The best iPad POS systems for retailers reviewed - UK & Ireland
Can you use an iPad for POS?
Yes. Think of the iPad POS system as replacing stationary, old-style legacy cash registers or desktop/laptop computers with something more mobile, more flexible, and much easier to use.
Every year when Apple releases a shiny new device, queues of people line up outside their local Apple store to get their hands on the latest tech.
But, what you might not have realised is that amongst the crowds, lots of savvy retail business owners are lining up too.
Because they understand the value of using an Apple iPad for their business alongside POS software.
Apple’s robust iOS system has been harnessed in recent years by retailers to transform how they operate.
And the explosion in the trusty iPad’s popularity in retail in the last decade isn’t all that surprising.
After all, Apple has made its name in the tech world by creating high-quality, well-designed, durable, easy-to-use devices that pack a real punch.
With nearly 34% of retail employees in the UK being under 25 years old, iPad POS systems have been welcomed by younger employees already familiar with Apple hardware and software, making training short and sweet.
Famed for the so-called ‘Apple ecosystem’ (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Airpods, iTunes, Apple Music etc.), Apple is a global leader in providing hardware and software that, at its core, is utterly reliable.
And that reliability is evidenced in regular iOS updates, patches and bug fixes.
The beauty of using an iPad POS system for many retailers is how user-friendly the touch screens are.
As we mentioned earlier, a whole generation of retail employees have grown up using Apple devices, so training and using an iPad is much more straightforward.
OK, so Apple devices aren’t exactly the cheapest on the market.
But they’re a business investment that you’ll recoup quite quickly once they’re handling all your more challenging tasks.
And that’s not where the cost-savings end.
Using an iPad POS system allows you to go paperless. Instead of printing customer receipts, more retailers than ever are emailing receipts.
You’ll be able to get rid of that massive filing cabinet with all of your inventory management files, too.
That’s because the best iPad POS systems act as your new inventory management tool, and can keep you updated with stock levels across multiple locations.
Apart from its climate-friendly credentials, retailers using an iPad also enjoy world-leading POS software, like the AirPOS POS software, for as little as £29.99 per month.
And as we touched on earlier, iPads are already pretty popular, so costly and time-consuming employee training should be significantly reduced.
Nearly every week on the news, you’ll hear stories about data leaks, privacy concerns and hacks.
So it’ll come as no surprise to you that a strong focus on security should be high up your list of priorities.
And security doesn’t just benefit your customers; it’ll help you and your business too.
By scheduling regular data backups, you’ll ensure you never lose vital information under any circumstances.
Apple devices are some of the most secure worldwide, utilising the most advanced encryption techniques.
As a result of using your iPad, you’ll benefit from regular iOS updates that will fix any bugs, glitches, security concerns and much more.
Unlike old, stationary cash registers, using an iPad POS system allows the ultimate flexibility.
Firstly, you’ll be able to use a bespoke system that’s customised to your requirements.
That means you can focus your time and effort on your requirements, and discount any other features that aren’t suitable.
Secondly, the flexibility of using an iPad POS system is the extraordinary mobility you and your staff will enjoy.
Instead of standing at a stationary till you and your colleagues can now take payments on the go and engage customers in ways they prefer.
You’ll also be able to access real-time data from anywhere in or outside your retail premises.
Thirdly, you’ll have total flexibility in the cost of your new POS system with an iPad; simply pay for the features you need.
The thing about traditional legacy POS systems - apart from the immobility and expense - is that what you buy this year might not be fit for purpose in twelve months.
So, what happens as your company gets more successful and wants to scale?
Well, unfortunately, you’d have to buy another traditional POS to handle the extra sales and pressures.
So, what’s the solution to that real disadvantage?
The best iPad POS systems are fully customisable; when you’re ready to scale, a few minor tweaks or software upgrades will scale your business with minimal fuss.
You’ll easily be able to add extra hardware as your business grows, for example, more scanners, card payment devices and tills.
How much does an iPad POS system cost?
The cost of a good POS system for your iPad varies.
That’s because what you need as a fifteen-employee retailer is significantly different to, for example, a two-employee cafe.
But as a general guideline, you can expect a retail POS system’s software to start from as little as £29.99 per month, for example, the AirPOS retail POS bundle.
And depending on what extra features you need, you could be paying up to several hundred pounds a month.
iPads can be a little more expensive, depending on what model you buy and how recently it was released.
However, whether you buy the cheapest model or the most expensive, most good POS providers will have an app that will work fine on it.
iPads start from as little as £329 for an iPad (2020) 32GB, right up to £1,399 for the brand new 2021 iPad Pro.
