The Best Free Email Marketing Software Programs

There is a myth making the rounds on the wide world of the internet that email marketing has outlived its usefulness, but that is simply untrue. The data is in, and email marketing campaigns can have a wide variety of positive effects on your business:

Having said that, some of the software providers in the email marketing world charge a crippling price for smaller businesses. Before you hang your heads in defeat, though, take heart. There are a number of free email marketing software apps that might suit your needs without ever costing you a cent. With a free email marketing tool, you’re not going to have access to unlimited emails and templates, and you’ll be restricted to a certain number of email addresses. Marketing automation tools may also be limited or non-existent with a free plan. But if you need to send out a simple email newsletter to your contacts and want basic access to click-through rates and other simple analytics, free email marketing services can be a godsend.

Compiled here for your reading pleasure is Merchant Maverick’s favorites in the free email marketing software world. A quick word about criteria: Each of these apps were evaluated based on their feature set, ease of use, and pros vs cons. With that out of the way, let’s get started!


Serving upwards of 73,000 users around the globe, Benchmark (read our review) has not moved on from its original mission of serving small businesses. With a reputation for great customer service and ease-of-use, this is one of the most widely recommended email marketing apps out there. And, as you might expect since it is on this list, there is a free version!

It should come as no surprise that the free version of Benchmark is less powerful than the versions you actually pay for. With a subscriber cap of 2,000 members and a limitation of 14,000 emails per month, the free version of Benchmark will be best suited to the email campaigns of very small businesses and nonprofits. It is the other features, or, rather, lack of them, that might make the final decision for you. Non-paying users of Benchmark will find that they have access to an email builder and little more. You’ll get the “insanely simple drag-and-drop editor,” a wide library of templates, and an automated signup form, as well as Google analytics, several campaign styles (drip and RSS), and a few other handy items. What you don’t get, however, are unlimited emails, basic features like A/B testing and more advanced tools like cart abandonment automation and other automated behavioral tracking features.

As I mentioned above, Benchmark is generally considered to be extremely easy to use. Most comments in user reviews agree that navigating the app, building emails, and implementing new campaigns are all done with a minimal learning curve. Based on these user reviews, as well as my own test of the product, I have to agree with Benchmark’s marketing claim: “No design experience required.”

Generally speaking, Benchmark has far more pros than cons. Beyond the ease of use I mentioned above, this company also maintain some of the best customer service in the industry, with 24/7 phone, live chat, and email support. As for cons, the major downside for free users will be the limitations placed on free accounts regarding Benchmark’s more advanced features. Some users have also complained that their experience with the app was plagued by bugs, though I should note that those affected seem few and far between.


SendinBlue (read our review) is best known for the accessibility of its software. With a focus on simplicity in both features and pricing, this is an app that aims to get new users in particular up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. Generally speaking, SendinBlue is a good choice for anyone looking to get great bang for their buck, especially if you are willing to work with a simplified interface. Indeed, as an ESP (email service provider), SendinBlue is clearly not intended for experienced marketers, but rather for single proprietors and small LLC owners. Appropriately, then, the free version of SendinBlue offers an interesting alternative to the other apps we will discuss here.

Unlike Benchmark, SendinBlue does not limit how many subscribers or contacts their free users can have. Likewise, there is no limit in place for monthly emails. Rather, there is a daily limit of 300 emails. From one perspective, this limitation may seem an opportunity to reach significantly more subscribers than would be possible with Benchmark’s plan. From another perspective, it means someone at your (presumably) small company will be spending at least some time every day working on emails; isn’t that why you wanted an email marketing app anyway? Fortunately, SendinBlue does make it easy to design attractive emails with a nice email editor and template library. Free users also get real-time reporting, phone and email support, and customizable sign-up forms. As with Benchmark, you lose access to many features by choosing to use SendinBlue for free, though since SendinBlue is a simpler app in the first place, the limitations seem less important.

The biggest pro for using SendinBlue is the all-around simplicity of this app, as well as the template library, which is varied and diverse. Like Benchmark, SendinBlue tends to impress customers with their support options as well. In terms of cons, there are only a few integrations available, and some users complain of an outdated interface as well. On the whole, SendinBlue is widely liked by those who use it, though it does not inspire the same superlative-laden user reviews of some of its competitors.


best ecommerce apps

MailChimp (read our review) is pretty much synonymous with email marketing. Maybe it is the quirky name, maybe it is the goofy grin on the face of their mascot, but this app just sticks in the mind, making it one of the first examples I think of when discussing email marketing. Fortunately, if your budget does not have space for an ESP among so many other important expenses, you are in luck. There is a free version of MailChimp, widely regarded as one of the best in the business.

To start things off, if you want to use MailChimp for free, you are looking at a subscriber cap of 2,000 users and an email limit of 12,000 per month. Eagle-eyed readers will note that Benchmark allows more emails per month, but where this email marketing platform sets itself apart is in the features free users gain access to. The standard email editor and template library are in place, as expected, but MailChimp also provides an automated email campaigns features that most of their competitors keep locked behind paywalls. These automations allow you to pre-write messages and determine triggers that will prompt the app to automatically send follow-up emails based on the behavior of individual subscribers. Whether it is a welcome message for new contacts, a notification of an abandoned shopping cart, or even a gentle reminder that your business still exists to customers that have been away awhile, if you are trying to build an ecommerce business, these tools can be invaluable to you.

The pros of using MailChimp should be readily apparent. With powerful features, a user-friendly interface, and a minimal learning curve — for the low monthly cost of $0, it may seem that there is no reason to not set up a MailChimp account this very second. However, unlike the other two apps discussed above, MailChimp does not have a spotless customer service record, with some users finding communication slow and unresponsive. Fortunately, there are more satisfied customers than disgruntled ones, but it remains a concern.

Final Thoughts

Basically, what we have here are three email marketing apps that would leave nearly any subscriber satisfied. Having said that, I think there is a definite winner here: MailChimp. Especially if you are working in e-commerce, the automation tools included in this free email marketing software may prove indispensable to growing your business.

Having said that, I can think of a few reasons for using the other software programs I described above. If your needs exceed the 12,000 emails offered by MailChimp, Benchmark might be the better choice for you. If you need an extra-simplified feature set, SendinBlue’s free plan may be more attractive. On top of that, both these alternatives have higher reputations for customer service, certainly more so than Mailchimp.

In the end, the best way to figure out which free email marketing software app is best for you is to give one or all of them a try. Considering they are free, there is really not much to lose. Your email newsletter is just begging to be sent, and this month is as good a time as any! Start generating contacts, write that opt-in email, create some sign-up forms, and get out there!

If you’re looking for a little more bang for your buck, you might consider doing a free trial of another email marketing platform like AWeber, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, or Active Campaign, or simply using the paid version of any one of the programs above. With a premium service, you’re going to get more templates, unlimited emails and contacts, advanced marketing automations, social media integration, and better all-around email marketing tools. Read our full selection of email marketing software reviews for more information, or check out our ESP comparison chart.

The post The Best Free Email Marketing Software Programs appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Best Shipping Software For 2018

It’s 4:30 on a Friday and you’re knee-deep in packing peanuts and cardboard boxes. You’ve got twenty orders to pick, pack, and ship before the post office closes, and you keep misplacing your packing slips.

There must be a better way.

If your storage space is covered in packing materials and you record all your shipping information in spreadsheets and Post-It notes, it might be time to try something else.

In the era in which an app solves everything, it makes sense to turn to software solutions to soothe your shipping woes.

Shipping software solutions integrate with most popular eCommerce software programs and can help simplify your day-to-day operations. They let you calculate accurate shipping rates and print shipping labels and packing slips in bulk. They can even grant you discounted shipping rates.

These programs are typically available as SaaS solutions that range in price from $25/month to $99/month — a small price to pay for the shipping issues they resolve.

It’s clear you should subscribe to a shipping software, but with so many options available, how do you choose?

We’ve tested out a handful of shipping solutions, examining price, ease of use, and customer service. Keep reading to learn more about the best shipping software for 2018.

1. ShippingEasy

With a near-perfect score of 4.5 stars, ShippingEasy (see our review) is our top-rated shipping solution for eCommerce businesses. This software is true to its name: it’s easy to learn and use and customer support representatives are ready to help with any potential hiccups.

Best For…

Businesses of all sizes. It works especially well for eCommerce merchants who run their own online stores.


Pricing for ShippingEasy is simple and affordable; plans range from $29/month for 500 shipments to $99/month for 6,000 shipments. Each step up in pricing includes more monthly shipments and higher level customer support.

ShippingEasy has a free plan available for merchants shipping fewer than 50 shipments/month. For high volume sellers, ShippingEasy also offers enterprise options. Read more about ShippingEasy’s pricing in our full review.


As I mentioned above, we found ShippingEasy to be highly user-friendly. You can easily import orders, create shipments, set shipping parameters, and buy and print postage, shipping labels, and packing slips.

We also like how many features come included with ShippingEasy. And we especially love the fact that ShippingEasy’s partnership with USPS lets you benefit from lower shipping rates. You can save up to 46% on shipping rates when you sign on for one of ShippingEasy’s paid plans.

Other features include:

  • A Free Endicia Account
  • Shipping Status Updates & Real-Time Tracking
  • Individual Or Batch Shipping

If you’re worried that ShippingEasy might not integrate into your eCommerce software, fear no more! ShippingEasy integrates easily with the biggest names in eCommerce, including 3dcart, Magento, BigCommerce, Shopify, Volusion, and WooCommerce. View all of ShippingEasy’s integrations.

ShippingEasy also has a good record when it comes to customer service. Their support representatives are knowledgeable and helpful.


With so many positives to ShippingEasy, it’s hard to find any downsides. You should note, however, that ShippingEasy still has room to grow when it comes to simplifying their daily operations. In particular, users would like to see improvement in expediting the data entry process.

Otherwise, ShippingEasy is an excellent option. Take a look at our shipping software reviews to learn more about the software or sign up for a free 30-day trial.

Read our full ShippingEasy review

Visit the ShippingEasy website

2. OrderCup

OrderCup (see our review) is one of our favorite shipping software solutions. OrderCup offers an easy to use interface, multi-carrier shipping options, and discounted shipping rates. And best of all, OrderCup provides users with reliable and responsive customer support, so you can get answers to your pressing questions quickly.

Best For…

Merchants who ship between 500 and 12,000 shipments a month and who only need up to 12 users on the platform. With five tiered pricing plans, OrderCup is accessible to many merchants.


As I mentioned before, OrderCup separates pricing into five tiers. To add a little fun to the pricing, OrderCup has named each tier after a Starbucks drink size. Plans range from Short to Trenta, and each step up in pricing includes more sales channels, more monthly shipments, and more users.

The Short plan begins at $20/month for 500 monthly shipments, and Trenta costs $180/month for 12,000 monthly shipments.

For more information, view OrderCup’s pricing page.


OrderCup’s dashboard is well-organized and quick to learn. During setup, you’ll be able to integrate your hosted shopping cart. Your online store’s orders will be automatically transferred to your OrderCup dashboard.

Then, you’ll be able to connect with your favorite carriers and start processing orders.

OrderCup’s feature list includes everything you’d expect from a multi-carrier shipping software. They have made arrangements with several carriers, including the USPS, DHL, UK Mail, and DX to offer their customers discounted shipping rates. You’ll also be able to integrate with worldwide shipping carriers across Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Here are a few more features you can expect from OrderCup:

  • Automate Your Shipping Process
  • Print Return Labels To Include With Shipments
  • Bulk Import Orders Using CSV Files
  • Schedule Shipment Pickups
  • Integrate With Third-Party Fulfillment

OrderCup integrates with many eCommerce solutions, including Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, and Volusion. Integrated marketplaces include Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. Check the full list for more information.

Out of all these features, OrderCup users seem to be most enthusiastic about OrderCup’s support team. Support representatives are responsive and patient, often spending up to an hour on the phone with users to make sure everything is working properly. Users also praise OrderCup’s Canadian shipping options; it is easy to ship to and from Canada.

There are few negative comments about OrderCup online, though we have seen customers complain about having to pay extra in order to access phone support and get priority attention for their technical issues.


OrderCup is one of our favorite shipping software programs, scoring an excellent 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you think this software might be the right fit for your business, we recommend you try it out. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial in minutes.

But if you’d like a bit more information before you proceed, take a look at our complete review. We include in-depth information about pricing, customer service levels, and more.

Read our full OrderCup review

Visit the OrderCup website

3. Ordoro

Ordoro (see our review) is a shipping and inventory application designed for SMBs. Known for its drop-shipping features, Ordoro is particularly popular among Shopify users.

Best For…

Small to medium-sized businesses. Merchants who are planning to dropship can benefit especially from the software.


With Ordoro, you have two options. You can use Ordoro to handle just your shipping, or you can have Ordoro handle shipping, inventory management, and dropshipping. Ordoro sets up their pricing structure differently, depending on which features you choose.

In my opinion, it’s best to use Ordoro for shipping only. Paid plans for shipping begin at $25/month and go to $129/month. Each step up in pricing includes additional features and monthly shipments. There’s also a free plan available for merchants shipping fewer than 50 orders/month.

Pricing for shipping and inventory management is structured much differently. The lowest plan costs $199/month for 700 orders. This plan includes drop shipping features. Plans can go as high as $499/month for 4,000 orders. For more information, view Ordoro’s pricing page.


