7 best retail POS systems for shops in 2024

Having an efficient and discreet Point of Sale (POS) system is key for good customer experience. See what our researchers picked out as the top choices for retail.

Our Research

When judging the best POS systems, our writers work with expert researchers to focus on key features that matter most to small businesses. These include value for money – setup, hardware and transaction fees – help and support, plus the till, stock, and business management tools available.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young
Robyn Summers-Emler Grow Online Editor

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Based on our research, the best retail Point of Sale (POS) system is Square. It offers a feature-filled, scalable POS with no upfront costs – which is why Square is also our best free POS system for small businesses.

Today’s retail market is a challenging one for shops, pop-ups, and market stalls. Every penny counts, and the ability to take payments smoothly and cost-effectively is vital.

We’ve simplified things by carrying out a month-long research campaign – alongside an independent analyst – to find the seven best retail POS brands on the market:

Best Retail POS Systems at a glance

  1. Square: best overall retail POS system for new businesses
  2. Clover: best for premium, boutique stores
  3. Zettle: best for mobile businesses and pop-ups
  4. Talech: best for clothing retailers
  5. GoodTill: best for retail chains
  6. Epos Now: best for salons and spas
  7. Lightspeed: best for large, specialist inventories

Click any of the links above to begin comparing costs on POS Systems for your own business’s size and needs.

In each of the below reviews, we’ve judged each provider using six POS categories, as requested by retailers. These are:

  • Pricing
  • Features
  • Employee management
  • Help and support
  • Ease of use

In today’s economy, budgets are tight. You might just be looking for the cheapest POS option out there. Use our custom-built POS cost comparison tool to get personalised bespoke quotes for free. Or read on for a full explainer of where each brand stands out.

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Goodtill (by Sumup)

Epos Now


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£0 for Square for Retail Free

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£16.99 +VAT per month for Clover Flex

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£0 for Zettle Go

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£49.99 per month for Talech Standard

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£29 +VAT per month for Goodtill POS

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£225 per year for retail POS bundle

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Square for Retail: best for new retailers launching this year

New retail firms need to factor startup costs into their budget, which means they need an easy-to-use POS system that won’t limit scale-up. Square for Retail offers just that, thanks to its many tailorable plans that can suit any budget (including a completely free plan).

Square card reader

Shop owners can flog items through the Square for Retail free plan, which doesn’t require any hardware to process payments. Instead, teams can take payments by manually keying customer card details into the app (although you will be charged a higher transaction fee of 2.5%, compared with 1.75% for in-person payments).

Despite its low cost, Square for Retail Free has no shortage of valuable features. They include:

  • Automatic inventory sync – for instant real-time updates on your stock levels
  • Unlimited user passwords – for large teams of 10+ employees
  • Rapid setup – you can start adding products to your catalogue as soon as you’ve downloaded the app.

Once your sales numbers increase, I would advise SMEs to purchase Square for Retail Plus (£49 per month) for advanced tools such as COGs reports, barcode label printing, and stock forecasts, which help you predict which products to reorder based on how fast you’re selling.

At this point, you can begin adding new hardware like a Square card reader for card transactions, Square Register for cash payments, Square Stand for your iPad, or the Square Terminal for receipt printing. Pricing starts from just £19 for the card reader; a small investment that will lead to bigger returns as it comes with lower card processing fees.

Square pricing

Square’s pricing is not only immensely affordable – it’s also very simple. There are no monthly fees, and you’ll only need to pay for any hardware you choose to purchase. The costs are:

  • Square Reader: £19 +VAT
  • Square Register: £50 +VAT
  • Square Stand: £99 +VAT
  • Square Terminal: £149 +VAT

While it doesn’t have the cheapest transaction fees on this list (that award instead goes to Lightspeed POS, which charges roughly 0.3%-0.4% on each transaction) Square does at least charge a standard rate so you won’t be hit with nasty surprises. You’ll pay:

  • 1.75% for in-person payments (chip and PIN, contactless, and mobile)
  • 1.4% + 25p for online UK card transactions
  • 2.5% + 25p for online non-UK card transactions
  • 2.5% for virtual transactions and invoices
  • Square offers three help channels if you get stuck (email, live chat, and phone support)
  • Square for Retail Free users can also build a free online shop using the Square Online website builder
  • Customer profiles are automatically created - a simple but effective route to building brand loyalty
  • No training mode option available for new staff
  • You’ll need to upgrade for more sophisticated features like bar code printing
  • Able to monitor staff timesheets and rest breaks, but not sales performance

Clover: best for premium, boutique stores, such as a jewellers

Clover stands out for its business management features. Our researchers judge Clover to be ideal for stores selling high-ticket items and needing exceptional customer service features – although its expensive price tag puts it out of budget for many SMEs.

