April 5, 2024

5 Best Cloud POS Systems for 2024

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Cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) systems are POS solutions whose data are stored and accessed via an internet browser rather than on local servers. Cloud POS systems are great for businesses that need to take their operations on the go, want to access their business’s real-time data from anywhere, and prefer not to house servers in their storefront. 

In this guide, we evaluated the top cloud-based POS systems on the market, scoring them based on dozens of data points, including pricing, features, and user reviews. Based on our evaluation, the best cloud-based POS systems for 2024 are: 

Even though cloud-based POS systems tend to be less expensive than server-based options, they do not sacrifice functionality. In some ways, namely security, ease of use, and update abilities, cloud-based POS systems are often superior. The best cloud POS systems will also include integrated Payment Card Industry (PCI)-compliant payment processing, inventory management tools, customer relationship management, employee management, reporting, and industry-specific features.

Square Shopify Lightspeed Retail (R-Series) Helcim Clover
Monthly Software Fees $0–$192 $39–$399 $89–$269 $0 $0–$310
In-Person Processing Fees 2.5%–2.6% + 10 cents 2.4%–2.6% +10 cents 2.6% + 10 cents 0.25%–0.4% + 6–8 cent Rates vary based on processor
Mobile Compatibility Yes iOS and Android POS apps Yes iOS and Android POS app Yes Lightspeed Retail POS app for iOS (iPad only) Yes iOS and Android POS apps Yes Clover Go POS app for Android and iOS
Learn More
Visit Square
Visit Shopify
Visit Lightspeed
Visit Helcim
Visit Clover

Expert Tips

Still looking for more POS options? Check out our comprehensive Retail POS Buyer’s Guide.

Square: Best overall cloud POS system


Pros

  • Free starter plan + Plus, Premium, and bespoke options
  • Retail, restaurant, and appointment POS systems
  • In-house payments, online, hardware, and marketing tools
  • Affordable add-ons for extra, specific functionality

Cons

  • No ability to use third-party payment processor
  • Limited customer support hours
  • No bulk processing discounts
  • Limited ecommerce integrations (no Shopify without custom API)
Square logo.

Our Rating: 4.22/5

Square is a leader in the point-of-sale space, with industry-specific systems for retail, restaurants, and appointments. Each of its three POS systems is available at an entry-level for $0 per month and includes integrated payments, an online store, basic inventory management, reporting, CRM tools, multistore management, and staff logins. From there, you can upgrade to Square’s paid plans for advanced features or opt for a custom POS with discounted processing rates if you operate at the enterprise level. 

Square also offers an array of add-on tools for payroll, SMS and email marketing, loyalty, and more—allowing Square to keep its plans affordable while you pay only for the tools you need. The system is also completely operational from any mobile divide via the Tap to Pay functionality, so if you don’t want to invest in Square’s proprietary hardware, you don’t have to. Square cannot be beaten for the number of industries it covers, the in-house tools it has to offer, and the range of business sizes it can serve. 

Square’s biggest downfall is its lack of integration with third-party payment processors. If you need to work with a different payment processor, we recommend checking out Clover, which has smooth integrations and excellent customer service. Shopify and Lightspeed also offer third-party payment processors, but there is an associated fee.

