Choosing a Cloud-Based Point of Sale (POS) System

Welcome to 2018, where you likely store at least some facet of your life in the cloud: the benefits to using cloud-based storage and software are easy to understand. 

Transitioning to a cloud-based POS system may seem like an unnecessary cost with a steep learning curve, but as technology becomes increasingly user-friendly and accessible, it’s one investment well worth considering. The ability to access data and analytical insights, increase security, and become a more flexible, robust and mobile business are all huge advantages over any traditional systems you might be using. 

The only downside to the democratization of such awesome software is that it comes with a bewildering array of options, so it can be tough to know which one to go with. To help, here are some recommendations to get you started for a few different business types.  

Breadcrumb features excellent reporting capabilities.

Best POS for full service restaurants: Breadcrumb or Toast 

Running a restaurant is a hectic enough job without having to fight with complex or unwieldy software every day and night. Breadcrumb and Toast feature intuitive designs that make software a seamless part of service. They both allow you to create table maps and simplify communication between the front and back of house. While Breadcrumb provides data dives with an efficient daily digest email, Toast creates a detailed database on each of your customers and their transactions. Notably, both also work offline, so should your internet go down, your profits don’t have to as well. 

Cost: Breadcrumb licenses start at $99 per month for the “core” plan, for restaurants with a single location, and the software runs on iPad. For $349 a month, the “Pro” plan allows for multiple restaurant locations, multiple terminals, and includes all of Breadcrumb’s hardware — including customized iPads, card swipers and a Kitchen Display System.  

Toast’s $99 “Pro” plan, recommended for full service restaurants, gets you the software and the company’s outstanding customer service, but doesn’t cover any hardware costs and only works for one location. To handle multiple locations, you need to upgrade to the Enterprise level.  

Best POS for fast casual / coffee shops: TouchBistro 

Though TouchBistro is similar to Breadcrumb in its mission — making restaurant service easier — it holds the edge when it comes to smaller scale operations. TouchBistro requires only an iPad to get started and is customizable based on whether you’re running a full service or fast-casual restaurant, a bar or brewery, or even a food truck. Its ability to scale up and down, while still offering speedy service, insightful analytics and 24-hour customer support makes it a great option for those running a leaner operation. 

Cost: Starts at $69 a month for one terminal, $129 a month for two — a great option if you fancy having one stationary payment terminal and one roving. Hardware isn’t included, but all the plans do include cloud analytics reports, unlimited user access and over 200 POS features. 

Best POS for retail: ShopKeep 

Even retail can benefit from the data revolution, and what sets ShopKeep apart is its ability to not just collect your business’s data but provide digestible analyses and insights in return. Accessible by desktop or mobile, ShopKeep’s system generates detailed reports on sales, shifts and inventories so you can make more educated management and purchasing decisions. The professional, clean and user-friendly interface runs on an iPad, or hardware that you can purchase from the company. 

Cost: It’s $69 a month per register, with a 2.4% (approximate) fee for each credit card transaction. With that you get advanced inventory management, a customer database and free integration with Intuit’s QuickBooks. 

Best POS for fitness: Glofox 

A POS system designed specifically for gym and fitness studio management, Glofox allows you to manage class schedules, bookings and member billing.  Perhaps most notably, it allows you to create your own personalized app for your members, where they can book classes, receive push notifications and even buy your merchandise. Past and current Glofox users boast an average of two hours saved on admin work – allowing you to put more of your effort into making the workouts hard.  

Cost: Plans start at $100 per month for the basics – like member management, website integration, scheduling, etc. – but for the member app feature, you’ll need to splurge for the $150 per month “Gold” or $190 per month “Platinum” package, which also unlocks additional data insights. The highest price point includes a check-in kiosk. 

Square Register is a complete hardware and software system.

Best all-arounder: Square 

Despite being created by Twitter’s co-founder, Square is perhaps most aptly compared to Facebook, as it’s not only the most ubiquitous option, but also the most versatile. It has an astonishingly simple user interface, an unparalleled number of free functions and inexpensive-yet-aesthetically pleasing hardware. All of which adds up to make Square the most popular POS system in its class. It’s not perfect for every kind of business, but its versatility and ease of use make it darn close. 

Cost: No monthly fees, but a 2.75% charge on each credit card swipe, dip or tap, and a free mag stripe reader. In terms of other hardware options, the Square Stand for iPads is $169 if you prefer a stationary option — iPad sold separately — whereas the Square Register is a fully fledged all-in-one POS software and hardware system, and a pretty one at that. But it should be for $999. 

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