Image credit: clover.com

Image credit: clover.com

Clover has two software modules available for small businesses: Clover Payments Plus and the Register Plan. The former is only available for Clover Flex (a handheld card machine) and Clover Mini (a portable tablet). It covers all the core tasks such as refunds, tip management, and of course, cash and card payments.

The Register Plan is much more advanced, allowing users to apply tax, discounts, and create items. I’d recommend this as a worthy investment for high-end firms wanting to offer exceptional customer service. It allows you to set up physical and digital loyalty programmes to retain customers and is available with Flex, Mini, and Clover Station Pro, a comprehensive POS.

Clover Station is great for small businesses who are growing or who want something more like a conventional till. It has a 14 inch high-definition touch screen, which could make entering transactions quicker than a small screen, and it comes with a cash drawer and receipt printer.

However, Clover Flex is a much more affordable, and still smart, option for SMEs. While its functionality is basic, it can still integrate with over 100 apps in the Clover App Market, to manage inventory, staff schedules, and sales data.

Clover pricing

Clover is not as budget-friendly as Square. Its pricing is far less transparent, as business owners are encouraged to contact the Clover sales team for personalised, monthly quotes rather than a flat rate. Here’s what we do know about Clover’s costs:

  • Clover Flex: £16.99 +VAT per month
  • Clover Mini: £25 +VAT per month
  • Clover Station Pro: pricing available on request

At first glance, Clover’s transaction fees appear to be much cheaper than Square, and far more complicated. They vary not just on payment type, but card used. Fee rates start from:

  • 0.2% for in-person payments made by debit card
  • 0.3% for in-person payments made by credit card

However, these rates have been known to increase to up to 3.5% + 20p-40p depending on business size. There are also some other hidden fees to be wary of: Clover charges £15 per month for PCI Compliance, which is available for free with Square.

  • Able to track staff performance by number of transactions, amount collected, and refunds given
  • Take payments in offline mode for up to 7 days - handy if you’re based in a remote area
  • Clover offers email and phone support (but no live chat)
  • Clover charges £25 for every payment dispute; Square charges nothing
  • You are only permitted one user per licence. Should you have more than one till - they will all require a separate package

Zettle: best for mobile businesses, such as car boot sellers

Zettle’s free POS software includes plenty of clever features that make running a business on-the-go, such as a bike repair service or a car boot seller, much simpler. Plus, its compact Zettle Reader won’t require a large shop floor to take payments.

Zettle card machine

Mobile businesses have two key considerations for their POS: internet connectivity and battery charge. I can reassure business owners that Zettle answers both of these concerns neatly. The Zettle reader can connect to a WiFi network and 3G, 4G or Bluetooth. Plus, it can be charged with a USB in just one hour, for up to eight hours battery life.

Zettle’s POS app, Zettle Go, has only one plan for users. But while Zettle Go is not as scalable as brands like Square, that doesn’t mean it’s basic. Shops will still be able to monitor inventory (it’s much harder to restock when you’re selling on the road) and view and export data on top selling items and average sales per week.

For static businesses with larger teams, Zettle might fall short. It can only track sales made by staff, not employee clock ins, late shows, and time off. Plus, I was disappointed to find that it doesn’t offer CRM or loyalty features for return customers. You’ll need to manage these through a third-party app instead.

However, for sole traders with just one or two employees, Zettle is ideal. You won’t need a printer or any large till to weigh you down (Zettle can send customers digital receipts instead) and you’ll be able to accept every major payment type.

