As a small business owner, you work very hard to get to the point where you can make a sale. You deserve a point of sale system that works just as hard for you. One option to consider is the Shopify POS system.
Shopify is known primarily as an ecommerce platform, but since 2013 it has also operated a POS system with a robust set of features. Shopify POS offers seamless integration with an online store, sales performance analytics, and an array of mobile and store management capabilities—perfect for retailers who sell remotely or those who operate out of a single location (or three, or four).
Let’s break down all of the offerings of Shopify POS to see if it is the right POS system for your business. We’ll look into the pros and cons of Shopify POS and offer up some alternatives so you can compare and contrast the benefits.
Shopify POS Capabilities
POS systems and capabilities vary depending on the provider of the service. The Shopify POS system refers specifically to an application available for iOS and Android devices that you can use in a physical store or a pop-up location to find products, process orders, take payments, swipe credit cards, and produce receipts. Among that array of features is a vast set of capabilities. Note that while many of these features come standard, some are reserved for the higher-tiered POS services.
Shopify POS card readers accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover payments, all of which can be tracked using your own card terminal. You can also accept a variety of other forms of payment with Shopify POS, including gift cards, store credit, split tenders, and partial payments.
As long as you have a Shopify POS card reader, you can complete in-person checkouts using your own iOS or Android device. Shopify POS also allows you to keep track of special requests and shipping information on orders, and add them to customer profiles.
You can also apply sale discounts during checkout and collect tips. In addition, taxes are automatically calculated during checkout based on your store’s location. If needed, you can disable this feature or set custom taxes.
Shopify POS allows you to set up, use, and track discounts online and apply them during checkout. This includes usage-based discounts for frequent buyers, senior citizens, and military members, limited time or limited quantity discounts, and minimum purchase discounts. You can also track the performance of discount offers via your analytics dashboard.
Shopify POS can assist you with managing individual store locations by tracking order history, processing refunds, monitoring cash register adjustments, and keeping track of daily totals for every payment type. In addition, you can create staff PINs to track employee activity. Shopify POS integrates with most major accounting software programs for easier bookkeeping.
You can store a myriad of customer information using Shopify POS, including contact info, order history, and shopping habits. Shopify POS also synchronizes your online and retail customers, and offers integration with MailChimp for email marketing campaigns.
The Shopify POS app is capable of handling lots of product management functions. Users can organize products by category, type, season, sale, vendor, and price, track stock counts across all locations, and offer different iterations of products, such as different sizes or colors. Using the Shopify wireless barcode scanner, users can also assign existing barcodes to products or create new ones.
All Shopify POS users will receive a free card scanner. Subscribers to the higher tiered Shopify and Shopify Advanced plans will also receive a cash drawer, receipt printer, and barcode scanner. If you are migrating to Shopify POS from another platform, you may be able to re-use some of your existing hardware. All Shopify POS hardware comes with free shipping and 30-day returns.
With Shopify POS analytics, you can view a dashboard of your sales, orders, and traffic, and analyze performance by staff, location, and time period to help you gain insight into your business.
The Shopify POS mobile app allows you to view your mobile dashboard, manage inventory, and email or call customers, all from your iOS or Android phone.
Shopify offers 24/7 support via email, live chat, and phone to all POS customers. There is a Shopify POS Help Center, and customers also have access to Shopify Experts, who can advise on a variety of tasks related to running an online business, such as 3D modeling, site design, and marketing material.
Shopify POS Cost
Shopify offers five different POS plans, which range in price from $9 per month to $299 per month. Prospective customers can try Shopify POS free for 14 days without entering any credit card information. Let’s look at each plan to see what options they offer to small business owners.
Shopify Lite allows you to sell via an existing website or Facebook page. When you sign up, you can upload your catalog to Shopify and then integrate it with your personal website via a buy button or with your Facebook Business page via the Shop feature.
Using Shopify Lite with Facebook also allows you to provide customer service, shipping updates, and tracking codes via Facebook Messenger. In addition, you receive a card reader to process in-person transactions, and can send custom invoices from the Shopify dashboard.
Shopify Lite costs $9 per month. Note that Shopify Lite does not give you access to sell on the actual Shopify platform, and Shopify takes a 2.7% cut of each in-person credit card transaction.
Basic Shopify offers everything you need for starting a new business. Users can set up an online store as well as sell on social media, upload an unlimited amount of products, add up to two staff accounts, and apply discount codes.
For the Basic package, Shopify charges $29 per month, and 2.9% plus $0.30 for every online purchase and 2.7% for every in-person purchase. Shopify will charge an additional 2% fee for using payment providers other than Shopify Payments.
Shopify Basic users also have access to Shopify’s order fulfillment service Shopify Shipping. With Shopify Shipping, you can buy shipping labels on the Shopify platform and get discounts when you ship items with UPS, USPS, or DHL.
