Here is the most complete tablet-based point-of-sale system you’ll see this year.
A technology trends analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers made a startling prediction in 2008.
Mary Meeker announced mobile would overtake fixed internet use by 2014.
Desktop-based applications were the norm then, including in the Point-of-Service systems industry.
Her prediction was spot-on.
The same year Google’s Eric Schmidt urged everyone, from businesses to web designers, to start taking a mobile-first approach.
Fast-forward and the best POS systems on the market today fully embrace the mobile platform. They now provide reliable tablet point-of-sale (POS) systems.
The top vendors offer both Android and iPad POS solutions. Others focus on POS software for IOS exclusively.
Another group provides point of sale solutions exclusively for Android devices.
We will also reveal some of the best tablet POS systems on the market in this guide.
This post will also cover why you’ll want to use a tablet-based POS solution over traditional POS systems. And, of course, how to choose the right tablet-based POS system for your business.
Before that, here’s a quick background.
But in case you are running out of time already, jump to the roundup of the best POS systems for tablets. No hard feelings.
What is a Tablet POS System?
A tablet-based point of service system is a compact and flexible solution that simply uses an Android tablet or iPad to operate a POS system. You do not need additional hardware. You can just use your existing iPad or Android tablet.
Then you can subscribe to a POS pay-on-the-go model to start reaping the benefits immediately without spending big on POS equipment.
You do not need to purchase extra software to get started, either. Choosing a good POS solution will help you get all the capabilities you need in one place.
Take a cloud-based iPad POS system, for example.
You only need an iPad and a monthly POS software subscription to backup your business data in the cloud, access it from wherever you are and provide superior customer experiences.
If you ever choose to switch to another vendor in the future, you can install a new POS solution on the same device.
There are more benefits to using a tab POS system for your business.
Why Use a Tablet-Based POS System?
Picture this. Your employees and customers already have years’ experience using smartphones, tablets, and mobile apps. So they are likely to find using mobile-based POS to be user-friendly and intuitive, boosting their shopping experiences.
Other advantages of tablet-based POS systems for business include:
- The best mobile POS software providers offer subscription-based pricing models. There is no need to shell out a fortune on POS hardware in advance when you can pay flexible fees as your business grows.
- You can connect your cloud-based POS system to the best business apps for your business, from accounting to e-commerce, right on your Android tablet or iPad.
- Top mobile POS systems include specialist software such as menus (restaurants) and inventory management (retailers). So you can help customers order food in the kitchen right from their table.
- Or, they can see what’s available in your catalog in real-time from wherever your representative meets them, such as in a meeting in another town.
- You can take the checkout process to your customer, boosting their shopping experience.
- You can connect to your POS system remotely to see how business is doing so you can act quickly based on facts. For example, you can see live metrics of the inventory items that need replenishing soon or right away.
- Your employees can serve customers anywhere on your physical store/restaurant’s floor or outside in a waiting line.
- And you won’t need to kill time re-entering their details in your central POS system. Your tablet-based solution will automatically sync them to your cloud-based POS account.
- The sleek and compact systems are one way to modernize your in-store customer experience, boosting your reputation, primarily when you serve upscale or young-adult customers.
- You won’t have to purchase extra hardware or software. Just download the solution and start using it on the go.
- You can boost customers’ shopping experiences when you answer their item availability inquiries fast and accurately.
- You can also attach a USB-A or USB-C cable to connect a card reader and accept customers’ most convenient payment options.
Many tablet POS systems come with no contract or hidden fees, too.
Which Tablet Based POS System is the Best?
Top retail POS systems. Best POS system for restaurants. A good POS solution with e-commerce features. There are several types of POS software programs you can operate from a tablet or iPad based on your business needs.
The great thing is you can adopt one, and it’ll adapt to how your business’ POS software needs.
The solutions we discuss below highlight that benefit.
But we’ll certainly let you know if the system is more suited for restaurants, retail, customer loyalty programs, e-commerce, or other use cases than others.
7 Best Tablet-based POS Systems Available Now
Here are our top POS systems for iPads and Android tablets in no particularly order.
Each offers a free demo.
We recommend you take advantage of the free demos to find the best match mobile POS software for your business.
Square pioneered the mobile POS movement, and it shows in the menu of benefits it offers professional service providers, retail, and food and beverage businesses. It’s an all-in-one POS system for single- and multi-location businesses.
- It offers one of the most feature-packed tablet POS solutions available right now, and for different businesses, not just restaurants–unlike the competition.
