Our rating(4/5)
The Shopify POS app syncs online with till sales and uses a Shopify card reader.
With a monthly subscription, the Shopify POS system is a viable iOS app to supplement your online retail business. But if you’re serious about ecommerce, is the EPOS also good enough or too much of a pain to use?
  • Highs: Sophisticated integration with online sales. Excellent CRM. Advanced product management. 24/7 support.
  • Lows: App only for iPad and iPhone. Not worth the cost without online store. At least one subscription required.
  • Best for: Retailers who need an extensive online store that’s totally connected with the till system.

How it works

With the Shopify POS app, you can turn an iPad or iPhone into a portable point of sale (POS) for your in-person sales.

The software keeps all your online and in-store sales synced in the cloud so inventory and reports are always up to date wherever you access it. The fluid ecommerce-POS integration is designed for a coherent sales experience across multiple retail sales channels.

Credit: Shopify

Shopify POS app

The POS app is available on both iPad and iPhone, but the latter may have some limitations.

Shopify POS works with a card reader, barcode scanner, cash drawer and receipt printer, so it’s ideal for a brick and mortar shop. For the full range of EPOS features, however, a monthly POS subscription applies in addition to a compulsory ecommerce subscription.

Suffice to say, this is only worth considering if you want to pay for Shopify’s ecommerce features in the first place – otherwise, other retail POS systems may be better.

Subscription pricing

While our review is focused on the UK offering, it’s clear that Shopify’s main focus is still their US customers. This has slowly changed over the last few years. Today, Shopify offers a card reader costing £59 + VAT for UK businesses, and items in the Shopify hardware store are listed in British pounds. However, subscription billing is still shown in USD. The GBP amount deducted from your payment card is based on the exchange rate on the purchase date.

In order to use Shopify POS, you must subscribe to an ecommerce plan first. The POS app and Shopify payment system do not work without it.

The ecommerce plans are available as a monthly, annual or biennial subscription and can be cancelled any time. You can choose between Shopify Lite, Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify subscriptions. There is also a Shopify Plus, but this is for large and high-volume businesses.

Shopify Lite Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
Buy Buttons & invoicing Online store & any ecommerce Online store & any ecommerce Online store & any ecommerce
US$9*/mo US$29*/mo US$79*/mo US$299*/mo
2.2% + 20p /online transaction 2.2% + 20p /online transaction 1.9% + 20p /online transaction 1.6% + 20p /online transaction
Max. staff accounts
1 2 5 15
Max. locations
3 4 5 8

*Excluding VAT. Pricing for monthly subscription payments – annual and biennial payments work out cheaper per month.

Shopify
Lite
Basic
Shopify
Shopify Advanced
Shopify
Buy Buttons & invoicing Online store & any ecommerce Online store & any ecommerce Online store & any ecommerce
US$9*/mo US$29*/mo US$79*/mo US$299*/mo
2.2% + 20p /online transaction 2.2% + 20p /online transaction 1.9% + 20p /online transaction 1.6% + 20p /online transaction
Max. staff accounts
1 2 5 15
Max. locations
3 4 5 8

*Excluding VAT. Pricing for monthly subscription payments – annual and biennial payments work out cheaper per month.

You can’t set up an online store on Shopify Lite, but you can embed Buy Buttons on an existing website or blog and send email invoices.

Basic Shopify is the least expensive option with online store capability, 24/7 phone support and an online card processing rate of 2.2% + 20p. The Shopify package throws in professional reports for better analytics, allows more shop locations, more user accounts and a lower online transaction rate of 1.9% + 20p.

The pricier Advanced Shopify includes custom report creation tools, customer analytics, real-time calculated carrier shipping, up to 15 staff and the lowest possible rate of 1.6% + 20p per ecommerce transaction.

If you have a high turnover, the lowered processing rates with Shopify and Advanced Shopify might be worth the extra cost alone.

All of these plans let you download the Shopify POS app and use the free Shopify POS Lite features. But to access all POS features, you need to subscribe to Shopify POS Pro for US$89 + VAT/month per location.

Shopify POS Lite Shopify POS Pro
Free US$89*/mo per location
Suitable for a market stall holder, pop-up shop or mobile merchant Suitable for brick and mortar shops, multiple staff and multiple locations

*Excluding VAT.

Shopify
POS Lite
Shopify
POS Pro
Free US$89*/mo per location
Suitable for a market stall holder, pop-up shop or mobile merchant Suitable for brick and mortar shops, multiple staff and multiple locations

*Excluding VAT.

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial covering both the ecommerce and POS features. We would absolutely recommend trying that out first. But even then, it can be hard to know exactly which plan is most suitable for you. Once you pay for a monthly subscription, the plan can be upgraded or downgraded any time so you are not stuck unless you pay for an annual or biennial subscription upfront.

