At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category.

We rely on an internal algorithm to calculate our ratings, which are based on many factors, including price, core features, user experience, security, mobile access, integration capabilities, and scalability. Each category also includes my expert score, contributing to its overall score.

​​As the market changes, we reevaluate our choices so you always receive the best insight for your purchasing decision.

User reviews from third-party software platforms like Capterra and G2 accounted for a small portion of the software’s overall score. I focused on software that received at least 3.5 out of 5 stars on these sites. 

To find the best tablet POS, I also considered: 

Pricing

Software with transparent pricing, affordable subscriptions, no fees for additional registers, and integrated payment processing received the highest scores. I also considered each platform’s “value for money,” which determines whether the number of features in each price tier or module is competitive with other vendors in the space.

Platform and interface

How easy is the platform to use? Will it be able to grow with me? What is the customer service like? And will employees’ data be safe? This category covers the intrinsic features of most software platforms and vendors, including how well they will integrate with your current tech stack.

Hardware and basic functions

We prioritize systems that work on low-cost tablet options like iPads. Scanner and scale tools, checkout options, and employee management capabilities are also major decision-making factors. 

Finally, we consider if the POS system offers a customer-facing display, as the best displays let customers enter loyalty information and payment options.  

Help and ease of use

Because business owners need to spend the most time attending to customer needs instead of handling tech issues, we prioritize customer support and ease of use. 

In retail, restaurant, grocery, or any other spaces in which POS systems are used, problems must be fixed in real time. 

Our scores in this category center around customer support hours, level of support at each price tier, intuitiveness of the interface, and ease of integration with non-native apps. 

For retail and hospitality environments, having a reliable and flexible point-of-sale (POS) system is essential. The best tablet POS systems offer the mobility and convenience needed to process payments, manage inventory, and enhance customer experiences. Whether you’re running a bustling restaurant, a busy retail shop, or a mobile business like a food truck, the right tablet POS system offers a multitude of benefits and conveniences. 

This article explores the best tablet POS systems of 2024, highlighting their features, costs, and suitability for different business needs.

Our team of expert software analysts considered more than 20 titles before identifying the top four tablet POS systems:

Expert score

Monthly Software Fee

Compatibility

Industries Served

Square logo.

Square

4.2

$0 – $60 plus

iOS, Android, Square hardware

Retail, restaurants, service businesses

Shopify POS logo.

Shopify

4.1

$39-$89 plus

iOS and Android

Retail

Lightspeed logo.

Lightspeed

4.0

$69 – $399

iOS and Android

Retail and restaurants

TouchBistro logo.

TouchBistro

3.9

$69 plus

iOS

Restaurants

Square logo.

Square: Best overall tablet POS

Overall Reviewer Score

4.2/5

Pricing

4.7/5

Hardware

4/5

Software features

3.5/5

Support and reliability

3.1/5

UX

4.4/5

Pros

  • Intuitive interface
  • No monthly fees for basic plan
  • Extensive integrations
  • Accepts all payment types
  • User-friendly reporting features
  • Sleek hardware

Cons

  • High transaction fees
  • Limited customer support for free plan
  • Occasional fund holds

Why we chose Square

When you consider the complete package of affordability, ease-of-use, and comprehensive functionality, it’s easy to see why Square has emerged as the leading tablet POS solution. Right off the bat, Square eliminates a major barrier to entry by offering a free version of its POS software, loaded with essential tools like integrated payment processing. This allows even the smallest businesses to get up and running quickly without heavy upfront costs.

But what really sets Square apart is how user-friendly the entire experience is. The interface is clean and intuitive, while the hardware setup with affordable options like the Square Stand make it simple to start accepting payments. Conversely, systems like Lightspeed require complex custom installations.

Despite its simplicity, Square doesn’t sacrifice power. It provides sophisticated customer management and loyalty program capabilities that integrate seamlessly with a vast ecosystem of third-party apps. This open platform flexibility outshines more closed systems like Shopify. And as your business scales, Square allows you to toggle on advanced employee and reporting tools without overcommitting to high monthly fees early on.

Square has also stayed ahead of key retail trends. The ability to manage online and in-person sales through a single system is crucial in our increasingly omnichannel world. And by offering buy now, pay later options — like Afterpay for in-store purchases — Square caters to evolving customer expectations.

Square POS has come a long way since its beginnings in 2009, when co-founder Jack Dorsey introduced a mobile card reader that allowed businesses to accept payments anywhere. What started as a game-changing solution for small merchants has evolved into a comprehensive, user-friendly point-of-sale system known for its affordability and scalability.

One of Square’s biggest draws is that it offers a full-featured free plan right out of the gate. This includes must-have capabilities like sales tracking, inventory management, and reporting tools—everything a new business needs to hit the ground running. The interface is so intuitive that almost anyone can get set up and start ringing up immediately.