You’ll also have to factor in some essential accessories, such as a screen protector, iPad stand etc.
Hardware costs need to be factored into your planning too.
Hardware includes things such as a USB Receipt Printer, Cash Drawer and Barcode Scanner.
Would you rather avoid that extra cost?
Today’s your lucky day; AirPOS Pro comes with free POS hardware for your retail business and it works perfectly with an iPad.
4 Best iPad POS Systems for retailers in the UK and Ireland
Keeping things simple has been Square’s modus operandi, and it’s proved a big hit with new small businesses.
With more businesses than ever-adapting to EPOS technology, Square’s customers enjoy a powerful built-in payment processor and one of the best free apps available.
Better still, Square’s technology is scalable, so as your business grows, so too does Square’s intuitive software.
No monthly fees
Supports both iOS and Android
Easy to use
Simple processing for your company
Random holds on funds
A substantial cost increase is necessary to get 24/7 customer support
Significantly higher fees for larger businesses
Need to use Squares payments
No monthly fees
No setup fee
Fees per transaction range from 1.75% to 2.9% depending on your chosen hardware products
Hardware starts from £16 + VAT for a Square Reader, up to £499 + VAT for a Square Register.
Who it’s best for: New small businesses.
Popular with larger businesses, Lightspeed’s POS system is dynamic and flexible.
With options to suit both retail and the restaurant industry, Lightspeed’s offering includes a tiered system where you can pick and choose the features you need.
Lightspeed’s business reporting is well thought of, too, while its eCommerce platform has received widespread plaudits from customers.
Armed with its own credit card processing system, Lightspeed’s integrations and competitively priced rates make it a real player in the UK and Ireland.
Good customer service
Good reporting options
Decent inventory management
Lots of integrations are available
Good eCommerce platform
Some functions can be challenging to use
Expensive for smaller retailers
Prices start from £69 per month for a basic software package while the Pro version is priced at £199 per month
Hardware pricing isn’t available on Lightspeed’s website, so you will need to contact them for a quote
Who it’s best for: Best for larger businesses.
One of the new kids on the block in the UK and Irish markets after recently being acquired by payment provider giant SumUp, Goodtill focuses on the retail and hospitality industries.
However, a glance at their website shows a more obvious slant towards the restaurant trade in particular.
Boasting all the usual features you’d expect from a POS provider, customers can utilise an inventory management system and sales facilities.
Basic plans are competitively priced
Fairly easy to use
Advanced features cost extra
Occasional software crashes
Clear lack of retail-focused features
Not great for Retail
Can get expensive very quickly
A Standard POS software package starts from £29 per month
Additional, basic modules are priced at £9
A starter package currently is priced at £495 and includes software, iPad and stand, receipt printer, SumUp contactless card reader, transaction fee reduction to 1.25%, remote installation and training, support and software updates, and Xero or Quickbooks integration
Who it’s best for: Hospitality businesses
AirPOS is the UK and Ireland’s number one Point of Sale (POS) for small retailers.
Built by retailers for retailers, AirPOS doesn’t try to be all things to all industries; it has a laser-like focus on retail.
Easy to use
Built by retailers, with small and independent retailers in mind
Accepts payment with all major providers with exclusive rates for customers
High-quality inventory management
Impressive, in-depth business reporting
Free, world-class customer support seven days a week, recommended by 96% of our customers
Ecommerce integrations with Shopify
Transparent, cost-effective pricing with no hidden charges
Works on Apple, Android and Windows Devices
With the AirPOS Pro bundle, you get free hardware, saving you £600
No fixed contract
It might not be suitable for large retailers
Not suitable for hospitality, unless you’re a bar
Does not integrate with weighing systems
Free 14-day trial available
The AirPOS Basic package costs just £29.99 per month
The AirPOS Pro bundle costs just £39.99 per month, and you will also get all of your hardware free
Who it’s best for: Best all-rounder with a proud focus on the retail industry
Conclusion and recommendations
Managing a retail business in 2021 is challenging, especially given the UK and Irish lockdowns and social distancing rules.
But there’s much to be optimistic about moving forward to our post-pandemic world.
Technology has again answered the call to some of our most fundamental challenges; how do we sell safely and protect employees and customers from dangerous viruses?
Ultimately, the iPad POS system you choose will depend on your specific industry, budget, business size, scaling ambitions and what features you require.
Old stationary cash registers are essentially large calculators, whereas a POS system on your iPad offers feature-packed, intuitive software that can help you with every facet of your business.
To sum up, if you’re a retailer looking for the best all-rounder, then AirPOS is the system for you, it’s built by retailers for retailers.