The global market for POS software is predicted to grow from $23.07 billion in 2023 to $42.5 billion by 2027. Retail POS software can help businesses become more efficient, better serve their customers, and gain valuable insights about sales, performance, and even their employees. But when most business owners start their search for the right POS software to suit their needs, they are overwhelmed by the options and different features.
Fourlane created this guide to help you learn what retail POS software is, why it’s important, and what features to look for. Then, we will share with you everything you need to know about the best POS software for retail stores that we recommend.
What Is Retail POS Software?
Retail POS software is a business tool that facilitates transactions between a business and its customers. Retail POS software is used to check out customers, track inventory, and file customer information.
Retail POS software is used when a consumer decides to purchase a product or service, such as in a supermarket when an attendant scans your items and rings up your total bill. You can access an item’s price and other information by manually entering its product code or scanning its barcode into your retail POS system. Every time a customer pays for an item, your retail POS software then deducts that item from inventory in its database.
POS is short for point of sale, sometimes also referred to as a point of service or point of purchase(POP). Modern POS software can be used on multiple devices like tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops, and the highest quality retail POS software offers added features, like analytics on sales and employee data.
When Was the First POS System Used?
POS systems originate from the evolution of cash registers. Most will credit IBM with the first computer-based electronic cash register (ECR) in 1973, but it would take another 15 years before the first programmable touch-screen systems would appear.
McDonald’s was one of the first companies to use a POS system in the early 1970s, and some suggest their POS system is a contributing factor to the success of this vast fast-food empire.
Today, retail POS software is used across every industry, from merchandising to consumer services, in restaurants, hospitality, and the list goes on.
Why Does a Retail Business Need a POS System?
A quality retail POS software platform helps your checkout transactions run smoothly. Consider that a May 2022 survey found 94% of respondents saying a positive experience with customer experience would increase their likelihood of purchasing again, while 82% said excellent customer service by itself was enough for them to recommend a company.
It’s also true that a single bad experience can be enough for more than half of consumers (54-57%) to switch brands, and 58% have replaced a loved brand with a competing brand.
For in-store purchases, people lose patience and leave if they’re stuck waiting to check out, and they are likely to share their experience online.
With so many features and price options to choose from, many small businesses feel overwhelmed when trying to decide on the right retail POS system.
Some of the important benefits of a top-quality retail POS system include:
Better Reports and Accounting
POS systems store data for all of your orders, providing you with instant sales reporting and real-time inventory reports. This means you have instant, accurate accounting data without needing to enter any manual data.
Increased Accuracy and Efficiency
Instant reporting also means you can manage your suppliers and vendors quickly, placing orders based on accurate inventory without the guesswork.
POS systems facilitate a seamless exchange between the business and the consumer, with the capacity to process more transactions than you can manually and with greater accuracy. They also simplify accepting multiple forms of payment, so you don’t have to turn away potential sales.
Improved Employee Management
Retail POS software provides visibility of employee hours so you can track when individuals clock in and clock out. This can also be used to gauge your employee’s performance quality based on average sales, cross-selling, and other key metrics.
POS systems also assist you in reducing employee theft.
How Much Does Retail POS Software Cost?
Small-to-medium-sized businesses are often worried that the cost of quality retail POS software will be too high, but the good news is POS systems are often priced at scale with the size of a company.
Some vendors offer special deals for small businesses, ranging from about $800 for a basic POS starter package to around $2,500 for a more substantial set-up, including touch-screen capabilities. Since retail POS software is scalable, you can add to your system as your needs require.
We’ll get into the specific pricing for the four top retail POS systems we recommend, but first, we’ll discuss what you should factor in when choosing the best retail POS software.
6 Things to Consider When Choosing Retail POS Software
Choosing the right POS system for your operations is an important decision. We’ve isolated four important factors to consider to help you base your decision on the right qualities and features.
A retail POS system is an investment. The more you spend to improve the customer experience, the more revenue it returns. However, POS solutions can be expensive, and the additional costs are often for features that don’t align with your business’s needs.
Your goal is to spend on the right features and get the best value from your purchase. Even if you won’t gain anything from all of the expensive bells and whistles, you need data security, customer analytics, inventory management, and payment processing.