Shopify POS transaction fees

The card reader accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay payments. It does not matter whether the card is debit, credit, premium or issued abroad – the transaction fees are the same between cards.

As with online rates, the fee for card reader payments is determined by your ecommerce plan.

Ecommerce plan Shopify card reader fee
Shopify Lite ($9 + VAT/mo) 1.7%
Basic Shopify ($29 + VAT/mo) 1.7%
Shopify ($79 + VAT/mo) 1.6%
Advanced Shopify ($299 + VAT/mo) 1.5%
Ecommerce
plan
Shopify card
reader fee
Shopify Lite ($9 + VAT/mo) 1.7%
Basic Shopify ($29 + VAT/mo) 1.7%
Shopify ($79 + VAT/mo) 1.6%
Advanced Shopify ($299 + VAT/mo) 1.5%

On Shopify Lite and Basic Shopify, you are charged a 1.7% fee per transaction. The Shopify plan charges 1.6 % and Advanced Shopify 1.5% per transaction, which is competitive for credit cards.

For a retail store with a card turnover of £8,000 per month, the 1.7% rate will cost £136 in card fees, and the 1.5% rate would cost £120. This £16 difference in transaction costs is much less than the difference in monthly subscription costs between the Advanced ($299 USD/month) and Basic ($29 USD/month) plans, so if you are just motivated by better rates, you need a much higher sales volume for that to make sense.

If the monthly card turnover is £20,000, the Advanced package will leave you with £300 in fees, and the Basic package £340 – still not much of a difference considering the fact that Advanced Shopify costs $270 + VAT more per month than Basic Shopify.

Card payments take up to 6 working days to reach your bank account – not fast at all.

Accepted payments

VisaMastercardAmerican Express
Google PayApple PaySamsung Pay

It’s possible to use a standalone card machine where you just manually confirm in the POS system when a card has been processed. This does not incur any transaction fees to Shopify, only to your chosen card machine provider. You may have also read about supported payment gateways for Shopify incurring an added “Shopify transaction fee”, but this refers to the online store only.

Shopify card reader and POS hardware

If you’re using Shopify POS in the UK, only one card machine integrates with the POS system: the Shopify Tap, Chip and Swipe Reader. It connects with the POS app and works seamlessly with the Shopify Payments system.

But there’s a caveat: the card reader – any till equipment, in fact – only integrates with the iPad and iPhone app. Even though there always has been an Android Shopify POS app, this has been sidelined by the development of the new iOS app. So much so that the current iOS app is totally different from the Android app now referred to as the “Shopify POS Classic” app.

The only way to integrate POS hardware with Shopify is therefore to use the latest app for iPad or iPhone.

Shopify card reader

Several receipt printers are compatible with Shopify including models from Star Micronics. You can also integrate a barcode scanner, unless you’re happy using the in-app barcode scanning feature made possible with the iPhone or iPad camera.

If you’re selling at a counter, you can get specific cash drawers. There’s a caveat to opening the cash drawers, though: they connect through a connected receipt printer. This means that unless you have a compatible receipt printer, the cash drawer will have to be opened manually.

Photo: Shopify

mPOP cash drawer and printer

Star mPOP cash drawer with built-in receipt printer and a barcode scanner.

The hardware compatible with the iOS app is all pretty standard, but beware that only the particular models listed by Shopify will work. Some of it is sold online in the Shopify hardware store, but you can also buy it from any other retail stockist as long as the item is compatible.

Use any iPad stand with Shopify POS See the best iPad POS stands

How easy is it to get started?

Before you get started with Shopify POS, you need a Shopify account through the web sign-up form. The sign-up process takes you through the basic questions about the online shop you need, your business and personal details. The whole process takes just a few minutes to complete.

By the end of it all, we were able to jump into the service with a free trial that did not require us to enter any payment information beforehand. At this point, you can just download the POS app on your iPad or iPhone, log in with a 4-digit PIN and start using the features.

Before you can do anything useful from the app, though, you should add products from your web dashboard. The product library applies to both your online store and POS checkout so you don’t need to enter separate products for each.

Shopify card reader stand

Shopify Reader can be secured to a countertop on a card reader stand.

POS app features

To be clear, we will now look at the iOS app features. The Shopify POS Classic app for Android is an outdated system only suitable for those who don’t need the card reader, and it is being phased out.

The free Shopify POS Lite features in the iOS app are generally enough for casual sales from a mobile device, but Shopify’s biggest strength – omnichannel selling – is only really possible on the POS Pro plan.