Pricing: 4.46/5

Hardware: 4.79/5

Software features: 3.75/5

Support and reliability: 3.33/5

User experience: 4.38/5

User scores: 4.63/5

  • POS system basics: Square’s POS systems include all the basics to run your business: inventory management, reporting, CRM, employee controls, marketing tools, a great checkout interface, sales channel integrations, order management, and integrated payment processing. These features are included in Square’s free POS, but you can get more advanced options if you upgrade to a paid plan. 
  • Industry-specific POS systems: In addition to its general purpose POS, Square offers three industry-specific POS systems for restaurants, retailers, and appointment-based businesses like spas, salons, and other service providers. Each of Square’s POS systems comes with tools specifically designed for its industry, free and advanced versions, and industry-grade hardware options.  
  • Online store: All Square accounts come with a free online store that you can build and customize for your business with Square Online. Each industry-specific POS system includes an online store—ecommerce for retailers, online ordering for restaurants, and booking for wellness and service businesses. If you have an existing online store, you can integrate some third-party ecommerce solutions with your POS, but the options are limited. However, Square can build you a custom API if you are tied to your current platform. 
  • POS app: Square offers a free POS app for both Android and iOS. The app allows you to take your sales on the go and is complete with Tap to Pay functionality, meaning you can take payments by simply tapping a credit card to your phone—no additional hardware required. 
  • Integrated payments: Square comes pre-integrated with Square Payments, its in-house payments solution. Square Payments offers competitive flat-rate processing and can be used to process all payment types, both in person and online. Additionally, Square has partnered with Afterpay so you can offer customer financing for both in-store and online purchases.  
  • Add-on tools: In addition to Square’s advanced plan options, you can purchase add-on tools such as payroll, loyalty programs, an upgraded online store, and outreach marketing tools for a monthly fee on top of any of Square’s POS plans. This means you can add the tools you need and avoid the ones you don’t. There are also a number of third-party tools that you can integrate into your POS.  
  • Bespoke POS option: If your business outgrows Square’s Plus and Premium plans, Square offers custom POS plans where you work with Square developers to create a bespoke POS system with custom tools and payment processing rates.

Expert Tips

Learn more about the top restaurant POS solutions with our guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems for 2024

Square has four POS options for different industries, with each POS including several plan options ranging from $0 to custom pricing. Square’s POS plans vary based on the level and types of features they provide as well as their processing rates.

Free Plus Premium Essentials Bundle
Square POS $0 $29/month/location Custom
Square for Retail $0 $89/month/location Custom
Square for Restaurants $0 $60/month* $192
Square Appointments $0/month/location $29/month/location $69/month/location

*For software for a single location; additional locations are $40/month/location. Mobile terminals are +$50/month/terminal

Square also includes its in-house payment processor, Square Payments, in every POS system. Square Payments has a flat-rate pricing model, and you cannot opt for a third-party merchant. Rates vary based on your software plan. 

  • In-person: 2.5%–2.6% + 10 cents
  • Online: 2.9% + 30 cents
  • Manual entry: 3.5% + 15 cents
  • Afterpay: 6% + 30 cents

There are several in-house hardware options you can purchase outright or via monthly financing outlined below. Additionally, Square offers a variety of hardware accessories to use alongside its hardware or with your personal computer or tablet.

Along with the advanced features that come with its software plans, Square also offers add-on tools that you can tack on to any of its POS plans: 

  • Square Online Plus: $29 per month (billed annually)
  • Square Marketing: $15 per month for email marketing; $20 for text message marketing
  • Square Loyalty: Starts at $45 per month
  • Square Payroll: $35 + $6 per employee monthly 
  • Team Plus: $35 per month per location (included free in the Retail Plus plan)
  • Square Invoices: $0–$20 per month
  • Square Gift Cards: $0.50–$1.50 per card

Shopify: Best for ecommerce


Pros

  • Top-of-the-line ecommerce platform
  • Multiple plans to support SMBs to enterprise businesses
  • Integrations with TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Google Shop, Amazon, eBay, and more
  • Shipping discounts with all major carriers

Cons

  • Added fee for third-party processing
  • Limited reporting in Basic and Shopify plans
  •  No checkout page customizations
  • Limited number of free website templates; expensive upgrades
Shopify logo.

Our Rating: 4.11/5

When it comes to ecommerce, Shopify is the industry leader. With top-of-the-line tools for managing orders, converting sales, completing transactions, building a website, accessing discounted shipping rates, and even selling wholesale and B2B, Shopify is ideal for businesses that operate primarily online. 

The system comes with a free POS (and a paid upgrade option) if you do need to make the occasional in-person sale and even a Tap-to-Pay-enabled app for mobile sales. The POS systems include integrated payments, inventory management tools, CRM, and add-on tools to support industry-specific functions.

Expert Tips

Did you know that Shopify’s checkout interface, ShopPay, converts 15% more sales compared to other ecommerce platforms?

A significant drawback of Shopify is its lack of in-depth reporting in its budget-priced packages. For more in-depth insights from your POS, we recommend considering Lightspeed. Its robust reporting features should tell you anything you need to know about your payments and sales. That said, it’s a costlier option.

