The cloud has revolutionized countless industries in the last decade. Retail and small businesses are no exception, especially when it comes to their point of sale (POS) systems.
Having an old-school cash register upgraded to accept card payments is no longer enough. Retail businesses must modernize their POS systems to stay competitive, organized, and on top of the customer experience.
With a cloud POS system, you can manage your sales, inventory, and customer data from anywhere and at any time, making it a versatile tool for your retail business.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the five best cloud POS systems for retail, highlighting their key benefits, who they’re best for, and their pricing. Whether you’re a small business just starting out or a larger retailer looking to expand, you’ll find a cloud POS system that’s right for you.
What a Cloud POS is and How it Impacts Your Business
Cloud POS systems allow your business to process payments online rather than on a desktop computer. You host your software and data remotely and can access them anywhere with an internet connection and a laptop or tablet.
On a legacy POS system, you operate through a closed network. You can access your POS system on-site at your store.
Cloud POS systems offer real-world benefits to small business owners.
- You can manage inventory better and reduce human error. As soon as a transaction is complete, it’s stored.
- Traditional POS systems need an IT technician to update servers. Cloud POS software updates automatically, and all data is stored securely in the cloud.
- You can generate real-time reports for sales figures, employee evaluations, customer behavior, and more.
As with any purchase, the best option for your business depends on your needs and budget. When it comes to crunch time, you want the standard features most cloud POS solutions provide, transparent pricing, and stellar customer support.
We’ve done the hard work for you so you can focus on choosing the right POS system for your business.
1. Square POS
Features: Square is a solid option if you need an omnichannel solution. It’s easy to set up and use, and you don’t need to worry about contracts. Instead of paying a monthly subscription fee, you pay per transaction.
You can take advantage of a free, integrated online store, and the POS software integrates with the Square ecosystem. Although inventory tracking and reporting features are basic, for the price point, Square is worth it as a starter POS system.
Pricing: Starting at $0, fees are charged per transaction.
What customers say:
- “I really like the price point of Square and how many capabilities it has. Set up was a little bit cumbersome, but I was able to give it to an employee to use with only two minutes of instruction. Overall, it’s a good value for a good system.” - Square User
2. Lightspeed for Retail
Features: Lightspeed is an excellent choice for retail, restaurants, and golf businesses. It features an in-house e-commerce platform to sync inventory across sales channels. They have many preset reports that you can customize and make it easy to manage your store.
It runs on an iPad and desktop, and custom-quoted hardware kits are available. Lightspeed is more suited to large retail stores; small businesses might not need all the bells and whistles Lightspeed provides, so be sure to know what you need to manage your store.
Pricing: Starting at $119/month for the standard plan (if paid annually).
What customers say:
- “I love how easy to use Lightspeed is. With the e-commerce option, I was able to sync my store inventory to my website- avoiding any inventory disasters. I also love how user-friendly it is for my employees.” - Lightspeed User
3. Rain POS
Features: Rain is an all-in-one solution. An easy-to-use retail POS system, integrated e-commerce website, and automated marketing tools make Rain an excellent option for stores looking to manage their entire business on one platform.
Rain is popular for many music, craft, outdoor, toy, and dive boutiques. Created “with Main Street retailers in mind,” Rain is multi-store capable, and their integrated POS ensures inventory levels are accurate in-store and online.
Pricing: Request a quote
What customers say:
- “The best thing about Rain is their ongoing development of tools that help us manage various parts of our business, such as classes, kits, and e-commerce.” - Rain User
4. Vend (by Lightspeed)
Features: Vend offers simple-to-use software with a strong focus on operations. Their solution is designed for multi-store operations, and is compatible with iPads, iMacs, and PCs. Since being acquired by Lightspeed, they now include customer loyalty features (depending on your chosen plan).
You can customize receipts with your logo and website, and tag products and image files with SEO-friendly keywords so customers get a consistent experience online and in-store. The ability to accept two or more payment types in one transaction is a plus.
Pricing: Starting at $69/month.
