityComing September (est.)
Curv is a modern online ordering system for restaurants and similar establishments. With Curv, you can take food orders through your website and other platforms while also managing your in-house orders, all through a single, modern POS system. You can also edit your menu using your computer or smartphone and keep on top of how your restaurant is performing through Curv’s useful statistics.
Many restaurants will find Curv’s integrated system for online ordering, payment processing, in-store POS, and employee scheduling appealing, particularly if they’ve tried juggling all these moving parts themselves. And Curv’s commission-free, transparent pricing is another persuasive reason to give it a shot.Pros
- No commission fees
- Streamlined, user-friendly interface
- Easy onboarding process
- Focused only on restaurants and bars
- Requires the use of specific hardware
A point of sale system is where you can ring up customers, receive payment for transactions, and make taxes payable. Point of sale systems are usually made up of special software to collect payment and customer information, as well as hardware to use in physical location. There are also point of sale systems that exist via cloud technology.
There are tons of businesses that use POS systems. You can find point of sale technology at retail businesses like clothing or electronics stores, restaurants, consumer services like beauty salons or spas, the hospitality industry (coffee shops, drivers, travel agencies, hotels), and more.
Your business needs a POS system when you notice that business is growing rapidly and you need help to track your inventory, customer activity, create in-depth reports, and accept payments quicker and with more ease. As your business grows and attracts more customers, a POS system will help reduce mistakes, save you time, and make your operations more organized.
POS systems can be either free or paid. When you sign up for a paid POS system, expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $100+ per month for monthly software fees. Some brands also require an up-front, one-time fee for hardware and installation. Free POS systems usually require minimal hardware fees and instead of monthly payments, they charge per transaction.
Payment processors transfer payments from one account to another, serving as the communicator between the merchant and customer. POS systems do this and much more; point of sale systems use both software and hardware to not only collect payments but also settle taxes paid by merchants for transactions, create receipts, track activity, and more.
Point of sale subscriptions usually come with a few different pieces of hardware like card readers, monitors, receipt printers, cash drawers, barcode scanners, and more. Many POS sale companies also let you use your own iPads and simply integrate their software into the existing technology.
Toast has been rated the #1 POS for iPads on the iOS app store and earned plenty of positive reviews for its flexibility, features, and prices.
Simply put, a good POS system is one that can accommodate your business' needs. It should be scalable, able to accommodate the size and diversity of products or services your business offers, and should have strong customer service support.
LightSpeed is a favorite POS system for retail businesses. It offers a solid eCommerce platform as well as hardware options such as scanners and electronic cash drawers that are particularly useful for retailers.
Our Methodology: How We Evaluated POS Systems
When comparing the Top10 POS systems, we make sure to investigate major features, prices, contract length, mobile devices compatibility, cloud-based or on-premises capabilities, and compatible credit card or gift card processing. Even more so, we check what is the POS systems’ forte and what type of businesses they are best for.
Our review process is extensive and involves POS experts. POS experts and writers sign up for different services through the brands’ sites or trusted 3rd party sites to access all dimensions of information possible. They go through service sites and sample contracts, contact sales teams, and pay close attention to customer reviews. Ratings from independent agencies like the BBB and journalistic publications play an important role in rating fairly and accurately. Our experts also try to access any kind of free trial available to better the review process.
The Types of POS Software
There are 4 main types of POS software:
Mobile POS software
This software is cloud-based and comes as an app on your smartphone or tablet. It’s usually compatible with a receipt printer and a credit card swiper, but not as powerful as a full terminal POS system. It’s ideal for sole traders such as plumbers or mobile food cart owners.
Tablet POS software
The tablet version is similar to mobile POS software, but offers more features and capabilities. You could use tablet POS software to manage a large and complex retail businesses with multiple locations, including inventory tracking, employee time tracking, payroll, and accounting. They are compatible with many POS hardware solutions to form a complete POS system for any situation.
Terminal POS software
This is a fixed POS software with full back-office capabilities. It can be cloud-based or on-premise. Terminal POS software is best suited to large retail or online stores, spas, malls, and other brick and mortar businesses.
Self-service or unattended POS software
This is designed to be used in kiosks and outdoor units where it's not practical to post an employee. It is often integrated with another POS system nearby, like to provide an extra sales point in busy grocery stores, coffee shops, or food trucks. It can be cloud-based or on-premise since it's not used with a mobile system.
