Originally published by Laurie James on Inc. on Aug 13, 2018.

Just like our review of the best POS for restaurants, the race for the best system for retail business is a photo finish measured in nanoseconds. Shopkeep made it over the finish line slightly faster than its competitors simply because the product is a little easier to use, costs a little less, comes with robust 24/7 customer service, and is appropriate for small- to mid-sized retailers. Shopkeep uses a pricing-by-quote system, so you’ll have to spend time with a representative on the phone to get all the details and data you want. When we called for pricing for a combo online/in-store retail shop, the price given was $69 per month with a 1-year contract for software for one iPad, which included a basic back-office package. For $99 per month (also a year-long contract), a retailer gets a more robust back-office package that tracks sizes, additional options for gift cards, automatic triggers for when a product is running low, and most of the features that you’d need to run a business from both a storefront and online.

The company rep was knowledgeable about the products and also discussed the incentive package running at the time we called: Commit to buying Shopkeep’s hardware products and there’s a discount up to $250 on the purchase. It’s not necessary to buy their hardware as Shopkeep’s software will run from your newer generation iPad. However, if you are a start-up, or you have older machines that aren’t compliant with the electronic chip (EMV) debit or credit cards, the package might be worth the investment. Shopkeep doesn’t have used or refurbished hardware available for sale on its site. Those could be found on an aftermarket website or eBay, although the usual “buyer beware” cautions exist here. Shopkeep’s hardware includes a payment processor, and the current rate at the time of this writing is 2.2 percent per swipe. You can use your existing processing software, but the Shopkeep staff didn’t recommend that, as they cannot guarantee the aftermarket product will work seamlessly with their system.

As with any hybrid POS (part software, part cloud) that relies on a consistent and robust data stream, if your business has problems with connectivity, you may have issues. However, Shopkeep’s software will continue to work when not connected to the internet and will back up when connectivity is re-established, which is a nice feature if your business relies on being available in different locations, such as a food truck or roving vendor.

Websites for most POS systems for retail don’t provide specifics about the amount of volume that the different package plans can handle. If you’re deciding between products, it’s wise to have a specific inventory list, SKU count, and your wish list for the accounting and reporting features you absolutely need to so you can best determine if Shopkeep or any other service will adequately handle your needs. You may be able to go smaller (perhaps back to Square, which is more economical). Shopkeep works best for a small to mid-sized retailer. If your retail business is mid-sized and growing, make sure you are comfortable with the amount of inventory Shopkeep will allow you, and the detail of their inventory management.

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Alissa McCue

Alissa McCue

Alissa McCue has over 10 years of marketing and public relations experience working for top brands in retail and technology. As Senior Manager of Public Relations at ShopKeep, the #1-rated iPad Point of Sale System, Alissa is focused on highlighting ShopKeep's major achievements and thought leadership in the POS and technology space for independent businesses.