Acquiring a POS solution combined with credit card processing is a feasible option for small businesses that are looking for point-of-sale solutions with a low upfront cost. Most often the hardware investment is low and the swipe-fee rates competitive. In addition, most iPad, mobile or online POS payment processing versions do not require a long-term agreement, and in many cases you can use hardware you already own.
Some point-of-sale services provide full POS systems including hardware and software in exchange for a credit card processing agreement. Usually these agreements require a longer commitment than iPad POS services or those that allow you to use your own hardware, which quite often are month-to-month. iPad or Android tablet POS services often only require you to pay processing fees, making them a sensible choice for new, seasonal or mobile businesses.
To keep your monthly costs low, consider Square, which does not charge monthly fees. For integrating your retail with an online store and mobile processing, consider Shopify. If you are looking for a capable iPad point-of-sale payment processing solution with low fee rates, consider iPayment POS. To learn more about the different types of POS systems available, compliance and security, or POS hardware options, check out our articles about POS Systems.
For small or micro businesses, upfront and ongoing costs are influential deciding factors. Additionally, you may not need as many of the advanced point-of-sale features that larger businesses require. We compared swipe fees, recurring fees and monthly rates to help find a POS system that fits your budget. We also compared payment processing, management tools and customer care.
We considered the following when reviewing POS Systems:
We estimated possible costs and compared them to the features and services offered. Monthly fees, swipe rates, hardware costs and ongoing quarterly or yearly fees were considered. Some recurring costs include support subscriptions, hardware support fees and PCI compliance fees. Other fees to consider include chargeback fees and early termination fees. We highly recommend that you carefully examine your contract before signing up with a new payment processing service, and that you discuss with your representative any and all possible fees.
Most payment processing services can process most common types of payments such as credit and debit cards, gift cards, checks and cash. Some are also capable of processing EBT, PayPal and Bitcoin transactions as an additional service. Nowadays most also have the hardware and technology available to process mobile phone payments using NFC technology or a mobile app. If you have issues with your internet or Wi-Fi, most will allow you to process payments offline to be synced up later when internet is restored. Most of the services in this review do not allow you to select your own payment processor; however, we do make note of the ones that do.
These are the features beyond processing sales transactions that help you run your business. You will want to look for a point-of-sale system that can perform the functions you require. If you run a retail business, you will want to look for good inventory tools. If you have employees you may want to be able to manage employee profiles. Businesses that have repeat customers, or want to foster loyal customers, will benefit from customer management tools. If your retail store could benefit from also selling your product online, you'll want to consider a POS solution with integrated online sales options. All business owners will benefit from online back-office access and advanced reporting options.
Since payment processors essentially handle your money, excellent customer service is mandatory. We looked to verify if the POS company could provide 24-hour service, year-round. Many retail and restaurant businesses are open on weekends and evenings, so they require that customer service to be available at all times. Twenty-four-hour email support is also desirable. Additional helpful services include overnight shipping of replacement parts such as broken card readers. Other support services, which may require an additional fee, include migration services to move your business data from another system or services that will add your menu items or inventory to the system for you.
The best strategy would be to discover at least three POS payment processors that look like they might suit your business needs and then contact them for a quote and additional information. Keep in mind that if you already have a payment processor, many services are willing to match rates to win your business. It is also helpful if you put together a list of questions to discuss with your prospective point-of-sale company before you speak with them so you can make sure your specific needs are discussed.