- Square POS offers excellent reporting tools that update you on your business’ health at any place and time.
- Its terminal, cash registry, stand, and payment strips work seamlessly with the portable point-of-sale.
- Get plenty of compatible third-party integrations, including CRM, email, website, and e-commerce tools.
- Take online orders or sell in-person.
- Use customer loyalty programs and personalized messaging to help build long-term customer relationships that pay.
- Support AmEx, Visa, and Mastercard cards for payments.
- Its flexible pricing and features can help you grow on the platform without needing to switch to another.
- Manage and pay your people in one place, too.
- Get a custom enterprise plan in case you are a multi-location business.
- It offers a free trial. Plus, its free retail point-of-service app takes transaction fees instead of a monthly subscription.
Yet, with all its tools in one place, Square still manages to offer a user-friendly platform, a gorgeous user interface, and rock-solid security for your business data.
This is an iPad POS solution for retail and restaurant businesses. Like Square, Lightspeed is also an all-in-one cloud-based point-of-sale system for businesses of different sizes. It also sells sleek POS hardware you can use together with your iPad POS software.
- Get out from behind the counter and take sales anywhere with an iPad.
- Or refresh your in-store shopping experience with a quick, easy-to-use, and affordable tablet-based POS system.
- Fasttrack customer recommendations with its inventory management tool.
- Create customer profiles to help you follow up and nurture lasting relationships with them.
- Let customers pay with their favorite mobile money wallet from the comfort of their seats.
- Use your iPad as a second register.
- Sync all transactions in the cloud so you can see how the business is doing in real-time, from any place, at any time.
- Use the pre-loaded retail catalogs, restaurant menus, and more to get started fast and smoothly.
- Connect it with multiple third-party tools to support every area of your business without dabbling in various apps.
Lightspeed also supports customer loyalty programs and employee management.
You’ll also get a free barcode generator and free social media templates to grow your business further.
Here’s another top tablet POS solution for small businesses with single and multiple locations. ShopKeep is best-respected for its inventory management-focused tools. It is not overwhelming, either, which makes it easy to learn, use, and troubleshoot in case of a hiccup.
- Use ShopKeep to serve retail, restaurant, and quick-service customers.
- You’ll get a sleek, modern, and mobile POS for tablets.
- Conduct decent email marketing campaigns to nurture customer relationships and encourage more sales.
- Use Android or IOS devices.
- Accept multiple payment options, including cash, gift cards, credit, and debit card payments.
- Integrate it seamlessly with third-party accounting tools such as QuickBooks.
- Make bulk inventory updates.
- Receive low-inventory alerts on your phone so that you can avoid stockouts.
- Get phone and email support whenever you need help to keep business going.
Lightspeed acquired ShopKeep POS in 2020, so you can now tap into the all-in-one cloud-based iPad POS benefits. Those include supporting seamless online and in-store sales, e-commerce, and employee management.
Vend is a robust online POS software you can operate on your iPad for all business types. It is also available for iPads, Macs, and PCs, so you can monitor your business performance from anywhere, with any device that isn’t an Android tablet.
- Customize receipts to endear your brand to customers.
- Gain customer trust with flawless returns in the payment method they used initially, or turn them into gift cards and store credits.
- Assign individual staff accounts to appreciate the value they offer the business and track productivity.
- See real-time business data thanks to its cloud-based platform.
- Bring live inventory levels from multiple stores and systems in one place.
- Take advantage of the integrated customer database to personalize your messaging and encourage repeat purchases.
- Connect Vend with multiple third-party tools such as Shopify, Amazon, eBay, and Woocommerce for e-commerce.
- While Vend doesn’t offer its own POS hardware, it provides Vend Experts to help you repair equipment you buy from its hardware recommended partners.
- Support cashless, contactless, mobile, credit/debit card, gift card, split, and partial payments.
- Do multiple inventory counts at the same time.
You can also segment customers into groups to send them targeted marketing messages and encourage more sales. And, if you want, you can transfer stock levels to other locations.
Toast is the go-to tablet-based point-of-sale platform when you want to use your Android-based tabs. It is an excellent option for a full- and quick-service restaurant. It includes many of the other solutions we’ve listed here offer, plus a couple of its unique selling points.
- Toast offers one of the most intuitive mobile POS platforms in the industry. But your team will still get proper training and support through the learning curve.
- Android’s open nature means you can tweak your Toast POS to customize your point-of-sale restaurant software’s look, feel, and functions.
- See your restaurant’s metrics anytime, anywhere, thanks to its cloud-based solutions.
