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What to Know When Choosing a POS System for Your Business 

These are the top POS systems on the market today. Read on for in-depth details on features, plans, and pricing.  


  • BigCommerce integration
  • Plenty of backend functionality
  • Flat rate monthly fee structure

ShopKeep is an iPad POS system that helps businesses accept payments with ease. The entire system is intuitive and smartly designed so that anyone can navigate the software. With touchscreen technology, a robust set of features, and convenient portability, ShopKeep is a fabulous choice for your small to mid-sized business.

ShopKeep charges a flat rate $69/month, so you don’t have to worry about a per charge fee that could get away from you. What’s more, the plans are month-to-month, so you aren’t tied down to any contracts or commitments. With that monthly fee comes a nice package including 2 hours of ShopKeep Expert setup assistance, an Android and iOS app, unlimited inventory management, and employee management. That’s a lot to get for such a low price, plus multiple registers get a more than 50% discount.

What’s nice about ShopKeep is that it runs both cloud-based and locally-installed. So, you get the convenience of the cloud, with the reliability and consistency of powerless. ShopKeep is great for all types of businesses and is particularly suited for specialty shops like mall stands, gift shops, kiosks, food trucks, coffee shops, and more. You can also take advantage of the ShopKeep-BigCommerce integration to set up your own customizable online store. 

All the features are readily available as soon as you set up your account, and they’re simple to maneuver from the clean visual interface on the iPad. Your backend office gives you access to employee time tracking, inventory receiving, and in-depth reporting to name a few features. 

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Revel Systems

  • Lots of third-party app integrations
  • Robust reporting feature
  • Excellent 1+ year warranty on equipment

Receiving several awards for its software (including Best Enterprise Technology, Gold Award for Top iPad Pos System and Best iPad Business App of the Year Award), Revel Systems has certainly made a name for itself in the POS systems industry. Sporting state of the art technology, sleek equipment, and a beautiful application, Revel Systems makes payment processing sexy in 2020.

Unlike most POS systems, Revel Systems offers solutions that can help both small businesses and large alike. Its dual system allows you to update to the cloud whenever a connection is available and function normally when Internet is down or not available. Another convenient aspect of this brand is the helpful training videos available to walk you through the backend office functionality.

The Revel Systems user interface is clean and easy to navigate. You can see products, orders, receipts, and other inventory relevant information at a glance using the touchscreen display. Plus, managers can use the password-protected features to analyze employee timesheets, paystubs, commissions, and more. The reporting functionality is exhaustive, and you can got a ton of information in an easy to read format.

From real-time inventory management to register management and even customer management, Revel Systems has it all.

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TouchBistro Restaurant POS

  • Restaurant-specific software
  • Competitively-priced plans
  • Loyalty program built-in

TouchBistro is an iPad POS that is specifically designed for restaurants, so it has features, design tweaks, and functionality that particularly speaks to these businesses. With mobility, touchscreen menu selection, and convenient payment options, TouchBistro POS makes payments faster and easier for you and your customers.

TouchBistro is totally tablet-run, so you give a cool, modern impression to your customers when you ring up their order. From the touchscreen, you can process seating, menu selections, wireless transfers, and order taking. Everything is neatly organized so that even though you have lots of choices, the process is streamlined and easy to navigate. For example, when you open a table, you’ll have several choices including print receipt, email receipt, add to order, split checks, and include discount to name a few.

The TouchBistro system allows each employee to accept several payment methods such as cash, manual charge, or pay on account. The last option is basically a way to keep a customer's credit card on file, so they don't have to take out their card every time they dine with you. A super convenient feature for regulars.

When it comes to pricing, TouchBistro offers 4 price. Solo gives you 1 license for the monthly fee of $69; Dual offers 2 for $129/month; Team raises it to 5, and costs $249 per month, and for large businesses or chains you can choose Unlimited, which offers unlimited licences for $399 per month. There is also a 30-day free trial. 

TouchBistro has excellent backend functionality including customer, employee, and inventory management. You can aggregate data into reports to help you see what’s doing well, and what needs improvement. And the built-in loyalty program is a great way to boost sales and retention. 

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What Is a POS System?

A Point of Sale (POS) system is an integrated software and hardware solution for retailers 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 – the hardware, such as a printer, cash drawer, and a POS terminal, and 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 POS Software and Their Costs

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 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.

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 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 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 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 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 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?