But the crux of Square’s value is its commitment-free pricing model tailored to growing businesses. Unlike locked-in contracts from providers like Lightspeed, Square allows you to pick up new functionality as you scale, only paying for what you need. And the hardware options provide ultimate flexibility from simple plug-and-play readers to fully integrated POS stations.

While Square may lack the advanced specialization of some industry-specific POS platforms, its combination of free features, transparent pricing, scalable design, and continuous innovation have cemented its reputation as a leading user-friendly POS solution. 

Intuitive app interface: Minimal training is required to process transactions. 

Integrated online ordering: Commission-free takeout, delivery, and ecommerce channels.

Analytics and reporting: Reports are accessible from any device​.

Built-in payments: Mobile card readers built into tablet hardware. 

Employee management: Tools for scheduling, payroll, and team management.

Software

  • Free basic plan
  • Pro plans for $60 per month

Processing fees

  • In-person: 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Online: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Manually entered: 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction

Hardware

  • Square Stand: $149 or $14/month
  • Square Register: $799 or $39/month
  • Square Terminal: $299 or $27/month​

Add-ons

  • Square Marketing: From $15/month
  • Square Loyalty: From $45/month
  • Square Payroll: $35/month + $6/month per employee
Shopify POS logo.

Shopify POS: Best for e-commerce integration

Overall Reviewer Score

4.1/5

Pricing

3.4/5

Hardware

4/5

Software features

4.3/5

Support and reliability

4.4/5

Pricing Score

3.8/5

Pros

  • Seamless online and offline integration
  • Extensive app marketplace
  • Easy to use
  • Strong inventory management
  • Multi-channel selling
  • Customizable checkout

Cons

  • Higher monthly fees
  • Must use Shopify Payments for POS
  • Limited offline functionality

Why we chose Shopify

Shopify was included as a top tablet POS system due to its unparalleled native e-commerce capabilities, making it a top choice for businesses operating both online and in physical locations. 

Shopify POS natively connects with the Shopify e-commerce platform, providing a unified system for managing sales, inventory, and customer data across multiple channels. 

One of Shopify’s significant advantages over competitors like Square and Lightspeed is its omnichannel sales tools. Shopify POS supports sales across various platforms, allowing businesses to manage inventory and sales data in real-time. This is particularly beneficial for retailers who need to synchronize stock levels and order management between their online store and physical outlets.

Shopify POS also excels in inventory management, offering features such as demand forecasting, purchase orders, and detailed inventory reports with the Pro version.

Developed by Shopify, an e-commerce platform founded in 2006, the company’s POS system integrates seamlessly with Shopify’s online store, offering a unified solution for inventory management, customer data, and sales analytics.

Shopify POS is particularly strong in its e-commerce integration, supporting businesses in managing their online presence and in-person sales from a single platform. This system supports various payment methods and offers a flexible, customizable checkout process.

Recent updates to Shopify POS include the introduction of POS Go, an all-in-one mobile device that facilitates on-the-go sales and inventory management. Enhanced inventory states now provide detailed insights into stock availability across multiple locations, and improved staff management features offer granular control over employee permissions and sales tracking. Additionally, Shopify has also streamlined its checkout process to a single page, reducing buyer completion time and improving conversion rates.

Customizable checkout: Tailor payment types and automatic discounts.

Inventory management: Advanced tracking with low-stock alerts and automatic syncing.

Customer directory: CRM tool to track and engage customers.

eGift cards: Integrated system for easy sales and redemption.

Online integration: Sync between in-store and online sales.

Software

  • POS Pro: $89 per month per location (includes basic online store) 
  • E-commerce: $39 – $2,300 per month with monthly payments or $29 – $2,300 with annual payment
  • Note basic POS is included in e-commerce plans. However, we recommend brick and mortar stores upgrade to POS Pro.

Processing fees

  • 2.4 – 2.6% + $0.10 for in-person transactions depending on plan
  • 2.5 – 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions depending on plan 

Hardware 

  • Countertop kit: $459 (iPad not included)
  • Tap and chip reader: $49 
  • POS Go: $299 
Lightspeed POS logo.

Lightspeed: Best for retail shops

Overall Reviewer Score

4/5

Pricing

3.8/5

Hardware

4.3/5

Software features

4.5/5

Support and reliability

4.4/5

UX

3.8/5

Pros

  • Advanced inventory management
  • Strong reporting tools
  • Multi-location support
  • Customizable sales workflows

Cons

  • High cost
  • Limited Android support

Why we chose Lightspeed

Lightspeed’s inventory management is particularly noteworthy, providing real-time tracking, automated restocking, and the ability to handle product variations with ease. This level of control and precision is essential for retailers managing large and diverse inventories across multiple locations. In comparison, Square’s inventory features are more basic, while Shopify excels in e-commerce but lacks the same depth in in-store inventory management.