Ordoro comes with a minimalistic user interface. You can easily link your shopping cart to your new Ordoro account during setup. Then you’ll be able to sync your inventory and push new orders automatically to Ordoro. You can create shipping labels and packing slips one-by-one or in bulk.

Ordoro’s best feature is without a doubt their dropshipping functionality (available with shipping + inventory plans). You can set select items to ship directly from your supplier, and you can automatically split orders to dropship from multiple suppliers.

Here are a few more features that come with Orodoro:

  • Process Orders From Multiple Sales Channels
  • Integrate With USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, Canada Post, & Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime
  • Best-In-Industry Shipping Rates (Up To 67% With USPS)
  • Tracking Number Automatically Sent To Customers Upon Shipment
  • Inventory Management (If You Choose To Purchase It)

Ordoro integrates with a wide variety of eCommerce solutions, including Shopify, BigCommerce, FBA, 3dcart, Magento, WooCommerce, and more. See if your preferred vendor is on the full list.

Ordoro users have a lot of good things to say about the platform. In particular, they praise Ordoro’s technical support options. Customers report that a real person will be available to answer your support concerns. On the off chance you can’t reach anyone, Ordoro’s knowledge base is detailed and well organized. You might find the information you need there.

I’ve seen a few negative reports of Ordoro. Some customers cite trouble syncing their Ordoro account with other software programs (namely Shopify and FedEx). Other customers complain that while Ordoro’s interface is easy to navigate, that simplicity is due to a lack of features.


In our opinion, Ordoro is best suited to small businesses, especially those that engage in a lot of dropshipping. To learn more about Ordoro, read our full review, or try out the platform yourself by signing up for a free 15-day trial.

Read our full Ordoro review

Visit the Ordoro website

4. ShipStation


ShipStation (see our review) is arguably the best-known shipping solution, partly due to the company’s excellent marketing campaigns and partly due to the numerous integrations they offer with major eCommerce vendors.

Best For…

Small to mid-sized businesses, particularly those which sell online.


Pricing for ShipStation is on par with industry standards. You can choose from six pricing tiers, ranging from $9/month for 50 orders to $145/month for unlimited shipments. ShipStation does not offer a free plan, but they do offer a free 30-day trial of their software.


When it comes to ease of use, ShipStation prioritizes functionality over aesthetics, which is perfectly fine by me!

If you have any trouble learning your way around, ShipStation provides video tutorials to help you figure out the admin. In general, we think that ShipStation is highly usable, though it may take some time to get the hang of the advanced tools.

ShipStation offers the basic collection of features, including the following:

  • Integrations For USPS, UPS, FedEx, & DHL Accounts
  • Discounts On USPS Priority & Express Mail
  • Account Included
  • Batch-Print Hundreds Of Shipping Labels & Packing Slips
  • Print A Return Label To Include In Your Shipments

ShipStation really shines when it comes to integrations. Check out this full list to see which eCommerce platforms, shipping carriers, and payment solutions integrate easily with ShipStation. Happily, it integrates with the most popular eCommerce solutions, including BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, Volusion, Miva Merchant, and PrestaShop.

ShipStation’s customer service is available by email. They also provide live webinars, a knowledge base, and a community forum.

We see only one potential issue with ShipStation: it’s lacking customer management features. You cannot add identifying characteristics to a customer’s account, and ShipStation does not always recognize a customer when they make a second purchase on a different sales channel. However, for most users, this difficulty is not a deal breaker.


If you’re looking for an efficient, reliable shipping solution, ShipStation may be the way to go. Once you invest some time into learning the system, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of a feature-rich shipping solution.

Learn more about ShipStation in our full review or take it for a spin with a 30-day free trial.

Read our full ShipStation review

Visit the ShipStation website


5. ShipRush

ShipRush (see our review) is an affordable software solution that is designed to make shipping selection efficient. ShipRush displays rates from multiple different carriers on the same page in your admin, allowing you to quickly and easily choose the most cost-effective shipping rates. What’s more, ShipRush offers support for many different types of shipping, including individual package shipping, freight shipping, and LTL shipping. Keep reading to learn more about the merits of ShipRush.

Best For…

Merchants who need to ship freight. I would recommend ShipRush primarily to smaller businesses, as the pricing model is designed for three users (though more can be added on at an additional expense).


ShipRush’s pricing model is simple. It is divided into two options: Web and Desktop.

ShipRush’s web option is based on a monthly payment model and costs $29.95/month for up to three users (additional users can be added on three at a time for an additional $29.95/month).

On the other hand, the ShipRush Desktop version can be purchased annually for $795/year per workstation.


You can test out ShipRush for 60 days by signing up for a free trial. Once you sign up, you’ll be presented with this dashboard.

The dashboard is a bit austere, but we don’t mind much as ShipRush has proved itself to be very functional.

Once I got over the initial learning curve, I was able to calculate shipping rates and print shipping labels and packing slips easily.

Here are a few other features that ShipRush users benefit from:

  • Discounted Shipping Rates (Save Up To 60% On USPS Rates & 21% On FedEx Rates)
  • View Rates From Multiple Carriers On One Screen
  • Send Notifications To Customers When Orders Ship
  • Dropshipping Support
  • Print Scan-Based Return Labels

For the full list, head over to ShipRush’s website.

ShipRush integrates with over 75 eCommerce platforms, payment processors, shipping carriers, and accounting and CRM software apps. These integrations include 3dcart, Ecwid, LemonStand, Big Cartel, Shopify, FedEx, UPS, and USPS.

ShipRush has a lot of positives. Customers especially like the quality customer service and the relative ease of use. One downfall potential users should note is that merchants who maintain a large inventory (thousands of products) may have a hard time with the software. Creating shipping rules for all these different types of products could be more effort than it’s worth.


ShipRush is a great software for many businesses. It’s affordable, functional, and reliable, and you can test it out for yourself using their free 60-day trial.

For more information on ShipRush, take a look at our complete review of the platform. Otherwise, keep reading for more shipping options.

Read our full ShipRush review

Visit the ShipRush website

6. ShipHawk

ShipHawk (see our review) is a bit different than the alternative shipping software we cover above. While those software programs provide easy to use interfaces and hundreds of features, ShipHawk focuses its energy on one thing: an algorithm. ShipHawk is a complex shipping calculator, designed for large businesses and businesses that ship oversized or unique items.

Best For…

Larger businesses. ShipHawk’s cheapest plan is targeted at merchants who spend up to $500K on shipping annually. ShipHawk is also good for merchants who ship uniquely shaped or oversized items.


ShipHawk offers three pricing tiers. With each step up in pricing, you’ll be able to ship more parcels and freight and have access to more advanced features and technical support.

The Starter plan starts at $250/month and is for merchants who spend up to $500K on shipping annually. Then there’s the Pro plan, which begins at $2K/month and is intended for annual shipping expenses up to $2M; finally, there’s the Enterprise plan, for an annual spend of up to $25M. Enterprise begins at $4,500/month.

As you can see, ShipHawk is not a cheap platform. It is designed for high volume shippers who need a high volume platform.


In order to test out ShipHawk, you can sign up for a free demo of the starter plan. I didn’t find ShipHawk to be as intuitive as other shipping software apps I’ve tested. However, given time, I was able to figure out a few features. And as a whole, the dashboard seems well designed.

As I’ve mentioned before, ShipHawk works a bit differently than most shipping software when it comes to features. While ShipHawk does offer some of your typical features, they primarily advertise the calculator behind the software. ShipHawk will help estimate expenses for hard-to-ship items.

Here are a few of the more notable features:

  • Get Quotes From Multiple Carriers
  • Real-Time Tracking Updates
  • API: Integrate With Shipping Carriers & Shopping Cart Software
  • Set Up Automatic Shipping Rules
  • Provide Shipping Options To Customers

ShipHawk advertises that you can integrate with most software solutions through their API. You can expect to find pre-built integrations with a few shipping carriers and shopping carts, including DHL, FedEx, UPS, USPS, Magento, Shopify, and more.

Customer feedback regarding ShpHawk is very limited. However, after some time searching the web, I was able to find a few comments. Customers primarily love ShipHawk’s customer service and robust calculation abilities. I myself was a bit disappointed with ShipHawk’s support material. There did not seem to be enough tutorial information to help me set up the program.


ShipHawk is not the right fit for many of our readers. However, if you ship thousands of products each month and you need access to freight and individual shipments, ShipHawk may be right for you. Test it out with a free demo and read our review for more information.

Read our full ShipHawk review

Visit the ShipHawk website

Get Started!

If you’re tired of losing yourself in packing peanuts and misplaced notes-to-self, try out one of these software options. You’ll find that shipping is much less of a chore when order processing and fulfillment is automated, organized, and synchronized. With many solutions beginning at $25/month, shipping software is a small investment that could do a lot for your business. Click one of the buttons above to get started with a free trial, or search our site for more quality shipping software reviews.

Good luck, and happy shipping!

The post Best Shipping Software For 2018 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Top 5 POS Tablet Systems For Restaurants

The restaurant industry is a hectic environment with a ton of moving parts. From taking orders to printing tickets to splitting checks, every function needs to work seamlessly if you’re to maximize your potential — and stay alive. Studies show that nearly 60% of restaurants close after three years, so choosing the right point of sale system can be a crucial component to the ultimate survival of your business.

Happily, if you’re opening up a restaurant right now, you’re in luck. POS systems have never been more helpful or powerful. Chances are, if you’ve done you’re research, you’re looking into at least a few systems that are iPad or tablet-based. A point of sale tablet can be a server or manager’s best friend. The mobility of these devices boosts the efficiency of your waitstaff and can improve interactions with customers; managers, in turn, can keep tabs on reports and sales on the go, from any device with a wireless connection.

Read on for an in-depth look at some of our favorite tablet POS systems.


Best For…

Small to mid-sized retail businesses and smaller restaurant establishments.


$69 per month per first three registers.

Feature Overview

There is little fault to find with ShopKeep’s (read our review) sleek and modern POS for tablet. This company has been on the cutting edge of POS technology for a few years now and continues to improve and expand its services. Though it was previously best suited for retail establishments and smaller food service establishments, ShopKeep now offers open check features and server-less syncing.

It also recently added the ability to create your own modifiers and is working on an update for table layouts.

ShopKeep has always prided itself on being user-friendly, and its restaurant software is exceptionally simple to master, particularly with features like the ability to keep multiple tabs open and split bills in a quick and intuitive manner. Tickets can also be sent immediately from the table to the kitchen, saving precious time in a fast-paced environment.

If ShopKeep is lacking at all on the front end, it more than makes up for it with in-depth reporting, analyzing your restaurant’s busiest times to help you coordinated staffing. Employees can be assigned specific permissions and all reports and sales data can be viewed in real time on any device with the app installed.


Like most of the best POS systems, ShopKeep continues to improve. In particular, ShopKeep is becoming a better and better option for restaurants. Already boasting an excellent interface and strong reporting and employee management, the modifier and check functions of this POS make it worth a look for any new business owner.

Read our complete review or check out ShopKeep’s website for yourself.

Lightspeed Restaurant

Best For…

Almost any size foodservice establishment. There is an enterprise package for larger industries, but Lightspeed is probably better suited for mid-sized restaurants.


Lightspeed offers three plans at $69 a month, $129 a month and $198 a month.

Feature Overview

Lightspeed Restaurant (read our review) offers some unique features that are difficult to find anywhere else. Coupled with a superior design, Lightspeed has very few weaknesses to speak of and may be worth the slightly higher price compared to other similar systems.

Lightspeed thrives in both employee and inventory management. There is a feature which allows managers to change the visibility of employees on the app — quite useful for a business with multiple part-time employees. Permissions are assigned and broken down easily. The Timed Events features, which lets you set up unique promotions and contests for employees, is something I haven’t seen in many other products. You can also select your language of choice to print tickets.

One nice visual element is the ability to upload appetizing pictures of your menu items that can be displayed to customers. Most features, such as table layout and modifiers, are also highly customizable.

On the back end, Lightspeed Restaurant has a wealth of reports to help you analyze your business quickly and intuitively. The raw ingredient tracking mechanism also updates in real time, allowing servers to see when a product is running low. Things like discounts and tax codes can all be added or updated in a matter of seconds and, as an added bonus, Lightspeed’s customer service comes without additional cost and has many positive reviews. Lightspeed Restaurant is still lacking slightly in integrations but, at this point, we’re really picking nits.


Lightspeed Restaurant is designed specifically for the foodservice industry, and it shows. The company does nearly everything right and is particularly strong in both customer and inventory management, all at a reasonably competitive pricing structure that can fit whatever sized business you’re running.

Read our full review here or check out Lightspeed Restaurant’s website.


Best For…

Anything from small food-service establishments (like cafes) to mid-sized, full-service restaurants.


Toast starts at $79 a month and is $50 a month for each additional register.

Feature Overview

Here at Merchant Maverick we’re suckers for products that give you as few headaches as possible. Under that umbrella, Toast (read our review) continues to be one of our favorite point of sale systems. Toast has a simple and affordable pricing structure, a feature-rich and simple-to-use platform, and fantastic customer service that is included in the original price. Even one of the few issues we have with Toast — its inability to work with other credit card processing companies — at least leaves you with one less decision to make when you’re starting your business or shopping for a new POS.

