Choosing a POS system is not easy, especially when you’re a small shop with a limited budget for a point of sale. Many UK providers do not display pricing openly and often require the kind of commitment and investment only large companies can afford.

But several affordable, cloud-based point of sale systems are available today, whether it’s for an off-licence, gift shop, florist, bike shop or other independent store.

We have weeded through the options and chosen the most trustworthy, affordable till systems for retail.

Retail till system Reviews Price per licence* Offer
Vend logo Vend
£49-£89/mo
Lightspeed logo Lightspeed Retail
£69-£219/mo
Square logo Square for Retail
£0-£49/mo
Zettle Zettle Go
Free
Shopify logo Shopify POS
US$9+/mo

*Excl. VAT

Retail
till
system
Licence
price*
Offer
Vend logo £49-£89/mo
Lightspeed logo £69-£219/mo
Square logo £0-£49/mo
Zettle  Free
Shopify logo  US$9+/mo

*Excl. VAT

Vend – best for inventory-rich shops

Vend
Our rating
  • Works online, some features offline

  • 24/7 email and phone support

  • Runs on iPad, Mac and PC

  • Monthly or annual plans

Vend is arguably the best retail POS system for small shops (or best-known, at least). The interface is user-friendly, but with advanced inventory functions while encompassing a well-rounded breadth of features to maximise retail performance.

This makes it especially suitable for extensive stock systems required in, for example, jewellery, clothing and fashion outlets, book stores and grocery shops. It works on any choice of iPad, Mac or PC, but not Android tablets.

Photo: Vend

Vend retail POS hardware

Vend offers 24/7 online and phone support to all their users. They have a comprehensive resources section online with e-books, tools, articles and tips, courses, and even hosts events around the world about running a retail business. It’s no wonder Vend is well-regarded among retailers – whether small, medium or large.

Pricing depends on turnover, number of registers (you pay per iPad or computer using the application), and whether you pay monthly or annually. All plans include general POS operations, real-time inventory management, unlimited products and unlimited users.

The Lite plan can be used with a turnover of up to £15k a month and one outlet. The Pro plan can be used with any turnover and includes advanced reporting, promotions, gift cards, multi-outlet management and access to all add-ons. Both include one register licence – more till licences cost extra.

Price per licence

Lite: £49/mo (annual), £59/mo (monthly)

Pro: £69/mo (annual), £89/mo (monthly)

Per extra licence: £39/mo (annual), £49/mo (monthly)

Note: VAT is added to prices.

The custom-priced Enterprise plan is only for large businesses.

There is no minimum commitment, so it’s possible to cancel any time. The Pro plan allows you to connect with additional business tools, including the ability to link in-store sales with an online store. The software can be integrated with card terminals from SumUp, Zettle, Square, Paymentsense, Windcave and Klarna and works with most POS equipment.

How do I learn more?

On the website, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial, book a consultation or view a demo video.

Lightspeed Retail – advanced features with good service

Lightspeed
Our rating
  • Works online, can work offline

  • 24/7 phone support

  • Runs on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

  • No long-term contract needed

Lightspeed Retail is an expansive solution to retail point of sale. The advanced POS system runs from an iPad or desktop computer and can integrate with Lightspeed’s own ecommerce platform, advanced analytics, customer loyalty and other add-ons to enhance the in-store service. The system comes with a fully-fledged inventory management system and standard reporting.

Photo: Lightspeed

Round the clock (except for holidays), you can call or message customer support. Every new customer gets a personalised onboarding session, and there are plenty of online resources and tutorials to support your business.

The cheapest plan is Basic, which includes just the EPOS system and backend management features. This costs £69 per month for one till and store location if paying yearly (monthly payments cost more).

The Standard subscription adds on ecommerce, and Advanced takes it a step further with a customer loyalty module too. Finally, the Pro plan tops it off with advanced store analytics. Additional register licences cost extra. All plans can be cancelled any time, but anything paid upfront isn’t refundable.

Since Lightspeed is purely cloud-based, the POS features are meant to be used with an internet connection.

Pricing

Basic: £69/mo (annual), £79/mo (monthly)

Standard: £99/mo (annual or monthly)

Advanced: £129/mo (annual), £139/mo (monthly)

Pro: £199/mo (annual), £219/mo (monthly)

Per extra licence: £29/mo

Note: VAT is added to prices.

For card payments, the system can be integrated with Zettle Reader and Barclaycard card machines.

The Lightspeed EPOS interface is generally user-friendly, but can sometimes be more advanced than intuitive i.e. you may rely on user guides to understand certain functions. The features are probably the most comprehensive for inventory and vendor management on this list.

How do I learn more?

On the website, you can book a demo or sign up for a free 14-day trial allowing you access to the POS app.

Square for Retail – best for integrated payment tools

Square
Our rating
  • Works online only

  • Support Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm

  • Runs on iPad and iPhone

  • No contract

Square for Retail is a user-friendly POS software system for iPhone and iPad only. It is not the most extensive retail till system, but certainly the most versatile of the simpler POS apps.

For face-to-face card payments with an iOS device, it is necessary to use Square Reader. You can otherwise purchase the all-in-one Square Register which includes a tablet screen and touchscreen card terminal compatible with Square for Retail.

