Disclosure: Our editorial staff write reviews independently. We may be compensated if you sign up for a service through our affiliate links.

It’s no longer a big challenge to find a point of sale (POS) system for retail on a limited budget. Cloud-based, affordable POS software for tablets has become the norm, but some are more expensive than others.

Retailers typically need a good inventory management system with detailed product information, but today’s uncertain business climate also calls for ecommerce options. The choice of payment systems is also important, as there’s lots to save with the right payment provider.

Let us consider the best retail POS systems for US merchants.

Retail POS Reviews Price per license* Offer
Lightspeed logo Lightspeed Retail
$69-$259/mo
Square logo Square for Retail
$0-$60/mo
Erply Erply
$19-$79/mo
Vend logo Vend
$99-$159/mo
Shopify logo Shopify POS
$9+/mo
Retail
POS
License
price*
Offer
Lightspeed logo $69-$259/mo
Square logo $0-$60/mo
Erply  $19-$79/mo
Vend logo $99-$159/mo
Shopify logo  $9+/mo

Lightspeed Retail – all-round features, one package

Lightspeed
Our rating
  • Runs on iPad, Mac and PC computers

  • Monthly or annual subscription plans

  • With integrated payment system

  • 24/7 customer support

Lightspeed Retail is a retail point of sale system that can be used through an iPad app or on a non-touchscreen computer. This cloud-based POS system requires a constant internet connection and does not have an offline mode.

It runs from an iPad or desktop computer and includes Lightspeed’s own ecommerce platform, advanced analytics, customer loyalty and other features depending on your chosen plan. The system comes with a fully-fledged inventory management system and standard reporting.

Photo: Lightspeed

Lightspeed Retail POS system

The POS system comes with its own integrated payment system, Lightspeed Payments. In fact, all the subscriptions include a free card reader linked to Lightspeed Payments. The card rate is a fixed 2.6% + 10¢ for tap, EMV and swipe transactions, while manually keyed-in payments are 2.6% + 30¢. The payment system can be activated both in store and online with Lightspeed eCommerce.

The cheapest plan is Basic, which includes just the POS system and Lightspeed Payments. This costs $69 per month for one register and store location if paying yearly (monthly payments always cost more).

The Starter subscription adds on ecommerce, and Standard adds an accounting integration too. The Advanced plan takes it a step further with a customer loyalty module included.

Pricing

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

Starter: $99/mo (annual), $119/mo (monthly)

Standard: $119/mo (annual), $139/mo (monthly)

Advanced: $169/mo (annual), $189/mo (monthly)

Pro: $229/mo (annual), $259/mo (monthly)

Per extra register license: $29/mo

Note: Local tax is added to prices.

Finally, the Pro plan tops it off with advanced store analytics. Additional register licenses cost extra. All plans can be cancelled any time, but anything paid upfront isn’t refundable.

The Lightspeed POS interface is mostly 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.

You can call or message customer support 24/7 any day, and all new customers get a personalized onboarding session to get you started with the system. There are plenty of online resources and tutorials to support your business.

How do I learn more?

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

Square for Retail – best for complimentary online tools

Square
Our rating
  • Runs on iPad and iPhone

  • No contract, monthly subscription

  • Works online only

  • Weekday support 6 a.m. to 6 p.m (PT)

Square for Retail is a user-friendly POS software system for iPhone and iPad only. It is not the most extensive retail POS 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

POS retail software Square

There are two Square for Retail plans: Free (no monthly fees) and Plus ($60 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 customization – including upgrading to other POS systems.

Pricing

Free plan: Free, 2.6% + 10¢ per card reader payment

Plus plan: $60/mo per location, 2.5% + 10¢ per card reader payment

Note: Tax is added to prices.

Square is excellent for those who want to start taking payments quickly without commitment. Since it has a free shop POS 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 business hours from Monday to Friday through either phone, chat or email. Square also has a good online support section that covers most questions.

How do I learn more?

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

Erply – POS and warehouse systems for most setups

Erply
Our rating
  • Works on iPad, Android, Mac and PC

  • Monthly or annual subscriptions

  • Works online and offline

  • Support every day 8 a.m.-11 p.m. (EST)

Erply is another point of sale system on the affordable side. Its retail POS software is available as an iPad or Android app, and on computers through an internet browser. The software works online through the cloud, but has offline capabilities if the internet crashes.

It is generally a versatile system with important features like stock management, customer relationship management (CRM), in-store pickup and ecommerce integrations.

Photo: Erply

You can subscribe to the POS software on its own, inventory management for an online store, or POS software and inventory management in the same package.

The POS software plan ($29 paid monthly for one register license) is suited for small shops that do not need inventory management. The Inventory for E-commerce plan ($59 paid monthly for one warehouse license) is built for complex product, supplier and ecommerce management.