Shopify offers a $1 trial for the first month and then has three plans that vary based on features, shipping discounts, and processing rates. Shopify also has an outstanding ecommerce site builder with hundreds of templates designed to serve all kinds of industries, from retail to service providers. For businesses that operate primarily online, Shopify is going to be your best POS solution.

Pricing: 3.75/5

Hardware: 4.38/5

Software features: 3.96/5

Support and reliability: 4.17/5

User experience: 3.88/5

User scores: 4.53/5

  • Ecommerce site builder: Use one of Shopify’s hundreds of ecommerce templates to build your site, including industry-specific options for every kind of small business. The site builder is easy to use, allows for customization, and lets you make changes to your site at any time straight from your POS. Note, however, that many of Shopify’s templates come at an additional cost.  
  • Shopify Payments: Every Shopify account comes complete with Shopify’s in-house payment processor, Shopify Payments. You can opt for a third-party payment processor; however, you will incur an additional processing fee ranging from 0.6% to 2% per transaction. 
  • POS system: Along with your ecommerce Shopify account, you will also get Shopify’s Lite POS system. The Lite POS includes features such as inventory management, reporting, staff management, and CRM tools at a very basic level. If you need a more advanced POS system, however, you can also upgrade to POS Pro.
  • Shipping discounts: To help save you time and money on your online orders, you can shop discounted shipping rates from all major shipping companies and print labels straight from your Shopify account. 
  • Omnichannel selling: Integrate all your sales channels into your Shopify POS so you can unify inventory, staff, and customer management everywhere you sell. Shopify includes sales channel integrations for your online store, in-person sales, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, eBay, Google, Amazon, and more. Simply add the sales channels you want to track from your Shopify account, and Shopify will take care of the rest.
  • Marketing automations: Shopify includes an array of marketing features to help grow your business. These include tools to hone your store’s SEO, build your brand, create targeted ads, identify new customers, and reach out to existing customers through email and SMS based on automated triggers. 
  • Shopify App Store: If you need a tool that Shopify doesn’t offer in-house as part of your plan, you can integrate hundreds of third-party tools into your Shopify POS via the Shopify App Store. This includes apps for things like loyalty programs, inventory management, outreach marketing, and analytics. Note, however, that many of these tools come with monthly fees. 

Shopify offers three ecommerce plans—each comes with the Lite POS system, though you can upgrade to POS Pro for an additional $89/month or purchase the POS as a standalone product. You can also opt to pay for your plan annually for up to 25% off. 

  • Basic: $39/month
  • Shopify: $105/month
  • Advanced: $399/month

Shopify also offers flat-rate payment processing via Shopify Payments; fees are listed below (rates vary based on your plan). For ecom users (not POS), you can also choose to use a third-party processor. However, depending on your plan, you will incur an additional transaction fee between 0.6% to 2%.

  • In-person: 2.4%–2.6% + 10 cents
  • Online: 2.5%–2.9% + 30 cents 

Shopify also offers hardware options for both in-store and mobile operations. Additionally, you can use the Shopify POS app to complete sales from your mobile device. Because the app includes Tap to Pay functionality and barcode scanning, there is no hardware required. Shopify’s hardware options include: 

Lightspeed Retail (R-Series): Best for large, complex inventories


Pros

  • Granular, matrix inventory management
  • Integrated product catalogs
  • Vendor management tools
  • Custom reporting with actionable insights

Cons

  • High price point and no bulk processing discount
  • Additional processing fee if you use a third-party merchant
  • Limited ecommerce integrations
  • Complex UI
Logo of Lightspeed

Our Rating: 4.10/5

Lightspeed is another great cloud POS option for retailers large and small. Lightspeed’s retail system, Lightspeed Retail or Lightspeed R-Series, comes equipped with all the basics you need to manage a retail store. This includes integrated flat-rate payment processing from Lightspeed Payments, an in-house ecommerce platform, Lightspeed eCommerce, plus sales channel integrations, inventory management, CRM tools, a customizable checkout, reporting tools, and 24/7 customer support. 