Another significant advantage is Lightspeed’s omnichannel capabilities. It allows retailers to unify their online and offline sales channels, ensuring a consistent customer experience and accurate inventory tracking across all platforms. This is a step ahead of Square, which doesn’t offer the same level of omnichannel support. Shopify offers similar e-commerce integration but can become costly when adding necessary in-store features.

Lightspeed also provides detailed reporting and analytics, offering over 40 types of reports that help retailers make informed decisions based on sales data, customer behavior, and inventory trends. Additionally, Lightspeed’s flexible pricing plans, including the Lean, Standard, and Advanced tiers, allow businesses to choose the best fit for their needs, with options for annual contracts providing cost savings.

Founded in 2005, Lightspeed POS is a cloud-based point-of-sale system that has become popular among small to mid-sized retail businesses. One of its key strengths is inventory management. It allows businesses to track stock levels in real-time and manage both in-store and online sales through a single integrated platform. This omnichannel capability makes Lightspeed particularly well-suited for companies with multiple retail locations and need to streamline operations.

The system continues to evolve with recent enhancements, like improved e-commerce integrations, advanced customer search tools, and better synchronization of shipment data with Lightspeed’s accounting software. Other modern features include integrated loyalty programs and sophisticated reporting analytics.

However, Lightspeed’s pricing may be a barrier for very small or newly established businesses, as it lacks a free subscription tier. Some users have also noted it could have greater flexibility to customize the interface to their specific needs.

Advanced inventory management: Real-time tracking and automation of stock levels across multiple locations​​.

Omnichannel sales integration: Synchronization of sales data between physical stores and e-commerce platforms​​.

Comprehensive reporting and analytics: Detailed insights into sales, inventory, and customer behavior with customizable reports that can be exported for further analysis​. 

Customer relationship management (CRM): Tools to create detailed customer profiles, track purchase history, and offer personalized marketing campaigns, enhancing customer retention and satisfaction​​.

Employee management: Role-based access control, employee performance tracking, and educational resources to improve staff efficiency and security​.

Software plans:

  1. Lean plan
    • Monthly price: $89/month
    • Annual contract price: $69/month
    • Features: Basic POS interface, one register, integrated payments, and inventory management.
  2. Standard plan
    • Monthly price: $149/month
    • Annual contract price: $119/month
    • Features: Includes all Lean plan features plus eCommerce integrations, advanced reporting, and accounting tools.
  3. Advanced plan
    • Monthly price: $269/month
    • Annual contract price: $199/month
    • Features: Includes all Standard plan features plus omnichannel loyalty programs, custom workflows, and detailed customer profiles​. 

Add-ons:

  1. Additional registers
    • Price: $59/register/month
  2. Additional locations
    • Monthly price: $89-$269/location
    • Annual contract price: $69-$199/location
  3. Lightspeed Loyalty
    • Price: Custom pricing based on business needs
    • Features: Customer loyalty programs, automated marketing campaigns, and customer grouping based on purchase habits.
  4. Lightspeed Payments
    • Transaction fees:
      • In-person: 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
      • Keyed-in: 2.6% + $0.30 per transaction
    • Features: Integrated payment processing with support for major credit cards and contactless payments.
  5. E-commerce integrations
    • Price: Included in Standard and Advanced plans
    • Features: Seamless integration with online sales platforms, social media marketplaces, and accounting software.

Also read: 5 Best Retail POS Systems 2024

Also read: Best Retail POS Systems

TouchBistro logo.

TouchBistro: Best for restaurants, food trucks, and cafes

Overall Reviewer Score

3.9/5

Pricing

3/5

Hardware

4.5/5

Software features

4/5

Support and reliability

3.8/5

UX

3.8/5

Pros

  • Designed for food service
  • Tableside ordering
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Scalable to brick-and-mortar

Cons

  • Quote-based pricing
  • Limited customizations
  • Can be expensive with add-ons

Why we chose TouchBistro

When you’re running a fast-paced mobile food operation like a food truck or bustling cafe, an intuitive POS system can make or break your efficiency. This is where TouchBistro beats out the competition. Its user-friendly interface is purpose-built for these types of environments where quick service is everything. And the fact that it can operate offline is a plus for mobile businesses dealing with spotty internet connectivity.

TouchBistro offers tableside ordering, allowing servers to instantly fire off orders to the kitchen from a customer’s table. This streamlined ordering process reduces errors and bottlenecks to keep lines moving.

In addition to front-of-house capabilities, it also provides inventory management and templated, streamlined reporting tools tailored to the unique needs of food businesses. Owners can easily track stock levels and sales data to make smart ordering and staffing decisions.