Zettle pricing

Like Square, Zettle operates a pay-as-you-go model. You simply purchase its hardware, then use it however frequently or sporadically to take payments of any type. Card machine costs for Zettle are:

  • £29 +VAT for the Zettle card reader
  • £149 +VAT for the Zettle terminal
  • £189 +VAT for complete Zettle setup

Zettle has pushed up its payment processing fee from 1.25% to 1.75% for in-person payments (chip and PIN, contactless, and mobile). This is still competitive (Square has the same rates). However, Zettle’s hardware is marginally more expensive than Square, so the latter is better value for money (just). Other fees include:

  • 1.75% for PayPal QR codes
  • 2.5% for virtual payments and invoices
  • Able to integrate with accounting software, such as Quickbooks and Xero, for simplified bookkeeping
  • Live chat, phone, and email support is available if you need help
  • Completely free to set up, so you don’t need to budget for any nasty joining fees
  • You can't use Zettle in offline mode, so if your shop is in a rural area you'll need a strong mobile network
  • No training mode available (although Zettle's setup is famously simple)
  • Zettle only has one payment plan, which is not great for scaling firms

Talech: Best for clothing retailers with multiple product lines

Talech gets our vote for its fantastic retail features. With great product customisation features, it’s the only other provider on this list whose retail features match up to Square’s, and is particularly well-tailored to fashion and shoe retailers with their own clothing lines.

Image credit: youtube.com/@elavoneurope

Talech has four retail plans available. SMEs are most likely to get set up with Talech Starter which is entirely free to use but mobile-only (as is the case with Square for Retail Free). With this plan, you’ll be able to assign multiple floor assistants to the POS and add up to 500 items to your catalogue.

If your team aren’t fashion experts, give them access to product details at their fingertips with detailed images and descriptions. You’ll be able to use variations to detail product colours and sizes. And, inventory tracking will mean you’ll never run out of stock – useful for clothing shops, which keep lots of products in storage.

Starter is primed for newcomers. But I’d advise that firms upgrade to Talech Standard as soon as possible. This plan unlocks sales insights, barcode label printing, and padding time (access the till if a customer makes a purchase after closing time). Talech Standard lets firms offer exchanges and store credit, a must for a robust returns policy.

One drawback is that Talech does not provide any of its own hardware products. It integrates instead with specific third-party devices (including every iPad model), all of which are fairly bulky compared to the compact designs of Square and Zettle. Talech charges £24.99 per month for each device added to the Standard plan.

Talech pricing

  • £0 per month for Talech Starter
  • £49.99 per month for Talech Standard
  • £69.99 per month for Talech Premium

As mentioned, Talech does not have its own hardware products. The cheapest card reader it can integrate with is the Tetra Move/5000. This can be leased as part of Talech’s Business Booster – Wireless bundle, which allows you to rent a third-party wireless terminal for £18 per month and gives you 24/7 help and support.

Talech’s transaction fees are a bit confusing. For the Talech Starter software-only plan, they are set at 1.75%. However, if you choose to purchase a hardware bundle (such as Business Booster – Wireless) the transaction fees will drop to 0.99%.

  • Phone, email, and live support is available (the Talech phoneline is 24/7)
  • Whether paying with a card or online, end-to-end encryption means your customers can trust their data is secure
  • During installation, a Talech account manager will walk you through the software on training mode
  • Only 500 products are permitted with Talech’s lowest priced tier
  • Talech Starter has no employee management features (you'll need to upgrade to Talech Standard for these)
  • Starter plan is only available for up to five employees

Goodtill: best for retail chains based in multiple sites

Goodtill is not the cheapest retail POS system on the market. But its exhaustive library of add-ons, each one tailored to assist with specific business needs, makes it a suitable system for store owners managing multiple sites and team members.

Image credit: thegoodtill.com

An iPad-based POS system, Goodtill is owned by SumUp, a popular fintech brand that purchased Goodtill in 2020 to bolster its reputation in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. SumUp describes itself as a card reader provider ‘to suit every business’ and this ethos is particularly evident in Goodtill’s unique library of POS software bundles.

Each add-on focuses on a different specialism, allowing users to select the business area they most want to improve. I’m a big fan of ‘Goodies’, which is a customer relationship tool that keeps buyers eager to return with features such as a rewards and loyalty program. There’s also an analytics module, for data insights, and a promotions module, for running discounts.