Toast is simple to use. You can be walked through its initial set-up so you’re an expert in a short amount of time. Normal restaurant functions like check splitting, voiding, and the ability to transfer tickets to different tables are intuitive and can be done with just a few taps. Toast has a solid menu creation feature and it’s simple to make quick pricing changes either manually or automatically for things like Happy Hour.

Toast’s reporting functioToast hardwarens are robust and, as you would expect, can be accessed from anywhere with a wireless connection on a tablet or mobile device. You can see things like ticket times and tip reports all in an easily digestible format. Many current systems are delving deep into customer management and Toast is no different. The POS can take and store customer information and track an individual’s order history while tabulating their loyalty rewards, helping you set up ways to entice them to come back. The inventory and employee management functions are also strong, helping a business owner cut down on inefficiency. For an additional cost, you can add on Toast’s loyalty program and its online ordering service, two impressive features.


Everything about Toast is easy, from its pricing to its layout to its quick set-up. If you’re looking for a POS tablet system that won’t give you headaches, it’s tough to see you going wrong here. A strong menu-creation function and simple table management, coupled with some of the best customer service in the industry, make Toast a top contender.

Check out our complete review of Toast or visit their website.


Best For…

Mid-sized to larger foodservice businesses, though it can be adapted to smaller restaurants as well.


Revel has a flexible pricing structure depending on what features you need. The cost of the software is built in to the monthly subscription.

Feature Overview

Revel (read our review) is another impressive system that packs a lot of features into intuitive yet unassuming software. Revel has the ability to handle larger scale restaurants better than some of the other systems mentioned in this post. It can take on multiple locations with ease and has an extremely robust offering of reports that can be managed remotely, along with a varied list of integrations and customizable software.

Revel has a simple interface, without a lot of distractions. It is created with the server in mind, making things like voids, order editing, and check splitting simple. For smaller establishments, Revel has a very nice kiosk function with a customer-facing display. The ability to take reservations and inform customers via a text message or email is also a nice feature.

Going along with current POS trends, Revel allows you to take orders tableside and, with its Kitchen Display System, servers can view the status of an order as it’s being made.

Revel, a Lightspeed POS alternativeThe backend takes a little more time to get the hang of. However, that’s mainly because there’s a lot to offer. Revel has a huge slate of reports that can be viewed and digested quickly. Its employee management feature is also superb, assigning individuals their own PIN number for log-in. Managers can then track performance by sales, productivity, or number of voids, and permissions can be assigned easily. There is a built-in loyalty system within Revel that stores basic customer information. One of the biggest draws for Revel is the sheer number of companies that it integrates with. If the POS doesn’t have a specific function you’re looking for, chances are you can download a program that can help. Revel’s open API also makes it possible to create your own customizable functions.


Revel is a powerhouse of a POS that can handle large-scale restaurant establishments. The system is loaded with reports and an extensive employee management system. Though it comes with a slightly higher learning curve than some systems, Revel’s wealth of integrations gives it a big edge in a very competitive market.

You can find our full review here or check out Revel’s website.


Best For…

Quick-service food establishments and small to mid-sized restaurants.


Clover’s pricing can range from $350 to $800 depending on the retailer and on whether you’re purchasing it alongside other Clover products.

Feature Overview

Clover (read our review) has emerged as a giant in the POS game and for good reason. Although certainly not without its flaws (mostly on the payment processing end of things), Clover is exceptionally easy to use, comes with access to the Clover app market, and can be up and running within minutes out of the box, making it a popular product for small and mid-sized restaurants.

Clover arrives virtually ready to go from the second you turn it on with a preloaded menu. It’s also extremely customizable and will intuitively download a few starter apps for you based on your preferences. Clover has been a popular choice for business owners new to the restaurant game both because of its simplicity and how easy it is to tailor the POS to your specific needs. The product is EMV compliant and accepts virtually any payment type.

On the backend, Clover isn’t quite as robust as some other systems, but small to mid-sized restaurant owners are likely to find just about anything they might need.

The customer management feature stores information, making it easy to peruse an individual’s purchase history. One of Clover’s huge pluses is how easy it is to manage your business, even across multiple locations, from just one device. The POS stores all of its reports and you can see profits and employee activity in real time. Clover’s biggest draw, however, is its impressive app store. If you do find that you’re missing some functionality on the back end, it’s likely that you can find a program in the always-expanding App Market to help you out.


Clover is a tough system to beat in when it comes to sheer convenience. With a very simple and intuitive interface that you can have up and running in minutes, it’s a strong option for new business owners. Simple and extensive customer management and access to Clover’s App Market are also extremely convenient features. Unfortunately, though the software itself is exceptional, you will have to put up with First Data’s less than stellar support on the payment processing end of things, and depending on what kind of reseller you use to buy your Clover device, customer service is hard to navigate. Approach Clover with caution.

You can read more about Clover in our full review or visit their site.

Final Thoughts

These are just a handful of the available point of sale systems for tablets, and each one has its unique strengths. While you certainly aren’t limited to a tablet-based POS, it’s easy to see why they have become so popular. Locally-installed systems have advantages when it comes to security, but it’s tough to compete with the convenience, ease of use and set-up, and sheer affordability a tablet provides. And that’s not even mentioning the powerful reporting and various back-end management tools that can all be accessed in a device smaller than most books on your shelf.

As always, do your research and make sure you don’t settle for a system that doesn’t completely suit your needs. For more information in general, check out our selection of full restaurant point of sale reviews, read about iPad POS vendors, or view our comparison chart of restaurant POS software.

The post Top 5 POS Tablet Systems For Restaurants appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


The 7 Best Equity Crowdfunding Sites For Businesses And Entrepreneurs

So, what is equity crowdfunding, anyway?

Let’s start with the term “crowdfunding.” If you’re only loosely familiar with the concept, you might think of GoFundMe’s brand of medical and charitable crowdfunding. You may also think of rewards-based crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon in which entrepreneurs and artists solicit funds from backers in exchange for a physical product or exclusive creative content.

What if I told you that there existed an entirely different form of crowdfunding — one in which entrepreneurs and startups receive funding from backers in exchange, not for gifts or products, but for an equity stake in the company? A crowdfunding campaign in which the backers are investors?

Equity-based crowdfunding got its start later than rewards crowdfunding because crowdfunding involving investments was, until relatively recently, illegal in the US. Enter the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, better known as the JOBS Act. Passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2012, the JOBS Act amended federal securities regulations to legalize equity crowdfunding. The reasoning was that allowing startups to publicly solicit investment via crowdfunding would help spur the economy in general and startup formation in particular.

The various portions of the Act, however, did not immediately come into force. For instance, the provision that allowed the offering of equity investment to non-accredited investors (more on what this means later) wasn’t actually enacted until 2016. Suffice to say, equity crowdfunding is new. In fact, the reality of equity crowdfunding hasn’t yet lived up to the loftier predictions of those who pushed its creation. Nonetheless, the fact remains that billions of dollars have been raised by startups and companies via equity crowdfunding. For the right kind of business, equity crowdfunding represents a prime opportunity.

If your company is still just getting off the ground, however, you might find that rewards crowdfunding is a better fit for your enterprise, considering that investors tend to be less starry-eyed than the typical crowdfunding project backer. In this case, you might want to read our reviews of Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon. Bear in mind that in many cases, a successful rewards crowdfunding campaign can set you up for an equity crowdfunding campaign by showing proof of demand to potential investors.

Let’s take a look at the leading equity crowdfunding sites and what they have to offer growing businesses.

But First, A Warning

Let’s pump the brakes for a moment and go over the disclaimer I’ve started putting on my equity crowdfunding reviews:

Bear in mind that equity crowdfunding is a still-evolving field, with the full impact of the JOBS Act still being assessed. Equity crowdfunding is a more complex proposition than, say, rewards-based crowdfunding, as investing is much more substantially regulated. Consult an attorney if you have any legal questions regarding the process, SEC regulations, etc.

In short: Equity crowdfunding is legally complex. Be careful and don’t get into trouble!



Crowdfunder (see our review) was launched in Los Angeles in 2012 with a mission to, in the company’s own words, “empower thousands of entrepreneurs to grow high-impact ventures.” The company provides the following figures regarding equity funding services:

  • $160,000,000 in investment commitments on the platform
  • 12,000 individual & institutional investors
  • 36,000 companies
  • Funded 100+ deals with an average deal size of $1.8M

Let’s take a closer look at the equity crowdfunding platform with the hopelessly generic name. (The company shares its name with an unrelated British rewards crowdfunding site.)

Best For…

Crowdfunder is very explicit regarding its target audience:

Crowdfunder is designed for early-stage startups and more mature businesses raising seed stage, Series-A & Series-B funding. Our offering does not cater to inception stage companies at this time.

The platform accepts businesses that fall into a variety of categories including Tech Startups, Social Enterprises, Small Businesses, and Film & Entertainment.

A look through the companies currently campaigning on Crowdfunder reveals more tech companies than anything else, with financial/investment companies a close second.

Products Offered

Crowdfunder allows companies to raise money via Title II equity crowdfunding. For those who aren’t familiar with what I mean, here’s a brief explainer.

Title II equity crowdfunding essentially means your crowdfunding campaign can solicit investment from accredited investors only. An “accredited investor” is defined someone who either has a net worth of $1,000,000 minus the value of their principal residence OR who made more than $200,000 a year for the past three years. The term simply refers to someone with a certain level of wealth/income — it does not denote any particular investment skill.

Title III equity crowdfunding, or Regulation Crowdfunding, means you can solicit investment from anybody — both from accredited investors and those who are not. Title III crowdfunding was legalized more recently than Title II crowdfunding and is currently less widely used. On its website, Crowdfunder explains why it does not currently allow Title III crowdfunding.

With Crowdfunder, all funds are transferred offline, so Crowdfunder doesn’t take a percentage cut of what you raise. And while it won’t cost you anything to create a (non-public) profile on the platform, you’ll need a monthly subscription in order to launch your equity campaign.

  • Crowdfunder’s Starter package, for $299/month, lets you take your profile public and start raising money.
  • The Premium plan, at $499/month, gives you the above while letting you browse and contact the accredited investors on Crowdfunder’s platform. You also get advanced data/metrics and up to one hour per month of phone support.

I’ll note that in addition to equity-based crowdfunding, Crowdfunder lets you raise money via debt, convertible note, or revenue share offerings. Furthermore, Crowdfunder’s funding campaigns are keep-what-you-raise — you don’t have to hit a specific funding goal to collect funds.


Anyone can set up a profile on Crowdfunder’s website, but in order to launch your campaign, you’ll have to prepare and submit three documents: the Term Sheet, the Executive Summary, and the Investor Pitch Deck. These documents are complex, particularly the Term Sheet. Crowdfunder recommends that you work with an attorney when creating your financial offering.

Of course, you’ll also need to buy a monthly subscription before raising funds.

How To Apply

Anyone can set up a profile on Crowdfunder and submit the documents required for taking your campaign public. However, upon reviewing your documents, it’s up to Crowdfunder’s sole discretion to determine whether your business is “high-impact” enough for their platform.


Startups with boundless growth potential, particularly tech and investment startups, stand to potentially raise significant sums through Crowdfunder’s equity crowdfunding platform. While the monthly fees are high, they’ll be worth it if your campaign is successful, as Crowdfunder doesn’t charge a platform fee.

Read our full Crowdfunder review

Visit the Crowdfunder website


Like Crowdfunder, EquityNet (see our review) is an equity crowdfunding site that doesn’t process transactions itself, but rather facilitates offline transactions between campaigners and investors. Founded in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the pre-crowdfunding days of 2005 as a private investment company, EquityNet started offering equity crowdfunding after the enactment of Title II of the JOBS Act.

Best For…

EquityNet markets itself to a broader range of entrepreneurs and businesses than does Crowdfunder. EquityNet states in its FAQ that they are not just a platform for high-tech and high-growth businesses:

EquityNet is designed with flexibility to accommodate all ranges of private businesses, whether it’s an $100M/yr in revenue international biotech company, a pre-revenue one person software start-up, or a modest one-location coffee shop.

Products Offered

EquityNet offers entrepreneurs and businesses the ability to use its equity crowdfunding platform. EquityNet’s equity campaigns operate under Title II rules, so you’ll be raising funds from accredited investors only. You’ll also get to keep everything you raise regardless of whether you hit your funding goal.

Since all funds are transferred offline, EquityNet doesn’t take a cut of what you raise. Instead, EquityNet operates on a subscription basis. You can actually sign up with EquityNet and publish your business profile for free, but if you want to, say, share your business plan with investors (investors typically like to see a business plan before investing in something!), you’ll need one of EquityNet’s three subscription plans.

  • The Full Access package goes for a one-time fee of $900 and gives you full access to the accredited investors on the site. You’ll also get full access to fundraising documents and EquityNet’s patented business planning tools.
  • The Premium Consulting package goes for $2,500 and gives you all of the above, plus access to one-on-one consultations with an EquityNet team member regarding every aspect of your business plan, funding strategy, pitch, marketing, and more.
  • The EquityNet + plan costs a whopping $25,000 and gives you the ultimate hands-on equity crowdfunding package in which the company tailors everything to your exact needs.

