Customer expectations are constantly changing. Is your business evolving to keep up with them?
The hard truth is your legacy point of sale (POS) system may not be agile enough to keep up with the expectations and requirements of the modern retail environment. But cloud-based POS systems offer more agility and access.
Let’s examine a scenario. You need to complete a system upgrade on your current retail POS software. Once you establish the steps required for the upgrade, you see that it will take over two hours to install. That’s annoying enough, but we’re just getting started.
Since your solution doesn’t have cloud capabilities, you’ll have to complete that two-hour upgrade on each terminal in your store. And if you lose power halfway through, nothing is backed up elsewhere; you’ll have to start all over. Are you tearing your hair out just thinking about it?
Then it’s time to switch to a cloud-based system. But which system is best for your business?§
In this post, we’ll discuss the best cloud-based POS systems and the five key benefits you’ll experience. After reading, you’ll know how to select the best POS system for your small business.
Small Business Cloud-Based POS Systems
Cloud-based POS systems are everywhere. On the surface, they offer the same capabilities:
- Access your inventory and sales data from anywhere.
- Scale your solution for your growing business.
- Securely store data in the cloud.
So how do you differentiate between each solution? It comes down to the capabilities you need to run your business effectively and your budget. There’s no use investing in a system that offers all the bells and whistles if you won’t use the features you’re paying for.
Let’s look at the five best cloud-based POS systems for small businesses.
5 Best Cloud-Based POS Systems
- Lightspeed - best for omnichannel businesses
- Clover POS - best for restaurants and professional services
- IT Retail - best for grocery stores
- Square POS - best for e-commerce businesses
- POS Nation - retail and other small businesses
Features: Lightspeed Retail is a giant in retail POS software. They offer great e-commerce options so you can sync inventory across sales channels. You can also customize gift cards and create multiple tiers in your customer loyalty programs.
They offer secure mobile payments, which is convenient for customers. Lightspeed’s solution is tailored to apparel, bike, electronics, and health stores. They also offer POS solutions for restaurants, bars, and golf courses.
Pricing: Starting at $119 per 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
2. Clover POS
Features: Clover is designed to be easy to use and has all the features small business owners need, including inventory management, loyalty programs, and e-commerce integrations. You can track sales in real time and integrate your reports with bookkeeping software such as Xero or QuickBooks.
Its basic functionality is good, but advanced features come at an additional monthly cost.
Pricing: Different price points depending on your industry.
What customers say:
- “The ease of use of Clover is fantastic. It's an Android-based product, so anyone with a smartphone will know how to use it. It's a guarantee any business owner would like Clover” - Clover User
3. IT Retail
Features: IT Retail has been around for a long time, and is used by thousands of groceries and markets nationwide. They offer great functions for food inventory, including low-stock alerts and breakdowns by bottles or cases.
You can manage multiple checkout lanes and take advantage of theft monitoring and age verification tools. They offer 24/7 technical support and on-site training during the product rollout.
Pricing: Starting at $99/month, per terminal.
What customers say:
- “Can better run my store with a reliable frontend system and a backend system that can provide me the information I need to make timely decisions. Every issue has been addressed and resolved quickly by their friendly support staff.” - IT Retail User
4. Square POS
Features: Square POS is known for its portable card readers. But that’s not all it’s good for. There are other key features, like stock forecasting with automatic reordering recommendations, so you never run out of popular items.
They also offer cross-location returns so customers can return unwanted items to any store, and they integrate directly with Instagram to facilitate omnichannel purchases.
Pricing: Starting at $0, fees are charged per transaction.
What customers say:
- “It's intuitive, convenient, affordable, and always available. Over the years, the functionality has grown into something that fully supports my in-person, online, and mobile business. The reporting capabilities are excellent and the hardware is super reliable.” - Square User
5. POS Nation
Features: POS Nation offers a feature-rich point of sale solution that helps you streamline your business. We pride ourselves on providing incredible customer support. There are no hidden fees or long-term contracts to worry about.
