Last updated on March 1st, 2020 at 07:17 pm
In order to find the best POS software, we tested 15 popular POS programs, narrowing the choices down to our 3 top recommendations: Lightspeed, ShopKeep, and Shopify POS.
Our comparison covers how easy the software is to learn and use, functionality, cost, and level of customer service. These three POS systems offer comprehensive options for the small business owner.
Lightspeed Vs. ShopKeep Vs. Shopify POS
#1 Lightspeed: Best Full-Featured POS Software
Lightspeed has a lot going for it with its best feature being the software’s ability to match its functions to the growth of your business; as your business grows, the software grows with it.
This sophisticated POS system handles managing inventory with multiple items spread over various store locations, making it a top inventory management software system in the industry.
In addition to the jam-packed, feature-rich management capabilities, Lightspeed boasts top-notch customer service, 24/7.
Lightspeed’s Wealth of Features
Lightspeed comes with an amazing arsenal of features, and the top reason we recommend this POS system.
The full-featured software has an impressive inventory system with over 3,000 pre-programmed vendor catalogs. Add their purchase order management tool and Lightspeed offers small businesses seamless creation and easy submission of purchase orders.
Besides order management, Lightspeed has advanced features for reporting, creating and tracking service requests, work orders, and more.
What we find most impressive about Lightspeed is the perfect balance of its complex features and how easy the software is to use. The simple to use register screen makes training your sales clerks a breeze.
Most POS software systems have confusing inventory systems making them difficult to use. With practice, Lightspeed is an intuitive software, easily navigated especially when adding and managing inventory.
For the features included, Lightspeed is the most cost-effective POS software system on the market and another reason it’s one of our top picks.
Systems with features like Lightspeed’s have on average, a 25% higher per month fee with some topping 50-100% more. Add their excellent customer service, and this POS system is the best performing tool for growing your business.
The only flaw we found is the number of included features in Lightspeed. With a per month price of $99, small businesses might find it too much for their needs. When your inventories are small average, we recommend considering Shopify POS for your business.
Employee Management of Lightspeed
The employee management module has time tracking capabilities, meaning the Lightspeed device has time-clock capabilities for clocking in and out.
With hourly reports, you can add employee time records to Quickbooks for integrating payroll.
Besides exceptional payroll management, Lightspeed has customizable user permissions for 22 different settings, including price changes and discounts, and cash withdrawals.
With its many features, this POS software system takes a little practice. Once past the learning curve, it’s an easy software to use.
Lightspeed is a small system but offers the same complex features found in larger systems.
Sporting an intuitive back office, the layout has the important function tabs located to the screen’s left side for ease of use.
The action screens and processes, such as inventory and vendors, are laid out with ease of access for the end-user. Those using the register users will find using the system simple processes like an item edit and delete function.
The only suggestions to simplify use is an optional keyboard to access custom made changes, and the ability to add popular items to quick add buttons.
Cayan is Lightspeed’s recommendation as primary payment processing for its customers, and Mercury Payments is the second choice.
Any Authorize.net gateway works with Lightspeed POS. Payline Data, an Authorize.net payment processor, works with Lightspeed and has competitive rates averaging 1.67% plus $.25 for each transaction.
All plans come with unlimited products, transactions, and customers, with software upgrades and supports.
Price does not include an additional cost for POS hardware. Depending on the style, wireless or wired, Lightspeed’s equipment cost is between $1,100 and $1,700 per register.
1 register plus 5 employees — $89 per month paid annually.
2 registers plus 10 employees — $169 per month or $149 per month paid annually.
4 registers plus 20 employees — $289 per month or $259 per month paid annually.
Additional registers cost $51 per month and include 3 employees. Anything over the 3 employees is charged at a rate of $9 per month, per additional employee.
All three POS systems run a close race with features for managing employees. We give Lightspeed a slight lead because of the advanced settings for user permissions.
This POS system feature-rich for managing inventory, including individual and bulk inventory upload. The software allows for complex inventory item information, such as small and large, colors, and other descriptions.
It also allows adding specific elements to each item description without creating separate inventory items. For example, different pricing for different sizes; XL has a higher price than a size small.
Lightspeed has special inventory management features, such as alerts when inventory item stock is low. It’s even possible to connect each stock item to the corresponding supplier for quick ordering.
The reporting module gives you order recommendations based on usage history while showing current cost updates for individual items.
Besides intuitive inventory management features, Lightspeed is top in the POS industry when it comes to its purchase order module.
Lightspeed’s sophisticated features come at an amazing price, and its vendor catalogs come pre-programmed with over 3,000 vendors, making it easy to manage and create purchase orders.
Setting Your Machine Up and Using It
Lightspeed, with its large feature base, is more complicated, yet easy enough businesses can still do their system configuration.
With free setup tutorials provided by Lightspeed, new users can quickly have their system up and running.