You have the option to install your POS solution on your own servers or to access a web-based solution through the cloud. An on-site implementation is more secure (at least in some ways) and it gives you more options for customization. Conversely, cloud implementation is easier to maintain and makes updating, maintenance, and troubleshooting easier.
Retail technology as a whole is moving to the cloud, yet some stores still prefer an on-site POS. If you have a large in-house IT team and can deal with technical issues internally, you may prefer to install your POS in-house.
3. Unique Features
Today’s retail POS software offers more than just automated ledgers. Even the most basic software provides powerful tools for streamlining accounting, expediting operations, engaging customers, and driving revenue. At the higher end, they offer even more features, allowing you to track data in incredible depth and detail.
Your POS program of choice needs to make it easy to get to the data that matters to your business. Some common examples of retail POS software features include:
- Data security
- Inventory management
- Offline capabilities
- Loyalty rewards
- Reporting features
- Employee sales metrics
- Employee hours
At some point you’re going to have questions about your POS, and often, you need that support at the most inopportune moment. When circumstances arise, how quickly does your POS provider rise to the occasion? Some support services prioritize fast and attentive support much better than others.
It’s hard to evaluate support until you need it, but vetting vendors is a good idea. If your provider seems eager to understand your needs and address your issues, that’s a good first sign.
5. Ease of Use
With different POS systems on the market, it’s easy to be dazzled by the abundance of attractive features many products now seem to promise, and certainly by some of the additional features advertised. However, when choosing the best POS for your company, it is best not to get distracted by features you don’t understand or may never use. One of the most important features of retail POS software is how easy it is to set up, use, and manage.
There are two important questions to ask regarding a program’s ease of use: does it have an intuitive interface, and does it receive a lot of positive user feedback for being reliable?
When a program has a reputation for being easy to use and dependable, it is worth considering.
Cloud Retail POS Software can offer many advantages, but not everyone knows what cloud-based applications are. When software is hosted in the cloud, this means it is running on a host server and doesn’t have to be installed on your own device.
Many people like this feature because it makes it quick and easy to log in to the secure cloud retail POS software on tablets and smartphones, widening the range of hardware compatible with a unified POS platform.
Cloud-based POS systems also diversify how they can be used. You can have more devices running POS software and they don’t have to be in a centralized, permanent location in your store.
The Top 4 Retail POS Software Options
Now that you have an idea of what to look for in a retail POS system, it’s time to learn about the four best POS options, their prominent features, and pricing models.
Quickbooks POS for Retail
Quickbooks POS is an industry leader because it is designed to meet the real needs of small businesses. For stores without a lot of staff and limited technical expertise, that includes the value of Intuit’s exceptional support. It’s a huge asset when your POS provider cares as much about your success as you do.
Basic or Pro?
There are two versions of Quickbooks POS to choose from: QuickBooks POS Basic and QuickBooks POS Pro.
If you are a new business or a small, single-location retail store, POS Basic should meet all of your needs. But, if you think you may need additional features, QuickBooks POS Pro is not that much more expensive.
QuickBooks POS Features
Here are some of the key features of the QuickBooks POS that retail businesses get to enjoy:
Ring Up Sales on Mobile Devices
Your business can go anywhere at any time when you use QuickBooks POS systems for retail. The mobile feature allows you to access your company records and customer information, and even make transactions from any mobile device.
QuickBooks POS automatically syncs your mobile instance with the rest of the system so you don’t have to keep track of sales or other information on your own.
Great Customer Support
QuickBooks offers customer support through the parent company, Intuit. They are known for providing excellent support.
Built-in Payment Processing
Integrated payment processing allows you to process and authorize sales from cash, credit, and debit cards.
With QuickBooks POS Pro and QuickBooks Multi-Store you can create customized receipts, price tags, and track customer orders.
Track your sales and update your inventory details for every retail location in real time.
Customer Data Management and Promotions
Visualize your customers’ purchase history. Design custom-tailored promotional campaigns using personalized, real purchase data. Generate gift cards and discounts for special dates like customer birthdays to boost personalization and customer loyalty.
QuickBooks Accounting Integration
Automatically update your accounting system with the latest transactions.
Employee Data Management
QuickBooks POS Pro and QuickBooks Multi-Store allow businesses to record employee hours and update payroll in QuickBooks Accounting.
Run QuickBooks POS on virtually any device, or multiple devices synced together.