Where Lightspeed really stands out is for its inventory management tools and reporting capabilities. Lightspeed comes equipped with granular matric inventory tools, perfect for large, complex inventories. Your POS account also comes with integrated product catalogs and vendor management tools, so you can place orders and communicate with your product vendors right from your POS. 

If Lightspeed is a bit out of your budget, I’d encourage you to check out Square POS. It has a very manageable fee structure that can be customized to fit any budget. You will sacrifice some advanced reporting and more robust inventory management tools, but it should get your business up and running.

In terms of reporting, if you opt for Lightspeed’s Advanced plan, you will be able to automate custom reports so you can investigate the metrics that are most important to you. Not only that, Advanced users also get access to customer behavior reports and store analytics that will give you actionable insights and predictions to better manage your store.

Expert Tips

Learn more about all the data your POS system can collect and analyze with our guide to POS Data Guide for POS Analytics.

Pricing: 3.21/5

Hardware: 4.17/5

Software features: 4.63/5

Support and reliability: 4.58/5

User experience: 3.75/5

User scores: 4.28/5

  • Customizable checkout: To expedite the checkout process, use Lightspeed’s tile tools to customize your checkout screen with your most used functions and products. 
  • Service orders: Create and manage service orders for repairs, alterations, or other services right from your POS. 
  • Inventory management: Lightspeed has some of the most advanced inventory management tools on the market, designed for large, complex inventories with many product variations. Additionally, there are built-in purchase ordering and tracking functions, special order tools, bulk action features, low-stock alerts, and stock counting tools. 
  • Lightspeed B2B: Lightspeed includes built-in product catalogs where you can shop from thousands of products and place orders right from your POS. Items you order through Lightspeed integrated catalogs are automatically added to your inventory catalog, complete with product details, to be tracked and monitored.
  • Accounting integration: Lightspeed includes tons of accounting software integrations so you can do your bookkeeping right from your POS dashboard. 
  • Ecommerce: Lightspeed integrates with several third-party ecommerce platforms, and its Standard and Advanced plans include Lightspeed’s in-house ecommerce solution, Lightspeed eCommerce. 
  • Loyalty program: For advanced users, Lightspeed includes a customizable loyalty program that tracks and rewards customers across all your sales channels. 
  • Reporting: Lightspeed provides tons of reporting tools, including custom reports, customer behavior reports, inventory forecasts, and actionable insights and advice based on your performance. 
  • Marketing tools: Lightspeed offers tools to collect customer reviews, segment your shoppers, and send out automated alerts and promotions, and SMS marketing tools. 
  • Sales channel integrations: Track and manage your sales from everywhere you sell, including marketing places like Amazon, eBay, and Google Shop, as well as your social media platforms.

There are four Lightspeed Retail plans you can choose from, with higher plans including more advanced features. 

  • Lean: $89/month
  • Standard: $149/month
  • Advanced: $269/month
  • Enterprise: Custom (includes custom processing rates)

Lightspeed Payments comes included with all plans and is the default option for payment processing, however, you can integrate your Lightspeed account with a few other merchants. If you choose to do this, you will have to pay an additional third-party processing fee. For Lightspeed Payments, the processing fees are: 

  • In-person: 2.6% + 10 cents
  • Online: 2.9% + 30 cents

In addition to its software, Lightspeed also offers hardware options for both an iPad and desktop setup. Lightspeed does not disclose its hardware options or pricing—you have to reach out to a rep who will assess your needs and circumstances to pair you with the best hardware for your business.  

Helcim: Best for professional services


Pros

  • Forever-free POS
  • Invoicing and subscription management tools
  • Interchange-plus payment processing
  • Automatic bulk processing discounts

Cons

  • Must purchase card reader to complete transactions
  • Only basic POS features with no advanced plans
  • No third-party ecommerce integration
  • Limited integrations
Helcim logo.

Our Rating: 4.08/5

Helcim is primarily a payment processing company best known for its interchange-plus processing rates and automated bulk discounts. However, the provider also offers a great POS system, completely for free. The POS system is cloud-based and includes basic inventory management, reporting, CRM, and integrations. Uniquely, the system also includes tools for subscription management and invoicing, specifically designed for professional service businesses like accounting, auto repair, healthcare, and more.

