Like any industry sector, retail works in a very particular way – which means a small retail business needs a POS (point of sale) system that can carry out particular functionalities.
Think sales tracking, stock management, staff rota organisation… and not to mention, of course, the capability to scan barcodes, print receipts and process cash, card and mobile payments.
The right POS system for your shop will be flexible to your needs and cost-effective, and will boost your business’ efficiency and productivity. But which one is it?
The top four POS systems for retail businesses
Given the sheer volume of POS systems available today, starting your search for the right one can be bewildering.
To help you with the process, we’ve identified the top four retail POS systems, which we believe offer good value for money and have the potential to bring an excellent return on investment for retail start-ups and small ventures.
Click the navigation links in the table or simply scroll on to learn more about these options…
Epos Now: Best for scalability
Epos Now’s pros and cons
✓ The software can be learnt in 15 minutes
✘ Advanced 24/7 support costs extra
✓ Important hardware is included
✓ Packages can be paid for with a single fee
✓ A 30-day free trial is available
Processing over £2bn in transactions every year, Epos Now is the largest EPOS provider in the UK. It comes highly recommended by its customers and retail industry gurus – government advisor Mary Portas, for example, once dubbed it “the best system in the country”.
With no hidden costs, Epos Now’s retail system can be simply upgraded from a single system to a multi-site solution, so it’s a good one for businesses to start with if they aim to scale.
What can Epos Now’s retail system do?
Epos Now’s retail POS software offers a variety of handy features, including:
Customisable dashboards: View real-time reporting on product, sales and employee information, and keep an eye on KPIs
Stock control: Perform rapid stock takes, set up minimum and maximum stock alerts, enable automatic compilation of purchase orders, view stock across your locations
Accounting: Enable the automatic running of quarterly and end of year tax and VAT returns, and the calculation of profit, loss, operating margin, and staff gross pay
CRM integration: Keep track of your customers’ details and send them marketing communications
How much does Epos Now’s retail system cost?
Epos Now offers retail system bundles, which aim to provide both the software and the hardware you might need to get started – depending on whether you already have the hardware you need.
Unusually, Epos Now also gives you the option to pay for these bundles upfront, eliminating the need for monthly recurring costs.
What you get
The complete solution
A POS terminal, complete with a touch screen and solid state drive
A receipt printer
A cash drawer
Epos Now retail software
Installation, configuration and training
A 12-month warranty
£1,438.80 (or £1,199 excluding VAT) upfront, or £47 per month
The full tablet solution
A tablet stand
A receipt printer
A cash drawer
First month’s installation, configuration and training Additional extras include a card machine and stand, and and Apple or Android tablet
£549 upfront. Monthly costs available on request
The software only solution
Epos now retail software license
Configuration and installation
£499 upfront, or from £25 per month
Revel: Best for customisation
Revel’s pros and cons
✓ A free live demo is available
✘ The pricing is unclear
✓ You can pick and choose features
✘ No free trial is available
✓ Specialises in more modern iPad POS
✓ Has a broad variety of functionalities
✓ A hardware bundle is available
Specialising in iPad POS – rather than traditional computer-style terminals – Revel offers a dazzling variety of features designed especially for particular businesses: from ticket tracking for cinemas to topping customisation for pizzerias.
With this, Revel provides a pre-configured package of software and hardware, comprising of the POS software, an iPad and stand, a card payment machine, a receipt printer and a cash drawer.
What can Revel’s retail system do?
‘Always On’ mode: Keep processing card transactions offline when your internet connection drops or slows down
Built-in CRM: Access your customers’ details and purchase histories to better understand their preferences, and attract them back with targeted marketing
The Insights management app: Take a look at operational information – including real-time sales data and your staff’s attendance – on-the-go from your phone
Stock management: Keep account of all of your stock across multiple locations
How much does Revel’s retail system cost?
Revel’s retail system is modular, so you can choose which elements of the software will suit your business best and only pay for these – meaning you don’t have to pay over the odds for features you don’t really need.
For this reason, Revel doesn’t offer one-size-fits all pricing, and asks that potential customers get in touch to discuss their particular business needs.
Vend: Best for remote access
Vend’s pros and cons
✓ A 30-day free trial is available
✘ Hardware isn’t included in Vend’s packages
✓ Pricing is transparent with no hidden fees
✘ Installation and set up costs extra
✓ A custom package can be tailored to your needs
✓ The support team is accessible 24/7
✓ The system is scalable
✓ The software works with iPad, Mac and PC
With over 20,000 retailers using Vend’s retail POS – including big names like Disney, ecco and Sennheiser – it’s safe to say it’s one of the most popular systems out there.
Importantly, Vend’s cloud-based system can be accessed from any internet-connected device, meaning you can check on your business from your personal tablet or phone while away from the shop.
What can Vend’s retail system do?
Vend’s software’s many features include:
Ecommerce integration: Use integration with platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce to seamlessly launch a corresponding online store
Flexible payments: Accept gift cards, split payments, partial payments, mobile payments and contactless payments
Inventory management: Sync products across all your channels into a catalogue, perform multiple inventory counts at once, set up automatic stock orders and more
Customer management: Manage a database of all your customers’ profiles, view their purchase history, and set up your own custom loyalty programme
How much does Vend’s retail system cost?
Vend charges flexible monthly costs for its software, with no obligation to join a long-term contract.
Unlike other retail POS systems, this cost doesn’t include any hardware. However, you can buy the hardware separately from Vend.