Photo: Square

There are two Square for Retail plans: Free (no monthly fees) and Plus (£49 a month per location). The free plan gives you more retail-specific features than Square’s other free app, Point of Sale (which can also be used for retail). Plus also gives you vendor management tools, advanced inventory features and retail reports, as well as staff management features.

All users can add products with details and images, manage multiple users, add customers, use gift cards, and more. Apart from accepting cards electronically, it is possible to manually enter card details in the app, send payment links, send invoices, delve into ecommerce and use the complimentary Virtual Terminal for phone payments in the backend Dashboard.

Overall, it has quite a few extras that many POS apps don’t include, plus it integrates with many partner platforms to allow for more customisation – including upgrading to other POS systems.

Pricing

Free plan: Free, 1.75% per card reader payment

Plus plan: £49/mo per location, 1.6% per card reader payment

Note: VAT is added to prices.

Square is excellent for those who want to start taking payments quickly without commitment. Since it has a free shop till system plan, you can just sign up, download the app, order the card reader and use the system indefinitely even after the Plus trial ends.

Customer support is only available during work hours from Monday to Friday through either phone or email. That being said, Square has a good online support section that covers most questions.

How do I learn more?

Sign up on Square’s website to start a 30-day free trial of Plus, or just use the Free retail plan indefinitely.

Zettle Go – most popular POS app with card reader

Zettle
Our rating
  • Works online only

  • Support Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm

  • Works on iPad, iPhone and Android

  • No contract

Zettle Go (previously iZettle Go) is the free POS app for Zettle Reader users. As the most popular mobile card reader company in the UK, this app is widely used in small shops that do not need very advanced features at their point of sale. The app can be downloaded on all the most recent iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

Photo: Zettle by PayPal

Customer support is available for free during work hours on weekdays. There is also a good help section online where you can find answers to most questions.

When signing up for Zettle, you get access to the free Zettle Go POS app by default. This has all of Zettle’s features relevant to retail, including bulk upload of products, stock level tracking, product variants and basic sales analytics on e.g. best-selling items.

The POS app can also send payment links for remote transactions, as well as email invoices.

Pricing

Go: Free

Card reader fee: 1.75%

The app is very user-friendly and generally has a lot of positive feedback from users.

The only catch is that you can only use Zettle Reader with the system, so if you are planning on getting another card machine, you would have to use another POS system. Zettle is compatible with a lot of receipt printers, a scanner (if you’re not using the in-app barcode scanner) and cash drawer, so it can be used as a complete point of sale at a counter.

How do I learn more?

Zettle Go is free to sign up for, so you can do that straight away to trial the app without committing to a contract.

Shopify POS – convenient for online retailers

Shopify
Our rating
  • Works online, offline limited

  • 24/7 email and chat support

  • Runs on iPad and iPhone

  • Monthly, annual, 2- or 3-yearly plans

The Shopify POS system is one of the most approachable options on the market for retail shops that sell online through Shopify. It’s one of the most seamless omnichannel solutions, since your online storefront is completely aligned with your point of sale.

Photo: Shopify

Shopify retail POS app

However, you have to be subscribed to a Shopify ecommerce plan to use any of the POS features. The cheapest ecommerce plan is Shopify Lite for US$9 a month, which includes ‘buy buttons’ to embed on a website and invoicing. More expensive plans – starting at US$29 monthly for Basic Shopify – let you run an entire online store.

The POS app is free to download while subscribed to Shopify, but the amount of accessible features depends on your chosen POS plan: Shopify POS Lite (free) or Shopify POS Pro (US$89 a month per location). This subscription is in addition to your online plan.

POS Lite is only really suitable for shops primarily selling online, but occasionally also face-to-face. POS Pro has enough to run a serious brick-and-mortar store alongside an online store.

Frankly, the only way to justify the higher cost of POS Pro is by making good use of the ecommerce features. Otherwise, there are better POS systems out there.

Pricing

Shopify POS Lite: Free with any Shopify plan

Shopify POS Pro: $89/mo per location

Ecommerce plans: $9-$299/mo

* Shopify charges in USD. VAT is added to all prices.

With Shopify POS, you can manage the shop inventory, employees and orders. Online and POS sales are constantly synced through the cloud. The system is compatible with iPad, receipt printers and cash drawers, and cards are accepted with the Shopify card reader for a 1.5%-1.7% transaction fee depending on the chosen Shopify plan.

Customer support is available round the clock over the phone, email or chat.

How do I learn more?

On the website, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial without committing to anything.

Alternative store POS

There are other retail till systems for small shops in the UK – why not include them on the list above? That’s because the many POS systems we’ve researched usually:

  • Are only available to the US or other countries

  • Have a limited user base and limited success

  • Have a high set-up cost

  • Have worrying customer service issues

  • Are expensive for a small shop

  • Have not improved their software for a while

  • Focus more on marketing than actual product quality

A few alternatives could work for a small shop, though:

  • Epos Now – Choice of POS solutions and purpose-built touchscreen monitors (might not be as good as advertised)
  • Hike POS – Good value retail POS that works on iPad, PC and Mac (Australian customer support, but catering for UK too)
  • Clover – Fancy-looking till terminals with customisation options (beware of contract terms)
  • Goodtill – Custom features through modular add-ons (features are paid for as modules, racking up costs)
  • Erply – Support for Android, Windows as well as iPad (high entry price for POS and inventory functions)