Chances are, if you’re reading this post, you’re shopping around for a new point of sale system. Perhaps you’re still using a pen and paper or Excel to run your business, and you’re looking to upgrade. Or, maybe you’re dissatisfied with your existing POS and are looking for something that has better prices, features, customer support, or all of the above.
Whatever the case, this post can help.
Below we’ll shed light on the key numbers around pos system pricing, as well as the top considerations to bear in mind when budgeting for a solution.
Let’s get started.
How much does a POS system cost?
So, how much should you budget for your point of sale solution? The short answer is it depends. POS system pricing varies widely depending on your business size, sales volume, and needs.
But to give you a really high-level average, Merchant Maverick states that businesses with a single register can expect to shell out an initial investment of around $1,250, and then pay about $1,000 per year to use the POS.
That’s a fair assessment, but remember that those figures are not the end all be all of POS prices. To really figure out how much you’ll end up paying, you need to consider the following factors…
Many POS providers take a cut out of your sales as part of their fee structure. So in addition to your monthly subscription, your vendor may charge something like 2.5% + 30 cents per transaction. Fees will vary depending on your sales volume, plan, and agreement — so try negotiating!
Be sure to do the math before signing. Estimate your monthly sales and calculate the fees set forth by your POS provider, so you’ll get an idea of how much you need to pay.
Not keen on splitting a percentage of your sales? Choose a POS vendor that doesn’t take a cut out your sales.
Registers are the devices on which you run your point of sale software. In the realm of POS pricing, you would typically pay a set amount per register. For example, at Vend, our multi-outlet plan starts at $199 and automatically comes with 2 registers. Retailers can add more as needed, for $39 USD a month.
Staff or users
If you’re planning to set up multiple staff accounts or point of sale logins, be sure to check the user limit that comes with your POS plan.
Most vendors have a set number of users for each plan, and then charge you extra for each additional employee that you add. There are also solutions in the market that allow for unlimited users, so look into these types of vendors if you have a large team.
If you collect customer information (and you totally should), see to it that your POS software has CRM capabilities that let you store numerous — or better yet — unlimited customer profiles for a reasonable fee.
For some POS systems, the size of your product catalog could influence the amount that you pay upfront and on a recurring basis. That’s why if you have numerous SKUs, you should choose a POS solution that either has a high SKU threshold include in its plans or lets you sell unlimited products.
For example, all of Vend’s paid plans come with unlimited products, so you don’t have to worry about paying more if you have a lot of SKUs. That said, if you have a limited product catalog and budget, Vend’s free plan allows up to 10 products.
When it comes to POS features, having more advanced capabilities will come with a higher bill.
If you’re looking for basic point of sale features (e.g. sell screen, basic reporting, etc.) then you can probably go for a low-tiered plan. However, if you require more advanced features (e.g. gift cards, advanced reporting, ecommerce, etc.) then you’ll likely have to shell out more funds.
To help you figure out the best solution and plan for your business, make a list of all the features that you need. Determine which capabilities are “nice to have” and “MUST-have” and label them accordingly.
Then, when you’re shopping around for a solution, get yourself a vendor matrix so you can compare different providers at a glance. Look at their offerings side by side, then do the math to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.
If you have multiple stores, you’ll likely need a higher-tier plan to support your operations. While this will mean spending more on your POS system, it’s an investment that you definitely want to make.
How much you’ll spend depends on the POS solution and the number of locations you have. Some vendors may charge you for each additional location, while others (like Vend) have plans to support unlimited outlets or locations.
POS system cost examples and comparisons
We’ve just outlined a number of factors that go into your POS software pricing. To give you a clearer picture of how much you could end up paying, below are some retail business scenarios that factor in software costs.
(Note: We’re using Vend’s pricing in the examples below. Your actual cost could be higher or lower depending on the provider you choose.)
A retailer who’s just starting out
Let’s say you’re at beginning stages of your retail journey. You have one store, one employee, and a handful of customers. Maybe you’re using Excel (or a pen and paper) to manage your business, but you’re finding all that too cumbersome and time-consuming.
You’re looking to level up and start streamlining your retail processes. You’d like to get some analytics into your business and know your top-sellers, best customers, and products on hand.
At this stage, you need a starter POS.
Software cost: $69 USD per month.