The standard Shopify plan is ideal for growing businesses. In addition to all the features of Shopify Basic, users can add up to five staff accounts, create gift cards, and get sales analytics reports.
Users also receive POS hardware, including a cash drawer, receipt printer, and barcode scanner, unlimited staff PIN numbers, and the option to migrate over from third-party POS apps.
With this plan, there is a monthly fee of $79 and Shopify takes a 2.6% cut plus $0.30 of all online credit card purchases, and a 2.5% cut of all in-person purchases. Shopify will also charge a 1% fee for using third-party payment providers.
There are discounts for Shopify users when they ship with Shopify Shipping and use UPS, USPS, or DHL.
Shopify Advanced is designed for scaling businesses. It includes all the features of the standard Shopify package, plus advanced analytics reports and the option to add up to 15 staff accounts.
You will be charged $299 per month, as well as 2.4% plus $0.30 per online credit card transaction and 2.4% for in-person transactions. Using third-party payment providers will only cost an additional 0.5% with Shopify Advanced. There are discounts when you ship your items with Shopify Shipping and use UPS, USPS, or DHL.
Shopify Plus is Shopify’s ecommerce solution for high-volume merchants. It can handle thousands of orders per minute and accepts everything from credit cards to Bitcoin. Users who sign up for Shopify Plus will receive personalized assistance and customizable solutions.
Pricing is quote-based and varies depending on your business’s needs.
Shopify POS Pros
There is a lot to like about the Shopify POS system. Let’s take a look at what all the capabilities could mean for your business, and what current customers think.
Shopify’s five different POS tiers and varied features means they likely have a solution that fits your business. Plus, you can find out for free using Shopify’s 14-day trial.
When you become a Shopify or Shopify Advanced customer, you receive a cash drawer, receipt printer, and barcode scanner for free, saving you money on otherwise costly hardware. You can also purchase Shopify POS hardware without signing up for the software and return it within 30 days if you are unhappy for a full refund.
General user sentiment around the Shopify POS system is positive. In particular, users say they find Shopify POS easy to use and that Shopify provides strong customer support.
Shopify POS Cons
The main drawback with Shopify POS is the fees. Shopify can charge you up to $299 per month to use their POS system. In addition, Shopify POS will take a cut of every online and in-person credit card transaction. If you accept a payment provider other than Shopify Payments, you will also get hit with another fee ranging between 0.5% and 2%. If your main concern is finding a low-cost POS system, you can probably do better than Shopify.
Top Alternatives to Shopify POS
If the price of Shopify POS is a dealbreaker, or if you need a POS system with different capabilities, here are some other products to consider:
One of the biggest names in the POS space is Square. The Square POS is an app for iOS and Android devices that allows you to process credit card transactions. The big draw of the Square POS is that it is completely free to use and features a decent set of capabilities, including varied payment options, inventory tracking, employee management tools, offline payments, and the ability to quickly deposit funds into your business bank account.
Square sells their hardware separately. Square’s fees are mostly straightforward. You’ll pay 2.6% plus $0.10 per transaction for in-person payments via the Square POS app.
If you run a restaurant or café, you should consider the Aloha POS, which was designed specifically with restauranteurs in mind. The system runs through countertop terminals, of which Aloha offers three different models at varying prices and with differing capabilities.
Among the standard capabilities are tip sharing, food order modifications, store location management, delivery and takeout maintenance, and varying payment options. Pricing depends on the type of hardware and capabilities you need.
ShopKeep POS allows you to accept credit card transactions via the ShopKeep app using your own iOS or Android device. Similar to Shopify POS, there are monthly and transaction-based fees. ShopKeep offers three software plans, with pricing starting at $49 per month, billed annually. You also have to buy your own hardware, which is available in bundles ranging from $198 to $1,519.
If you do decide to go with ShopKeep, you can expect an array of features, including inventory and employee management capabilities, sales reports, a customer database with MailChimp integration, and add-ons for ecommerce, payroll, and loyalty management.
Should You Use Shopify as Your POS System?
It depends. With multiple options in the POS space, it’s not a question of which is the right POS system, but which is the right POS system for your business. Consider what you need out of a POS system in terms of capabilities as well as what you are willing to spend. If, for example, you sell often from trade shows or pop-up shops, you might want to use Shopify POS for the mobile features and ecommerce integration. However, if your business has a high volume of transactions every month, you might want to shop around for a POS system that takes a lower per-transaction cut.
Whatever route you decide to go, remember that your top priority should be to provide the customer with a seamless purchasing experience. Fortunately, with so many modern solutions, it shouldn’t be hard to find the right fit.
Matthew Speiser is a former staff writer at Fundera.
He has written extensively about ecommerce, marketing and sales, and payroll and HR solutions, but is particularly knowledgeable about merchant services. Prior to Fundera, Matthew was an editorial lead at Google and an intern reporter at Business Insider. Matthew was also a co-author for Startup Guide—a series of guidebooks designed to assist entrepreneurs in different cities around the world.