Choosing the right point of sale system for your business | Acro Media
Mike Hubbard


Mike Hubbard

, Front End Lead, Developer

Posted in Digital Commerce, Drupal

July 30, 2018

Choosing the right point of sale system for your business

Comparing Drupal POS, Shopify POS and Square POS

If you need to accept card payment in a physical location, you need a point of sale (POS) system. There are many different POS systems out there so knowing how to choose the right one for your business can be challenging. All systems claim to be everything you need, however, this might not be the case for all businesses. Most POS systems are designed around “industry best practices,” meaning that they try to serve the majority of businesses based on the most common needs. Many systems start to fail when the requirements of the business break away from the norm.

How do you choose the right point of sale for your business? The best way I’ve found is to look at three or four different examples and do a direct comparison. Today I’ll compare 3 different web-based point of sale systems – Drupal POS, Shopify POS, and Square POS. I’ll look at features, costs, usability, integrations, and more. In the end, I’ll try to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each and ultimately determine what business types they work best with.

All of the POS systems I examine today are web-based (or cloud-based). This means that these systems are connected to the internet and all of the data is kept online. Web-based systems are increasingly becoming more popular because they are generally easier to set up and require less time and knowledge to maintain. They can also integrate with your ecommerce store. You can read more benefits here.

The point of sale systems

Here is an introduction to the three POS systems I’ll be comparing.

Drupal POS

Drupal POS is a free add-on to the popular Drupal content management system. Drupal is open-source and completely free to use. It’s known as a very developer-friendly platform to build a website on and has a massive community, over a million strong, helping to advance the software and keep it secure. The open-source ecommerce component for Drupal is called Drupal Commerce. While Drupal Commerce has a relatively small market share, the platform is very powerful and can be a very good choice for businesses that have demanding requirements or unique product offerings.

Shopify POS

Shopify POS integrates with the popular Shopify SaaS eCommerce platform. Unlike Drupal Commerce, Shopify is a standalone product and stores running on the platform pay a monthly subscription fee to use it. With that said, business owners are given a well-developed tool out-of-the-box that has all of the bells and whistles most stores require to get up and running fast. Shopify aims to serve the common needs of most businesses, so very unique business requirements can be hard to achieve.

Square POS

Square POS is an add-on point of sale service for your business and is not really a platform for running your entire store, although it does now offer a basic eCommerce component. It can also integrate with many eCommerce platforms, including Drupal Commerce. Square aims to make the process of accepting card payments easy to do, without bulky equipment.

Service comparison

Below is a side-by-side comparison of each service (as of July 2018). Note that some of the information below applies to stores that also have an eCommerce component. If you don’t need ecommerce, you can ignore those items.

Note for mobile viewers: Swipe the table side-to-side to see it all.


Drupal logo

Drupal POS

Shopify logo

Shopify POS

Square logo

Square POS

Service philosophy


Proprietary Proprietary
Service support Yes *
* via Drupal Commerce, in-house IT or third-party support 
Yes *
* via Shopify or third-party support
Yes *
* via Square
Setup costs for basic service  $0 *
* The software doesn’t cost anything to use, however you may need to pay someone to set it up for you

