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 for retail have been welcomed by younger employees already familiar with Apple hardware and software, making training short and sweet.
But which iPad POS system is right for you?
Today, we’re looking at the best iPad POS systems for retail.
Firstly, we’ll explain what an iPad POS system is and what it’s used for.
Secondly, we’ll answer your burning questions about why you should use an iPad POS system and how it can transform your retail store.
Thirdly, you’ll likely have a budget in mind, so we’ll give you a cost estimate based on some of the more popular software bundles.
Finally, we’ll give you our recommendations on the best iPad POS systems for retailers in the UK and Ireland.
PS: Our popular guide – how to turn your iPad into a POS system – will provide more information on using your iPad to transform your business.
- Why is an iPad POS system so popular in 2021?
- What is an iPad POS system?
- Why should I choose an iPad for POS and retail?
- Benefits of using an iPad POS system
- How much does an iPad POS system cost?
- 4 Best iPad POS Systems for retailers in the UK and Ireland
- Square (review, cost and recommendations)
- Lightspeed (review, cost and recommendations)
- Goodtill (review, cost and recommendations)
- AirPOS (review, cost and recommendations)
- Conclusion and recommendations
Why is an iPad POS system so popular in 2021?
In our ‘new normal’ world of social distancing, self-isolation and face masks, never has it been more important to accept payments in ways that limit the risk of transmission.
As a result, more and more retailers opt for table service and the flexibility to accept contactless customer payments.
That’s where the best iPad POS systems excel.
Forget about the old, bulky cash registers (imagine trying to carry one of those around to each customer!).
Say hello to sleek, lightweight, ultra-modern, simple-to-use iPads with POS software and a contactless card reader.
What is an iPad POS system?
Let’s think about it firstly on a human level in ways we all know and understand.
You probably have an Apple iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy.
And you enjoy reading books, so you visit the App Store and download the Kindle App.
POS systems are kind of similar.
Simply start up your business iPad, visit the App Store and download your POS software.
Ultimately, a POS system is an application for your iPad that can help you with a wide variety of every day (and sometimes costly and time-consuming) tasks.
We’ll explore all the benefits of an iPad POS system in the next section to give you a quick overview of the benefits.
You can enjoy:
- Streamlining your entire retail operation
- Keeping your financial data and accounts up to date
- Monitoring stock levels
- Accepting payments from customers
- Monitoring employee performance
- Getting data on best and worst-selling products
- The ability to manage your company’s relationship with customers and reward loyalty
- Saving money and time with automated technology
- Securely managing vital data in the cloud
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.
And don’t worry, you can still connect other hardware to your iPad, such as barcode scanners, card machines and cash drawers.
iPad POS systems are mobile and versatile, giving you unprecedented flexibility to conveniently accept customer payments on the move.
Why should I choose an iPad for POS and retail?
One of the significant benefits of choosing an iPad retail POS system is that it is cloud-based.
But what does that mean for you as a retailer?
Think of the old, legacy cash registers again for a moment.
Usually, they’re connected to a server on the premises.
But if the cash register or server suffers from any issues, there’s a real risk of losing all of your data.
In contrast, a retail POS system like AirPOS is cloud-based, which means all of your vital data is securely stored in the cloud.
So, what’s the big deal about having a cloud over a server?
Well, firstly, accidents happen; your iPad might break, or your software might get buggy.
But no matter what, you’ll be able to access all of your data on any device whenever you want.
And what’s even better about cloud-based POS software for iPads is that you don’t have to be in-store to keep on top of things.
You could be lounging by a pool in Spain and still get real-time data about your retail premises.
Benefits of using an iPad POS system
One of the most significant accomplishments in the last couple of decades has been accessibility improvements in tech.
Let’s not forget, it wasn’t too long ago that a computer was the size of a room.
But in the modern era, computers can be crammed into hand-sized devices and wield much more power than their predecessors.
And at the forefront of that in retail is Apple’s iPad.
It’s small enough to work on the move and powerful enough to manage multiple retail sites. A real plus for iPad POS systems is flexibility.
Gone are long, demoralising queues for payments; customers can pay wherever they are in your retail premises.
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.
Check out our quick guide on how to choose the right POS system here.
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
- Fantastic app
- 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
- Random outages
- Expensive for smaller retailers
- Expensive hardware
- 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
- End-to-end integrations
- 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.
Fancy a demo first?
Book in for your free remote demo with a member of our specialist retail EPOS team.
Our team of experts will walk you through the system, customise it to your business requirements and answer any questions you may have, not only about AirPOS but POS in general.