What are POS systems?
For many businesses, a POS (point-of-sale) system is an essential part of the operation. While POS systems can serve multiple purposes, their primary purpose is for managing payment transactions. The system is a mix of hardware as well as software: the hardware being in the form of a cash register or credit card scanner, while the software is in the form of an interface that can track sales data, manage customer information, and more. These systems have been around for years, but they have seen a tremendous amount of change as technology continues to advance. One of the trends in technology that made a massive impact on the POS industry is the shift towards cloud storage. Because of cloud-based technology, POS systems can run on a wide range of devices, even including an app on a user’s phone.
Now that we have loosely covered what a POS system is, let us take a look at 5 popular options in the market for comparison.
Square is one of the most common names in the POS industry. They were an early influencer in the cloud-based POS market, and were the popular choice for iPad or phone-based POS solutions.
Positives of using Square:
- Square is one of the very few POS systems that does not have a regular fee to use. The system is completely free to use, aside from purchasing the necessary hardware and credit card fees.
- Easy integration of loyalty programs within the platform.
- Square is one of the simpler POS systems, and is fairly intuitive. For first-time POS users, this would be a great place to start.
- Square consistently adds new features and products to the POS, including online invoicing and a process for handling appointments within the app as well.
- Square offers a free mobile card reader.
Negatives of using Square:
- The flipside of Square not having monthly fees or other costs is that the credit card transaction fee is a bit higher than other services (Square’s is 2.75% when swiped or 3.5% + 15 cents when the card is entered manually).
- Customer support is slightly lacking compared to other platforms.
- Gift cards must be purchased from Square in order to work with the POS platform, and each card is $1.50. This adds up quickly, and can get costly.
ShopKeep is particularly popular in the retail industry. They describe themselves as being funded by merchants, for merchants. The system is primarily iPad based, and is the #1 customer rated iPad based POS.
Positives of using Shopkeep:
- ShopKeep’s pricing is flat-rate based rather than tier-based. Users pay $69 per month for each register that they utilize. All features are included in that price, so there are no surprises when users receive their bill.
- ShopKeep offers month-to-month service pricing rather than a contract with a specific term. This allows users to move on if they decide after a month or two that the platform isn’t what they’re looking for.
- They offer 24/7 customer support, as well as a useful support center that hosts various guides, FAQs, and videos to help users figure out the platform.
- They feature a wide range of features within the system, such as raw goods tracking, customizable register icons, bulk product editing, employee management tools, customer tracking, and more.
Negatives of using Shopkeep:
- While the iPad app is very intuitive and well designed, the user is out of luck if they are a PC or Android person. The fact that the platform is iPad exclusive can definitely narrow some users out based on their technological preferences.
- ShopKeep is designed for single-location stores. This poses some problems if a user has multiple locations, specifically with inventory and product tracking.
- While the $69 per month for each register is a nice flat rate, ShopKeep’s hardware can get expensive. Their basic bundle sits at $900, which can be a large upfront investment for some smaller businesses.
Vend markets themselves as the “all in one” POS solution. They specifically aim for multi-store retail locations that need a wide variety of features. They boast of having users like Disney, Sennheiser, and Ecco.
Positives of using Vend:
- Vend offers one of the most complete multi-store plans on the market. While it is a bit pricey (the multi-store plan is $249 a month), it has the features to back the price up.
- Users consistently report that Vend’s interface is easy to use, and makes learning the system a smooth process.
- Vend is highly flexible. Users can utilize third party hardware, and the system can also run on iPads.
- As advertised, Vend is an all-in-one solution. It efficiently handles inventory management, product entry, customer tracking, and Vend actually can integrate with third-party software. One example of this is that the system can connect to accounting programs such as Quickbooks to import sales information and manage other tasks.
Negatives of using Vend:
- Vend has a tiered price list, meaning that if you want to unlock all the features of the system, you will have to pay more than the base users.
- While Vend’s support of third party hardware and software is overall a positive, one of the negatives is that the system doesn’t have its own payment processing. Users are required to use a third party payment processer.
- Customer support is slightly lacking, seeing as phone support is an additional cost to the monthly price.
Bindo is a cloud-based iPad POS system that offers specialized services for both retail stores and restaurants. They describe themselves as a one-stop retail solution for local retailers, with their main bragging points being that their service is easy to use, is efficiently cloud-based, and is analytically focused.
Positives of using Bindo:
- Bindo utilizes their own Bindo Marketplace that allows local buyers to make same-day delivery purchases from the Bindo iPhone app.
- Bindo offers highly competitive pricing. For a single location, one register store, their monthly software subscription fee is $59.
- While they do offer their own payment processing, they also give users the ability to select a different processing provider.
- Bindo has a built in CRM (customer relationship management) service that is highly useful.
- Bindo offers a full customer support service featuring 24/7 phone or email support, a live chat on their website, social media responses, and a learning center on their website.
Negatives of using Bindo:
- Bindo does not display their pricing on their website, so gathering pricing information for a plan specific to a list of needs can be difficult.
- Bindo requires users to sign a contract for a specific term rather than offering month-to-month service. So if a company gives it a show and doesn’t love the service, they are still locked in to paying.
- Bindo doesn’t offer any kind of in-person training programs or assistance at all, which some other providers do.
LightSpeed POS is a combination of three different products pointed towards small-medium businesses: Lightspeed Retail, Lightspeed E-Commerce, and Lightspeed Restaurant. They have a strong pedigree, considering they are backed by four of the largest investors in the tech industry, including Accel and Inovia.
Positives of using LightSpeed:
- LightSpeed does their pricing system customized to your business, so that it is entirely dependent on the size of your business. This can be more fair to smaller businesses than a flat rate.
- The separate apps allow users to have an experience that is more customized for their particular industry rather than using a universal app that isn’t optimized for any particular industry.
- The reporting feature is highly flexible. Every report can be exported as a spreadsheet so that they can be used in other programs. In addition, nearly all the reports are customizable.
Negatives of using LightSpeed:
- One of the biggest oversights of LightSpeed is that an internet connection is needed at all times in order to accomplish anything. Every process utilizes an online connection. If the internet in a user’s building goes down, then they will not be able to accomplish anything in LightSpeed.
- LightSpeed limits users to using one of their preferred credit card processers, and also does not include the cost of the processing in their service.
- Users have reported that the setup process can be complicated and tiresome to implement.
Overall, the best POS system depends on the needs of the company using it. Square’s lack of a regular fee makes it highly enticing for smaller businesses while Vend’s massive list of features is appealing to larger businesses. If you are considering adding a POS system to your company, read up about each option and decide what features or aspects are of the highest priority to you. However, you can’t go wrong with any of the 5 options that we have listed above.