If you’re a crafty business owner that is selling goods or services, you need some way to process and track your sales transactions. While that “system” used to be as simple as a cash box under the counter or a cash register, these days a point of sale (POS) system includes the software you’re using to manage your sales transactions, inventory, customer relations, marketing efforts, and more, as well as the hardware you’re using to accomplish these tasks.
As you grow your business you’ll also likely be selling on multiple channels or at multiple locations. From Amazon to Etsy, brick-and-mortar shops to festivals or gallery shows, your own website, and more, having a single POS system can help you integrate all those sales into one channel, which will help you track transactions, maintain inventory control and synchronize marketing efforts.
Overview of POS options
When you’re just getting started it can be difficult to know which system is best for you; there are so many different software and hardware options out there. We’ve put together a list of the most popular options and highlighted some benefits and drawbacks of each.
Square: Square has been in business for more than 10 years now, and it’s easy to see why. With a generous package of features including payment processing, the Square POS software is free. You can set up your system with nothing more than an iPad and a Square card reader (free for the first, $10 for each additional) and you’re ready to start selling. The only fees you’ll pay are when you make a sale, and those payment processing fees are clearly outlined in the published pricing. With Square you can sell in person, remotely, and through social media platforms. You can also manage your inventory, review customer preferences and purchases, send personalized email campaigns, run loyalty programs and more. Finally, Square offers hardware options like stands or register kits if you’re interested.
Shopify: Shopify is a cloud-based solution, frequently voted the best option for e-commerce. Build a website with Shopify that can help you find customers, drive sales, and manage your day-to-day operations. Shopify includes a POS platform to process payments, manage your inventory in both brick and mortar and/or online shops, power your business decisions through extensive analytics, and manage customer relationships with a full suite of marketing tools. Shopify is easily customizable to your business and has an app store full of plugins for additional features. If you’ve been in business for a little while and you would like something a little more robust than Square, Shopify may be your answer. Shopify has a 14-day free trial period, and then has monthly pricing options. (Watch our Shopify Made Simple webinar for more details on getting started.)
Lightspeed: Lightspeed is another cloud-based solution like Shopify. It offers both hardware and software options geared towards retail and restaurant operations. The apps are intuitive to use, which is helpful if you’ve got shop staff you need to train. Lightspeed works on an iPad POS system, but you can access it from any device anywhere if you need to work while you’re away from your business. It also has basic analytics built-in, and the option to upgrade to more analytics features. There are slightly different and wider-ranging pricing tiers than Shopify, and note that you will pay per register you operate (something to keep in mind if you will be operating in multiple locations). Lightspeed offers integrations with quite a few third-party applications and hardware options if you’re interested.
Quickbooks/Intuit: If you already use Intuit’s Quickbooks to manage your accounting, their POS system may be of interest to you. Quickbooks Desktop POS offers seamless e-commerce integration, contactless payments, multichannel sales management and, of course, syncing with Quickbooks. Quickbooks uses a different pricing structure: a one-time fee with no monthly charges aside from payment processing fees. If you already have multiple sales channels established, this may make the most sense for you.
POSIM: Point of Sale and Inventory Management (POSIM) is an e-commerce solution that handles transactions, payment processing, customer relations and rewards, gift cards, service and repair (like for sewing machines or sergers), and more. The reason this one is on our radar is because of their experience in the fabric, sewing, and quilting industry. Their system integrates seamlessly with Shopify to handle things like partial units (ever try to buy less than a yard of fabric?). Other options include employee management, a robust inventory management system and reporting, as well as Quickbooks integration. They offer a free 30-day trial but don’t have published pricing – you’ll need to request a quote.
We hope we’ve given you a brief overview of some of the POS systems available to you, and highlighted one that might be appropriate for your crafty business.
Laura Cameron for Stitchcraft Marketing
Laura is obsessed with knitting and spinning and is curious about all arts and crafts. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California, with a focus on information management. She started in the industry as a technical editor and started working with Stitchcraft as a freelancer in 2016. Her weekly podcast & blog about her crafty pursuits are found at thecornerofknitandtea.com.