Processing Credit Cards
Any payment provider with an Authorize.net gateway, including Mercury Payments, Payline Data, and Cayan, integrates with Lightspeed.
Lightspeed’s Customer Service
Lightspeed and ShopKeep have superior support offering top reviewed customer service 24/7. Support at Shopify was found to be the best though, with 24/7 service and less than a minute of wait time.
Lightspeed: Top rated support offered three ways, through email, chat, and phone support 24/7.
A recently introduced feature allows support chat with Lightspeed technicians through the register screen and backend. This unique feature is available during normal business hours.
#2 ShopKeep: Flat Pricing & Solid Integrations
When your business is on a tight budget, but other POS options don’t have the sleek inventory dashboard you need, ShopKeep is the answer.
This POS software system has great features, including ease of use and exceptional customer service, all at a great price. If you use QuickBooks, the integration module costs $29 more per month.
The extra cost makes the price about the same as Lightspeed which includes integration with QuickBooks and more options than ShopKeep.
This software has the most basic of features for small businesses with minimal inventory. It’s a simple system with a 20-30-minute learning time for back-office and register functions.
Navigation for adding products and configuring information is quick and easy, and employee use is streamlined with its clean register interface. The only drawback to ShopKeep is the inability to add product pictures.
Managing Employee Feature
Both Lightspeed and ShopKeep let you track hours for employees with a time clock built into the POS software.
Hour tracking lets you run productivity reports for each employee and customize permissions for each user.
While ShopKeep doesn’t have sophisticated settings for permissions like Lightspeed, it’s still a system functional enough for most businesses.
Credit Cards Processing
With BridgePay as a gateway, ShopKeep utilizes several payment processing options, including, but not limited to, Heartland, Chase Paymentech, Global Payments, and Sage.
In addition to their large selection of processors, ShopKeep is PayPal and PayPal Mobile integrated.
Shopkeep’s price is $69 per month for each device, you get inventory management, raw ingredient tracking.
Credit card transaction processing, and full-time support, 24/7. ShopKeep hardware costs are $1,100-$1,700 for each register.
#3 Shopify POS: Best Inventory-Based POS System
If the processing needs of your business are simple with small inventory transactions, Shopify POS offers the best POS functions you need.
Whether you make roadside sales or have a small store inventory, this POS software is a perfect choice.
Fees are per transaction processing rates for credit and debit cards. The fee rates for each transaction are as low as 2.4% +0¢ with the Shopify card reader.
Plus, Shopify integrates with third-party vendors. This POS software system offers a basic low-cost service, perfect for small businesses.
Setting Up And Using Your Machine
Of the three POS systems, Shopify has a simple setup process with an easy to use intuitive design.
Shopify: is a good beginner’s tool or for those not wanting to spend much time developing their shopping site. The Shopify packages offer tools for product management, e-commerce, and web design packaged in a single product.
Setup is easy by choosing a template, uploading products, and selling. With the ability to sell any number of products, scaling up is easy for most businesses.
Shopify offers a variety of tools and apps for meeting your business needs and adding functionality to your store. In their App Store, you can choose from over 1,500 Apps, both paid and free.
Their tools include customer service, accounting, marketing, inventory management, shipping, reporting, and more.
Processing Credit Cards
Being its own processor, Shopify has an easy to configure system but still provide you with many processing choices. ShopKeep is the most basic POS system but offers more processing choices.
Another consideration is the per-transaction cost with free POS software systems. Shopify does not have a monthly service charge, but pricing for the per-transaction fee might be more than going with one of the monthly charge systems.
This makes factoring in the number of transactions you have each month and the amount of those transactions, an important consideration when choosing a POS provider.
Transactions are free when using Shopify’s payment gateway, but it supports many third-party processing choices.
When using a processing gateway other than Shopify, you pay added transaction fees of 2%, 1%, or 0.5%, respectively, for Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans
With Shopify’s free 14-day trial, you can build your store now, try out Shopify without a credit card, then pick the plan for your company later with no setup fee.
When using Shopify payments, you have no transaction fees. If you use an external payment gateway, added fees apply, based on the plan you chose. Hardware pricing is separate, and Shopify offers a complete POS kit for $799.
- 2 Employees — $29 each month with discounts for annual upfront payments.
- 5 Employees — $79 each month with discounts for annual upfront payments.
- 15 Employees — $299 each month with discounts for annual upfront payments.
Going Deeper: Comparing Lightspeed to ShopKeep
Coming in as the cheapest, Shopify POS is the most price-driven among the POS software systems we reviewed. ShopKeep falls in the middle in both features and price while Lightspeed takes the lead with the highest price.
But, when comparing the three products based on features and price, ShopKeep comes out the clear winner in value.
A free 14-day trial comes with Lightspeed POS and ShopKeep POS changing to a monthly service charge after the trial, while Shopify is a by transaction fee service.