A growing retail business
On the other hand, you could be ramping up your growth. You’re developing deeper relationships with shoppers and you want to take the customer experience to the next level through a loyalty program and gift cards. You’re also selling online.
At this stage, you might also be keen on getting to know your business better. You’d like to get your hands on sales reports by brand, product category, tag, supplier, register, and outlet. You’re also looking to dig deeper into product performance so you can forecast your inventory levels and stock up accordingly.
You need a more advanced POS system.
Software cost: $79 USD per month.
A multi-store retail business
You’re a multi-store and multi-channel business, and you need a retail management system to help you stay on top of your outlets, employees, customers, and operations. You need capabilities like advanced reporting, customer relationship management, loyalty, omnichannel, and so much more.
Given the nature of your business, you might also need priority support to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
In short, you need a top-tier POS-slash-retail management system.
Software cost: $199 USD per month.
If you need more info on how to effectively compare different point of sale solutions, download Vend’s POS Buyer’s Guide. In this resource, you will learn the 7 secrets to find a reliable POS system, and avoid the costly mistakes most retailers make when choosing a new retail platform.
In it you’ll learn:
- How to budget for your POS system
- How to find and vet providers
- How to get the most out of the solution
The software is just one component of your POS setup. In addition to having a solid system, getting the right equipment is equally important. The question is, how much should you spend on POS hardware?
The answer (as you might have guessed) is it depends. Are you planning to ring up sales using an iPad and just want to issue digital receipts? Or do you need a full-fledged workstation complete with a large screen, barcode scanner, cash drawer, receipt printer, and the works?
Think about the specific pieces of hardware that you’ll use during your checkout process. Itemize the equipment along with their corresponding costs, then calculate your pricing.
POS hardware cost examples and comparisons
Need help budgeting for hardware? Consider these scenarios.
iPad POS setup
Let’s say all you need to ring up sales are an iPad, a receipt printer, and cash drawer. Here’s how much you can expect to spend:
- Apple iPad 9.7″ 32GB with WiFi – $329
- Pivot Point of Sale Base – $99
- iPad Stand – $89
- Receipt Printer – $275
- Cash Drawer – $125
- Power Back Up Pack – $65
- Barcode scanner – $250
Total hardware cost: $1,232.
PC or Mac setup
Prefer to use a computer or laptop? Here’s what that might cost:
- Laptop – $1,000
- Receipt Printer – $275
- Cash Drawer – $125
- Barcode scanner – $250
Total hardware cost: $1,600.
Do note that the prices above are just estimates. Pricing can vary widely across brands and equipment types. If you’re looking to lower costs, you can opt out of certain peripherals — such as iPad stands or scanners.
Don’t forget about compatibility
POS hardware and software are not universally compatible, so make sure that whatever hardware you choose plays nice with your point of sale software.
For best results, see if your POS vendor has preferred hardware providers and go from there. Aside from ensuring that equipment works perfectly, this can also help you reduce costs, as vendors who work together can give you special deals or bundles.
Another key component of your POS system? Your payment processor. Here are some of the costs you can expect from your provider:
- Setup fee: Sometimes called startup fee, this is a one-time cost associated with establishing your payment processor account. Not all providers charge this fee, and the few that do are often willing to waive setup costs if you meet certain requirements (e.g. using a preferred POS vendor, signing up for a long-term contract, etc.).
- Transaction fees: One of the ways a payment processor makes money is by taking a cut out of each transaction it processes for you. Transaction rates usually depend on factors such as your sales volume, the types of payments you need to process, and the cards you accept (Visa, Mastercard, etc.).
- Monthly subscription: In some cases, a provider may charge a monthly subscription fee for its services. Again, not all payment processors do this — but if they do, it’s worth asking them to waive it.
- Cancellation fees: A payment processor may also charge a fee if you decide to cancel its services. Ask about this when speaking to your vendor so you can factor it into your decision.
Consider integrated payments
Just like with hardware, it’s best to go with a payment provider that works well with your POS software. In addition to smoother operations, having a payment processor that integrates with your POS could save you some cash. POS solutions often extend special pricing deals if you opt for their preferred vendors.
As you can see, there’s no easy way to answer the question of how much to spend on your POS system. There are numerous factors to consider when selecting the right solution. And while we can provide ballparks and estimates, at the end of the day, you’ll need to run the numbers for your business to figure out the right budget for you.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.