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Last UpdatedFeb 2023

Top POS Systems of 2023
Revolutionize your business

Track sales in real-time, expertly manage your business's inventory, and fully integrate with accounting software. Find the best POS system providers below.

Top POS System Providers
Our Most Popular
Lightspeed
Lightspeed
exceptional
9.7
Full retail and restaurant POS
Get Quote
Clover
Clover
excellent
9.4
Smart and customizable POS
Get Quote
Toast
Toast
excellent
9.1
POS exclusively for restaurants
Get Quote
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The star ratings are based on the overall rating of each brand. Some reviews are provided via third party suppliers. We encourage you to write a review of your experiences with these brands.

What Is a POS System?

A Point of Sale (POS) system is an integrated software and hardware solution for both big and small businesses to manage sales. POS systems take the place of conventional cash registers by handling transactions, plus POS systems can:

  • Process all types of payments
  • Track inventory
  • Manage your accounting needs
  • Calculate sales tax
  • Track employee work hours, vacation time, and absences
  • Handle payroll
  • Manage loyalty programs
  • Track sales history
  • Calculate pricing and discounts

How Does a POS System Work?

A POS system is made up of 2 main parts—first, there's the hardware, including a printer, cash drawer, and a POS terminal. Then there's the software, which is the computer program that operates the whole system. A POS system works by connecting your credit card processing apps, accounting apps, inventory apps, and other point of sale-related business apps into a single unit.

The Types of POS Software and Their Costs

There are 4 main types of POS software:

1. 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.

2. 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 organization, 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.

3. 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 stores, spas, malls, and other brick and mortar big or small businesses.

4. 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 a busy grocery store. 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 as cheap as $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 fee.

Other factors that may affect the cost of your POS software include:

  • How many features you add
  • Any hardware included
  • Number of integrations
  • Your operating system

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 small businesses are likely to need this)
  • A POS terminal, or iPad or Android tablet to run your POS software
  • Credit card reader
  • A cash drawer 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 orders 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 more types of payment.

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:

Cloud-Based POS Systems
On-Premise POS Systems
Relatively low-cost to buy and setup, but have higher ongoing costs
Expensive to setup and install, but carries very low ongoing costs
Always accessible from wherever you are, even if you’re out of the country
Comprehensive and extensive; on-premise POS systems can be used for very large and complex retail situations
Highly scalable
Not easily flexible or scalable
Easy to carry around, making them ideal for mobile businesses
Not easily portable, making it a poor choice for mobile businesses
Dependant on a good internet connection
Not reliant on the internet, so your POS system is always up and running even if the internet is down
Able to keep your data backed up on the cloud so that you won’t lose anything if the system crashes
At risk of losing all of your data if the server crashes
Easy to integrate with other business apps
Operated on a local server with all of your data and apps in your own network

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

Asking yourself these questions will help you choose the right POS system provider:

  • What features do I need?
  • Do I want to save money upfront or keep my monthly costs down?
  • What hardware do I need? If you need a lot of items, a provider that bundles hardware together with the software is a better bet, but if you're going to be using your existing iPad, you’ll need something different.
  • Does it integrate well with my existing business apps?
  • Is the pricing transparent?
  • Is it easy to set up and use? If it’s more complex, does it offer training?
  • 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. 
  • How good is the customer service?
  • Is it simple to scale up as your business grows?

Our Top 3 Picks

  • 1
    Lightspeed

    Lightspeed

    • Best forRetail and restaurants, all-inclusive
    • Price range$99-$289
    • 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 months

    Pros
    • Lots of extra hardware options
    • Advanced features come with basic plan
    • Easy to use and train visual interface
    Cons
    • Can be confusing to figure out profit margins
    • No confirmation received when sending email orders
  • 2
    Clover

    Clover

    • Best forExpanding businesses in any retail or service
    • Price rangeStarting at $14
    • 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 required

    Pros
    • Tons of integrations to expand your functionality
    • Easy-to-use software and hardware
    • Many features included in the basic plan
    Cons
    • Android OS isn’t as sleek as iOS
    • Can’t use your own payment processor
  • 3
    Toast

    Toast

    • Best forFood industry services of every size
    • Price rangeFrom $0.00 - $165.00 per month
    • 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 required

    Pros
    • Excellent restaurant-specific features
    • Neat Go hardware for tableside management
    • Top-of-the-line customer support
    Cons
    • Have to pay more to get the cool features
    • Installation fee

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Lightspeed
Lightspeed
Lightspeed
Read Review
Clover
Clover
Clover
Read Review
Toast
Toast
Toast
Read Review
Read all reviews
Our rating system
Our reviews come from verified users–just like you!
The star ratings are based on the overall rating of each brand. Some reviews are provided via third party suppliers. We encourage you to write a review of your experiences with these brands.