POS Nation Blog » Latest Articles

The Complete Guide to Retail POS Systems for Small Business

This year, savvy business owners and operators will make a serious investment in technology to streamline business operations and sales.

Today, modern small businesses run on a variety of digital tools. From communicating with prospects and customers, collaborating internally, or monitoring sales, business owners and operators should know that there’s a digital tool or service for almost every business type and/or business function. 

Unfortunately, those that fail to embrace the latest business technology risk being outpaced by the competition. From contactless payments to online sales, a robust point of sale (POS) system can take your business from just getting by to thriving.

In this article, we provide a breakdown and comparison of the best POS systems for small businesses so you can decide which is best for your unique business.


Retail POS Systems for Small Business: The Complete Guide

Retail POS software has emerged as a new technology solution for growing small business retailers. 

Most modern retail POS systems come equipped with next-generation retail POS features, including label and barcode printing, inventory management, customized hotkeys, employee management, and powerful customer loyalty programs. 

If most POS systems offer similar features, how do you compare them? For the POS systems we evaluated, we looked at features, pricing, and, most importantly, what customers think about the solution they use.
Jump to a section if you want to know more!


What is a Retail POS System?

A retail POS system enables businesses to accept sales transactions, manage employees, track inventory, and more. It is the central sales system needed to run and grow a business; it’s the hub where all sales-related activities occur. 

A retail POS system includes various software and hardware components that make running business sales operations more efficient and effective.

At POS Nation, our technology makes it simple and easy to access the database and records from a desktop or mobile device.

Our system offers flexible local features, enabling a business to continue operations even during unforeseen outages. In this way, you’ll have everything you need to continue ringing in sales even if your internet connection goes down. Today, more than 10,000 customers are powered by POS Nation.


What are the Unique Features of a Retail POS System?

Of course, we might be a bit biased when we say that POS Nation offers the best retail POS features. However, should you choose to partner with POS Nation or any other retail POS vendor, here is a list of the most important retail POS features.


Label and Barcode Printing

Today, customers deserve a smooth and seamless sales experience. When cashiers have to manually search for a product’s price, that smooth and seamless sales process is severely fragmented. 

As such, business owners and managers need a retail POS system that offers label and barcode printing. POS Nation makes it simple and easy to create labels and tags with one click. 

Additionally, our system automatically adds new items to the print queue. In this way, new items can be added to your inventory rapidly.

Customized Hotkeys

What about items that don’t have a barcode? Use hotkeys to look up produce or non-barcoded items. 

Depending on the size of your inventory, hotkeys enable business owners and managers to quickly search for a product or item. In this way, sales clerks can reduce the checkout time by virtually eliminating manual search – it’s that easy!


Inventory Management

How large is your inventory? Businesses with a large inventory of diverse products know how difficult it is to manage inventory effectively.

A great retail POS system should come equipped with powerful inventory management features designed to help businesses keep track of inventory, manage purchase orders, replenish low inventory, and monitor popular products or items.

Employee Management

POS Nation makes it easy to monitor employee productivity, manage schedules, set employee pay rates, and more. Additionally, through robust security protocols, business owners and managers can eliminate employee theft.

For example, the system will recognize if there are a large number of comped items and/or voided transactions and signal employee theft.


Customer Loyalty

Today, customers are prioritizing small businesses that offer incentives for repeat purchases. Most retail POS systems allow sales clerks to monitor buying patterns and create powerful promotions that encourage additional sales.

From dollar discounts and BOGO offers, to seasonal offers and loyalty points, a great retail POS system should make it simple and easy to deploy powerful retail promotions.

Retail POS System Buyers Guide

What are the Top Retail POS System Providers?

Of course, we know we’re not the only POS provider on the market today. Here is a list of the most popular retail POS systems for small business owners and managers.

1. Square

What started as the “little white reader,” has grown to become one of the largest and most successful POS vendors. Today, customers enjoy a variety of features, including powerful payment processing, advanced reporting, inventory management, and more.

Additionally, Square offers special add-ons for small businesses, including payroll management, business debit cards, marketing management, and customer loyalty promotions. 

Because the platform is built around an easy-to-use mobile platform, Square can travel with you. Additionally, Square supports online sales processing.


  • Free (plus processing fees)
  • Plus $29/mo + processing fees
  • Custom (plus processing fees)

What customers say:

  • “I really like the price point of Square and how many capabilities it has. Set up as 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. Clover

Clover is another mobile-based platform currently supported by Android. Clover makes it easy to accept transactions, organize inventory, and manage employees. 

The platform comes with all the features you would expect from a leading POS provider, including powerful hardware, integrated applications, virtual terminals, and more.

Clover is popular among small to medium-sized businesses.

Pricing (for hardware and software):

  • Starter: $60/mo 
  • Standard: $130/mo
  • Advanced: $175/mo

What customers say:

  • “I like all the app options and how everything is right on the register and connects to each other. I love how quick the operating system is, for example when using it as a register, orders can be taken very quickly.” - Clover User


  1. Lightspeed

Lightspeed supports businesses of all shapes and sizes, including multi-site retail locations and restaurants. Its system is cloud and browser-based, and it has an iOS app.

