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7 Best Retail POS Systems of July 2024

Inventory management, transparent pricing and useful reporting capabilities are a must for retail point-of-sale systems.
By Dalia Ramirez, Hillary Crawford
Last updated on March 28, 2024
Edited byChristine Aebischer
Fact checked and reviewed

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The best retail point-of-sale (POS) systems come with some combination of excellent inventory management capabilities, transparent pricing, valuable reports and other features that help to run your retail business smoothly. Depending on your sales channels, your POS system should give you a way to accept payments on the go, maintain an e-commerce store or manage multiple locations.
Here are our top picks for retail POS systems.

Best Retail POS Systems

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Estimates assume an average interchange fee of 1.81% + $0.10, based on our latest available data. Estimates provided reflect online and in-person transactions, but exclude any keyed transactions. Estimates are based on the lowest monthly plan and processing fees for each provider.

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Square Retail POS

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on Square Retail POS's secure website

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5.0/5

Best for Overall retail POS system

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$0.00

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $89, custom.

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
Learn more

on Square Retail POS's secure website

Shopify Retail POS

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on Shopify POS's secure website

4.5/5

Best for Online retail businesses

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$39.00

and up for e-commerce plans with POS Lite; Can upgrade to POS Pro for an extra $89.

Learn more

on Shopify POS's secure website

Clover Flex

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on Clover Flex's secure website

4.0/5

Best for Handheld POS system

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 3.5% + $0.10

$0.00

and up.

Learn more

on Clover Flex's secure website

Lightspeed Retail POS

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on Lightspeed Retail POS's secure website

3.5/5

Best for Retail inventory management

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$109.00

for Basic plan, $179 for Core plan, $289 for Plus plan.

Learn more

on Lightspeed Retail POS's secure website

SpotOn Retail

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on SpotOn Retail's secure website

4.0/5

Best for Retail marketing tools

1.99% + $0.25

$0.00

and up.

Learn more

on SpotOn Retail's secure website

QuickBooks GoPayment

4.5/5

Best for Syncing mobile transactions with QuickBooks

In-person: 2.5% + $0.00

Online: 2.99% + $0.00

$0.00

PayPal Zettle

4.0/5

Best for Accepting various payment methods

In-person: 2.29% + $0.09

Online: 2.89% + $0.49

$0.00

Our pick for

Overall retail POS system

Square Retail POS

Learn more

on Square Retail POS's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $89, custom.

Our pick for

Online retail businesses

Shopify Retail POS

Learn more

on Shopify POS's secure website

Monthly fee
$39.00

and up for e-commerce plans with POS Lite; Can upgrade to POS Pro for an extra $89.

Our pick for

Handheld POS system

Clover Flex

Learn more

on Clover Flex's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

and up.

Our pick for

Retail inventory management

Lightspeed Retail POS

Learn more

on Lightspeed Retail POS's secure website

Monthly fee
$109.00

for Basic plan, $179 for Core plan, $289 for Plus plan.

Our pick for

Retail marketing tools

SpotOn Retail

4.0
NerdWallet rating 
Learn more

on SpotOn Retail's secure website

Payment processing fees
1.99% + $0.25
Monthly fee
$0.00

and up.

Our pick for

Syncing mobile transactions with QuickBooks

QuickBooks GoPayment

Monthly fee
$0.00

Our pick for

Accepting various payment methods

PayPal Zettle

Monthly fee
$0.00

Our picks for the best retail POS systems

Square for Retail: Best overall retail POS system

Why we like it: Square for Retail has no contract requirements, and with transparent, published prices, you know exactly what you’re signing up for. In addition to an array of retail-specific hardware and accessories, it's also compatible with both iOS and Android phones and tablets, offering flexibility for on-the-go shops making sales at flea markets, trade shows and more.

FEATURED

 
Square
Square

Square Retail POS

NerdWallet Rating 
5.0
Once set up, the platform provides a range of reporting tools and customer, inventory and employee management options. There's also a variety of paid add-ons, including a loyalty program and payroll platform, all of which can be customized to match your preferences and business needs. Read our full Square for Retail POS review.

Clover Flex: Best handheld POS system

Why we like it: One of the most notable perks of the Clover Flex is that it doesn’t rely on a smart device to be fully functional; unlike many other mobile POS systems for retail, it’s a standalone system. This makes the Clover Flex’s considerable price of $599 easier to understand, especially if your retail store doesn’t already have a dedicated smart device. Read our full Clover POS review.

QuickBooks GoPayment: Best for syncing mobile transactions with QuickBooks

Why we like it: QuickBooks GoPayment is a mobile point-of-sale system app that uses QuickBooks Payments to process transactions. QuickBooks GoPayment's card reader can process both magstripe and chip card payments and connect to smart devices through Bluetooth. Even without the credit card reader, retail businesses can process keyed-in transactions through the GoPayment app. And unlike Square’s free reader, GoPayment’s can process chip cards and doesn’t require a jack to connect. However, QuickBooks Payments is only available to businesses that use QuickBooks for accounting. It’s a convenient, compatible low-cost add-on if you already rely on QuickBooks. Read our full QuickBooks GoPayment review.