Another great feature that makes Helcim ideal for service businesses is its payment page. With this tool, you can add a Helcim checkout page to any website without any programming required. This means you can take your service website and make it shoppable with just a few clicks. Helcim is an ideal cloud POS for service businesses with limited retail management and inventory needs. 

If Helcim’s lack of integrations or features makes it a poor fit, we recommend taking another look at Square, as it offers a more comprehensive list of each.

Pricing: 4.11/5

Hardware: 3.96/5

Software features: 4.17/5

Support and reliability: 3.75/5

User experience: 4.38/5

User scores: 4.1/5

  • Payment page: Add a Helcim payment page to any site with no programming necessary, and you can start making sales, collecting invoices, or even charging for recurring subscriptions. Start by adding a Helcim “Buy Button” or QR code to any webpage. When customers click, they will be taken to the Helcim payment portal to complete their transaction.
  • Ecommerce: While Helcim’s POS does not integrate with third-party ecommerce platforms, Helcim offers an in-house ecommerce solution with options for both retail and online food ordering. 
  • Invoicing: Add Helcim’s invoicing software to your POS to streamline your billing and payment procedures. With Helcim’s interchange-plus rates, you can save significantly on processing fees.
  • CRM: Add customers to your customer directory, log the contact information, store payment methods, and view their activity. 
  • Interchange-plus pricing: Helcim uses interchange-plus pricing for its processing fees, ensuring that you get the lowest rates by avoiding any merchant markups. Not only that, the more payments you process, the more you save with Hakim’s automated bulk discounts. You can use Helcim’s fee calculator to estimate just how much you will save with their pricing model. 
  • Subscription management: Use Helcim’s Subscription Manager to set up recurring payments and collect fees for subscription services right from your POS.
  • Free POS system: Every Helcim account comes with a free POS system that includes all the basic tools you need to take payments and manage your business, including inventory tracking, CRM tools, and reporting. The POS system can operate on your personal device or the Helcim Smart Terminal—simply pair it with the Helcim card reader to get started. 
  • Inventory management: Add inventory, log it in your inventory catalog, and track its levels and performance so you never miss a beat. 
  • Reporting: Review your business’s performance with reporting tools that log your sales totals, tipping information, all your transactions, tender use, sales by category, invoicing totals, sales by products, and discount information.

Helcim charges $0 monthly software fees for its POS system and offers no advanced plans. You can operate and access your POS from your browser or via mobile for free. However, you will have to purchase the Helcim card reader to start accepting payments. The card reader is highly affordable at $99. 

Alternatively, you can purchase the Helcim Smart Terminal, a complete mobile POS system for checking out customers, processing payments, and printing receipts. The Helcim Smart Terminal costs $329, or you can opt to finance the device for five monthly payments of $68.

The only monthly fee you will incur from Helcim is your payment processing fee, which varies depending on how much you process each month. The table below outlines the processing fees you can expect to incur based on your sales volume. You can also use Helcim’s fee calculator to estimate your processing fees.

Transaction Value In-Person Online or Keyed-In
$0–$50,000 0.4% + 8 cents 0.50% + 25 cents
$50,001–$100,000 0.35% + 7 cents 0.45% + 20 cents
$100,001–$500,000 0.25% + 7 cents 0.35% + 20 cents
$500,001–$1,000,000 0.20% + 6 cents 0.25% + 15 cents
$1,000,001+ 0.15% + 6 cents 0.15% + 15 cents

Clover: Best for third-party customizations


Pros

  • Industry-specific POS systems
  • Option to use a third-party payment processor
  • Option to bundle hardware and software into monthly installments
  • Tap-to-Pay-enabled mobile app

Cons

  • Must purchase proprietary hardware
  • Very basic tools in paid entry-level plan
  • Cannot reprogram system if you want to switch payment providers
  • Integrations only available via custom API
Clover logo.

Our Rating: 3.87/5

Clover is a highly customizable Square competitor. Like Square, Clover offers industry-specific POS solutions for retail, restaurants, and service-based industries. But, unlike Square, which offers most services in-house, Clover allows you to customize your POS system with third-party payment providers, ecommerce solutions, apps, and more.

