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The 3 Best Retail POS Systems of 2018

Maddie Shepherd

Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!
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Running a retail business requires many specific skills from a business owner and their employees. From friendly customer service to savvy business acumen, the skills required to make your store, stand, or website run smoothly are multifaceted.

So, too, should be any retail POS system tasked with making sure all of your transactions run smoothly. Whether you need to scan a barcode, print a receipt, make a purchase order, or see what a given customer has purchased in the past, your point of sale system should be able to help you with that.

There are lots of capabilities and features that retail POS systems will come with, but the best retail POS system for your business will privilege the ones that are most important to you.

To help you decide the best option for your retail establishment, we’ve compiled all of the details on the top three small business retail POS systems currently on the market.

retail pos system

The 3 Top POS Systems for Retail Stores, Depending on What You Need

Because every retail team has their particular own particular needs and preferences, there’s no universal best retail POS system for all of the retail businesses out there.

Knowing this, we’ve compiled the top three best retail point of sale systems on the market based on the top three features retail business owners might privilege in their search—affordability, mobility, and capability.

Here are the details on our picks for the three best retail POS system of 2018:

The Best Low-Cost Retail POS System

If you’re looking for a low-cost retail POS system that will still get the job done, then our top pick for you is Intuit QuickBooks GoPayment. GoPayment is a point of sale app that you can get for free through your smart device. Because GoPayment is an Intuit product, you’ll be able to sync all the transactions you process through the app to your QuickBooks, TurboTax, and Mint accounts. Even without a credit card reader, you’ll be able to process keyed-in transactions through the GoPayment app for your retail business.

Fortunately, though, you’ll access a free card reader when you sign up for GoPayment. And this card reader is one of the main reasons why Intuit GoPayment is the best low-cost retail POS system. You’ll be able to process both magstripe and chip card payments with the free GoPayment card reader.

Plus, the free reader will connect to smart devices through Bluetooth. These features put the free GoPayment ahead of the competition. The free card reader that comes with most retail POS systems only reads magstripe payments and requires a headphone jack to connect to smart devices. With the GoPayment reader, though, your free retail credit card processing hardware will be wireless and versatile.

Be sure to note that, even with the free app and the free card reader, this retail POS system will charge you a payment processing fee of 2.4% + $0.25 per magstripe and chip payments or 3.5% + $0.25 for keyed-in transactions.

The Best Mobile Retail POS System

If you’re looking for a happy medium between mobile and capable in your retail POS system—and you’re willing to pay for it—then our top pick for you is the Clover Flex. The Clover Flex packs a remarkable package of capabilities into a rectangular handheld retail POS system device. With the Clover Flex, you can process magstripe, chip, and contactless payments from virtual wallets like Apple Pay.

Plus, the Clover Flex is equipped with a scanner that will allow you to scan barcodes to streamline your inventory tracking processes. Not to mention, the Clover Flex also comes complete with a printer. So, should your customer prefer a physical copy of their receipt, you’ll be able to provide one on the spot.

One of the most notable upsides to this retail POS option, though, is the fact that it doesn’t rely on a smart device to be fully functional. Unlike many other mobile POS systems for retail, the Clover Flex functions fully independent of an Apple, Android, or tablet. It’s a completely self-sufficient retail POS system. Which will make the Clover Flex’s considerable price of $449 that much easier to wrap your head around, especially if your retail store doesn’t already have a dedicated smart device.

On top of the cost of the Clover Flex itself, you’ll also need to pay payment processing fees that will start at 2.3% + $0.10, so be sure to calculate that into the cost of this mobile retail POS system, as well.

retail pos system

The Best Fully Equipped Retail POS System

Finally, if you’re looking for a fully equipped, terminal-style retail POS system for your store, then the Square Register is your best option. Just like the Clover Flex, the Square Register doesn’t require a smart device to be a fully functioning retail point of sale system. So, you won’t need to come to the table with a dedicated smart device to run your retail POS if you opt for the Square Register, which acts like a high-tech retail cash register.

The Square Register wins our pick for the top fully-equipped retail POS system primarily because it comes with Square’s retail-centric software—Square for Retail. Square for Retail provides a hub for all your retail needs within your retail point of sale system.

Equipped with Square for Retail, the Square Register comes with all of the essential POS system capabilities you’d expect from a retail POS terminal, like diverse payment processing and thorough customer tracking. Beyond those fundamentals, though, this retail POS software will allow you to track inventory across multiple locations and run purchase orders directly through your retail POS system.

To access this retail POS terminal, though, you’ll need to pay a solid $999 for the retail POS hardware and software. On top of that, you’ll need to pay a payment processing  fee of 2.5% + $0.10 per transaction.

What to Look for in a POS System for Retail

Learning about the three best retail POS systems doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve settled on one yet. Even more, you might put more importance on other criteria than the three we’ve focused on to pick our favorite point of sale systems for retail.

As such, you might need some tools for searching for your business’s best POS system for retail. With a wide, multifaceted array of retail point of sale options to choose from, you’ll need to look at some key factors—even if they’re not just the three we used to narrow down our top picks.

Here is a more detailed look at all the factors you should take into account while trying to find the best retail POS system for your business:

  • Retail POS system hardware cost: Look into the one-off cost that any given retail POS option will cost you. Depending on how capable the POS hardware you’re looking at, this could be anywhere from free to more than $1,000.
  • Retail POS software cost: Additionally, though many retail point of sale software options often come free in the form of an app for smart devices, other, more souped-up options might cost you a monthly fee.
  • Payment processing fees: Most all of your retail point of sale options, whether you run them through an iPad or a cash register, involve some form of per-transaction payment processing fee. This fee most often looks like a percentage of the transaction amount, plus a flat fee. That said, newer POS options will simply charge you a percentage of the transaction amount, which will be more ideal for retail businesses that typically process smaller transactions.
  • Customer payment options: How many payment options do you want your customers to have? If you want them to be able to choose from keyed-in, magstripe, chip, and contactless payments, then you will likely need to invest in more sophisticated retail POS system hardware.
  • Retail 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 completely with a handheld retail POS system. A more mobile retail POS will be especially helpful for retail businesses that sell through booths and markets.
  • Inventory management capabilities: One unique feature that is crucial to a high-performing retail POS software? Detailed inventory management 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. And for a bonus, get a retail POS system that includes a barcode scanner to easily track your inventory with the click of a button.
  • Customer receipt options: Is it important for you that your customers have options for the way they receive their receipts from your retail business? Find a retail POS system that can print receipts, not just text and email them to the customer, in case your customer needs a physical receipt.
  • Customer tracking capabilities: High-performing POS retail 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.
  • Employee management: Finally, if you want a POS system for your retail store that will help you manage your employees, consider looking for one that has clock-in/clock-out time-tracking capabilities.

retail pos system

Finding the Best Retail POS System for Your Store

Now that you’re not only in-the-know on all of the best retail POS systems of 2018, but also all of the necessary criteria to look at should you forge onward in your own journey for your best POS system for retail, you’re ready for your next steps.

If you’ve found the perfect retail POS setup in one of our top three, then the next steps are easy—just make the purchase! But if you’ve decided to keep searching, you’ve still got some deciding to do. Be sure to weigh all of your options based on the retail POS system criteria that ring most important to you.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Maddie Shepherd

Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!

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