Hardware pricing basis is per register including iPad and stand, reader for credit cards, cash register drawer, barcode scanner, and printer.
When comparing POS systems feature to feature, Shopify POS comes in as the cheapest system, but it also has a very basic set of features.
ShopKeep has more advanced features, while LightSpeed, at $30 per month more, has features to use now, and features that grow with the business.
Any of the three reviewed POS systems offer inventory tracking and management with Shopify being the most advanced when it comes to inventory tracking.
ShopKeep offers some impressive inventory management features, like inventory tracking, alerts when inventory gets low, and tracking of raw ingredients.
LightSpeed the clear winner for their POS software made for small business inventory tracking and management. LightSpeed, by far, outshines the other POS systems in managing inventory.
This POS and inventory management tool lets you track more than 10,000 product items.
ShopKeep also tracks by individual count or usages of raw ingredients, like sugar, flour, coffee, cups, lids, and containers.
The tracking allows you to calculate future orders using historical data of usage.
If you want to know how much peppermint extract to order in December, you can look at the historical data for the previous year’s extract sales.
Like the other POS systems, you can program the software to alert you when inventory gets low for easy reorders before you run out of a product. However, unlike Lightspeed, ShopKeep does not have a purchase order module.
This easy to use system lets you have different versions of a single product, reflecting colors, materials, sizes, and more.
You can group these products by any of the versions or by category, seasons, and any other way you choose.
With seamless stock level tracking and automated reminders, you stay on top of remaining inventory numbers and avoid running out of stock.
You receive alerts when levels get low, and you need to reorder. Shopify has an inventory management system that shows you how your stock inventory is moving.
The inventory management tool helps you better plan your future orders for better sales forecasts, leading to more successful marketing campaigns designed around inventory stock numbers.
When it comes to POS, Shopify is a great choice for easy management of large amounts of different inventory items.
All Shopify versions support an unlimited inventory and have great search and variation creation features. But, Shopify falls short when it comes to employee management, with only a few tools offered.
Managing Customer Relationships -- CRMs
Lightspeed and Shopify are the clear winners in this category, with great functions and feature-rich CRM modules. ShopKeep comes in last with average capabilities, but not lacking.
Lightspeed: The top pick for CRM functions and features, Lightspeed’s register module has automatic customer profiles created after entering an email address.
Contact grouping is by type with individual customer options of special discounts no sales tax for non-profits.
Assign special orders, layaways, and service or work orders to customers, a function not offered by ShopKeep. With Lightspeed, businesses have access to email marketing campaigns with MailChimp integration.
ShopKeep: The most basic of the three POS packages give you tracking information for each customer.
With customer contact lists, track sales history, send receipts by email, and import customer information for MailChimp integration.
Shopify: When new orders get placed, Shopify automatically creates a detailed profile of each customer. These customer profiles show you customer shopping habits and buying patterns.
The system makes your customer’s contact information and order history available and fully synchronized in Shopify.
Quickbooks integration options come with all three systems, with ShopKeep charging extra for the service at $30 each month. Quickbooks integration automatically synchronizes each day’s sales and data from payroll with Quickbooks.
Lightspeed and Shopify have Xero integration for no added cost, while both offer third-party integration for an additional cost.
Lightspeed: Direct QuickBooks and Xero integration are free. Integration with accounting software other than QuickBooks costs extra.
ShopKeep: Quickbooks integration is an extra charge of $30 per month. Integration with other accounting software packages is available at an extra cost.
Shopify: saves bookkeeping time and money with their list of software integrations including QuickBooks, Xero, Unify, Bridge Connections, and much more.
Easily manage purchase orders, tax reports, invoices, and customers in one place. Shopify offers a long list of approved apps including small business bookkeeping and easy online invoice and quote tools.
Customer Service & Support
ShopKeep: Offers award-winning customer support by phone 24/7, chat, and email.
They have a large self-help section including video tutorials and a self-help forum for finding solutions through issues reported by other customers.
Shopify: has top-rated customer support with helpful and knowledgeable reps offering fast, useable information.
Besides offering phone, chat, and email support 24/7, you can get quick answers from a huge FAQs database.
Having a support safety net for quick answers included with your subscription price makes checking into Shopify worth the effort.
Any of the three POS software packages are a great solution for most small businesses. The functions of each package are spot-on for the cost. But, some situations call for a POS software package with different functions.
We reviewed several packages and the list below packages that might be better for your business if our preferred picks are not right for your needs.
Finally What We Think About the Best POS Software
If you have a small business with, Shopify POS is a good choice for a POS software system. The system is simple and easy to use with basic inventory and processing functions.
ShopKeep is another good choice, offering similar functions to that of Shopify POS. Like Shopify POS it has integration with Quickbooks, but the $30 per month fee makes ShopKeep less of a viable option.
Lightspeed is, by far, the best choice for a full-featured POS system. This software is adaptable to all financial needs, making it the perfect system to grow along with your business