- Includes all front-end benefits you can expect, from check splitting to transferring tickets to new tables, taking orders, and ticketing.
- It includes engaging server and guest experience functions such as order-ready notifications, customer feedback collection and response mechanism, and tableside card or EMV payments.
- Make creating and updating your menu easy and quick.
- Its POS hardware not only looks chic, but it is also IP54 spill-proof rated to curb any damage from everyday food and beverage spills.
- Expect a robust inventory management system with real-time item countdowns.
Toast recently revealed several tools to help restaurants take the heat out of their kitchens during the pandemic. They include contactless welcomes, a delivery system, and contact-free payments to keep guests and your team safe.
Revel Systems keeps winning businesses like yours over for its feature-rich POS for IOS and Android tablets. It goes all out on back-office management and payment options. Then it tops itself off with an unassuming user interface that won’t feel overwhelming to learn and keep using.
- Expect a robust and mobile-based point-of-sale platform that is especially ideal for managing multiple-location businesses.
- It supports retail, food, and beverage brands that take orders and sell online and in-store services.
- Revel provides vast support for third-party integrations, in case it doesn’t already provide the function you are looking for itself.
- It also boasts one of the most secure mobile-based POS solutions to keep your trade secrets safe.
- You can use its modern POS hardware to support your portable POS.
- Like many platforms here, it is a cloud-based solution so you can take your business reports anywhere, at any time.
- Then you can track your team’s productivity, sales, attendance, and more from one place.
If you run a restaurant or cafe, you’ll like Revel’s self-service portal and kitchen display system. Your servers and chefs can also see color-coded timelines to serve guests on a first-come-first-serve basis, even at the busiest hour.
If you run a fitness and wellness business, spa, or salon, you’ll want to check out Mindbody. It packs a slew of targeted benefits to help optimize client experiences, payments, front office, and brand your wellness business.
- Get branded mobile apps your clients will recognize and come to love.
- You’ll get an integrated video platform ideal for streaming fitness and wellness programs to provide value to clients and keep them coming back for more.
- It provides mobile POS hardware for when you get out from behind the counter to engage customers.
- Yet, its AI front office management tool is ideal for keeping everyone safe with contactless check-ins.
- The Mindbody tablet app attracts over 1.3 million active monthly users, 145,000+ new users, and 3.7 million classes are booked through it. So using its POS and community can open up new doors for your wellness business.
The Mindbody app video-on-demand and streaming capabilities mean you can host online classes to train your customers from anywhere, follow their fitness progress so you can offer more value to them, and reap customer loyalty in return.
What to Consider When Buying a Tablet Based POS System
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
- Pick the Right Tablet POS Provider for Your Industry
This should be straightforward enough.
- If you run a fitness store, choose a tablet POS service for the fitness industry.
- Go with a reputed tablet POS system for restaurants if you’re in this section of the hospitality industry.
- If you run a retail store, choose a provider with experience in retail POS solutions for tablets.
And so on.
That will help you use a product made with your specific industry’s needs in mind. And that can mean you would not need to buy extra hardware, software or create sophisticated integrations to make the system work in your specific use cases.
- POS Software Costs
You’ll want a mobile point of sale you can afford.
Fortunately, unlike traditional countertop POS systems, you do not have to outlay a small fortune to buy several different point-of-sale components at once.
You can transform your current tablet into a complete point of sale.
Then you can opt for a cloud-based POS software program you can pay for based on a low monthly or annual fee.
The pay-as-you-go model can help make your sales and customer experiences efficient so you can grow over time.
Also, you can subscribe to a flexible POS pricing model where the scope of your business needs is what will determine how much you’ll pay.
The more POS tools you need as you grow, the more your investment would be.
And in case you ever need to scale down for any reason, you can switch to a leaner, more affordable plan to save costs.
- Compatibility with Your Existing All-in-one POS System Components
So you want to convert an iPad into a mobile point of sale but still, need it to fit into your in-store POS ecosystem?
Then you’ll want to ensure it works with your other POS system components.
What are some of those components?
- A point of sale printing solution, such as a receipt printer
- A cash register
- A favorite POS stand with an anti-theft design
- Seamless integration with a card reader for card payments processing
- Innovative paper management equipment or software
- A bar code scanner
Perhaps you want to support newer payment processing options such as EMV and NFC. In that case, you’d like to get a POS system for tablets that supports those options.
- Ease of Use
A complicated mPOS will challenge both employees and customers. And that’s not what you want.