This is especially helpful for established retail chains, who likely have specific business objectives to work towards. Ditto for employee management. If you’re looking after a large team across multiple sites, you can track work hours through the till and tailor access through custom permissions (in comparison, Talech offers not staff management features).

I can reassure business owners that Goodtill’s core software contains plenty of great features on its own, too. Alongside taking payments and creating a logo, you’ll be able to carry out a live stock count, produce gross profit reports, and facilitate customer self-service by using the iPad stand to create a self-checkout.

Goodtill pricing

Goodtill’s software pricing is more expensive than budget options like Square or Zettle, but its costs start at a still-affordable £29 per month. On top of this, users can purchase optional add-on ‘modules’ to boost their plan. Prices range from £9-£18 per module.

New businesses can also take advantage of Goodtill’s Starter Pack offer, run in partnership with SumUp. Costing just £889 (a 60% discount, according to Goodtill) eligible firms can take home a SumUp iPad stand, Apple iPad, SumUp card reader, and a 12-month SumUp POS Core POS license with the package.

Goodtill is not transparent about its transaction fees. However, if a business user integrates the Goodtill software with SumUp hardware, they can expect to pay:

  • 1.25% for debit and credit card transactions
  • 0.99% per transaction if you process over £30,000 of payments a month
  • 2.5% for virtual payments and invoices
  • In keeping with Goodtill’s customer-centric USP, the brand received the highest customer satisfaction score in our latest round of testing
  • Goodtill has 13 plans to choose from with focuses varying from business analytics to customer display
  • Trend-tracking available to identify opportunities for promotions
  • Set up process can take a long time - you need to add all your products and main information to get started
  • You’ll be locked into a 12-month contract with Goodtill
  • No live chat available for help and support (although phone and email is available)
  • Goodtill doesn't automate data backups; you'll need to take care of this admin task yourself

Epos Now: best for beauty salons, spas, and barber shops

Though far from a budget POS system, Epos Now serves as an excellent sales assistant for service-based retailers. Its features can be used to create a bespoke sales funnel that will build customer loyalty and keep them booking appointments at your business.

Epos Now Restaurant POS

Image source: facebook.com/eposnow/

During our testing, we found that Epos Now really stands out from the market thanks to its myriad of marketing and CRM integrations.

Service businesses can utilise integrations with Mailchimp, for email marketing campaigns; Loyalzoo, to create exciting rewards that will drive customers back in-store, and Appointedd, so staff can see customer bookings direct from the POS. You can also create customer profiles to note styling preferences and requests from the software.

Profit margins are tight at the moment, and price rises are common in salons. Epos Now makes it easy to apply instant updates to pricing, available services, and discounts. And, because it integrates with all the major website builders, including Wix and Shopify, this information will be automatically edited on your web page.

Epos Now is available as a software-only product for £588 per year. However, this is so much more expensive than free plans like Square and Zettle that I wouldn’t recommend it to SMEs. Instead, Epos Now’s real value proposition is its hardware bundles, which I’ll explain below.

Epos Now pricing

For hardware, Epos Now offers retail bundles, which provide everything you’ll need for a cash register. Prices start from £899 per year. That said, the brand often runs discounts that can see you claim up to 60% off (at the time of writing, its retail POS package costs £225). Contracts usually last 2-3 years. For smaller hardware, you can expect to pay:

  • £19 for Epos Now card machines
  • £129 for Epos Now printers
  • £39 for Epos Now barcode scanners

Unlike some competitors, Epos Now software isn’t locked to their hardware. You can use your own devices or theirs. If you opt for an Epos Now model, you will pay a fixed 1.7% transaction fee for any card accepted in person.

Like Talech, there are lots of hidden fees with Epos Now, including a personalised annual licence renewal fee. Because of this, we recommend contacting the Epos Now support team to get a full breakdown of your costs before purchase.

  • Scores higher than Square for till management features, thanks to outstanding hardware
  • Automated employee performance reports generated each month save on admin time
  • Accepts gift card payments; handy for spas and salons wanting to sell voucher schemes
  • Premium price point means it’s not for early stage startups
  • Our researchers score Epos Now poorly for scalability, thanks to its limited software plans
  • No free trial or plan available - you’ll need to be fully committed to purchasing this platform

Lightspeed: best for businesses with large, specialist inventories

Perhaps you’re an antiques dealer with a variety of products across multiple categories. Or you might be a camera store weighed down by lenses, tripods, and accessories. Whatever weird or whacky thing you’re selling, Lightspeed’s inventory tools are ideal for specialist businesses needing that extra bit of aid in the stockroom.