Also note that since all transactions between entrepreneurs and investors occur offline, you can theoretically enter into a debt funding arrangement with an investor or even seek a grant. It’s up to you.


Anyone can freely set up a business profile page on EquityNet. However, EquityNet reserves the right to remove profiles for any reason.

Of course, you’ll need a paid subscription if you want to run an equity funding campaign with any likelihood of success.

How To Apply

Just sign up with EquityNet and set up your profile. EquityNet does not pre-screen businesses before allowing them onto the site.


The folks at EquityNet make a point to try to attract a broad range of businesses to their platform. It’s not just for Silicon Valley tech startups and investment funds. And while the premium services cost a pretty penny, they come with one-time charges, not monthly charges. EquityNet is one of the less elitist equity crowdfunding sites out there, and to that, I’ll tip my cap.

Read our full EquityNet review

Visit the EquityNet website



Founded in 2012 and based in Ohio, Fundable (see our review) is an unusual crowdfunding site in it hosts host both rewards and equity crowdfunding campaigns (though not both simultaneously). Think of it as both a Kickstarter-type platform and an equity crowdfunder. Given the subject of this article, however, I’ll be focusing on the equity side.

Best For…

You can raise funds for just about any type of business endeavor on Fundable. When it comes to choosing a rewards campaign or an equity funding campaign, Fundable states that rewards campaigns “are effective for smaller dollar raises (typically below $50,000)” and goes on to describe the target audience for its equity campaigns:

Equity raises are best for companies looking for larger sums of operating capital to move their business forward. Also, some businesses do not have a developed product or service that they can market through a Rewards raise, so offering equity is their best bet for raising funding.

Products Offered

Fundable is another crowdfunding platform that doesn’t take a percentage of what you raise, but rather charges a flat monthly fee to launch a campaign. Fundable offers two subscription packages:

  • The Standard package costs $179/month and gives you data analytics, email support, a guide for marketing your crowdfunding campaign, and marketing outreach templates.
  • The Premium package is available for a one-time payment of $2499. With this package, Fundable puts you in contact with the accredited investors the company believes will be the most receptive to your pitch. Fundable will also provide a list of relevant media contacts so you can better conduct media outreach for your campaign.

As with the previous two companies discussed, all funds transferred in a Fundable equity campaign are transferred offline. You are therefore free to seek a debt-based funding arrangement (or any other type of funding arrangement).


Once you set up your Company Profile in which you detail your company, your proposed campaign, and your funding goals, you’ll have to wait for Fundable to approve your project before you can continue. If you’re approved, you then choose which type of crowdfunding campaign you’d like to run and a subscription package.

How To Apply

Go to Fundable’s website and get started!


Fundable is a flexible crowdfunding platform in terms of what sort of campaign you can launch through the site, and they provide invaluable assistance with media outreach, marketing, and investor contacts at the highest subscription level. Fundable does pre-screen businesses before allowing them to begin fundraising, however, so make sure you have everything in order before you begin the process.

Read our full Fundable review

Visit the Fundable website


Founded in 2010 in San Francisco, AngelList is one of the leading equity crowdfunding platforms. It’s the only crowdfunding site that doubles as a job board for job-seekers trying to find a position with a startup. AngelList distinguishes itself by being the rare crowdfunding platform that lets entrepreneurs/startups raise money free of charge. All fees are paid by investors. Pretty cool, huh?

Best For…

Anybody can sign up with AngelList and attempt to raise money from the accredited investors on the site. However, AngelList doesn’t quite provide the guidance for those looking to crowdfund that many other crowdfunding platforms give you. Their website is much more spartan than the competition, with relatively little information for startups as to how you launch your campaign. Be prepared to do some research.

Products Offered

AngelList doesn’t offer any subscription packages with special features. You just sign up with AngelList on the website, and once you’ve completed your profile, you can launch your Title II crowdfunding campaign and get in touch with accredited investors.

Companies using AngelList raise money through investment syndicates. It’s an investment arrangement that differs from that of the other crowdfunding sites I’ve detailed today. Essentially, accredited investors give money to “angel” investors who then invest the pooled money into companies on the platform.

Keep in mind that though you won’t have to pay a monthly charge or a cut of what you raise to AngelList, that doesn’t mean there are no costs associated with running an equity campaign. The process of arranging an equity deal with investor syndicates on AngelList will cost you money due to paperwork, legalities, etc.


There are no particular requirements for a company looking to establish a profile on AngelList. Of course, in order to actually raise any money, your plan of action must be formidable enough for AngelList’s syndicates to take an interest in you, so this platform isn’t for just anybody.

How To Apply

Create a startup profile on AngelList’s website and start kissing angel investor butt! (Or use any other technique you find effective)


AngelList is a more freewheeling platform than some of the others discussed here, and the complexities involved in working out deals with investor syndicates may seem daunting to the first-time entrepreneur. However, AngelList has an excellent public reputation and is highly rated by those who have used the platform to conduct equity raises, many of whom have used multiple equity crowdfunding sites.

Visit the AngelList website



WeFunder (see our review) differs fundamentally from the other services I’ve mentioned. Every site I’ve mentioned thus far deals in Title II crowdfunding (accredited investors only) and not Title III (anyone can invest). Wefunder, founded in 2012 and based in Cambridge, MA, is the most successful crowdfunding platform to use Title III equity crowdfunding, or Regulation Crowdfunding. In fact, with over $50 million raised thus far, Wefunder comprises 50% of the market share in the Regulation Crowdfunding industry.

Best For…

Of the 174 companies that have been successfully funded through Wefunder, the company states that “Most are alumni of Y Combinator.” That should tell you something about the sort of company to whom Wefunder is best suited. The rare startup with exponential growth potential stands a decent chance of finding funding through the platform. Other businesses may have a tougher time of it. I’ll note that tech and food companies seem to comprise the majority of funded startups on Wefunder.

Only US corporations and LLCs can use Wefunder for crowdfunding.

Products Offered

Wefunder offers the use of its equity crowdfunding platform through which you can raise anywhere from $20,000 to $1,070,000. You’ll have to pay a $195 fee before you can start crowdfunding, and if you’re successful in reaching your funding goal (Wefunder is an all-or-nothing crowdfunding site), Wefunder will take 7% of what you raised as a platform fee. Take that into account when setting your funding goal.


There are no particular requirements for joining Wefunder. The company prescreens applicants for fraud and to make sure your startup complies with the rules, but that’s about it.

How To Apply

Go to Wefunder’s website, sign up and fill out your business profile, and wait to hear back from the company.


Wefunder is the industry leader in Regulation Crowdfunding and can take the right kind of high-growth startup to funding success. Regulation Crowdfunding hasn’t yet been the boon some hoped it would be, but Wefunder is one of the few companies thus far to truly make it work.

Read our full Wefunder review

Visit the Wefunder website



SeedInvest (see our review) was founded in 2012 just as the JOBS Act was being signed into law. In fact, founders Ryan Feit and James Han were part of the movement to get the Act passed in the first place. Like Wefunder, they offer Regulation Crowdfunding, opening up investing to the masses.

Best For…

By their own estimation, SeedInvest has approved only 1% of the companies who have applied to use their platform. SeedInvest is an exclusive platform and they don’t care who knows it. Tech companies seem to dominate the list of offerings on SeedInvest’s site.

I’ll note that while many crowdfunding sites refuse to have anything to do with cannabis-related companies, SeedInvest appears not to be one of them. “Green” startups, take note!

Products Offered

Wefunder offers up the use of its equity crowdfunding platform to the lucky few who survive the vetting process. Per the FAQ, this is what SeedInvest offers to those who get through:

  • Simplify and speed up your fundraising process
  • Access a network of accredited investors from around the world
  • Host virtual fundraising sessions from your desk
  • Streamline investor pitches, execution of legal documents, and processing of investments

Unfortunately, SeedInvest’s fees are complex and depend on your specific offering type:

  • 7.5% placement fee; charged on the total amount raised on SeedInvest in the round, paid only upon the successful completion of your offering.
  • 5% warrant coverage or equity; based on the total amount raised on SeedInvest in the round.
  • Up to $0 – $10,000 in due diligence, escrow, marketing and legal expense reimbursements.

Though the fees are considerable, one advantage of SeedInvest is that you can raise up to $30 million on the platform.


SeedInvest doesn’t lay out specific criteria for making it onto its site, but remember that only 1% of applicants survive SeedInvest’s extreme vetting process. You’d better have done your homework!

How To Apply

Go to SeedInvest’s website, sign up for an account, fill out your project information, and wait to see if you’ll be accepted into the 1%.


To state the obvious, SeedInvest isn’t for everybody. Only the startups with the highest growth potential need apply. If this is you, SeedInvest may be worth investigating.

Read our full SeedInvest review

Visit the SeedInvest website


microventures review

Founded in 2009 and based in Austin, MicroVentures (see our review) is another example of a Regulation Crowdfunding platform. You should know what that is by now if you’ve been paying attention!

MicroVentures states that “(t)he sweet spot for our platform is companies or startups that need $150,000 to $1,000,000 in capital.” Thus far in their lifetime, MicroVentures has facilitated the raising of over $100 million for high-growth startups. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Best For…

According to MicroVentures, the following industries are its main areas of investment:

  • Internet technology
  • Media and entertainment
  • Software
  • Green technology
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Gaming

MicroVentures goes on to describe the sort of company that best fits the platform:

MicroVentures looks for businesses that have a unique idea or a new spin on an old technology. We review the team, traction, market size and other factors to determine if the company will be a good fit for our platform. Additionally, we believe in accountability to the business (or concept), which is one reason we seek to identify firms whose founders already have invested their own capital in their business.

Products Offered

MicroVentures offers equity crowdfunding with the following fees:

  • $99 application fee
  • $250 due-diligence fee
  • 5% of what you raise

MicroVentures is an all-or-nothing crowdfunding site. If you raise some money but fail to meet your funding goal by the time your campaign ends, you’ll get nothing and like it.


MicroVentures doesn’t spell out any specific requirements to meet in order to be approved to start crowdfunding, but they do state the following:

We review every company that is submitted but we are only able to respond to the ones that we think will be successful on our platform. This is less than 5% of the companies that submit so please include as much detail as possible for us to evaluate.

So, 5% of applying businesses get through. That’s better than SeedInvest’s 1%, but it’s still a high bar to clear!

How To Apply

Sign up for a MicroVentures account, fill out the application for an offering, and submit it.


MicroVentures has a solid reputation in the industry. They offered investments in Facebook and Twitter before each went public. For the 5% of startups that, in MicroVentures’s estimation, have that kind of growth potential, this equity funding site holds great promise indeed.

Read our full MicroVentures review

Visit the MicroVentures website

Final Thoughts

Equity crowdfunding has only been around for a few years. Suffice to say, it is a work in progress. If you play your cards right, however, it might be just the thing to take your startup to the next level. If you’ve done your due diligence in preparing your offering and you possess the ability to excite investors, professional and amateur, then it’s certainly an avenue worth exploring.

The post The 7 Best Equity Crowdfunding Sites For Businesses And Entrepreneurs appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


The 5 Best Android POS Systems

Full disclosure: I have no dog in the Android vs. Apple turf wars that threaten to tear us apart. I have an Android phone and a Chromebook, but my wife owns an iPhone and a MacBook. Somehow, despite being unequally yoked, we have made things work. I respect her desire for functionality and user-friendliness. She respects that I despise spending money on anything. And there are many individuals who share my values.

If you are in the market for a point of sale system for Android because you are fiercely loyal to your device, you may feel lonely in this industry, one that often feels dominated by the iPad. But there’s hope! Read on for a convenient list of some of our favorite POS systems for Android.

Epos Now


Epos Now (read our full review) runs on any device that is compatible with Chrome or Safari. In fact, it’s one of the more affordable systems on the market.

While it doesn’t have the most robust offerings in some areas,  Epos Now gives you plenty of bang for your buck and is easy to set up and install. With a 30-day trial and an excellent set-up tutorial, Epos Now can save you a lot of initial time. While its interface isn’t flashy, it’s intuitive and there aren’t any distractions that get in the way of navigation. Running on any device with a compatible browser, it’s easy to keep tabs on real-time reporting and inventory levels.

The back end has some nice features that you can’t find in all point of sale systems. Purchase orders can be automatically created, along with barcodes (which can be customized). Permissions are also easy to set for different employees, giving them access to specific features.

Epos Now can be used for most retail operations as well as cafes, nightclubs, and other smaller food industry establishments. This POS features table management and check-splitting functions, plus a basic loyalty system. There are also a huge number of integrations that pair with the software, some available for free and some that will cost you an additional fee.

Epos Now’s customer service is a strike against it — it costs extra and has some less than glowing reviews online. However, for ease and affordability, this is a system to check out.

Read our full review or head on over to Epos Now’s website for more information.



If you have a bigger budget for your point of sale system and are looking for an Android-compatible device with very few holes, ERPLY (read our review) might be a smart bet. No, it’s not cheap, with the Standard package starting at $200 a month, but its features are extensive, and some of its functions, like customer management and loyalty, are top-of-the-industry in quality.

ERPLY isn’t the most user-friendly software on the market, but the learning curve is manageable and once you’ve gotten the hang of the system (something that takes a little time primarily because of how much the software has to offer), you should find it fairly intuitive.