Instead, you want to pick a reasonably easy to learn product that is also intuitive to operate.
An excellent way to know about this is to take advantage of the free demo most tablet point of sale vendors will offer you.
You can test the system’s ease of use with your people. If you can, request customers to take a minute on one or two of the products and share what they think.
- Apple vs Android Tablet POS
In your search for the best mobile POS system, you’ll notice that many providers tend only to support IOS devices.
A few support both iPad and Android tablets. Even fewer offer Android-only POS solutions.
Still, you want to choose based on your needs.
Let’s talk about examples.
- Android tablets tend to be cheaper to buy, maintain, and replace. So if you are on a tight budget but do not want to compromise on a quality build, you can choose the most robust Android tablet you can afford. There are several options, from Samsung’s Galaxy tablets to Huawei and Lenovo offerings.
- Apple’s IOS platform is reputed for its high-standard security protocols if you are concerned about your business data security. Not that Google’s Android offers mediocre security standards, but likely due to Apple’s closed operating system and rigorous app verification process.
- Yet, the closed nature of an iPad’s operating system can frustrate you if you need to install further customizations, updates, or integrations that aren’t available for IOS or approved by Apple yet. Contrary, Android’s open-ended nature attracts numerous third-party providers that can help support your mPOS system in almost every way.
- You can easily use any or multiple Android phones with any Android tablet than Apple-only devices if you use an iPad point-of-sale solution.
Remember, you can start small and build as you go.
For example, if you do not have a reliable tablet already, you can get a Google Certified Android tablet for under $100. It can serve your small business POS needs.
You can get an iPad Air 2 for under $280 for busy small businesses or medium enterprises.
We’ve touched on this when considering IOS vs. Android POS tablets.
But another thing to add here is you’ll want to get a tablet point-of-sale that supports the business apps you already use or intend to use.
For example, consider if you need to integrate the POS tool with your email marketing, CRM, or accounting software.
- Connectivity Options
Most mobile POS systems connect to the cloud seamlessly.
That’s a good thing because you can always back up your transaction data and see real-time changes so you can act accordingly.
But flexible systems also support a bevy of connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, USB-A, and USB-C ports to, say, connect to most cash terminals.
So, what have you?
- Reporting Tools
A big reason to switch to a modern POS system for tablets is to get real-time insights that can help you make data-backed decisions.
A system that gathers valuable data and categorizes it in a way you or your manager can understand is a true asset.
It can show you what matters to your ideal customers and in your niche, so you can use more of your resources on investments that pay back ROI.
So, consider factors such as a POS program’s ability to provide daily, weekly, or monthly reports, real-time insights, and various presentations such as charts, amounts, or percentages.
Oh, another thing.
You may be interested in a tool that can send you email or push notifications when items are about to run out of stock.
- Customer Support
Your POS vendor should be able to provide technical support remotely. That’s different from fixing a traditional countertop point-of-sale, where the vendor may need to come over to fix hardware.
Remember to pick a provider or pricing plan offering the level of customer support you need.
For example, phone, Twitter, and live chat support are ideal for busy businesses. You do not want a few minutes or hours of downtime to translate into lost sales in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
But if you are starting or do not serve in a high-traffic business, email or a ticketing system that resolves issues within 24 hours may suffice.
Potential Challenges in Using Tablets POS Software
- Device Theft or Damage
Tablets are in-demand consumer technology items when they are not working for your business. So, some customers and employees may be tempted to take off with them.
Practical Solution: Use anti-theft POS accessories such as foolproof payment terminal stands, tablet enclosures, and mounting tools.
And in case of unavoidable device loss, you’ll want a POS platform that can erase your business data and trade secrets remotely before they can fall into the wrong hands.
Some POS software will let you connect your business’s social media channels and CRM tools to improve customer service.
But your employees may be tempted to divulge the tablets’ POS uses to browse the web and watch irrelevant YouTube videos casually.
Practical Solution: Use a POS system to lock in only the most productive apps during work hours. Or get one that’ll let you monitor or control what the device does from wherever you are. Yet other solutions will let you schedule and track employee productivity when you want.
Not even the best tablet POS systems are made equal.
So, shop around. Talk to several vendors.
Pick out a few mobile point-of-sale solutions using the criteria we’ve discussed here.
Talk to their representative about your specific tablet POS needs.
See who gets you.
Then take the winning candidate out for a spin using its free demo. See how it works for your customers, team members, and efficiency levels.
If you like what you see, you have found the best tablet POS system for your specific needs–the easy way.
Over to you.