Lightspeed inventory

Image credit: lightspeedhq.com

Our team of researchers gave the Lightspeed Retail platform full marks for stock management tools – putting it in line with Square. The Lightspeed Basic plan is a bit of a misnomer: even at this tier, users can produce sales reports, summaries, and dashboards.

But it’s the Lightspeed Core plan that big box retailers will appreciate. Warehouses and stores need to hold a significant amount of stock to meet demand and ensure they have what customers need. At this tier, users can oversee their entire inventory. These can be filtered by brands, outlets, suppliers, product categories, or date range.

Businesses are able to use these insights to supercharge their sales. I’m a fan of the “dusty inventory report”, which shows you what products you’re struggling to shift and might need to be discounted or remerchandised. Similarly, the “recently out of stock report” alerts organisations to when a product is selling fast and needs to be reordered.

When you’re dealing with huge inventories, you’ll likely also have a larger workforce to manage. Lightspeed Retail is the only option on our list with a training mode for staff – incredibly helpful for retailers, who have one of the highest rates of employee turnover.

Lightspeed pricing

  • Lightspeed Basic (£75 per month, billed annually)
  • Lightspeed Core (£119 per month, billed annually)
  • Lightspeed Plus (£189 per month, billed annually)

While Lightspeed is not the cheapest POS option on the market, its advanced software means it is flexible enough to work well with a range of hardware types and brands – including the Square card reader – meaning you might save yourself some money if you’ve already got the bits and bobs you need.

Excitingly, Lightspeed’s transaction fees are also capped, regardless of payment method. Depending on your business profits, you’ll pay a set amount each month, usually ranging between 0.4% and 0.5%. Here’s what that looks like for a business making up to £100,000 a month in sales:

  • Transaction volumes up to £15,379 would pay up to £75
  • Transaction volumes between £15,380£49,999 would pay between £120-225
  • Transaction volumes between £50,000£115,379 would pay between £265-525
  • 30-day free trial is available so you can try before you buy
  • Help and support is available via email, live chat, and over the phone
  • Lightspeed has one of the biggest libraries of integrations. The platform will work with over 250 third-party apps.
  • Lightspeed Basic only supports five employees
  • Requires an internet connection to work - only core features can be edited offline

How we test EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) systems for small businesses

We tested 16 EPOS systems to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, price, help and support, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to small UK-based businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in nine main categories of investigation and 45 subcategories – in fact, we covered 61 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs of our Startups.co.uk readers.

Our main testing categories for EPOS systems are:

Till: the core functionality of the EPOS system, which includes the processing of sales transactions.

Business Management: the features and tools provided by the EPOS system to support various aspects of running a business.

Stock Management: the EPOS system's capabilities to manage inventory and track stock levels, such as inventory tracking, stock alerts, and stock transfers.

Business Development: the features and tools provided by the EPOS system to help businesses grow and improve their operations, such as marketing integrations and sales forecasting.

Usability: how easily and intuitively the EPOS system can be used by the staff. It includes factors such as user interface design, navigation, and ease of training.

Price: the cost associated with acquiring and using the EPOS system, including purchase cost, licensing fees, and subscription plans.

Help and Support: the assistance and resources available to users when they encounter issues or need guidance while using the EPOS system.

Features: the functionalities and capabilities provided by the EPOS product. This can include a dedicated restaurant and retail functionality.

The Startups product testing process

The Startups product testing process diagram

How do I get started with a retail POS?

The majority of retail POS systems – including Square and Zettle – are quick and easy to get started with. Simply go to their websites, select the plan you want, and you can sign up in as little as two minutes (in Square’s case).

Others, such as Talech or Lightspeed, are trickier to sign up to. You’ll need to contact each providers’ customer support team to be given a custom quote to compare.

You can use Startups’ exclusive POS cost comparison tool for bespoke pricing information. Simply fill in a couple of details about your business and we’ll match you with tailored quotes for the best POS systems and card readers.

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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