The main differences between Shopify POS Lite and Pro are:

Shopify POS Lite Shopify POS Pro
  • Inventory management (web)
  • Search for products in app
  • Access orders from app
  • Customer library
  • Accept cards, cash, gift cards & custom payments
  • Customise POS buttons in app
  • Basic reports & analytics
  • Marketing tools

POS Lite features, plus:

  • Advanced ecommerce integration
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Staff management
  • Unlimited registers & staff
  • Daily sales & cash tracking reports
  • Exchanges
  • Custom printed receipts
  • Save & retrieve cart
Shopify POS Lite Shopify POS Pro
  • Inventory management (web)
  • Search for products in app
  • Access orders from app
  • Customer library
  • Accept cards, cash, gift cards & custom payments
  • Customise POS buttons in app
  • Basic reports & analytics
  • Marketing tools

POS Lite features, plus:

  • Advanced ecommerce integration
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Staff management
  • Unlimited registers & staff
  • Daily sales & cash tracking reports
  • Exchanges
  • Custom printed receipts
  • Save & retrieve cart

Now let’s look a bit closer at the point of sale features.

Inventory management

Shopify was developed for a complex online shop, so you probably get all you need there. All plans allow you to add unlimited products (from Backoffice) that are searchable in the POS app. With multiple locations, you can allocate stock to each brick and mortar shop, online store or warehouse.

In addition to a detailed product description, categories and subcategories, you can add variants such as sizes and colours. You can also organise items into collections to create some order, add pricing, quantity information alongside SKU numbers and barcodes.

Shopify will help you track stock levels. If the stock count reaches zero, the product will not be available for sale in your online store, whereas the POS app shows quantities relevant to the location where you’re logged in.

POS Pro also gives you:

  • Detailed inventory and low stock reports

  • Purchase ordering from vendors and suppliers

  • Stock take function (to adjust inventory counts)

  • Stock transfers between locations

  • Stock adjustments and registering incoming orders

  • Analysis of inventory and low-selling products

  • Demand forecasting

Checkout

The checkout interface has a customisable ‘smart grid’ on one side of the screen to include the exact functions or products you use the most. It even adapts its buttons to show cues for staff based on your cart actions – not something we have seen in other iPad EPOS.

Above the smart grid is a search bar, which you’ll probably use the most because it finds anything else such as customers, products and orders.

Credit: Mobile Transaction

There is also a light colour scheme, as opposed to the black theme that Shopify promotes.

If you have a barcode scanner, scanning a product will add it to the bill, or you can use the in-app barcode scanner.

Other features include custom sales and discounts, VAT calculations, discount codes, refunds (even if the item was bought online), custom email and text receipts, order notes and offline cash transactions. With a third-party app, the POS app can show product recommendations.

Physical gift cards can be customised and ordered online.

All plans allow you to offer and accept physical gift cards and e-gift cards emailed to customers. The physical gift cards are beautiful, but perfection does not come cheap, e.g. £139 for a pack of 100. The bigger the package, the lower the price per card.

Every transaction can be split into several payments or even saved as a partially paid transaction. You can always find an order, whether complete or incomplete, from the till app. Cash flow is tracked from the start to end of each shift.

POS Pro also gives you:

  • Exchanges

  • Custom printed receipts

  • Ability to save and retrieve a cart

Staff management

The POS Lite plan has very limited staff functions. In fact, you can just create the maximum number of users allowed on your ecommerce plan, with PINs assigned to each team member for logging into the POS app.

POS Pro also gives you:

  • Unlimited POS staff (only for POS app access)

  • Custom staff permissions and roles

  • Sales attributed to staff members for e.g. commissions

  • Manager approvals for certain till actions

  • QR code for logging into POS app without a password

Customer management and marketing

All plans include the full range of customer management features.

Detailed customer profiles can be created that includes contact information, order history, customer loyalty rewards, marketing preferences and tags. You can even reach out to customers directly from the app via text or email.

Credit: Mobile Transaction

Customer profiles allow you to track their history, remove their data (on their request) and much more.

The customer profiles enable you to encourage individuals to leave a review online. If they purchase something from the online store, they can be nudged via emails to visit your shop in person, and vice versa.

You get access to all Shopify Email features on all plans. This is basically email marketing with full control over email templates, mailing lists and more – quite good value considering that other POS systems typically require external software for this.

Reports and analytics

It’s a bit of a mixed bag which reports you get on the different ecommerce and POS plans.

Let’s start with what everyone has access to regardless of any subscriptions. You can view a snapshot of transactions in the POS app or online Shopify Dashboard (there are more analytics online). The cash in your till drawer is tracked – though not generated in a report – so the cash drawer can be checked against it at the end of a day. Then you have general finance and inventory reports analysing the products sold, types of payments and more.

Credit: Shopify

The Shopify POS iPhone app is convenient for checking sales remotely.