The back end is where ERPLY really shines. There are customizable and printable purchase orders. The automatic reordering function is nice as well, and the supplier database — where you can store and track information from vendors — is truly unique. As I mentioned earlier, this system’s customer management feature is excellent, providing users with the ability to store tons of data on each individual customer (from bank information to credit limits). ERPLY also makes it easy to set up targeted promotions.

What’s more, there are more than 100 available reports, so the highly organized business owner is likely to find everything they’re looking for. Add that to the ability to pair with most major credit card processors, a wide range of integrations, and strong customer service, and ERPLY is a very strong retail system.

Read our full review for more information on ERPLY, or visit the ERPLY website to sign up.


Toast (read our review) is one of Merchant Maverick’s top-rated point of sale systems. Because it is Android-based, it is affordable (packages start at $79 a month) while offering a sleek, modern interface and an incredible number of features. Designed as an “all-in-one” POS for restaurants or any food-service business, Toast is extremely easy to use and operate, taking just minutes to set up and navigate.

Toast’s front end is intuitive even to novice employees, with all of the features you would expect, including easy check splitting, voiding, and table management. Toast offers a nice menu creation option and an excellent in-house reporting system.

Like ERPLY, Toast also thrives in the area of customer management. It’s simple to look up individual customers and see their spending habits and track their loyalty and reward points. For employees, Toast makes it easy to assess efficiency and to add and assign permissions.

Its loyalty program is an additional $25 a month; this is one of the few knocks on the system as a whole, but not entirely unreasonable. The gift card and online ordering functions are also available as add-ons, but they’re extremely useful and can be purchased without completely breaking the bank. Toast really thrives in the area of customer service, offering round-the-clock support and quick responses with no additional cost.

Read our comprehensive review of Toast, or head on over to the Toast website to sign up for a trial.


Vend (see our review) is another impressive POS system with many strengths and few weaknesses. With its ability to function on nearly any device that has an internet browser, it accessible for both iOS and Android apps.

Vend’s plans start at $99/month, and it also offers one of the better free plans around if you have a smaller business. It can handle nearly any sized retail establishment, as well as some light food-industry businesses, and it offers convenient hardware packages.


With a 30-day free trial available and a convenient walk-through feature, Vend is certainly one of the easiest to use systems around. The company has recently improved its eCommerce platform, making an already strong product even better without upping its price.

Vend thrives in most back-end functions as you might expect. You can track customer purchases and store information while using a solid, built-in loyalty program that can target those customers and offer discounts and promotions. Inventory management is another plus as bulk items can be imported with ease. Reports make it simple to assess which items are selling well and which ones might need to be shelved.

Vend’s premium customer service costs extra but has relatively few complaints online.

Want to learn more about Vend? Read through our full review of Vend, or check out Vend’s website for details on sign-up.

NCR Silver

NCR Silver POS review

As you might expect from a company as large as NCR, NCR Silver POS (read our review) does an excellent job staying on top of current trends in the market and making sure that its customers have what they need.

As such, they offer a strong point of sale system that can be accessed on iOS or Android. NCR Silver is reasonably priced, with plans starting at $99 a month with just $39 a month extra per any added device.

NCR Silver Review

The software is targeted toward small to mid-sized businesses and plays well to that market, providing functions for nearly any retail establishment and most restaurants.

Functionality is the name of the game for NCR Silver. Its interface is simple to process and things that can be complicated in other systems, like mass imports, are easy to learn in this system. NCR Silver has excellent inventory management, and its Snapshot feature makes it possible to get an overview of your store and cash on hand with the push of a button. Employees are equally easy to manage and can be given individual pin numbers and assigned permissions.

A recently added mobile ordering function is another unique feature, and the ability to integrate with most major credit card processors is a big plus. If you’re looking for specific reports, NCR Silver might be slightly lacking but, on the whole, it’s difficult to imagine that the software would leave you wanting for much.

Read our full review of NCR Silver for more details about this Android-compatible POS system, or simply head over to NCR Silver’s website.

Final Thoughts

With so much emphasis on iPad-based solutions, it’s often easy to forget about the loyal Android users. For the budget-conscious business owner, finding a system that can be used on Android devices might be a quick way to save a few pennies from the get-go. Fortunately, some of the top systems around offer this option, and a few others have made promises to come out with an Android app within the year. When that happens we’ll continue to update this post.

The post The 5 Best Android POS Systems appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Top 10 QuickBooks Capital Alternatives

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

QuickBooks Capital (see our review) is a brand new lending feature designed for QuickBooks Online (see our review) users that offers installment loans at competitive rates. QuickBooks Capital uses your accounting information to determine whether you’re eligible for a loan, making the application process incredibly simple.

However, if you need fast capital, you may not have the time to wait for QuickBooks to contact you. Or maybe you’re looking for a loan with a higher borrowing amounts and longer term lengths. It’s important to explore all of your options before making a decision, so you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we’ve picked the top 10 alternatives to QuickBooks Capital. These lending options vary in loan type, borrowing amount, and borrower requirements, so that no matter what kind of business you run, you can find the best option that works for your business’s needs.

Read on to discover more about QuickBooks Capital and see which, if any, QuickBooks Capital alternative is right for you.

Getting A Loan Through The QuickBooks Capital Marketplace

If you don’t receive a notification saying you’re eligible for QuickBooks Capital, or if you want to explore all of your options, you can access the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace. The Quickbooks Capital Marketplace is where you’ll find seven additional lenders with which QuickBooks Capital directly partners: OnDeck, CelticBank, Fundbox, LoanBuilder, Funding Circle, BlueVine, and Direct Capital.

The QuickBooks Capital team says:

The 7 partners on our platform meet our guiding principles for transparency, privacy, security, consumer protection, and overall cost of capital including rates and fees.

The best part about applying for a loan using the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace is that the application is simple. Instead of going directly to one of these individual lenders, you’ll apply directly through the QuickBooks Capital website. QuickBooks Capital will use your existing QuickBooks Online data to fill in your application. Then you will be able to view offers from the lenders you are eligible for.

Several of the lenders on this list are QuickBooks Capital partners. Read on to learn which of the seven are our favorites.

1. Fundation

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Established small businesses looking for a loan or line of credit for working capital or business expansion needs.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans
  • Lines of credit

Founded in 2011, Fundation (see our review) has quickly become one of the top choices for business lending. With competitive rates, excellent customer service, and almost no negative reviews, it’s easy to see why. Fundation offers installment loans (also commonly referred to as term loans) and lines of credit.

The qualifications for Fundation are a bit more stringent than those of the other alternatives in this post. To qualify, you must have a credit score of 660 or higher, have been in business for at least a year, and have $100K/year in revenue. You must also have three full-time employees.

Here are the rates for Fundation’s installment loans:

Borrowing amount: $20K – $500K
Term length: 1 – 4 years
Origination fee: Up to 5%
APR: 7.99% – 29.99%
Collateral:  Personal guarantee, UCC-1 blanket lien

Here are the rates for Fundation’s lines of credit:

Borrowing amount: $20K – $100K
Term length: 18 months
Additional fees: $500 closing fee
2% draw fee
APR: 7.99% – 29.99%
Collateral:  Personal guarantee, UCC-1 blanket lien

How To Apply For A Fundation Loan

You can fill out an application online. As you’re applying, Fundation will tell you if the business characteristics you’re entering are good or bad, so you’ll have a better idea of whether your application will be approved. You will need to provide some documentation as well. It takes between two to seven days to complete the application process and receive funding.


Fundation is a great option for established businesses with good credit who are looking for a loan that offers the competitive rates of bank and credit card lenders, without the long, complicated application process. Read our complete Fundation review to learn more.

Visit the Fundation Site

2. SmartBiz

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Established businesses in good standing looking for an SBA loan to be used for working capital, debt refinancing, or commercial real estate.

Products Offered

  • Working capital
  • Debt refinancing
  • Commercial real estate purchasing

SmartBiz (see our review) has been simplifying the SBA loan process since 2009. SmartBiz does not issue loans themselves; instead, they help pair eligible applicants with an SBA lender. SmartBiz specializes in the General 7(a) Small Business Loan, which can be used for working capital, debt refinancing, or commercial real estate purchasing.

Because SBA loans are government-backed, it is harder to qualify for these loans than some of the other alternatives in this post. You must have at least fair credit, have been in business for two years, and have enough cash flow to support repayments. You also cannot have any tax liens, current charge-offs or settlements, or any bankruptcies in the last three years. You must be a US citizen or permanent resident. If you’re using your SBA loan for commercial real estate, the real estate in question must be at least 51% owner-occupied, and you can’t have any previous defaults on government-backed loans.

Here are the rates for working capital and debt refinancing loans:

Borrowing amount: $30K – $350K
Term length: 10 years
Interest rate: Prime rate + 3.75% (loans of $30K – $49K)
Prime rate + 2.75% (loans of $50K – $350K)
Other fees: Referral fee: 2%
Packaging fee: 2%
Guarantee fee: 0% – 2.25%
Bank closing costs: ~$450
APR: 5.85% – 8.95%
Collateral: Personal guarantee
Lien on business assets

Here are the rates for SmartBiz’s commercial real estate purchasing loans:

Borrowing amount: $500K – $5M
Term length: 25 years
Interest rate: Prime rate + 1.5% – 2.75%
Other fees: Referral fee: 0.5%
Packaging fee: 0.5%
Guarantee fee: 2.25% – 2.75%
Bank closing costs: ~$5K
APR: 5.85% – 8.95%
Collateral: Personal guarantee
Lien on the real estate

How To Apply For a SmartBiz Loan

The good news is, SmartBiz can determine whether you have a good chance of qualifying for an SBA loan in minutes. If you pass their questionnaire, you’ll be assigned a SmartBiz representative who will help you fill out your application. Depending on the number of documents you need to provide, this step can take a few weeks. Once you’re approved, you can receive funds right away (unless you’re using the funds for commercial real estate, in which case there are several extra steps required before you receive funding). Overall, the application can take anywhere from one week to three months depending on the type of loan you are applying for and the size of the loan.


If you’re an established business looking for an SBA loan, SmartBiz loans are much easier to apply for than most SBA loans. This option is not suited for startups. If you’re interested in learning more about SmartBiz, read our full SmartBiz review.

Visit the SmartBiz Site

3. StreetShares

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital
Best For…

Small- to medium-sized businesses looking for a loan or line of credit to be used for working capital or business expansion needs.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans
  • Lines of credit
  • Contract financing

StreetShares (see our review) is a peer-to-peer lender that started back in 2013. The company was founded by veterans, for veterans, but you don’t have to be a veteran to use this small business loan service. StreetShares has competitive rates and low borrower qualifications making it a good option for merchants looking for installment loans, lines of credit, or contract financing. For installment loans, the maximum you’ll be approved for is 20% of your annual revenue.

To qualify for a StreetShares’ loan, you must have a credit score of 620 or higher, have been in business for a year, and have 25K in annual revenue (if you have $100K in revenue, you can qualify after being in business for only six months). If you’re interested in contract financing, the qualifications are even laxer; you just have to be a B2B or B2G business that sends invoices to your customers.

Here are the rates for StreetShare’s Installments loans:

Borrowing amount: $2K – $100K
Term length: 3 – 36 months
Interest rate: About 6% – 14%
Closing fee: 3.95% or 4.95%
APR range: 7% –  39.99%

Here are the rates for StreetShare’s lines of credit:

Borrowing amount: $5K – $100K
Draw term length: 3 – 36 months
Interest rate: About 6% – 14%
Draw fee: 2.95%
APR range: 7% –  39.99%

Here are the rates for StreetShare’s  contract financing:

Credit facility size: Max $500K per invoice
Advance rate: Up to 90%
Discount rate: Varies
Max overdue account: 180 days
Additional fees: None
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums/maximums: None
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Non-recourse
Notification or non-notification: Notification

How To Apply For A StreetShares Loan

To apply for a StreetShares’ loan, you simply fill out an online application. If approved, you’ll have to provide additional documentation. The whole process usually takes less than a week, so you can expect fast funding.


StreetShares is one of our top-rated small business lenders for a reason. This lender offers fast, affordable funding for small to medium-sized businesses and boasts some of the best rates on the market. Check out our complete StreeShares review for more details.

Visit the StreetShares Site

4. OnDeck

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Small- to medium-sized businesses looking for a loan or line of credit with a fast application process.

Products Offered

  • Short-term loans
  • Lines of credit

OnDeck (see our review) is an incredibly popular online lender that was one of the first to use technology for lending decisions — making approval fast. OnDeck also has relaxed borrower qualifications, although the loans can get expensive. OnDeck offers both short-term loans and lines of credits, and payments are made daily or weekly.

To qualify for an OnDeck loan, you must have been in business for twelve months, have a credit score of 500 or higher, and have an annual revenue of $100K.

Here are the rates for OnDeck’s short-term loans:

Borrowing amount: $5K – $500K
Term length: 3 – 36 months
Factor rate: x1.003 – x1.04 per month
Origination fee: 2.5% – 4%
Effective APR: Learn more
Collateral: UCC-1 blanket lien, personal guarantee

Here are the rates for OnDeck’s lines of credit.

Borrowing amount: $6K – $100K
Draw term length: 6 months
Draw fee: None
Maintenance fee: Typically $20/month
APR range: Starts at 13.99%
Collateral: Personal guarantee

How To Apply For A OnDeck Loan

OnDeck is one of QuickBooks Capital’s partners, so you can go fill out an application in the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace and QuickBooks will let you know if you qualify for an OnDeck loan. Or, you can apply with OnDeck directly.