$29 USD *
* Basic package pricing

Ongoing costs for basic service $0 *
* The software doesn’t cost anything to use, however you may need to pay someone to apply occasional software updates. Third-party transactions fees may apply. Website domain and hosting are also required
$29/mth plus transaction fees and add-on product fees. Monthly fee increases with package Transaction fees and add-on product fees
Payment gateways Third-party Shopify or third-party Square
Accept cash payments Yes  Yes Yes 
Accept card payments Yes Yes Yes
Save cards (card on file) Yes  Yes  Yes
Process recurring payments (i.e. subscriptions) Yes Yes *
* Third-party add-on required with separate monthly fees
Accept mobile payments Yes *
* Third-party hardware required
Yes *
* Monthly fee for service hardware
Yes *
* $59 USD one-time price for service hardware
Built-in invoicing Yes *
* Using free add-on
Yes Yes
Apply discounts and promotions Yes Yes Yes
Use with gift cards & coupon codes Yes Yes *
* Not available for the basic plan 
Printed gift cards provided by service  No *
* Add-on could be created to allow this functionality but does not currently exist
Yes *
* Additional fee for printing 
Yes *
* Additional fee for printing
Integrated taxes  Yes *
* Advanced taxes can be handled via third-party add-ons or configured directly within the platform
Yes Yes *
* Third-party add-ons required
Apply additional custom fees (i.e. environment fees, tipping, donations, etc.) Yes Yes Yes *
* Limited to tipping
Built-in eCommerce Shop Yes *
* Drupal POS is an add-on for Drupal Commerce
Yes *
* Shopify POS is an add-on for Shopify
Yes *
* Basic Square store or integrate with third-party platforms
Built-in website and blog Yes Yes  Yes 
Multi-business (separate businesses using same platform or account) Yes No *
* Separate account required for each business
No *
* Separate account required for each business/bank account
Multi-store (multiple locations or stores of the same business) Yes  Yes  Yes 
Number of products allowed Unlimited 2000-7000 *
* Number depends on device used to manage inventory
Unlimited *
* Square eCommerce store only displays 1000 products. A third-party platform needed to run a larger store
Number of product variations allowed Unlimited 4000-10,000 *
* Number depends on device used to manage inventory
Unlimited * 
* Square eCommerce store only displays 1000 products. A third-party platform needed to run a larger store
Number of registers allowed Unlimited Unlimited  Unlimited
Number of cashiers accounts allowed Unlimited  2 *
* Number of accounts increase with service plan
Access controls Yes Yes  Yes *
* Additional fee of $6/employee 
Create new user roles for advanced access controls Yes No Yes *
* Grouped with additional fee above.
Mobile POS (i.e. use at trade shows, markets, etc.) Yes Yes Yes
Sync inventory between online and offline stores Yes Yes Yes *
* Third-party platforms may not be able to sync inventory 
Sync user accounts between online and offline stores Yes Yes Yes
Sync orders between online and offline stores Yes Yes Yes 
Park & retrieve orders Yes  Yes  Yes 
Abandoned cart recovery (eCommerce) Yes *
* Using free add-on or third-party solutions
Yes Yes *
* Requires third-party solutions
Generate product labels Yes Yes Yes
Print receipt Yes  Yes  Yes 
Email receipt Yes Yes Yes 
Customize receipt information Yes Yes *
* No layout customization, only the information shown
Yes *
* No layout customization, only the information shown
Process returns Yes Yes Yes 
Basic reporting Yes Yes *
* Not available for the basic plan
Advanced reporting Yes *
* Using free add-on
Yes *
* Not available for basic or mid-tier plans
Supported operating systems Any *
* Requires only a web browser to use 
Android, iOS *
* Requires app. iPad recommended with limited support for iPhone and Android
Android, iOS *
* Requires app
Themable (i.e. brand the POS interface) Yes  No No
Customer facing display Yes No No
Integrate with accounting/bookkeeping services? Yes Yes  Yes
Integrate with other eCommerce sales platforms (Amazon, eBay, etc.)? Yes Yes Yes *
* Only if using a third-party eCommerce platform that supports this
Integrate with marketing services (MailChimp, HubSpot, etc.)? Yes Yes Yes *
* Only if using a third-party eCommerce platform that supports this
Integrate with shipping providers (FedEx, UPS, etc.)? Yes Yes Yes
Third-party calculated shipping rates Yes Yes *
* Not available for basic or mid-tier plans
Generate shipping labels Yes Yes Yes *
* Integration with ShipStation adds this functionality for an extra monthly cost
Custom integrations with third-party services Yes Yes Yes
Use offline (and have your transactions sync once back online) No *
* This is a requested feature currently in discussion
Yes *
* Can only accept cash or other manual payments
Personalized customer feedback/support Yes Yes Yes

Hardware Requirements

Cashier terminal Third-party *
* Can be anything that runs a web browser (computer, tablet, phone, etc.)
Third-party *
* iPad recommended with limited support for iPhone and Android
Third-party *
* Any device running Android or iOS
Card reader Third-party Provided Provided 
Contactless payment Third-party Third-party Proprietary only 
Cash drawer Third-party Third-party  Third-party 
Barcode scanner Third-party *
* Can be a traditional barcode scanner or anything with a camera (i.e. phone, tablet, webcam, etc.)
Third-party Third-party 
Receipt printer Third-party Third-party  Third-party 
Barcode printer Third-party Third-party None 
Customer-facing display Third-party *
* Can be anything that runs a web browser (computer, tablet, phone, etc)
None None
Custom/DIY hardware Yes No No


What business is best suited for each POS?

As you can see, all three options have most of the same features. Most businesses would probably be fine with any of them, but let’s see if we can distil down where each system fits best.

Drupal POS

Who’s it for?