If you are on the Shopify (mid-range) ecommerce plan, you also get cash flow reports (useful when you receive the cash from your physical store), detailed product reports, discount reports and retail sales reports that help you analyse crucial aspects of your store performance.

In general, the analytics consolidate both online and in-store sales, but things like cash tracking and in-store performance are obviously specific to the physical locations. It is very easy to export Shopify reports to CSV files.

On POS Pro, you also get access to:

  • Daily sales reports generated from the POS app (important for most retail stores)

  • Cash tracking report accessible from online Dashboard

Omnichannel selling

As opposed to multichannel sales that just means you are selling through multiple channels such as an online store and POS system, omnichannel selling means different sales channels work together in an intelligent way to support the customer sales journey. This is where Shopify POS really comes into its own.

Credit: Shopify

Shopify pickup order

Only on POS Pro can you organise pickup orders in the app.

You only get a few omnichannel features on POS Lite. This includes in-store availability information on your website (so customers can locate where a product is in stock), the option to send a cart from the till to a customer email address so they can purchase something later online, and product QR codes that customers can scan in-store for more information.

On POS Pro, you also get access to:

  • Management of local delivery orders from the POS app

  • Online ordering for local pickup (click and collect)

  • Buy in store and ship to the customer from another location where the item is in stock

  • Items bought online can be exchanged in-store

  • Product recommendations based on the customer’s online purchases

  • Automatic discounts applied to a mix of online and in-store items

Additional apps and integrations

You will find an overview of all the other free and paid integrations and add-ons available in the Shopify App Store.

Amazingly, many of these apps can be added to the POS app for features such as loyalty points, items sold by weight, payroll and inventory planning. There are currently 72 apps that work with Shopify POS, and many others are geared towards the online store.

Shopify apps for POS

Over 70 apps from the Shopify App Store work with the POS system.

If you want to take analytics and accounting one step further, Shopify integrates with Xero and a number of other cloud accounting apps.

What about offline performance? Not great

While offline mode is (sort of) available, it doesn’t always work and there are many features that don’t work until you reconnect with WiFi again.

man entering a payment on a tablet

If your internet is intermittent, consider setting up a second WiFi connection as a backup.

For example, you can’t accept card payments offline but you can accept cash. Moreover, you can’t use customer profiles offline, so if you have a loyalty programme running, you’re going to have to throw out a lot of apologies if your internet cuts out.

Customer service and support

Shopify offers general 24/7 email and chat support on all plans. Round-the-clock phone support is included on Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify only, so not on the ecommerce Lite plan. Shopify says that priority support from Retail Support Specialists is “coming soon”, which would probably only apply to POS Pro.

As for the quality of support, we’ve seen many users complain about a lack of responses from Shopify and issues not being resolved.

Our own experience is that the customer service team is friendly and knowledgeable, although their knowledge about the UK market is not yet as strong as the standard North American service. We’ve seen this improve since 2016 as Shopify rolled out its card reader and secured more customers, but Shopify reviews still indicate unhelpful support.

We like that Shopify lets you know what the current wait time will be on the chat, by email or phone. The first time we emailed them, we got a reply within six hours. Our second time emailing, we were told the average response time was 14 hours. We got a response 21 hours later.

The bottom line is that Shopify works well as a product, but dealing with issues can get difficult.

Recent users have reported regular server issues on the ecommerce side, but we see that the POS app is regularly updated to address bugs and improve features. Another common complaint is the need to reactivate (i.e. pay for a subscription) an inactive Shopify account in order to deactivate it. The bottom line is that Shopify works well as a product, but dealing with issues can get difficult.

Who is it best for?

Shopify POS is created for retail businesses. If you’re running a restaurant, bar or coffee shop, other EPOS systems will suit you better simply because the features included in Shopify’s packages do not cover hospitality functions.

Instead, Shopify is particularly suited to complex product management and those with multiple locations. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the introduction of the new Shopify POS app is proving to be perfect timing, as it perfectly integrates with your online store with useful cross-channel selling tools.

Shopify targets small-to-medium businesses, although they offer a Plus plan for bigger enterprises. To hear about prices for this, you’ll need to contact them directly.

Summary

Overall, Shopify POS is a decent choice for multichannel businesses already selling online through Shopify. If you don’t need a full-fledged online store, then other POS systems may be better, as you get more point of sale features for less money.

Pros and cons of Shopify POS:

Pros

  • Superb integration with online selling

  • Built-in payment system

  • Excellent product management

  • Intuitive design, easy to use

  • 24/7 customer support

  • Online tools like email marketing

  • Choice of black or white theme

  • Add-on apps available

Cons

  • New app only for iOS, not Android

  • Requires ecommerce subscription

  • Additional POS Pro plan is costly

  • Only partial offline mode

  • Poor customer service

  • Settlement takes over a week

  • USD subscription pricing