Simply fill out the application on their website. OnDeck may ask for some documentation. Approval usually takes less than 24 hours, and if you accept an OnDeck loan, you can expect to receive your funds in one to two days.


While OnDeck can get expensive, its relaxed borrowing requirements make it a good option for merchants looking for fast funding who may not be approved elsewhere, or who need a little extra capital to hold them over until they qualify for better financing. Read our full OnDeck review to learn more.

Visit the OnDeck Site

5. Breakout Capital

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best for…

Small businesses in need of short-term loans to be used for working capital, inventory purchasing, or other short-term needs.

Products Offered

  • Short-term loans

Breakout Capital is one of our top-rated lenders and specializes in offering short-term loans to small businesses. These loans are more flexible than those of many of the other alternatives in this post. Depending on the strength of your business, you may be able to choose from multiple payment schedule options.

To qualify for a Breakout Capital loan, you must be in business for a year, have a credit score of 600, and have at least $10K/mo in revenue.

Here are the rates for Breakout Capital’s business loans:

Borrowing Amount: Up to $250,000
Term Length: Up to 24 months
Factor Rate: 1.25% to 3.5% per month
Origination Fee: 2.5%
Effective APR: Learn more
Collateral: Blanket lien and personal guarantee

How To Apply For Breakout Capital 

To apply for a Breakout Capital loan, you’ll need to fill out a pre-qualification form first, either online or by calling a Breakout Capital rep. You’ll then have to provide some basic information and a few documents. Breakout Capital will let you know if you qualify for one of their loans. The cool thing about Breakout Capital is that they will also let you know if one of their lending partners has a better offer for you.


Breakout Capital can be good option for small businesses looking for short-term financing. Read our full Breakout Capital review to see if this QuickBooks Capital alternative is right for you.

Visit the Breakout Capital Site

6. BlueVine

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Small businesses looking for invoice factoring or a line of credit for consistent cash flow.

Products Offered

  • Invoice factoring
  • Lines of credit

BlueVine was founded in 2013, and this online lender has been revolutionizing invoice factoring ever since. In addition to invoice factoring, BlueVine also offers lines of credit. The lender is known for positive customer reviews and plenty of customer support options.

BlueVine has relaxed borrower requirements. To qualify for invoice factoring, you must be a B2B business that’s been operating for three months, have a credit score of 530, and have a monthly revenue of $10K. To qualify for a line of credit, you’ll need to be in business for six months, have a credit score of 600, and have a monthly revenue of $10K (some states are not supported).

Here are the rates for BlueVine’s invoice factoring:

Credit facility size: $20K – $5M
Advance rate: 85% – 90%
Discount rate: 0.3% – 1% per week
Max overdue account: 13 weeks (91 days)
Additional fees: $15 wire transfer fee (no charge for ACH transfers)
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums: No
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Recourse
Notification or non-notification: Both (see below)

Here are the rates for BlueVine’s lines of credit:

Credit facility size: $6K – $200K
Term length: 6 or 12 months
Interest rate: 0.3% – 1.5% per week
Draw fee: 1.5% per draw
APR: 15% – 78%
Personal guarantee: Yes

How To Apply For BlueVine

BlueVine is one of QuickBooks Capital’s partners, so you can go fill out a QuickBooks Capital Marketplace application and QuickBooks will let you know if you qualify for a BlueVine loan. Or, you can apply with BlueVine directly.

Simply create an account, answer a few basic questions,  and provide three months of bank statements or connect to your bank account (you can also connect to your accounting software if you’d like). Approvals usually take a day. Once approved, you can start drawing from your credit line right away; transfers normally take one to three business days.


While BlueVine may not have the cheapest rates, it does have some of the lowest borrowing requirements. If you’re interested in learning more about this financing option, read our full BlueVine review.

Visit the BlueVine Site

7. Fundbox

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For… 

Microbusinesses looking for invoice financing or a line of credit for consistent cash flow.

Products Offered

  • Invoice financing
  • Lines of credit

Fundbox (see our review) started out in 2013 as an invoice financing provider. Today, Fundbox also offers lines of credits and is known for good customer support and positive customer reviews.

To qualify for Fundbox’s invoice financing, you’ll need to have been using a compatible accounting or invoicing software for at least three months. To qualify for Fundbox’s lines of credit, you’ll need to have had a compatible bank account for at least six months.

Here are the rates for Fundbox’s invoicing financing (called Fundbox Credit):

Credit facility size: Up to $100K
Advance rate: 100%
Advance fee: 0.4% – 0.7% per week
Term length: 12 or 24 weeks
Additional fees: None
Contract length: N/A
Monthly minimums: No
Factor all invoices: No
Recourse or non-recourse: Recourse
Notification or non-notification: Non-notification

Here are the rates for Fundbox’s lines of credits (called Direct Draw):

Borrowing Amount: $1K – $100K
Term Length: 12 weeks
Borrowing Fee: 0.5% – 0.7% per week
Draw Fee: None
Effective APR: 12% – 54%

How To Apply For Fundbox

Fundbox is one of QuickBooks Capital’s partners, so you can apply to the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace and QuickBooks will let you know if you qualify for a Fundbox loan. Or, you can fill out an application with Fundbox directly.

Simply make an account and hook up your accounting or invoicing software to apply for invoice factoring, or hook up your bank account to apply for a line of credit. You’ll usually hear back in one to two hours. If approved, you can start requesting funds right away.


Fundbox is a great option for startups and small businesses looking for an invoice factoring solution or a line of credit. Read our complete Fundbox review for more details.

Visit the Fundbox Site

8. PayPal Working Capital

Best For…

PayPal users looking for a loan for working capital, inventory, or other short-term needs.

Products Offered

  • Short-term business loans

PayPal Working Capital (see our review) is incredibly similar to QuickBooks Capital. This lending service is available for PayPal users only, but since many QuickBooks lovers also use PayPal, we kept it on this list. PayPal Working Capital offers short-term business loans that operate like merchant cash advances (meaning payments are deducted from your daily PayPal sales).

To qualify, you must have been in business for three months and have $15K – $20K/year in revenue, depending on your PayPal account type.

Here are the rates for PayPal Working Capital’s loans:

Borrowing amount: $1K – $97K (first loan)
$1K – $125K (subsequent loans)
Term length:  Max. 18 months
Factor rate: Approx. x1.01 – x1.58
Origination fee: None
Effective APR: Learn more
Collateral: None

How To Apply For A PayPal Working Capital Loan

Applying for a PayPal Working Capital loan is easy. PayPal autofills an application for you. All you have to do is verify the information. If you are approved, the loan amount you accept will automatically be deposited into your bank account. If you aren’t approved, there are some steps you can take to try again.


While the factor rates can be potentially high and loan approval is inconsistent, PayPal Working Capital can still be a good option for PayPal merchants looking for short-term financing. Read our full PayPal Working Capital review for more details.

Visit the PayPal Working Capital Site

9. Funding Circle

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Established, large businesses in good standing looking for a medium-term loan.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans

Founded in 2010, Funding Circle is an online lender that specializes in offering loans to large businesses and franchises. Because of this, Funding Circle’s borrower qualifications are more stringent than those of some of the other lenders on this list.

To qualify, you must be in business for two years and have a credit score of 620. You also cannot have had any bankruptcies for the last seven years or any tax liens for the last 10 years.

Here are the rates for Funding Circle’s installment loans:

Borrowing amount: $25K – $500K
Term length: 6 months – 5 years
Interest rate: 4.99% – 26.99%
Origination fee: 0.99% – 6.99%
APR: 7.4% – 36%
Collateral: Personal guarantee, lien on business assets

How To Apply For A Funding Circle Loan

Funding Circle is one of QuickBooks Capital’s partners, so you can apply to the QuickBooks Capital Marketplace and QuickBooks will let you know if you qualify for a Funding Circle loan. Or, you can fill out an application for Funding Circle directly.

The Funding Circle application is fairly long, but it is still much faster than applying through a bank or credit union. Multiple documents are required. The complete application process usually takes around 10 days.


Funding Circle is a good fit for large business or enterprises that are established. Startups and small businesses will be better off with any other lender from this list. To learn more about Funding Circle, read our complete Funding Circle review.

Visit the Funding Circle Site

10. Lending Club

Top Alternatives To QuickBooks Capital

Best For…

Businesses of nearly any size with fair credit looking for a medium-term loan.

Products Offered

  • Installment loans
  • Personal loans
  • Auto refinancing

Founded in 2006, Lending Club (see our review) is one of the oldest lenders to offer loans online. Lending Club has competitive rates and good customer service. This lender offers personal loans, auto refinancing, and business installment loans (which are what we will be focusing on).

To qualify for a Lending Club business loan, you’ll need to be in business for 12 months, be 18 years old, be a US citizen or long-term resident, and have $50K in annual revenue. You also have to own 20% of the business and cannot have had any bankruptcies of tax liens.

Here are the rates for Lending Club’s installment loans:

Borrowing amount: $5,000 – $300,000
Term length: 1 – 5 years
Interest rate: 5.9% – 25.9%
Origination fee: 0.99% – 6.99%
APR range: 9.77% – 35.71%
Collateral: Personal guarantee
Blanket lien on loans above $100,000

How To Apply For A Lending Club Loan

To apply for a Lending Club loan, you’ll need to fill out an online application. You’ll receive a quote, and if you’d like to continue, Lending Club will ask you for more information and several documents. Approval usually takes one to two weeks.


Lending Club can be a great option for businesses of many sizes. Learn more about Lending Club and it competitive terms in our complete Lending Club review.

Visit the Lending Club Site

What Type Of Loan Is Right For Me?

You may have noticed that the lending options above all offer a large variety of products, like installment loans, lines of credit, SBA loans, invoice factoring, and short-term loans. To decide which loan is best for you business, ask yourself:

  • Which loans am I eligible for?
  • What do I want to use this loan for?

It’s also important to know the differences between each type of loan.

For installment loans, short-term loans, and merchant cash advances, you’ll receive your funds in one lump sum. Once these funds are gone, you’ll have to apply for a new loan, which makes these loan types ideal for working capital, inventory purchasing, and business growth projects.

For lines of credit, you’ll be able to draw however much you’d like up to your maximum borrowing amount as you need the funds. Most lines of credit revolve, meaning once you pay back the money, you can draw from the line of credit again. For this reason, lines of credits are good for consistent cash flow, unexpected expenses, and time-sensitive business opportunities.

To learn more about financing option, check out these articles:

  • Installment loans
  • Short-term loans
  • Merchant cash advances
  • Lines of credit
  • Invoice factoring

No matter which you choose, these lenders vary in one distinct way from QuickBooks Capital: You get to take the initiative in finding capital, instead of waiting for QuickBooks Capital to reach out. While QuickBooks Capital offers competitive rates, these 10 alternatives are more than worth looking into if you need fast capital, a higher borrowing limit, or a different type of loan.

Looking for even more options? Check out a comparison of our favorite small business lenders, or our full list of reviews.

The post Top 10 QuickBooks Capital Alternatives appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


5 Great LoanBuilder Alternatives For Small Businesses

PayPal’s LoanBuilder offers an unusually high level of transparency to prospective borrowers, allowing them to see — and even tinker with — the terms of their loans well in advance of signing on the dotted line.

This is a welcome trait in an industry where speed and low barriers to entry take precedence over openness and affordability.

As we often warn in our reviews, however, it’s a good idea to compare as many different products as you can to get the best deal you can.

So what are some alternatives to LoanBuilder for small business?

Square Capital

Best for: Square customers looking for small loans with low rates

Square, a company known more for point of sale hardware and software, also offers an alternative lending service to its clients. That last bit will probably be a major deciding factor for most of the people reading this: to get a loan from Square Capital you have to already be an existing Square customer.


Time in business: N/A
Credit score: N/A
Revenue: $10K/yr

If you’re a Square customer, you may periodically get funding offers from the company by email. This passive approach to lending won’t suit everyone, but Square does offer some of the lowest short-term loan rates in the business (between 1.1 and 1.16). If you accept the offer, you’ll have up to 18 months to repay the loan. Micropayments are deducted from your daily credit card sales until you’re paid up. You can borrow between $500 and $100,000.

This arrangement may not be for everyone, of course. A lot of the advantages come from being heavily integrated into the Square environment — their credit card processing service makes it easy for them to collect on their debt. You may not be comfortable owing debt to the company that also handles your point of sale.


Best for: Businesses looking for a transparent alternative lender, businesses looking for medium-term loans

If you’re attracted to LoanBuilder’s transparency but want an alternative, you may want to give Credibly a look. Credibly offers a bit more diversity in their loans than most alternative lenders, providing not just short-term, but more traditional medium-term loans. You can find most of the information you need to make an informed comparison on their website.


Time in business: 6 months
Credit score: 500
Revenue: $15K/yr + avg. daily balance over $1K for expansion loans

Compared to LoanBuilder, you’re probably looking at higher rates (between 1.09 and 1.36), especially if you don’t have great credit, but you’ll have a little more leeway with term lengths. Consider whether the tradeoff is worth it before you commit to anything.