You’ll also find POS software designed for the unique needs of specific industries, such as restaurant and hospitality businesses, apparel retail, financial services, academia and education, and pharmaceuticals POS software.
The costs of your POS software will vary depending on the type of software you choose. Mobile POS software, such as a smartphone app, can begin at $50 per month, while more complex software can reach several hundred dollars monthly. When you buy POS software, you’ll usually need to pay an upfront purchase price, plus an ongoing monthly or yearly payment processing fees.
Other factors that may affect the cost of your POS software plans include:
- How many features you add
- Any hardware included
- Number of integrations
- Your operating system
POS Systems Costs
Point of Sale systems vary greatly in price depending on the type and size of business you’re looking to equip. There are two costs to consider when looking for a POS system: monthly software fees and an installation fee.
Monthly software costs go anywhere from $0 to $100+ a month. Most paid POS programs will cost you between $15 and $30/month. Installation fees usually include software installation, as well as the hardware itself. Paid POS systems don’t always have user caps, meaning that an unlimited number of workers can use the program to make transactions.
There are, of course, “free” POS systems. This means that the hardware and monthly plans start at $0 but they charge businesses per transition. For example, a POS provider can charge anywhere from 2 to 4% plus a few cents per card-based transactions or manual keyed-in sales.
Getting the Right POS Hardware
POS hardware is the indispensable other half of your POS system. You’ll need to get the right hardware to match the actions and transactions you want to carry out using your POS system. A basic set of POS hardware consists of:
- Printer to offer hard copies of receipts (retail stores, restaurants, and other brick and mortar businesses are likely to need this)
- A POS terminal, or iPad or Android tablet to run your POS software
- Credit card reader
- A cash register to keep cash transactions secure and logged into your system
Depending on your business, you might also need:
- Extra tablets so wait staff can process payments at the table in restaurants
- A router to strengthen your internet for cloud-based POS systems
- A local server to host your on-premise POS software
- Weight scales for food retailers
- Barcode scanners
- Networking cables to connect all of your hardware
- An extra kitchen printer
- Self-serve checkout kiosks
The Benefits of a POS System for Your Business
With a POS system, your business can retain more customers through a better, targeted loyalty program and you can also track inventory so that you never run out of stock unexpectedly. A POS system can help you run complex discount offers when appropriate.
With the right POS system, you can also analyze sales history to discover seasonal buying trends and correlations, which can come in useful when you want to increase sales. You can also remove manual error by using barcode scanners and automatic synchronization, as well as combat absenteeism with a more reliable employee tracking system.
Other major benefits include improving payment security as well as the ability to make more sales thanks to your ability to accept payments across the market.
Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise POS Systems
A cloud-based POS system stores data on remote servers and can be accessed online, whereas a traditional or on-premise POS system stores data on a local server and can be accessed through an internal network. Here’s a breakdown of the main differences between a cloud-based POS and an on-premise POS:
If you have long-term business plans and if your requirements are likely to continue to evolve as your business grows, then a cloud-based POS system is probably the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you have fixed needs or a small budget, you might be best served by choosing a traditional POS system.
How to Choose a POS System Provider
Choosing a POS system provider depends on what kind of business you’re running, how long you’ve been operating, and the scale of your operation. Finding the perfect system provider, though, takes some more research.
Here are some questions, organized by category, that can help you choose the right POS system provider:
Hardware and Features
What features do I need?
What devices are needed to process payments?
What hardware do I need? If you need a lot of items, a provider that bundles hardware options together with the software is a better bet, but if you're going to be using your existing iPad, you’ll need something different.
What kind of receipts are generated?
Does the POS system integrate well with my existing business apps?
Is it easy to set up and use? If it’s more complex, does it offer training?
How good is customer service?
Do I want to save money upfront or keep my monthly costs down?
How does payment processing work? What kind of hardware is offered by the POS company? Some POS companies offer technology unique to the brand, while others simply offer iPad rentals.
Is the pricing plan transparent?
Are the payment processes cloud-based or more suitable for in-person transactions?
What analytics does it offer and what metrics can it check? Make sure that the ones that are most important to you are included in the package.
Does this POS system provide assistance for inventory management? If yes, it’s valuable to see whether there is help with product visibility, inventory, purchasing and replenishing, storage, analyzing inventory and orders, or multichannel tracking.
Does this POS system have integrations for eCommerce, email marketing, or social media? A POS system can provide real time information to better customer experience.
Is it simple to scale up as your business grows?