With Clover, you configure your system from the start with the specific services you want to integrate, completely custom to your needs and preferences. From there, however, you cannot reprogram your POS systems to accommodate different payment providers—the merchant you chose is what you’ve got, and you can’t change it after the fact. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, consider Lightspeed Retail or Square. Both are designed to integrate with multiple payments for those seeking adaptability.

In terms of what you do get with the Clover POS system you don’t have to integrate via a third party—it’s all the basics you need. Clover’s POS comes equipped with basic inventory management tools, CRM, reporting, payment processing, an e-commerce store, and even a custom loyalty program. The cool thing, however, is you can opt for additional third-party tools to enhance any of these features so the Clover POS suits your needs.   

Pricing: 4.18/5

Hardware: 3.67/5

Software features: 3.58/5

Support and reliability: 3.50/5

User experience: 4.38/5

User scores: 3.93/5

  • Industry-specific POS solutions: Clover offers POS solutions for retail, restaurants (including full and quick service), and service providers. They are complete with industry-specific features and hardware solutions. 
  • Third-party customizations: Clover can accommodate third-party customizations via custom APIs. This includes custom tools for anything from payment processing to ecommerce to inventory management. You work with a developer to create the system you need with the tools you want. 
  • Clover Online: If you don’t have an existing ecommerce store that you want to integrate with your Clover POS, you can add Clover Online to your POS account to build an ecommerce store with its in-house platform. 
  • Clover Payments: For users that don’t have a specific payment processor that they want to use, you can opt for Clover’s in-house payments solution, Clover Payments. With this solution, you can accept all payment types at a flat processing rate, both in-store and online.  
  • Inventory management: Clover offers inventory management tools for creating detailed product pages, logging your inventory in a log, and tracking your items as they sell. 
  • CRM tools: Log your customers, track their behaviors, and collect reviews. 
  • Proprietary hardware: Every Clover account includes sleek in-house Clover hardware that suits your needs. Clover offers mobile and desktop solutions along with industry-specific options for retailers, service providers, and restaurants. 
  • Loyalty program: All Clover accounts include a free loyalty program to drive repeat visits, with tools to offer both physical and digital gift cards, reward shoppers with redeemable points, and promote user reviews with review prompts that are built into your digital receipts. 

Clover offers six different industry-specific POS solutions, each with several plan options that vary based on features and hardware. Each plan allows you to either pay for the hardware upfront or bundle your hardware and software together, then pay for both of them in monthly installments.

Starter Standard Advanced
Retail POS $60/mo for 36 months or $799+ $14.95/mo $135/mo for 36 months or $1,799+ $49.95/mo $185/mo for 36 months or $2,398+ $64.90/mo
Full-Service Restaurant POS $160/mo for 36 months or $1,699+ $84.95/mo $210/mo for 36 months or $2,298+ $99.90/mo $310/mo for 36 months or $4,097+ $114.85/mo
Quick-Service Restaurant POS $100/mo for 36 months or $799+ $54.95/mo $140/mo for 36 months or $1,799+ $54.95/mo $190/mo for 36 months or $2,398+ $69.90/mo
Personal Services POS $50/mo for 36 months or $599+ $14.95/mo $95/mo for 36 months or $799+ $49.95/mo $135/mo for 36 months or $1,799+ $49.95/mo
Professional Services POS $14.95/mo $50/mo for 36 months or $599+ $14.95/mo $125/mo for 36 months or $1,699+ $49.95/mo
Home and field Services POS $14.95/mo $49+ $14.95/mo $50/mo for 36 months or $599+ $14.95/mo

If you opt to use Clover’s in-house payment processing solution rather than a third-party integration, your rates are as follows (rates vary based on plan tier): 

  • In-person: 2.3%-2.6% + 10 cents
  • Online: 3.5% + 10 cents

Key features of cloud POS systems

If you are in the market for a cloud POS system for your business, you should look for the following features to ensure maximum functionality and value. Hardware: The best cloud POS systems will be able to operate without hardware, but will have hardware options for both mobile and in-store operations. Most POS systems will have an in-house option as well as third-party hardware compatibility.

