If you’re using a traditional register and credit card reader, it’s kind of forgivable—not long ago, there weren’t alternatives, and it’s always easiest to just stick with the way things were.

But the thing is, now there are lots and lots of options to replace your current register system, and one of those other options out there might be the perfect fit for your business. It’s probably cheaper, too. You owe it to yourself to at least take a look around—if you don’t, you might be leaving money (and efficiency) on the table.

For those new to the world of point of service (POS), it’s software that offers retail automation replacing the traditional register. Depending on which POS you choose, it can also solve issues that arise when sales and inventory numbers don’t match up. You can automate markdowns and track them accurately, eliminating the register receipts headache at the end of the day. If you run a promotion, your POS can quickly and easily let you know how successful it was. If you have more than one location, the system ensures your prices and offers are consistent.

Many systems also feature add-on modules such as payroll time clocks and customer preference databases. And on that note, the system’s automation gives you the freedom to walk out the door without worrying that your employees will be bogged down with inventory and register reconciliation. That leaves more time for them to devote to customer service, and less time to clock for closing up shop.

So how do you choose a system? For a small to medium business owner, you may want to consider choosing a POS system that allows you to completely track and manage your inventory and helps you get to know your customers and what they prefer so you will know when and how much to reorder. The following are a few different solutions to consider as you search for the perfect POS system.


Vend is one of the most popular and easiest POS solutions, used by retailers of all sizes to manage sales, customers, inventory and rewards. It is compatible with Shopify and Xero if you’re already using them. Modern and extremely user friendly, Vend works with existing hardware and equipment (like receipt printers and cash drawers), so all you need is a web browser on a computer, iPad or Android device.

Pricing is packaged by size: the medium package offers $59 a month billed annually for a single outlet, 1 register, 1,000 products and customers, 10 users and email support. Personal set-up assistance, ongoing training and phone support is an additional $39 a month, annually.


Square is popular because the app is free and easy. The system features a customizable item library, sales reporting, staff management, business analytics and pricing options to fit businesses of all sizes. You can upgrade your register or use your existing equipment. The app allows you to accept debit and credit cards on your iOS or Android device. Customers use Square Wallet to set up a “tab” of sorts and pay with their name or barcode using a stored credit, debit, or gift card.

There is a monthly fee (card reader included for free) of $275 per month; zero percent for swiped transactions, Square Wallet payments, and Square Market transactions less than or equal to $400 (up to $250,000 per year) but 3.5 percent + $0.15 for manually-entered transactions.


QuickBooks allows you to track sales, customers, and inventory quickly and easily through three versions: Basic, Pro and Multi-Store. The biggest advantage with using Intuit’s solution is that it’s fully integrated with GoPayment and QuickBooks accounting software. With extensive FAQs, online video tutorials, and customer service via online chat and telephone, the product is one of the friendliest out there.

The only major complaint with QuickBooks is that it isn’t recommended for many basic types of businesses, including full-service restaurants and retail stores with brick-and-mortar locations. If you’re a mobile operation, QuickBook’s POS is great for mobile purchases on your iPhone or Android device.  The basic package allows you to ring up sales, accept credit cards, manage inventory and track customer information for $1,199.95. You can add a receipt printer, credit card reader, cash drawer and barcode scanner for an additional $600.


Coined the “future of point of sale,” the Revel Systems iPad app provides up-to-the-minute reporting giving you the opportunity to track your restaurant, grocery, or retail store sales in real time. Revel’s secure cloud-based system means you don’t have to have backroom servers, and your inventory and reports are available no matter where you are.

There are three versions—Enterprise, Business, and REVELite—so you can start your iPad-based system off at your pace. There are several pricing packages depending on if user is retailer, quick service operation or table service restaurant. For example, it costs $1,000 for a retail edition that works on one iPad in one location. There is a cloud fee of $100 per month.


This easy-to-use and customizable cloud-based iPad system is great for keeping tabs on your inventory and employee hours, not to mention that the system helps you understand your customers better to run and grow your business. You have secure access to your data anywhere across multiple stores, and new features are always a free update away.

ShopKeep has integrations with LevelUp and PayPal, so setting up loyalty programs for your customers is easier than ever. Your cost is $49 a month for each register (up to three) with hardware (receipt printer, cash drawer, credit card swiper and iPad stand) for $699.


Chances are you’re familiar with (or have even signed up for) this service from the consumer side. If you’re looking for a POS with a marketing/customer retention aspect to it, Groupon now offers a Groupon Merchant POS that includes Groupon Rewards, Groupon Scheduler and Groupon Payments.

The rewards feature offers the customer a “reward” to use on a future visit after spending an amount, pre-determined by the merchant. The scheduler is an online booking tool that allows your customers to book appointments for services when they purchase their Groupon deal. Payments option offers business owners an infrastructure for accepting credit card payments. Download the app for free and there is no monthly fee and credit card sales will appear in the merchant’s account overnight. Swiped transactions such as MasterCard, Visa and Discover cost 1.8 percent plus a $0.15 per transaction and American Express 3 percent plus $0.15 per transaction. If you are a restaurant owner, you can take advantage of their newly acquired Breadcrumb POS.

No matter which POS system you choose, make sure to check out all of the features and capabilities, not to mention whether the system is optimized for your specific type of business. There are a lot of specialized systems out there for the restaurant or hospitality business, so if you’re selling flowers or handmade bags, make sure you find a POS tool with all of the bells and whistles to make your products sing and your customers stick around.

AvatarSam Brandes

Sam Brandes is a FastUpFront Blog contributor and business author who likes to write about small business growth.