So you’re thinking about getting a cloud pos (point-of-sale) system. And why not? They’re the next big thing. While you probably won’t see them in many enterprise stores yet, SMB businesses everywhere are quickly adapting to the change.
Cloud POS systems are cheaper, more flexible, and more current than their local-server based counterparts. This post will discuss why you need a cloud POS and the 3 best systems on the market.
If you don’t feel like reading this whole blog post (although I promise you it’s worth it) click these links to jump to our POS recommendations:
- Top Overall Cloud POS System
- Top Cloud POS System for Large Businesses
- Top Cloud POS System for Small Businesses
Cloud POS vs Local-Server POS
You probably know the difference between a cloud POS and a local-server POS. Most notably is that a cloud-pos is run on a mobile device (most often an iPad) and a local-server POS is run on a physical machine you keep at your check out.
But other than how hip you look, what are the actual advantages of a cloud POS?
If you’re not totally convinced you want, or even need, a cloud POS here are a few benefits and concerns of Cloud POS systems.
Benefits & Concerns of Cloud-based POS Systems
Cloud POS systems are trendy, there’s no doubting that. But what are the real benefits of a Cloud POS? In an interview with Entrepreneur, Jason Richelson, founder of ShopKeep POS, gave an “elevator pitch” for cloud-based POS systems that focused on a few key benefits listed below.
Cloud POS Benefits:
- Data Access: Access your sales data anywhere with an internet connection
- Automatic Upgrades: Keep on top of changing security requirements and new technologies
- Easy Integration: Provide loyalty programs and rewards by integrating your other retail platforms
However, not all businesses should use a cloud-based POS system. And even if you are drawn in by the appeal of selling from your iPad, make sure to consider these factors first.
Cloud POS Concerns:
- Relying on the internet can make these systems less stable than local-server POS systems
- Great for small to mid sized businesses; not really ready for large businesses
- New software and companies come with risk of failing
The Top Cloud POS Systems
According to Point-of-Sale News, not understanding your business needs is the number one mistake companies make when choosing a POS system.
It’s difficult to pick a “top” POS system, because it’s very dependent on your organization. That said, we have chosen a few “top” POS systems.
We’ve chosen our top overall POS system, top POS system for larger businesses, and top POS system for smaller businesses.
Comparison of the Top Cloud POS Systems
Don’t worry, each system will get it’s own review. But, for an overall perspective, here’s a look at each software’s price, support, founding date, and whether or not they had a free trial for you to test out.
|Software||Starting Price||Free Trial||Support||Founded Date|
Top Overall Cloud POS System
Pricing starts at: $76 (per mo)
Lightspeed offers both a local-server POS and a cloud POS, however for this post we’ll focus on their cloud offering, “Lightspeed Retail”. While Lightspeed was founded in 2005, it wasn’t until 2013 that they acquired their cloud counterpart. It’s still fairly new, however it’s already receiving high praise.
Some of the feature’s that come with Lightspeed Retail are: inventory, purchase order, employee, work order, and customer management, as well as reporting and support for multiple stores. While their multi-store capabilities don’t quite match LivePOS’s (see below), Lightspeed offers the perfect mixture of features, quality, and price.
Lightspeed is one of the highest rate POSs on Merchant Maverick, scoring a 4.5 / 5 stars. It also has many favorable reviews on softwareadvice.com such as, “Lightspeed has a no hassle, no cost gift card program, multiple tax rates, multiple discount rates, FIFO inventory, and seamless integration with Mailchimp and other third parties. This is an incredible value.”.
Top Cloud POS System for Large Businesses
Pricing starts at: $79 (per month)
LivePOS was founded in 2006, and while this isn’t one of the earliest founded dates, it was one of the first companies to jump straight into the cloud POS business. The company now has offices in the US, China, Israel, and the Philippines.
However where LivePOS really shines is it’s multi-store capability. When describing LivePOS’s multi-store capabilities, Merchant Maverick says, “[Many] cloud POS systems … claim to be adaptable to any size business from small to large even though their interface is probably better matched to small businesses at a single location. LivePOS is different in that it could be used for a small business or realistically expanded to handle the needs of a larger business.”
Top Cloud POS Systems for Small Businesses
Pricing starts at: $49 (per month)
ShopKeep was founded by a retailer who was sick of his windows-based, local-server, POS. While it was only founded in 2010, it has already received multiple awards including ones for customer service and technology innovation.
ShopKeep offers small businesses an affordable POS options while still providing many key features. As POS Options describes it, “ShopKeep remains a cost-effective alternative to bare-bones options such as Square and PayAnywhere without sacrificing functionality.”
This is why we recommend ShopKeep as the best solution for small businesses. While it doesn’t quite have the bredth of features LivePOS and Lightspeed offer, it has plenty enough to suffice the smaller retailer.
Integrating Your POS System
One of the big benefits of a cloud platform is how easy they are to integrate. Because they’re built to run on the internet and with open API capabilities, they integrate much easier than their local-server alternatives.
Many cloud POS systems have some integration capabilities built into them. However, if there is an integration you need that you don’t see, a multichannel integration company can help build you one.
What to Do Next
Now that you’ve chosen a POS system you might be wondering what’s next. Well if you’ve decided on Lightspeed, check out our Lightspeed connector to learn about connecting it to your marketplaces, webstore, and erp/accounting systems.
Or if you’re thinking about investing in other multichannel technologies, read our post about how to select the right multichannel retail systems written by our Founder & President Steve Weber.
Think we left off an important POS system? Let us know in the comments!