TouchBistro is an iPad-based point-of-sale system specifically designed for the food service industry. Founded in 2010, it has quickly become a leading choice for restaurants, cafes, bars, and food trucks due to its restaurant-specific features. The platform offers comprehensive front-of-house and back-of-house solutions, including tableside ordering, menu management, inventory tracking, and customer relationship management.

It supports offline functionality, ensuring continuous operation even without internet connectivity. This hybrid approach combines the reliability of local servers with the convenience of cloud-based data access, allowing restaurant owners to manage their operations remotely.

But like any software, TouchBistro does have places where it could improve. It requires a long-term contract commitment, which might not suit all businesses. 

TouchBistro is continually improving, having recently implemented an improved payment processing integration and advanced reporting tools, which offer detailed insights into sales and customer behavior. 

Multi-location support: Manage multiple stores from a single system.

Manage multiple menus: Tailor menus for online ordering, happy hours, brunch, and more, including automated time-based settings.  

Streamlined reporting: Easy-to-use analytics and sales reports.

Customer management: CRM features to manage customer relationships and loyalty programs​.

Tableside ordering and payments: Take orders and close checks at the table including upselling prompts and simplified bill splitting.

  1. Solo plan
    • Price: $69/month
    • Features: Includes basic POS features for a single license.
    • With hardware: $105/month
  2. Dual plan
    • Price: $129/month
    • Features: Covers two licenses.
    • With hardware: $209/month
  3. Team plan
    • Price: $249/month
    • Features: Supports 3-5 licenses.
    • With hardware: $359/month
  4. Unlimited plan
    • Price: $399/month
    • Features: Provides unlimited licenses.
    • With hardware: $539/month

Add-Ons:

  1. Online Ordering
    • Price: $50/month
    • Features: Allows restaurants to accept and manage online orders.
  2. Loyalty Programs
    • TouchBistro Loyalty: $99/month
    • TouchBistro Loyalty Premium: $179/month
    • Features: CRM, digital loyalty accounts, customer web app, marketing tools, and detailed reporting.
  3. Reservations
    • Price: $229/month
    • Features: Integrates reservation management with POS for streamlined operations.
  4. Gift Cards
    • Price: $25/month
    • Features: Provides tools for issuing and managing gift cards.

Key components of tablet POS

Tablet POS systems consist of several essential components that work together to streamline business operations. 

The primary component is the tablet itself, which serves as the central interface for processing transactions and managing sales data. Most tablet systems include app-based, user-friendly POS software that handles sales, inventory, and customer management. 

Payment processing hardware, such as card readers or contactless payment devices, is another crucial element, enabling secure and efficient transactions. Additional peripherals like receipt printers, barcode scanners, and cash drawers can be integrated to enhance functionality and meet specific business needs. 

Connectivity is also vital, with Wi-Fi or mobile data ensuring the system operates smoothly, even in dynamic environments. These components collectively provide a comprehensive solution for modern business management.

Benefits of using tablet POS systems

Tablet POS systems offer numerous benefits that enhance business operations and customer experience. Their mobility allows staff to process transactions anywhere within the business premises, reducing wait times and increasing service efficiency. 

The intuitive interface and touchscreen functionality make them easy to use, minimizing training time for employees. Integration with other business systems — such as inventory and customer relationship management — provides real-time data access, improving decision-making and operational efficiency. 

These systems are often more cost-effective than traditional POS setups, with lower initial hardware costs and flexible software pricing plans. 

Additionally, tablet POS systems are highly scalable, allowing businesses to easily add additional terminals and new features and capabilities as they grow. Enhanced customer engagement through features like email receipts and loyalty programs further solidifies their value.

Also read: Best POS Software Choices for Customer Rewards

Challenges of tablet POS and how to overcome them

Finding the right tablet POS for your business

Choosing the right tablet POS system is essential for optimizing business operations and enhancing customer experiences. Square stands out for its versatility and affordability, Toast for its restaurant-specific features, Clover for customization and scalability, TouchBistro for tailored solutions for food trucks and cafes, Lightspeed for advanced inventory management in retail, and Shopify for its e-commerce integration.

Tablet POS systems offer significant benefits such as mobility, ease of use, real-time data access, and cost-effectiveness. However, they also come with challenges like connectivity issues, security concerns, and hardware limitations. Addressing these challenges with robust solutions ensures smooth operations.

The selection of a tablet POS system should be based on specific business needs, operational environments, and growth plans. Whether managing a small cafe, a bustling restaurant, a retail shop, or a mobile food truck, the right POS system can transform operations, improve customer satisfaction, and drive business success.

FAQs

Tablet POS systems provide mobility, ease of use, and integrated functionalities like inventory management and customer relationship tools, making them ideal for dynamic business environments.

A tablet POS system can streamline operations by offering real-time sales tracking, simplified inventory management, and the ability to process payments anywhere, enhancing overall efficiency and customer service.