QuickBooks POS provides an intuitive interface highlighting your sales reports, charts, profits, and more.
QuickBooks POS Pricing
QuickBooks POS is designed to integrate with your choice of POS software. Below are our three recommended options.
Fourlane Retail POS for QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise
Fourlane POS for QuickBooks provides an easy-to-use touch-screen-enabled POS that integrates directly with QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise with a QuickBooks Payments account.
We’ve created Fourlane POS for businesses that have customers who frequently buy on account. It is not for high-volume retailers with a lot of cash transactions or tips. Extend the functionality of QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise into an easy-to-use retail POS system while taking advantage of Enterprise’s inventory management capabilities.
Fourlane POS Features:
- Integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks Desktop
- Displays sales history per register or multiple registers
- Lets you set up multiple users with different roles
- Provides barcode scanning capabilities
- Lets you add customers to QuickBooks during checkout
Fourlane POS and QuickBooks Payments
Fourlane POS works best with QuickBooks Payments. Always have just the way to let customers pay, no matter how or where you work.
QuickBooks Payments simplifies every part of getting paid, so you can stay focused on what matters. No matter how customers pay, QuickBooks will record and match every payment for you. Your books stay effortlessly organized for tax time all year, all in one place.
Fourlane POS Demo
If you want the simplicity of a touchscreen but don’t want to deal with the complexity of a sales receipt in QuickBooks Desktop, we have an easy-to-use, streamlined POS interface that is integrated with QuickBooks Desktop.
Fourlane POS Pricing
With a QuickBooks Payments account: $39 per register per month
Without a QuickBooks Payments account: $99 per register per month
Shopify POS Plus QuickBooks Desktop
QuickBooks Desktop and Shopify POS offer an integrated retail solution. Combined, they provide you with the tools and features to sell in more places while viewing and managing your sales from one application.
Turn any mobile device into a powerful point of sale using the Shopify Retail POS app on a smartphone or tablet or with Shopify’s fully integrated hardware, connecting seamlessly with Shopify card readers and additional hardware accessories.
Shopify POS Features:
Manage your entire shop in real time. View, track, and report on sales and inventory, customer behavior, P&L, and more.
Your online and in-store sales automatically update your inventory so there’s no question about what’s in stock or when to re-order.
You’re in control. Set permissions to control your staff’s access. You can control what your employees can access so your proprietary information is always secure.
Enjoy the benefits of Shopify Payments without any setup or sign-up fees. Accept all popular forms of payment.
Offer a smooth shopping experience for your customers, in-store, online, and everywhere in between.
Shopify POS Hardware
Shopify’s sleek POS hardware comes with built-in payment processing and competitive credit card rates. You’ll be able to accept all the major payment methods and look good doing it, too.
Additional pro-version features:
Manage and fulfill local pickup orders directly from your Shopify POS.
Buy in Store, Ship to Customer
Make sales in-store and ship directly to customers from where you have available inventory. Taxes and shipping rates are automatically calculated at checkout.
Buy Online, Exchange and Return in Store
Accept exchanges for purchases made online or at another location, and your inventory will be updated instantly.
Manage and fulfill local delivery orders placed online directly from your Shopify POS.
Send Cart to Buy Online
Send customers an email with items they were interested in but didn’t purchase in-store.
Product QR codes
Attach QR codes to products so customers can use their smartphones to learn more and purchase online.
Shopify POS Pricing
Shopify POS comes with several different monthly pricing tiers based on a combination of your Shopify plan and POS subscription. Here’s a rundown of all the monthly plans:
Shopify POS Lite
Included with all Shopify plans. Includes:
- In-person credit card rates starting at 2.4% + 0¢
- Mobile POS
- Order and product management
- Customer profiles
Shopify POS Pro
Your Shopify plan + $89 per month per location
All Shopify POS Lite features plus:
- Scalability up to 1,000 locations
- Unlimited store staff
- Smart inventory management
- Omnichannel selling features
- Unlimited registers
- Staff roles and permissions
- In-store analytics
Your Shopify Plan Basic
In-person credit card rate: 2.7% + 0¢
$29 per month billed yearly
In-person credit card rate: 2.5% + 0¢
$79 per month billed yearly
In-person credit card rate: 2.4% + 0¢
$299 per month billed yearly
Lightspeed Retail POS
Lightspeed Retail is a comprehensive retail POS system that offers fast checkout options and personalized customer experiences, and accepts various payment methods for efficient and customer-focused operations.