Expert Tips

Learn more about the best POS hardware on the market with our guide Best POS Hardware for Business in 2024

  • Customer management tools: You should be able to create customer profiles that include contact information, purchase histories, and customer notes. The best systems will allow you to create these profiles from within your CRM directory and at the points of sale. You should also look for the ability to add existing customer profiles to transactions.  
  • Inventory management: At a minimum, you should be able to create detailed product pages that are logged in your inventory catalog, upload inventory in bulk, and track your inventory levels in real-time. The best systems will also send automated low-stock alerts, allow you to create purchase orders, create detailed inventory reports, and manage your vendors all from your POS.  
  • Staff management: You should be able to create separate staff log-ins with set permissions so you can keep your business secure and track individual performances. The best systems will also have scheduling, payroll, time clock, and shift management tools. 
  • Payment processing: Your POS systems should come set up with payment processing. Most systems offer an in-house system that is either flat rate (ideal for SMBs) or bulk discounted (ideal for enterprise businesses). The best systems will offer interchange plus rates or the option to integrate a third-party merchant so you can shop around for the best deal. 
  • Industry-specific tools: What you need your POS systems to do will vary from business to business. For restaurants, retailers, and service providers, you should look for industry-specific POS options to ensure you have the most relevant set of features. 
  • POS app: Your cloud POS should include a POS app so you can take your business on the go and make sales from anywhere. The best POS apps include tap-to-pay functionality, so you need no additional hardware to process payments—just your mobile device. 
  • Marketing tools: To help your business grow and keep customers engaged, you should look for an option that includes marketing tools like SMS and email marketing, automated triggers, a loyalty program, discounting and promotion management, and marketing reports to assess the success of your initiatives. 
  • Offline capabilities: To ensure you can keep your business going in the case of an internet outage, you should look for options that include offline payment processing and inventory syncing. 
  • Ease of use: Be sure to check out customer reviews and utilize any product demos to ensure your POS system is user-friendly. This will ensure that your staff can keep operations running smoothly and you can utilize everything your POS has to offer. 
  • Reporting: Your POS system should include sales and inventory reports, at minimum. The best systems will also include reports on taxes, discounts, payments, and more. They will also allow you to segment your reports by time and product categories, create custom reports, and even provide actionable insights into how you can use your store data to boost performance. 
  • Growth options: You should always assume your business will become more successful over time, and to avoid the headache of having to change POS systems as a result of your growth, you should look for options that have multiple plans that can grow with you. The best options will even include bespoke plans for enterprise-level operations. 
  • Integrations: While you should hope to keep most of your POS tools in-house for maximum ease, you should also look at what integration options the system has to offer. These add-on tools are great if you need a highly specific tool or are already using a certain platform and want the ability to seamlessly integrate it with your POS. 

Finding the right solution for your needs

Cloud POS systems are a great option for businesses that want to access their business from anywhere, take their sales on the go, and not be bogged down by costly servers that are hard to update and have a pricey cost of entry. 

We believe that Square is the best cloud POS solution on the market. It offers industry-specific tools, add-ons, growth plans, and a top-of-the-line user experience. The system is ideal for businesses ranging from single-man operations and mobile sellers to enterprise-level operations. 

However, for businesses that operate primarily online, Shopify is going to be your best bet. For those with complex or large inventories, we recommend Lightspeed. Meanwhile, Helcim is ideal for the professional services industry and interchange plus processing deals. Clover is also ideal for businesses that crave third-party customization options. 

You really can’t go wrong with any of the options on this list. Simply evaluate your needs and budget, and the solution you are searching for is here. 

FAQs

Cloud POS systems are stored and can be accessed via the internet whereas non-cloud POS systems are stored and accessible via physical servers.

Cloud POS systems allow you to take your business on the go, are typically less expensive than server-based systems, can be accessed from any internet-enabled device, and are easier to update.

The primary disadvantage of a cloud POS system is that it requires internet connection to access, which means if you lose connectivity, are located in an area with unstable connection, or do not have internet, your cloud POS will not be usable or accessible. Note, however, that many cloud POS systems do have the capability to process payments even when internet is not available.


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