Best for: Businesses looking for low rates

This addition to the list probably won’t be a big surprise to anyone familiar with the alternative lending industry. If you’ve been looking for loans online, there’s a good chance you’ve come across OnDeck.


Time in business: 12 months
Credit score: 500
Revenue: $100K/yr

As one of the early arrivals to the alternative lending scene, OnDeck’s had a lot of time to hone their products and offer competitive rates. These extremely low rates (1.003 – 1.04) come at the cost of some additional charges, namely a fairly high origination fee, but you’re still likely to land a better deal here than with many other alternative lenders. Additionally, OnDeck offers lines of credit for companies that want the flexibility.

You won’t find quite the same level of transparency here as you will with LoanBuilder, though the company’s website should give you a decent sense of what types of fees to expect.


Best for: Businesses looking for equipment financing and transparency

SnapCap flies under the radar compared to some of the other funders on this list, but they still deserve an honorable mention. Like Credibly, their rates are a little higher, particularly for borrowers with bad credit.



Time in business: 1 year
Credit score: 500
Revenue: $100K/yr

On the other hand, you’ll be able to find a lot of the information you’re looking for upfront, with only a little digging around SnapCap’s website. While they wouldn’t be my first choice for unsecured loans, SnapCap also offers secured financing in the form of equipment loans. This is where they’re most likely to stand out to prospective borrowers.


Best for: Companies that want to avoid hidden fees

As we often caution, the alternative lending industry isn’t known for its transparency. Kabbage is an interesting case study. The fee structure is a bit more complex than that of many of its competitors, which can make it challenging to compare to other products.


Time in business: 1 year
Credit score: N/A
Revenue: $50K/yr

Kabbage, however, takes pains to give you the tools necessary to figure out exactly what you’ll owe. Their website comes equipped with handy tools and explanations of their formulas. The big selling point here is that you won’t have to worry about Kabbage springing any surprise administrative fees; everything’s factored into the rates you see.

Final Thoughts

Alternative lending is a highly competitive market, so you should never feel like you’re locked into one particular funder. Find a lender you’re comfortable working with that offers you fair terms.

Not sure where to start looking? Check out our small business loan comparison.

The post 5 Great LoanBuilder Alternatives For Small Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Best Accounting Software For Macs

Best Accounting Software For Macs

Are you a loyal Mac-lover looking for accounting software? You’ve come to the right place!

When there are so many accounting options out there, finding the best small business accounting software for Macs isn’t easy — especially now that QuickBooks has discontinued QuickBooks Mac. Luckily for you, we’ve created this list of the top five best accounting software programs for Mac users.

Each of these programs offers tons of features and has a 4/5 star rating (or higher) on our site. We’ve picked a variety of accounting software programs that target different business sizes, needs, and price ranges so that you can find the best Mac accounting solution for your small business.

Read on to learn which option is right for you.



When most people think about accounting software, they’re really thinking about QuickBooks (the notoriously difficult to learn, locally-installed software for Windows). AccountEdge (see our review) offers the same sort of functionality as QuickBooks Pro, but for Mac users.

AccountEdge is an on-premise, traditional accounting program. Because AccountEdge is locally-installed, the software is far more developed and offers much more functionality than the other programs on this list. For example, it’s the only software of the five to offer lead management. But these features come at the cost of a steep learning curve.

The software is also more limited than its cloud-based counterparts in that there is no mobility and the cost of extra users adds up fast. However, for those with accounting experience who are planning on sticking with one software for a few years, AccountEdge can be an economical choice and may even prove to be less expensive than some cloud-based alternatives.

Best Accounting Software For Macs


AccountEdge is a fully-developed accounting solution with tons of great features for running a business:

  • Invoicing
  • Quotes
  • Contact management
  • Lead management
  • Expense tracking
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Accounts payable
  • Chart of accounts
  • Inventory
  • Project management
  • Time tracking
  • Payroll
  • Commission
  • 100+ reports
  • Customizable cards
  • Budgeting
  • Sales tax
  • Multi-currency support

Note: Some features are only available with AccountEdge Pro.


AccountEdge Basic costs a one-time fee of $149 for a new user license, while AccountEdge Pro (which includes all of the features listed above) runs $399 for a new user. Each license comes with a single-user; additional users cost extra. Any future AccountEdge upgrades are offered at a discounted rate.

If you’re looking for a locally-installed Mac accounting software, you really can’t beat AccountEdge. Read our full AccountEdge review to learn more about this software or give it a whirl with the free 30-day trial.


Best Xero Alternatives

Xero (see our review) has been a force to be reckoned with in the accounting world since 2006. This software (and all of the other Mac accounting options) in this post differ from AccountEdge in one significant way: they are cloud-based. Instead of installing the software on your computer, the software is accessed via the internet. That means that Mac and Windows users alike can benefit from Xero.

Xero offers strong accounting, incredible customer service, and an impressive number of positive customer reviews. Xero also allows for unlimited users, something almost unheard of in the accounting world.

The software is ideal for medium-large businesses in need of strong accounting and multiple users. Xero allows you to set detailed user permissions and manage multiple companies. While there is a small plan marketed toward smaller businesses, this plan is incredibly limited when compared to similar offerings by other cloud accounting programs (like Wave and Zoho Books for example). Payroll is only available in 37 states.

Best Accounting Software For Macs


Xero offers a great selection of features:

  • Invoicing
  • Estimates
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Accounts payable
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Chart of accounts
  • Fixed asset management
  • Inventory
  • Project management
  • Timesheets
  • Payroll
  • 65 reports
  • Journal entries
  • Print checks
  • Tax support
  • Sales tax
  • Multi-currency support

Note: Feature access may vary by plan. Visit our comprehensive Xero review for a complete feature list.


Xero offers five scalable price plans ranging from $9/mo – $180/mo. Payments are made monthly. Each plan comes with unlimited users. Check Xero’s pricing page for more details.

If Xero sounds like it might be a good fit for you, check out our comprehensive Xero review and/or take the software for a spin with a free 30-day trial. If you do end up going with this accounting software, take a look at How To Set Up Your Xero Account, a free guide that walks you through how to set up and use your Xero software.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Capital Review

QuickBooks Online (see our review) was launched in 2004. Since then, this robust software has grown to support over 2.2 million users. QuickBooks Online is cloud-based software with over 500 integrations and beautiful invoicing automations and customizations.

In the past, QuickBooks Online was fairly intuitive and required little previous accounting experience, but a recent downgrade in usability has made the software fairly difficult to navigate. However, the software is updated monthly so (hopefully) this could change soon.

The software is ideal for all types of small businesses, particularly those in need of strong accounting and ample integrations. It is not a good fit for companies with more than 25 users.

Best Accounting Software for Macs


QuickBooks Online offers an impressive number of features. These features are often a lot easier to use than those of locally-installed alternatives:

  • Invoicing
  • Invoice automations (like autoscheduling)
  • Estimates
  • Basic client portal
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Accounts payable
  • Chart of accounts
  • Inventory
  • Project management (beta)
  • TIme tracking
  • Reporting
  • Budgeting
  • Class tracking
  • packing slips
  • Tax support
  • Sales tax
  • Multi-currency support

Note: Feature access may vary by plan. Visit our comprehensive QuickBooks Online review for a complete feature list.


QuickBooks Online offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo. Plans are paid monthly and payroll costs an additional $39/mo – $99/mo. Check QuickBooks Online’s pricing page for more details.

If you’re interested in QuickBooks Online, read our complete QuickBooks Online review for more details and take advantage of the free 30-day trial.

Zoho Books

Best Accounting Mobile Apps

Zoho Books (see our review) is a complete accounting package with some of the most beautiful invoicing tools I have ever seen. The software was launched in 2009 and is an easy accounting software for Mac users to learn and use.

Overall, Zoho Books is incredibly affordable, offers good customer support, has amazing mobile apps, and provides some of the best international business options on the market.

Zoho Books is ideal for small to medium businesses (with up to 10 users) that are looking for strong accounting capabilities. Zoho Books has almost all of the features you’d find in QuickBooks or Xero; the only thing the software doesn’t offer is payroll or budgeting, so users in need of built-in payroll may want to look elsewhere.

Best Accounting Software For Macs


Zoho Books offers an impressive number of features:

  • Invoicing
  • Estimates
  • Client portal
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Mileage deductions
  • Accounts payable
  • Chart of accounts
  • Fixed asset management
  • Inventory
  • Time tracking
  • Project management
  • 50+ Reports
  • Journal entries
  • Class tracking
  • Print checks
  • Tax support
  • Sales tax
  • Multi-currency support
  • Invoice in multiple languages

Note: Feature access may vary by plan. Visit our comprehensive Zoho Books review for a complete feature list.


Zoho Books offers three pricing plans ranging from $9 – $29/mo. Plans are paid monthly. Features vary by plan. Check out Zoho Book’s pricing page to learn more.

If Zoho Books sounds like it might be the best Mac accounting software option for your business, or if you’re interested in learning more, be sure to read our complete Zoho Books review and take advantage of the free 14-day trial.


Best QuickBooks Online Alternatives

Wave (see our review) is the best free accounting software for Mac users. And just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s skimping on features. The software is incredibly robust and very easy to use. Wave offers strong accounting, decent invoicing, and built-in lending. The customer support is great and user reviews are positive almost across the board.

The ability to separate personal and business expenses makes Wave ideal for freelancers and microbusinesses, while complex accounting features (like a detailed chart of accounts) will meet the needs of most any small business. The software is ideal for businesses looking to save a bit of money. There is an Etsy-integration as well, which makes Wave a perfect choice for Etsy sellers. The software is not ideal for users in need of cash-basis accounting.

Best Accounting Software For Macs


Wave offers an impressive number of features, especially for a free accounting software. These features are easy to navigate and don’t require a background in accounting to use:

  • Invoicing
  • Estimates
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Separate personal and business expenses
  • Accounts payable
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Chart of accounts
  • Item list
  • Time tracking
  • Lending
  • 12 reports
  • Multi-currency support
  • Sales tax


As I mentioned earlier, Wave is a free accounting solution. However, there are a few extra costs to be aware of. Namely, payroll and credit card processing come at an additional price. Be sure to check Wave’s pricing page for the full scoop on these costs.

If this free software sounds tempting, you’ll want to read more about it in our full Wave review. You can also sign up for a free Wave account to give it a try (and cancel at any time).

Which Software Should I Choose?

When it comes to choosing the best small business accounting software for Mac users, we couldn’t pick a single favorite. There are several great Mac accounting options, and choosing which one is right for your business will ultimately depend on your business’s size, needs, and price range.

To summarize:

  • AccountEdge: AccountEdge is the best locally-installed accounting software for Mac users. The software offers more features than any of the other Mac accounting software alternatives, but there is a learning curve and the software is not ideal for businesses with multiple users.
  • Xero: Xero is an incredibly robust accounting option that is ideal for medium to large businesses. The software also has a bit of a learning curve, but it offers unlimited users and great customer support.
  • QuickBooks Online: QuickBooks Online is one of the best small business accounting options. It has hundreds of integrations and plenty of features for most businesses. The software isn’t the easiest to use, and customer support can be a hit or miss.
  • Zoho Books: Apart from Wave, Zoho Books is the easiest accounting software for Mac users to learn. It offers true accounting, beautiful invoicing, and competitive pricing. The software is ideal for small to medium-sized business who don’t need payroll or a lot of integrations.
  • Wave: Wave is the best free accounting software for Macs. The software offers true accounting, but is easy to use and suits the needs of freelancers, micro businesses, and most small businesses. It’s not as comprehensive as AccountEdge or Xero, but the price tag is enticing.

When choosing between these five options, one of the first questions you should ask is: Do I want locally-installed or cloud-based software? 

If you’re set on a locally-installed program, then the decision’s already made for you — AccountEdge is the way you should go. If you prefer the mobility of cloud-based software, then Xero, QuickBooks Online, Zoho Books, or Wave would be better options.

For additional help choosing which software is best for your small business, read 10 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Accounting Software. I also highly recommend reading our reviews and taking advantage of free trials before committing to any solution. Read the Complete Guide to Choosing Online Accounting Software and Accounting Software: Cloud-based or Locally Installed? for extra help.

Good luck on your journey to finding the perfect accounting software for your Mac, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions along the way.

The post Best Accounting Software For Macs appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Shopventory VS Square For Retail

Let’s get right into things. Today we’re looking at Shopventory vs. Square for Retail. Why? Because if you need more inventory support than the basic Square Point of Sale app offers, they are your two best bets. Square (see our review) has been a pivotal force in the mPOS space since its beginning, but lately it has also been edging into the tablet POS market with an ever-growing number of features. Shopventory is newer, but it’s carved a niche out for itself as a supplement to not just Square, but also PayPal Here, Clover, and now even Shopify.

While Square dominates the mobile space as far as features, it lags behind tablet-based systems, particularly in terms of inventory. But now there’s Square for Retail. If you need more comprehensive inventory features, you’ll get them with an upgrade to Retail.

Shopventory is a monthly service that integrates with your Square account. While Square for Retail is a full-fledged POS, Shopventory is strictly an inventory-focused add-on for Square for Point of Sale. It replaces most of the in-app inventory management with its own web browser but it does keep the inventory lists automatically synced and generates reports.