Lightspeed Retail POS Features
The following are Lightspeed’s main features:
QuickBooks Integrated Accounting
Save time and reduce errors when you connect QuickBooks accounting software to Lightspeed Retail.
Fast, Secure Payments
Lightspeed Payments gives you everything you need to process sales and get paid, all in one place.
Built for Growth
Lightspeed grows with you. Oversee all your stores, teams, and sales channels from one source of truth.
Plan your inventory with tracking and reordering. Avoid out-of-stock items with low-stock alerts.
Reporting and Analytics
Gain detailed reporting and analytics insights about inventory, sales, customers, and staff.
Open a storefront that’s open 24/7/365 to scale your business with world-class customer experience.
Loyalty and Marketing
Build strong customer relationships and streamline your marketing to increase shopper loyalty and drive repeat sales.
Whether you need stationary POS or mobile devices, Lightspeed has it. Get a customized package designed for your needs.
Lightspeed Retail POS Pricing
Lightspeed Retail POS offers several payment options tailored to your unique business needs.
$69 per month billed yearly
Dedicated account manager
24/7 customer support
Free training resources
$119 per month billed yearly
Includes all Lean features, plus:
$199 per month billed yearly
Includes all Standard features, plus:
Pricing: Call for a custom quote (1-800-931-2120)
Includes all Advanced features, plus:
Unlimited personalized onboarding and launch services
API consultation and support
Preferred Lightspeed Payments rates
8 Tips to Speed Up Your Retail POS Software
Your retail POS software is vital to the success of your business. It stores and manages critical data about your inventory and clients and manages all of your transactions and returns. Your POS system has to run smoothly at all times.
Follow these eight tips to keep your POS system running optimally.
1. Upgrade Your Internet
A slow internet connection can be a bottleneck in a great POS setup. Today’s consumers expect fast-loading websites and instant transactions, so the last thing you want is to lose a sale because of a sluggish checkout.
Upgrading your internet plan for the fastest upload and download speeds helps ensure you are processing transactions as quickly as possible.
2. Train Your Staff
Your employees can leave a lasting impression on your customers. Make sure that impression is positive by training them to be quick, thorough, and competent with your POS system.
3. Use a Private Network
Cyber attacks are on the rise. Now more than ever, it is vital that you protect all of your business’s assets that are connected online.
One of the best ways to protect your POS system is to use it solely on its own private network. This helps prevent access to your system by hackers and malicious malware.
4. Update Your System Regularly
Your retail POS software needs an occasional software update, utility patch, or firmware update. These updates may be needed for a few different reasons:
- To fix a bug that is discovered
- To add new features or benefits
- To improve performance
- To become compatible with a new version of your operating system
- To protect it from new viruses or other threats
Staying current with the latest version of your POS system’s software will help to make sure it is running at its best at all times.
5. Use New Technology
Turning to retail POS systems that run efficiently on tablets and mobile devices is a great way to avoid bogging a single system down.
6. Take Advantage of the Features
POS software is about more than just handling transactions. There is a wealth of information about your customers, top-selling products, and even your employee performance just waiting for you to use to drive more sales and make your operations more efficient.
Your cashiers can offer more than a fast checkout experience to your customers. They can pull up customer records on past purchases, resolve issues and other customer service, and represent your brand as empathetic and capable.
Train your cashiers to become familiar and comfortable with your retail POS software so they can manage a wider range of tasks and offer your customers the best service.
8. Manage Prices
Your POS software can help you manage pricing for sales and other events. Retailers can update prices and sales straight from the point of sale. Managers don’t have to choose between their front-of-house duties and secondary roles behind the scenes.
Choose the Right POS System for Your Business: Fourlane Will Help
As you hunt for the ideal option, reach out to Fourlane for expert advice and one-on-one assistance. Our goal is to help you understand the options available and deliver the support you need to maximize the utility of your POS choice.
If you’re looking to implement QuickBooks POS, Fourlane’s proprietary QuickBooks integration, Lightspeed, or Shopify, talk to our experienced team today, and we will provide you with all the help you need, whether it is data conversion, training, or just answering your questions.
We look forward to helping you make the best retail POS software choice today!