Then you have the Inventory + Retail POS subscription ($79 monthly) that combines the frontend register software with a complete inventory management system. This is the plan that multi-store or high-volume retailers would go for, or just those with many products. However, this plan does not include a connection with ecommerce, so that costs extra.

To cancel the monthly or annual subscription, you need to give at least 30 days’ written notice, which is more hassle than the other options on our list where you can just cancel it with a button click in your account.

A $1200 implementation fee usually applies to new users, but it seems Erply has removed this cost (check the website, as it may change).

Pricing

Point of Sale: $19/mo (annual), $29/mo (monthly)

Inventory for E-commerce: $39/mo (annual), $59/mo (monthly)

Inventory + Retail POS: $69/mo (annual), $79/mo (monthly)

Note: Tax is added to prices.

There’s no “Erply payment system”, so you have to connect an external payment processor with a compatible card machine. In the US, acceptable payment providers include Bank of America, Chase, CitiBank, US Bank, HSBC and Wells Fargo. Transaction rates customized and contractual commitment is most likely required.

Erply’s customer support is available both weekdays and weekends between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. on the higher plans, whereas the POS-only subscription only includes limited email support.

How do I learn more?

Sign up for a free 60-day trial or request a demo from the website.

Vend – best for inventory-rich shops

Vend
Our rating
  • Runs on iPad, Mac and PC

  • Monthly or annual plans

  • Works online, some features offline

  • 24/7 email and phone support

Vend is an intuitive POS system for small and medium retailers. The interface is user-friendly, yet still with many advanced tools for inventory, customer management and shop operations.

The POS software is especially suitable for extensive stock systems required in, for example, jewelry and fashion, book shops and grocery stores. It works on iPad, Mac or PC – but not Android tablets.

Photo: Vend

Vend retail POS

Vend offers 24/7 online and phone support to all users. There’s a comprehensive help section online with e-books, tools, articles and tips, courses, and Vend even hosts events around the world about running a retail business.

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 $20k 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 license – more costs extra. The custom-priced Enterprise plan is only for large businesses.

Price per license

Lite: $99/mo (annual), $119/mo (monthly)

Pro: $129/mo (annual), $159/mo (monthly)

Per extra license: $49/mo (annual), $59/mo (monthly)

Note: Tax is added to prices.

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 different card terminals from Chase, Clearent, Elavon, EVO Payments, North American Bancard, PayPal, Square, TSYS and Worldpay and works with most POS equipment. You can also connect Klarna to accept Buy Now Pay Later transactions from customers in-store.

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.

Shopify POS – made for online retailers

Shopify
Our rating
  • Runs on iPad and iPhone

  • Requires ecommerce subscription

  • Works online, offline limited

  • 24/7 email and chat support

Shopify POS is one of the most seamless omnichannel solutions, since your online storefront is completely aligned with your point of sale. Out of all iPad POS software, it is the most advanced in this area.

However, the Shopify POS system is only for retail shops that sell online through Shopify. You have to be subscribed to a Shopify ecommerce plan to use any of the POS features.

Photo: Shopify

Shopify retail POS

The cheapest ecommerce plan is Shopify Lite for $9 a month, which includes ‘buy buttons’ to embed on a website. More expensive plans – starting at $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 ($89 a month per location). This subscription is in addition to your ecommerce plan.

POS Lite is only really suitable for shops that primarily sell 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

Note: Tax is added to 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 and iPhone, receipt printers and cash drawers.

Cards are accepted with one of Shopify’s credit card readers for a 2.4%-2.7% transaction fee depending on the chosen Shopify plan. The higher your online store plan, the lower your transaction rate.

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 point of sale systems

There are other retail POS systems for small shops – why not include them in our top list? That’s because the software options we’ve researched usually:

  • Are only available in 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:

  • Clover – Fancy-looking POS terminals with customization options (beware of contract terms)
  • Epos Now – Choice of POS solutions and purpose-built touchscreen monitors (might not be as good as advertised)
  • Hike POS – Good value retail software that works on iPad, PC and Mac (Australian customer support, but catering for US too)

Summary

Retail POS
system
Price
excl. tax
Best for Website
Lightspeed logo $69-$259/mo Advanced features with integrated ecommerce
Square logo $0-$60/mo Integrated payment tools and free features
Erply $19-$79/mo Works on widest range of devices
Vend logo $99-$159/mo Large inventories and all-round value
Shopify logo $9+/mo Ecommerce businesses that sell in person too
Retail
POS
system
Price
excl. tax
Website
Lightspeed logo $69-$259/mo
Square logo $0-$60/mo
Erply $19-$79/mo
Vend logo $99-$159/mo
Shopify logo  $9+/mo