Shopify POS

Shopify POS: Best for online retail businesses

Why we like it: Each of Shopify’s POS system plans offers a dedicated POS and e-commerce website, with the higher-priced plans featuring lower credit card processing rates and more tools. (Note that you have to use Shopify Payments as your payment processor to lock in these rates.)
As an online-first POS, Shopify can host checkout, accept discounts, integrate with third-party applications, save customer information in a database, organize product catalogs and generate reports on your sales performance. You can also sell through multiple channels, including social media, and in multiple languages and dozens of currencies. Read our full Shopify POS review.

Lightspeed Retail POS: Best for retail inventory management

Why we like it: Lightspeed Retail POS offers a selection of third-party applications that can extend the functionality of your store, as well as loyalty programs and e-commerce integrations included in its higher-priced plans. The company uses an in-house payment processor, Lightspeed Payments, to process transactions, but you have the option to use a third-party payment processor as well. Merchants processing a high annual volume can get cheaper quote-based pricing, making it a great choice for fast-growing businesses. Read our full Lightspeed Retail POS review.

SpotOn Retail: Best retail marketing tools

Why we like it: Retail shop owners can use SpotOn Retail’s marketing tools to keep tabs on what online reviewers across popular review sites are saying about their business. The system will also alert you when someone leaves a new review, giving you a chance to quickly respond. The dashboard also displays data from your marketing campaigns, so that you can see what’s working and use those insights to continue to grow your customer base.

PayPal Zettle: Best for accepting various payment methods

Why we like it: PayPal Zettle is a simple in-person payment solution for small retail operations. You can use the Zettle terminal or card reader (paired with the free Zettle app) to accept credit and debit cards, digital wallets, Venmo and PayPal, or allow your customers to pay via payment link or QR code. It isn’t equipped with as many extra features as its competitors, but it can be a low-cost way to accept payments in-store and on the go. Read our full PayPal Zettle review.

What is a retail POS system?

A retail POS system is the combination of POS hardware, software and payment processing services — each of which comes with its own separate costs. It lets you record sales, accept customer payments, create receipts and track sales tax.
Retail POS systems often put additional emphasis on features like inventory management, product variations, marketing tools and customer loyalty programs. They may also generate sales reports that identify your retail business’s bestsellers and let you know which products have the highest profit margins. Together, these capabilities help you retain customers, attract new ones and make sure you have the right amount of inventory on-hand.

How to choose a POS system for retail

Here’s what to take into account while trying to find the best retail POS system for your business:

Retail POS system costs

There are three main costs to consider while choosing a retail POS system:
  • Software cost: Generally, you'll have to pay a monthly fee to use POS software, which may cost up to $89 or more per month. In some cases, however, free POS systems and less expensive plans are available. 
  • Hardware cost: This includes the cost of countertop terminals, handheld terminals, barcode scanners, receipt printers and card readers. Depending on the capabilities of the POS hardware, your costs could range from nothing to over $1,000. Certain retail businesses will be able to do most of their in-person sales through an inexpensive, or even free, mobile card reader. 
  • Payment processing fees: Often, but not always, a POS system comes bundled with payment processing services. Sometimes, processing rates are the same regardless of what type of card is used and how it’s used (in person, online, etc.). In other cases, processors charge interchange fees — which vary by card — plus a flat fee. The latter method can be less predictable but is more transparent. 
Separately, watch out for hidden costs, such as PCI compliance fees or chargeback fees for charges returned to payment cards. It's best to have a processor with transparent, easy-to-understand rates and minimal fees.

Online vs. in-store sales

You should be able to use the same POS system for every retail channel, whether your business has multiple physical storefronts or you sell both in-person and online. But your business’s main sales channels play a role in dictating which retail POS system is ultimately best.
For example, POS systems that come with online stores may be best for e-commerce businesses and storefronts with an online presence. If you’re not as concerned with online sales, choose a POS system with robust countertop POS hardware options that your business’s employees can easily learn to use.

POS mobility

If you want your retail POS system to be as mobile as you and your employees are, then you should consider either supplementing your desktop POS system or replacing it with a handheld retail POS system. A more mobile POS system may be especially convenient for retail businesses that sell through booths and markets.

Inventory management

Since many retail businesses sell goods to customers, they need to keep track of how many items are on their shelves at any given time. That makes excellent inventory management capabilities a must for retail POS systems.
If you’re working with multiple locations, find a retail POS system that can help you keep track of inventory from location to location. If you handle large stocks of goods that you’re having trouble keeping up with, get a retail POS software that allows you to track purchase orders through it.

Customer tracking

High-performing retail POS systems also allow business owners and employees to keep track of a customer’s history with their business. Knowing what specific purchases a given customer has made can inform future sales and whether you choose to offer individual discounts or promotions.

Employee management

Consider a retail POS system that can generate reports on employee sales performance. Some systems also include modules that let employees clock in and out from the POS terminal. That way, your business doesn’t have to pay for separate time tracking software.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet. Claire Tsosie and Lisa Anthony, authors at NerdWallet, contributed to this article.
Last updated on March 28, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s point-of-sale systems provider ratings reward companies whose products and services are priced well and work in a variety of payment scenarios, among other criteria. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including cost, system capabilities, contract requirements, customer service and integrations and add-ons. Learn more about how we rate point-of-sale (POS) systems providers.
These ratings are a guide, but services, hardware and pricing can vary widely from business to business and provider to provider. We encourage you to shop around and compare several providers.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

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