5 Cloud POS Alternatives to Windows XP for SMBs

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It’s been more than a year since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, and yet many small business owners are still on the hunt for reliable alternatives to Windows Embedded POSReady, the once-popular operating system for point-of-service solutions. Although hacks have made it possible to squeeze life out of the aging system, businesses still remain vulnerable  — and their systems may not be PCI compliant — until they make the switch.

Cloud-based POS systems are growing in popularity among all businesses, and particularly those in the SMB category. By 2016, cloud-based POS solutions are expected to cannibalize traditional POS by 12%, according to industry forecasts. Many small business owners feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of cloud-based options available, particularly because it can be challenging to tell mobile POS solutions apart.

We’ve put together a list of five cloud POS solutions for SMBs that can no longer rely on Windows XP, complete with information about what makes each option unique.

1. Shopkeep: Full-featured POS for growing businesses.
Shopkeep has managed to differentiate itself from other mobile POS solutions by offering a suite of business management features to go along with its iPad-based POS system. Included in the iPad POS are tools for inventory management, digital marketing, staff management, and business analytics. Businesses switching from Windows XP can purchase various “setups” based on their verticals. (For example, remote printers or Bluetooth scanners, in addition to Shopkeep’s basic iPad-based setup.) Shopkeep is also aiming to differentiate itself from competitors by emphasizing free customer support, which is especially useful for businesses just getting started. Shopkeep charges $49 per month, per register.

2. Clover: Open business management with mobile payment terminals.
Clover, which is owned by First Data, provides an integrated mobile POS that accepts EMV chip cards and NFC payments, along credit cards, debit cards, and cash. Designed for SMBs with more complex transaction needs, Clover sells its own mobile payment terminals. Clover enables users to add the components they need — ranging from QuickBooks integrations, to phone sales, scheduling, and bar tab authorizations, to name just a few—through the company’s app market. Businesses can accept any form of payment, and they can add components like mobile docking stations or mobile printers. Like many of its competitors, Clover considers itself a “complete business management system.” Businesses can purchase or lease Clover’s equipment from a number of major banks.

3. Square: Quickly accept credit cards with a mobile device.
Although Square is the most well-known POS system for “micro-merchants,” the cloud-based solution can actually be used by businesses of all sizes. Since its launch in 2009, Square has managed to disrupt the way credit cards are processed by making it incredibly easy for almost anyone with an iPad or iPhone to accept payments. Today, the company offers a suite of advanced features for business management, such as invoicing, analytics, inventory management, appointments, e-commerce, and customer engagement. Businesses that use Square can accept pre-orders from customers, and they can even apply for funding through Square Capital. Most businesses that use Square can expect to pay 2.75% per swipe for credit card transactions.

4. NCR Silver: Mobile POS with “big business tools.”
Businesses that are hesitant to stray too far from the technology they’re used to will appreciate NCR Silver, the mobile POS solution from the legacy firm NCR. Available through the Apple App Store, NCR Silver enables SMBs to accept payments and handle basic business management tasks with an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. When combined with a credit card reader, iPad stand, receipt printer, and cash drawer, NCR Silver functions almost exactly like a traditional POS system. However, the system also allows for mobility, which is good for businesses that sell at offsite locations like farmers markets or trade shows. NCR Silver integrates with QuickBooks. SMBs can use NCR Silver for $59 per month.

5. Harbortouch: Industry-specific POS software.
Harbortouch combines POS software with hardware and provides a way for businesses to manage multiple operations through their integrated systems. Industry-specific software offers unique features for businesses in the hospitality, retail, QSR, and spirits industries. Businesses that use Harbortouch can choose between the Elite and Echo models depending on the type of hardware and advanced functionality needed. (For example, the Elite POS includes a barcode scanner and server cards for hospitality businesses.) Both options include cloud-based reporting and POS management through Lighthouse. Pricing for Harbortouch starts at $39 per month, with no upfront costs.

Know of other cloud POS solutions for SMBs? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.