If you have a medium to large business with unique business requirements, Drupal POS could be the ideal platform for you to work with. Drupal POS and Drupal Commerce might not be optimal for a small business. The initial cost to get a site built might be too high for your budget. However, if you look at the long-term fees charged month by month from the other vendors, this upfront cost will be saved in a matter of time. Also, if you have a really obscure need that no other platform will accommodate, Drupal Commerce can.

If you’re already running a Drupal Commerce store and now want to add a point of sale to your physical locations, Drupal POS is probably a no-brainer. It’s built on top of the existing Commerce architecture, so you know it will integrate properly in every way, and you can utilize your existing web development service provider to help you set it up.

Demo Drupal Commerce today! View our demo site.

If you’re not already using Drupal then you have some larger questions to consider.

Do you already have an ecommerce website? Are you willing to invest in replatforming? Since Drupal Commerce is an ecommerce platform, you would ideally be running your whole operation from Drupal Commerce.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Drupal can readily handle any business case you can throw at it. It can integrate with virtually any third-party service, it can provide you with a single location to manage all of your products, orders, customer accounts, etc., it’s built to scale with your business, and on top of all that it’s a powerful content management system that will run your blog and any other content need you might have.

From a support point of view, because Drupal is open-source, you don’t have a single source of support to contact. Instead, you would need to utilize your current web development service provider (if you have one), or work with one of the many Drupal agencies out there who are specialized in Drupal development. This means you can shop around and find the company will work best with you.

Another advantage to Drupal POS (and Drupal as a whole) is that because it’s free, open-source software, you don’t actually have any type of fee to use it. Not one cent. You can have as many stores, products, staff accounts, transactions, registers, etc. as you need, and the price is still $0. Instead of spending your hard earned money on platform fees, you can now redirect those funds to developing your website and POS to do whatever you need it to, or towards marketing, or staffing, or growing your business.

Shopify POS

Who’s it for?

If you’re a small to medium-sized business that is just getting started, you don’t have a large budget, and you want the best eCommerce site with POS capabilities, Shopify and Shopify POS is probably your best bet. Also, if you’re already running a Shopify site and happy with it, the Shopify POS is probably ideal for you.

If your business is growing, or you run a large, enterprise-level company, Shopify and Shopify POS probably won’t cut it. For one, the fees associated with the number of transactions a company of this size would need can be significant. If you’re at that point, replatforming to something like Drupal Commerce can recuperate a lot of lost earnings and give you full control of your development path, without restrictions.

Additional details

Shopify has built its business around being easy. Whether it’s opening up a new store or managing your inventory and customers, the Shopify interface is clean and straightforward. As mentioned earlier, it’s ideal for small and medium-sized companies just getting started.

However, where Shopify starts to fail is when your business growth is strong and your requirements start to become more complicated. With Shopify, the number of products and product variations you’re allowed can limit your growth. As you start adding more staff, your costs go up. You can pretty quickly go from a $29/mth plan to a $300+/mth plan in short order. 

Another possible deal-breaker is if your product offerings have very unique requirements. Shopify is built to work around the most common business requirements. When your business breaks out of this mould, the platform isn’t designed to accommodate. However, if you can stay within the “typical” business requirements, Shopify probably has everything you need as long as you’re willing to pay for it.

Square POS

Who’s it for?

Square POS is great for small businesses and foodservice businesses. It’s an easy-to-use, low-cost option that doesn’t really require anything more than your phone and the provided card reader. Their software interface is clean and easy to understand.

If you’re a medium to large business, or you have very high traffic, Square POS might not be for you. Square is mainly an add-on service to existing businesses, so don’t expect much from an eCommerce perspective. 

Additional details

Square has become a pretty common sight around town these days, especially when you’re a small business such as cafes or walking around a farmers/artisan market. Square has been able to provide a very good product that allows people to jump into card transactions easily. It fills this need.

When your business grows and you start having multiple stores and an ecommerce component, you may quickly grow beyond Square’s capabilities. Drupal POS and Shopify POS both have native ecommerce that they work with. This is important when you’re talking about inventory management and other integrations. While Square does have a basic ecommerce component and can integrate with various ecommerce platforms (Drupal Commerce being one of them), you may struggle to get some of the features that Drupal Commerce and Shopify have by default.

Your point of sale integrator

Acro Media is an open-source ecommerce development agency. Our experience in this area is vast and we would love to share it with you. If you have a project that you’d like to discuss, one of our friendly business developers is always available to have that discussion at no cost to you.

Let's talk about your project | Contact us | Acro Media