POS Nation for Retail is our feature-rich retail POS software solution. It’s a great fit for single stores or multi-store chains.
Pricing: Flex Monthly starts at $99/month with access to POS software, touch PC, receipt printer, scanner, cash drawer, and chip reader. You also get 24/7 support and a lifetime warranty.
What customers say:
- “The tech support is top notch; knowledgeable, available, and friendly. Integrating to this system from our old POS was smooth. I can’t speak highly enough of my experience with POS Nation. I can also say with confidence that using POS Nation has given me better data to help my business thrive.” - POS Nation User
What To Look For in a Cloud-Based POS System
1. Remote System Access
Switching to a cloud-based POS system allows you to access your back office functionality anywhere.
This capability allows you to receive important updates regarding inventory or vendor issues on your mobile device or home computer, enabling you to troubleshoot from home in a pinch instead of going on-site.
You’ll also have the security of cloud backup for your data. In other words, if something happens to your store or the terminals on-site, your data is still safe and sound because it’s located in the cloud, rather than stored only on a server in your storefront.
Additionally, you can take advantage of the portability of your cloud-based solution daily. You’ll be able to take your back office work out onto the store floor, allowing you to interact with customers while getting the nitty-gritty details of management done.
2. Mobile Terminals
Imagine this situation. It’s Black Friday. Your store is packed. The line at the register stretches through the aisles. Your associates are working as quickly as possible to check everyone out, but still, there are only two POS terminals.
With mobile terminals, you could empower a third and fourth associate to roam along the line, checking customers out from their place in line using a tablet.
Mobile terminals may not benefit you daily in your store — and they’re certainly not the best solution to run your business on — but they can come in handy in a pinch.
Related Read: How Mobile POS Busts Lines
3. Scalable Solution
Considering expanding your store into a chain? Or buying out the storefront next door and expanding your inventory offerings? Cloud-based POS systems can help support you as you grow your store in a few ways.
Firstly, a cloud-based POS system gives you easy and convenient access to critical data. You can keep your finger on the pulse of your business at all times.
If you open a second location, having a cloud-based POS system will enable you to access the data from your entire business, regardless of which store you’re working from.
4. Simpler Maintenance
When your POS system is on the cloud, you can update your entire store or chain with a single installation. The downside is that, during installation, you may simultaneously experience an outage of all systems.
With a cloud-based POS system, you will never have to worry about your terminals falling out of sync. All updates and changes in your system apply to all terminals instantaneously — ensuring that all terminals, associates, and locations stay on the same page.
Additionally, you can conduct maintenance and receive assistance remotely when your solution is on the cloud. Instead of waiting for a technician to come to your store to look at your legacy system in person, you can often receive technical support for a cloud-based POS system 100 percent online.
At first blush, a cloud-based POS system can seem pricier than a legacy system. In some ways, that’s correct: You’ll be paying monthly for your cloud-based system, whereas some legacy systems can be purchased upfront in a single payment.
For starters, your upfront payment will be lower with a cloud-based solution. Installation and maintenance can also be less expensive with a cloud-based solution.
Instead of employing specialized staff or bringing technicians to your store, you can receive the support you need for installation and maintenance remotely from your software vendor.
Related Read: What is the Average Cost of a Point of Sale System?
In short, your cloud-based solution will have an ongoing monthly fee. Still, you may find that the stability and predictability of that payment are preferable to unexpected maintenance fees or high upfront price tags.
Cloud-Based POS Systems Help Your Small Business Thrive
Migrating your business to the cloud might seem scary, but it doesn't need to be. Yes, most cloud-based POS vendors offer similar features, but the level of support often sets them apart.
All the features and integrations you need are available right out of the box. We pride ourselves on our support being second to none. Our in-house team is US-based, available 24/7, and offers training, onboarding, and tech support, so you’re never left trying to figure it out on your own.
If you want a POS solution that grows with you, POS Nation is the small business partner that helps you think big. Schedule a software demo to see how we can help run and grow your small business.