They offer inventory management, reporting, payment processing, online sales, and powerful technical support. The system is easy to use and scalable.

It’s feature-rich, so it suits larger businesses yet each account gets an account manager and 24/7 support.


  • Lean: $69/mo
  • Standard: $119/mo
  • Advanced: $199/mo
  • Enterprise: Get a quote

What customers say:

  • “Cloud system that is really easy to set up and use. I love the integrations with Quickbooks, Xero, WooCommerce, and payment processing. The price is reasonable, and it allows you to monitor your whole shop from one place” -  Lightspeed User

4. Markt POS

Markt POS is the first all-in-one, cloud-based POS software dedicated to the needs of small-to-medium-sized grocery and specialty markets.

Features include:

  • Efficient inventory management, including low stock notifications
  • Self-checkout to reduce wait times and empower your employees
  • State-of-the-art hardware, including accurate scale technology
  • Flexible payment options, such as EMV, Debit, EBT cash, contactless payments, and secure payment processing through PCI compliance
  • Dedicated 24/7 support and easy-to-use for your entire team


  • Contact Markt POS for a custom quote

What customers say:

  • “We've grown to have 4 stores, and we're really happy with Markt POS. When we opened our third location we decided to go with Markt POS because we thought it would be better for us, and a better suit for the company.” - Markt POS User

5. Shopify

Shopify POS turns any mobile device into a point of sale terminal and integrates with Shopify’s other tools and services. Its capabilities make it a great choice for stores that sell in-store and online.

You can sync inventory between online and offline orders, and it has features for employee management, customer relationship building, and built-in payment processing.

Pricing (billed yearly):

  • Basic: $26/mo
  • Shopify: $71/mo
  • Advanced: @266/mo

What customers say:

  • “Shopify POS makes it SO easy to take sales at a brick-and-mortar location or even a pop up shop. We use it for traveling locations when we go to fairs or artist events. It makes it super easy for us to take payments of all types and stay up to date on inventory.” - Shopify User


6. POS Nation

Founded in 2001, POS Nation has partnered with more than 10,000 small businesses nationwide (and counting). 

We understand the unique needs and challenges of small business owners and managers and have built a solution designed to support those needs and meet those challenges. 

Our service-driven mentality means that you can lean on our powerful customer support to get all your questions answered.


  • Inventory management
  • Loss prevention
  • Software purpose-built for multiple retail industries and business types
  • Fully configured hardware
  • Integrated payment processing
  • Powerful customer support

Benefits: POS Nation offers system onboarding, setup, and training. In this way, you’ll be able to get started quickly. Paging through a multi-page onboarding document is a thing of the past! Moreover, our system is easy to use and manage.


  • Flex Monthly: $99/mo

What customers say:

  • “The whole system rocks. It’s easy to learn, the features are exactly what I need - I don’t think there is a single feature I would add. Checking customers out is easy, credit card processing is seamless, and the features, like the hot keys, discounts, and ability to examine the data and make decisions based on real time information are key to my profitability.” - POS Nation User

What are the Pros and Cons of a Retail POS System?

To start, the cost of a retail POS system can be a barrier to entry for some new business owners and managers. To make matters worse, some POS vendors overcharge and underdeliver. 

You see, most tools lack the features and support you need to maximize system effectiveness. Before long, you’ve invested in a thousand different system “upgrades,” and you’re spending double what you originally planned for. 

Moreover, some retail POS systems are massively complex and difficult to manage. For some, system setup can be a bit overwhelming. The fact is, businesses spend thousands of dollars annually on overpriced and ineffective retail POS systems.

Fortunately, POS Nation offers one of the most affordable and effective retail POS systems for small businesses — containing all the great features you need in a retail POS system, and nothing you don’t.

Additionally, our onboarding and support specialists help to ensure that your onboarding process runs as smoothly as possible. Every POS system comes with complimentary access to our online video library. This will give you and your staff in-depth information and knowledge related to the POS system.

Once the POS system is up and running, the benefits of a retail POS system are boundless. Most retail small businesses enjoy the following retail system benefits, including a streamlined sales process, reporting, inventory tracking, security, and much more.

Are you ready to get started?


Retail POS Systems for Small Business: How POS Nation Helps You Win

Whether you’re investing in a POS system for the first time or you’ve been managing a business for decades, your POS system should help you grow now and into the future. 

Are you ready to get started with POS Nation? Our turnkey solutions offer all the great hardware, software, and payment processing you need to build and manage a successful retail business. 

POS Nation streamlines sales processes, improves internal efficiencies, and creates happier customers – it’s that easy!

To get started, we recommend scheduling a software demo.

You may have one location or multiple locations, and you need a software solution to support your growing enterprise. By scheduling a demo, you’ll get an in-depth and guided tour of our demo environment. 

An expert product specialist will be available to answer any questions you have related to our retail POS system.

Are you ready to get started? Schedule your software demo today!


Ready To Get Started? Call us at 877-727-3548

Get Started
Retail Buyers Guide

Find the Perfect POS System for Your Business
In Just 8 Simple Steps

New call-to-action