Alternatively, Vend says its software is flexible enough to work well with a range of hardware types and brands – including iPads, Macs and PCs – meaning you might save yourself some money if you’ve already got the bits you need, but have been using them with different software.
What you get
Lite (for businesses turning over £15,000 or less each month)
Inventory management, small business reporting, 24/7 online and phone support, Xero accounting add-on
£49 per month when billed annually, £59 per month when billed monthly
The above, plus all other add-ons and ecommerce channels, advanced reporting and analytics, advanced promotions and gift cards, API access, multi-outlet management
£69 per month when billed annually, £89 per month when billed monthly
The above, plus a dedicated account manager and customised onboarding
Bespoke quotes are available on request
First Data’s Clover Station: Best for intuitivity
First Data’s Clover Station’s pros and cons
✓ Robust security and fraud prevention
✘ Pricing is only available on request
✓ Up to £150 cash back is available on switching
✘ No free trial is available
✓ Important hardware is included
✓ Has a comprehensive online help centre
✓ Regular free software updates are provided
A leading merchant services provider, First Data offers a modern and intuitive EPOS system – including both hardware and software – that’s been specially designed for retail businesses. It’s known as the Clover Station.
It’s worth noting that, First Data also offers the Clover Mini, a more compact terminal, and the Clover Flex, a mobile card machine. These can serve as valuable add-ons to the Clover Station.
What can Clover Station do?
Clover station’s features include:
Sales data reporting: Use insights about your customers and what they buy from you to intelligently promote your products
Built-in security: Help keep your information and your customers’ details safe with Clover Station’s built-in fraud protection and multi-layered security
Loyalty programme management: Set up physical and digital loyalty and rewards programmes to attract and keep customers
Customisable business management: While things like inventory and employee management are built in, you can also integrate specialised apps from the Clover App Market for additional functionalities
How much does Clover Station cost?
Clover Station is a comprehensive package, including a touch screen terminal, a cash drawer, a receipt printer and First Data’s retail EPOS software.
However, First Data does not advertise prices for its Clover systems, instead requesting that potential customers get in touch to discuss their individual needs.
As explored above, some retail POS providers will sell systems that come with a lot of the hardware you’ll need, while others will simply sell the software and require you to buy hardware separately.
To shed light on the hardware you might need, we’ve listed the key hardware components of a retail EPOS system:
What is it for?
This is the ‘computer’ from which the POS system is run – in short, the central hub that connects all elements of the system together. This can be a computer-style monitor, or in some cases an iPad. Most terminals have intuitive touch screens for easy use.
The modern customer has expectations about how they can pay, so you’ll need to be able to accept all major credit and debit payments, contactless, and potentially mobile payments using a card machine. Some POS packages come with chip and pin devices.
Barcode reader or scanner
Either handheld or multi-line, barcode scanners are essential for quickly scanning your products. You’ll want to make sure yours comes with a cradle where it can be safely placed while not in use.
This is a customer-facing screen on which the customer can view the details of the transaction that’s happening – primarily the cost.
Card payments are very popular, but it’s likely you’ll still get the odd customer who’s keen to pay in cash – especially if your prices are fairly low – so you will need a secure cash drawer in which to keep cash.
If you price your products based on their weight – for example, fruit or fudge – you’ll need a scale electronically integrates with your EPOS system.
In order to save money and waste, you can give your customers the option of an email receipt – but many will still prefer a paper one. Most retail EPOS systems use thermal printers because they can print fast and cope with high volume.
iPad or Android tablet
If you opt for an iPad POS system, you’ll need a tablet to run it from.
What are the benefits of a retail POS system?
An EPOS system that’s been designed specifically for retail can bring your business a plethora of benefits, and should help you to grow and be more productive.
A retail POS will also come with some specific benefits, which may be different to those that you would find with a hospitality POS system, for example.
Increased revenue. A POS system makes accepting payments of all kinds easy, meaning you don’t miss out on any sales.
Fewer mistakes. In a high-pressure environment like retail, mistakes can be made. POS systems automate processes to reduce human error, and highlight anything that seems like an error.
Efficient management. Retail POS systems often come with a range of management functionalities such as inventory management, sales reporting and analysis, real-time data presentation, and accounting capabilities for the efficient running of your business.
Improved speed. POS systems process payments more quickly than traditional cash registers, and can also save time on things like stock takes, accounting and compiling orders.
Reliable maintenance. Traditional cash registers are outdated and prove costly when it comes to repairs and maintenance. By contrast, POS system packages often include specialist maintenance and support.
How should you choose the best retail POS system for you?
When browsing different POS systems, you can narrow down your options by asking yourself two main questions:
Would you prefer the convenience of an all-in-one package complete with software and hardware, or would you rather mix and match your own components?
Would it be better for you to pay for your system outright, or pay in bitesize monthly instalments?
Of course, the best POS system for one retail business won’t necessarily be the best for another. Your size, the nature of your product ranges and your customer base are all factors that’ll influence what you’ll need from a POS system.
All being said, our advice is to prioritise looking for an affordable system that’s intuitive to use, offers strong customer support, and is easily scalable.
Compare retail POS systems
The information on this page should help you to understand what to expect from some of the UK’s top POS providers. For the best idea of what might suit you, though, it’s a good idea to speak directly to suppliers – we can help you with this.
Simply fill in the form at the top of this page, and we’ll put you in touch with up to four top UK EPOS suppliers who can provide bespoke quotes for you. This process is free, quick and easy, and could save your business time and money. Good luck!
Get EPOS System Quotes Tailored For You. Start Here & Save Up To 40%.