What customers say:
- “Easy to use and simple user interface for both management and the selling team. Solid reporting system to keep track of performance and inventory. Best of all, very prompt support when you need help. Highly recommended.” - Vend User
5. POS Nation
Features: We offer a complete point of sale solution for your business. All the features you need come out of the box. Our solution does all the jobs you need it to do, from customer rewards and loyalty programs to robust inventory and reporting.
We solve your hardware needs at a set price. Anything you need to make a sale is included. We also offer add-ons like customer displays, ID scanners, barcode and label printers, and scales.
Where we stand out is our dedication to support and the transparency of our solution. We customize your POS system, so you get all the features you need and nothing that you don’t.
Pricing: Starting at $99/month
What customers say:
- “How easy it was to enter the entire inventory into the system. The speed with which you can check out a customer! And the ability to run easy accurate reports at the end of the day, week or year!” - POS Nation User
Cloud POS vs. Traditional POS Systems
The main difference between cloud and traditional POS systems is access. Legacy POS systems store point of sale data locally, on-site, or on your computer’s hard drive. Which is fine, except in today’s world, if information isn’t at your fingertips, you could lose out, and upset expectant customers.
Cloud POS systems store your data and information in the cloud. Everything you need, from security to data storage, is updated and saved daily. Need to see a report while sitting on your couch? No problem. The downside is that you might lose access if your internet connection fails.
Cloud is also easier to scale, has lower upfront costs, and is simple to install. Still, whether you need to switch to a cloud POS system depends on your unique business and your needs.
What Are The Benefits of a Cloud POS System?
Manage Inventory Anytime, Anywhere
- Receive important updates like stock alerts or vendor issues straight to your phone.
- Make price changes and discounts on the fly, and enjoy robust inventory management – as soon as transactions are complete, stock quantity is updated.
- The best POS systems notify you when stock items hit a certain level. Some POS systems even have auto-reorder capabilities.
Access Remote Sales Data and Analytics
- All sales data syncs to the cloud and updates in real time. You can access it anywhere with an internet connection.
- View trending items and top sellers to help make inventory, sales, and marketing decisions.
- Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system, you can record a customer’s journey and build a 360-degree profile.
Enjoy Cloud POS Features
- As well as robust inventory and sales management, some POS systems allow you to program shortcuts for commonly purchased items, complete with photos, and create custom hotkeys.
- You can stay on top of employee management on the fly and set security permissions.
- Use loyalty programs to keep customers coming back.
Related: 9 Must-Have Features for Your Next Small Business Retail POS System
Pay For What You Need - It’s Cost-Effective
- Although you might pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee, it is cheaper than a traditional POS.
- There’s no need for on-site installation and setup — unless you need help with hardware.
- Updates and maintenance are usually included in your monthly subscription fee.
- Some vendors, including POS Nation, have guided onboarding and pre-configured software for you based on need.
Use Your Cloud POS Across Multiple Store Locations
- You won’t require separate installs or complex connections to run your business efficiently. Since it’s all online, you just need to set up your POS hardware, log in at each location, and you’re set.
- With all stores talking to each other in real time, you can use data to track, manage, and update inventory.
- Customers can see which of your stores has what they need, and loyalty programs are transferable.
Secure Your Data With Industry Standard Security Measures
- Cloud POS vendors must comply with strict data security standards like PCI DSS (payment card industry data security standard), and many cloud POS systems automatically encrypt information.
- The POS never handles credit or debit card information in an unencrypted state.
- Card data is encrypted at the pin pad and passed directly to the processor for authorization.
- Physical and digital safeguards in state-of-the-art data centers also protect data.
The Best Cloud POS Systems for Retail: The Choice is Yours
Many POS vendors offer similar capabilities. And at similar price points. At POS Nation, we set ourselves apart by
- Giving you all the features you need out of the box
- Including all basic hardware at a set price
- Customizing your solution so you only pay for what you need
Plus, our excellent support team is available should you need them. We are passionate about retail and making your life easier as a small business owner.
While we’ve discussed several POS features in this article, our Retail POS Buyers’ Guide shows all the vital functionality retailers need.
If you’re ready to see more of our retail POS software, you can schedule a demo with one of our product specialists. They’ll tailor the demo to your questions and show you exactly how our cloud POS system can help you streamline your store’s operations and make your life easier.