A really quick disclaimer before we get onto the comparison: We’re not looking at the full Square for Retail app here (which I’ll also refer to as just “Retail” or “the Retail app”). We’re just focusing on how its inventory management tools stack up against Shopventory’s. It’s important to consider whether the cost of either service justifies its use. Retail offers many of the same features as Shopventory, but also includes employee management. However, it could be a more costly service given that the subscription is monthly per register. Shopventory offers monthly inventory management for three locations for less than the cost of one Square for Retail register subscription.

You don’t get everything that the standard Point of Sale app offers either, such as offline mode. In fact, the Retail app is more of a pared-down version of the POS app, but with more beefed up inventory and reporting. That’s not to say Shopventory offers all the inventory tools you could ever need, either. But it certainly seems to have the upper hand in terms of capabilities and pricing.

I think for the most part that either of this will do well. Although they might not be perfect, they’re both capable. But in the end, Shopventory has more features and more competitive pricing. I would test it out before upgrading to Square for Retail.

For more information, I encourage you to check out our full Shopventory and Square for Retail reviews. Otherwise, read on for our Shopventory vs. Square for Retail comparison and see how they stack up in the great battle for inventory management!

Features & Services

Winner: Shopventory

Both of these services offer enough that they merit full reviews in their own right. Our comprehensive reviews of Square and Shopventory explore the advantages and limitations of each. For simplicity’s sake, I am going to focus on three core aspects of inventory management and see how they stack up: inventory tracking, reporting, and purchase order/vendor management.

Inventory Tracking

With both Shopventory and Square for Retail, merchants get the ability to count inventory and have each sale deducted from total stock numbers. Both offer location management as well. You’ll be working with Square’s standard item listings, which means you can include all of the following: product name, photo, SKU/barcode, item description, and item variants with the option to set different price points.

Shopventory Inventory Tools

Screenshot of Shopventory home page

Shopventory works by syncing with Square. It pushes its inventory data (item prices, bundles, etc.) into the POS app and pulls sales data from Square into its own dashboard reports and updates the inventory counts in real time. Once you get inventory set up, you manage everything inventory-related through Shopventory, NOT Square. It might take some merchants a while to get used to that, especially if they’re used to relying on the Dashboard.

Shopventory’s pricing plan, which I’ll cover in the next section, focuses on the number of locations you use, not the number of registers or products. And setting up multiple locations is actually very easy. When you log into Shopventory, the dashboard asks you to create a location and then add an integration (that is, link to your POS). It works a little bit differently for each software, but here’s what you need to know for Square.

If you have separate Square logins for each location, that’s fine and you can connect each Square account to each location. However, if you take advantage of Square’s free location management instead, Shopventory will ask you to select a location from your list of Square locations after you connect the POS. (That means you should set up your locations in Square before you setup Shopventory.) If you’re using employee management and device codes to run multiple registers, it doesn’t matter. Shopventory tracks everything at the location level.

After you’ve created your locations and linked your POS systems, Shopventory will ask you to enable two major settings: “sync items and variants” and “sync item quantities.” This will establish the connection and effectively make Shopventory your primary inventory service.

Once you’ve set up Shopventory, you’ll continue to use Square POS as usual. Just make sure that you log into Shopventory to pull inventory and sales reports. This is especially important if you’re using the Shopventory-specific inventory features like bundles. Everything is synced in real time so you can log in and check whenever.

Here’s a quick run-down of Shopventory’s features:

  • Bundles: Square doesn’t support bundling, but this feature allows you to track raw ingredients, deduct gift basket items from main inventory stock and even keep track of goods sold at wholesale versus retail. It also allows for tracking of items by partial quantities (yards of fabric or goods sold by the pound, etc.) The bundling feature even includes bundle variants. None of this is currently supported by Square for Retail.
  • Low-Stock Alerts: You can set a custom threshold for each item, so you know when it’s time to reorder something.
  • Automatic Restocks On Refunds: You’ll have to enable this feature, as it isn’t turned on by default. It also doesn’t work on partial refunds in Square.
  • Multi-User Access: Shopventory also allows you to create multiple accounts with different permissions. Enable your managers and staff to better manage store inventory while ensuring accountability.
  • Inventory Transfers Between Locations: Is one location out of a product while another has too much of it? Use the Shopventory dashboard to keep track of internal transfers of merchandise.
  • Inventory History: Shopventory keeps a log of your inventory history, including when counts go up or down. When you manually adjust stock counts you can add a note to indicate why (theft, damaged goods, etc.). We’ll get a little bit more into some related features when we talk about reporting.
  • Inventory Reconciliation Tools: If you’re a bit old-fashioned, Shopventory does offer an easy downloadable reconciliation sheet for inventory. Just the basic details that you need, not a lot of extra information, which you can download via printable PDF or spreadsheet. However, Shopventory has also introduced a barcode scanner mobile app for inventory reconciliations. Each Shopventory user can download the app and scan and update inventory counts through the app, and Shopventory will keep a record of when and who was responsible. This is actually a pretty awesome tool.
  • Barcode And Label Printing: Shopventory lets you chose from a Dymo or Brother label printer, as well as computer printing on Avery label sheets.

Square For Retail Inventory Tools

Screenshot of Square for Retail home page

Square for Retail works pretty similarly to Square Point of Sale. Everything is controlled from the Square Dashboard or the app, though the dashboard gives you the most functionality. Even though the app (or at least parts of it) will look very different from the free version, your dashboard should look pretty much the same and the data entry process will be the same.

If you have a lot of inventory (and if you’re looking at this article, you probably are), the odds are good you don’t want to create each inventory item one by one. That’s where Square’s Bulk Upload feature comes in. You can download the spreadsheet template, populate it with your inventory, and upload your item library all at once. Likewise, you can also export your library to a spreadsheet if you need that data elsewhere.

Your item descriptions are nearly identical to the standard Square offering. Even though Square for Retail doesn’t display photos in the app, you can upload them for viewing the back end. Check out Square’s how-to video for creating items manually.

Technically, Square for Retail gives you access to the Inventory Plus features, but these are really (mostly) reporting tools or PO/Vendor management. So some of these features are actually just Square’s inventory features.

  • Low-Stock Alerts: You can set a custom threshold for each item so you know when it’s time to re-order something. (This is a standard Square feature.)
  • Employee Management: Square includes employee management at no additional charge with a Square for Retail subscription. So if you have a lot of employees this could end up being a good deal for you. You can set different user permissions, track time, and more.
  • Inventory Transfers Between Locations: Square initially required you to manually add or subtract inventory at different locations to record transfers, but that’s no longer the case with the Retail app. Now you can record merchandise transfers in the app.
  • Inventory History: Another feature that wasn’t present at Square for Retail’s launch, inventory history will show you all your sales, transfers, received shipments, etc. to show why your inventory count is what it is.
  • Barcode And Label Printing: Like Shopventory, you can choose to use one of two select label printers (A Dymo or a Zebra) or print from a computer onto standard Avery labels.
  • Vendor Library: All items associated with a particular vendor (as well as their prices) are stored in each vendor’s data file.

Note the lack of bundling features here and all that this entails: no bundles, no raw ingredient tracking, no partial ingredient tracking. This is one of the biggest limitations to Square’s inventory.

However, Square also doesn’t offer any sort of inventory reconciliation. You could download your inventory for export and modify the spreadsheet, but it’ll take a bit of work on your end to make that happen.

But that’s just for inventory management. We’ve still got to talk about reporting and purchase orders/vendor management.

Reporting Tools

First of all, Square’s reporting tools, overall, are pretty robust. (Check out the list of reports.) Shopventory’s reports exist mostly as an extension of Square’s, not a replacement for them. This makes sense given that Shopventory is an extension of Square, not a standalone app. In addition to some identical reports, Shopventory offers several reports that Square doesn’t — and a couple that Square for Retail doesn’t, either.

Square’s inventory reports are somewhat lacking. Specifically, something that merchants have been clamoring for is cost of goods sold (COGS) reporting. Square for Retail finally offers this feature, but thus far it hasn’t impressed. Editing the item costs isn’t easy to begin with, and the information isn’t available at key points in the Retail app experience. And all of that’s left merchants understandably upset. However, you can also keep a record of additional costs associated with a purchase (such as shipping or handling fees) that are added to your COGS tracking. That’s helpful.

In addition to COGS reporting, Square for Retail introduces a profitability report and an inventory by category report that lists the value of the items, projected profit, and profit margins in each category. This last report is more a combination of several other reports, but it’s nice to see.

On the other hand, Shopventory’s COGS reporting is a bit more advanced. Accessing pricing information seems a bit easier than with Square for Retail. Shopventory also tracks lot costs in addition to default costs. For advanced users, Shopventory has a cost averaging feature.  You can even back-fill lot costs using the default cost feature.

But apart from cost and profitability reporting, there’s another feature I like that Shopventory offers: a dead inventory report. You can print off a list of every item that hasn’t sold recently, and specify just how “recently” you want — whether it’s a week, a month, six months, etc. This is pretty handy because “slow” for one business isn’t slow for another.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Shopventory outclasses Square for Retail in terms of reporting — it offers everything that Retail does, plus more. I’ve found that Shopventory and Square dashboards are both fairly intuitive and easy to use, so they’re evenly matched in that regard.

Purchase Order & Vendor Management

Since the upgrades to inventory and reporting tools are relatively small in Square for Retail, it’s nice to see that the additions in this category are actually pretty big game-changers. With the Retail app, it’s now possible to create purchase orders from within the Square dashboard and send them via email. You can also receive inventory from within the Square for Retail app.

If I’m being honest, Square for Retail and Shopventory are well matched in this category. There are a few differences — for one, with Shopventory you can only receive inventory through the web dashboard, not the app. But I think that, overall, their feature sets are pretty similar.

Square PO & Vendor Management

While you’ll need to use the Square dashboard to create purchase orders, you can receive stock from a PO directly in the Square for Retail app, which is nice. With Shopventory, everything has to be done from the dashboard, which is a major trade-off. However, it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

A few other features from Square that I like: You can create a new vendor listing from within a purchase order, whereas with Shopventory you must have all of your vendors already entered. You can also edit and cancel purchase orders as needed, and Square keeps an archived file.

I mentioned previously that Square does have an item library associated with a vendor, but I don’t think it’s the most effective display. When you add an item to the PO it is added to the vendor’s item library, but you can’t browse the item library while creating a PO. Instead, you need to search for the items you want in a drop-down menu. I know that some merchants have been frustrated that Square can’t auto-populate a PO using low inventory items. Others are also frustrated that they can’t see how many of an item are in stock. Instead, these merchants wind up flipping between tabs or screens to formulate a list of what is needed.

Shopventory PO & Vendor Management

Shopventory has a handle of the same shortcomings that Square for Retail does in this regard. Namely, you can’t auto-populate a PO based on low inventory, and you can’t view stock levels in the PO.  However, you can clearly browse every item associated with a vendor and select which ones you want to add to it. This kind of display seems kind of obvious, and it should be, but it’s not.

This might be the one area where I think Square has a modest upper hand. For one, Shopventory lacks the ability to edit POs or archive them to clear them out of your way while preserving the information. (The company says it’s working on this last bit.) But you can save as a draft, just like you can in Square. So if you’re not sure or you’re not ready, you don’t have to send the purchase order out into the world. With Shopventory, you also need to create your entries for vendors before you start the PO.


Winner: Shopventory

Square for Retail’s pricing is very simple: $60/month per register. No tiered packages, no add-ons, no extra fees for priority phone support.

Square for Retail Pricing

That’s fairly competitive for an iPad-based POS system. But as we noted in our full review, Square for Retail actually removes several of the features available in the standard (and free) Point of Sale app. It’ll be up to you to decide whether the new interface and new inventory tools justify the cost.

Thinking more broadly, you’ll also need as many iPads as you have registers ($350+) and likely a Square Stand with a reader ($169) as well as any cash drawers, printers, and bar scanners you want for each device.

However, there is one caveat: Square for Retail provides employee management for an unlimited number of employees. With the standard Square plan, that cost is $5 per employee per month. So if you have 12 employees and one register, you actually break even on costs.

Shopventory’s pricing plan is focused not on the number of devices or the number of users, or even the number of transactions. Pricing is based just on the number of locations. There’s a limited free plan that provides analytics, but the paid plans start at a very reasonable $30/month.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Starter ($29/month): 1 location, 1 year order history, 1 year reporting
  • Standard ($59/month): 3 locations, 2 years order history, 2 years reporting
  • Professional ($199/month): 10 locations, unlimited order history, unlimited reporting
  • Elite ($499/month): 25 locations, unlimited order history, unlimited reporting

If you want access to purchase orders, vendor management, and the bundling features, you’ll need to get the standard plan. The starter doesn’t support these capabilities at all. In addition, the higher-tier plans throw in a few other perks (free QuickBooks syncing, otherwise $30/month; access to beta features, phone support).

Keep in mind that you still need hardware and devices to run the Square app — and an iPad is the most full-featured option. But you could use Android tablets or smartphones too. You have a lot more options and no charge for using multiple devices at the same location. So at three locations, ignoring costs of hardware, you’re already saving $120 with Shopventory. (That’s the cost of 24 employee management subscriptions, by the way.)

You can also save a bit of money if you opt to pay for Shopventory on an annual plan instead of a monthly one, which is nice. I think designing an inventory system whose pricing focuses on locations is the smart option.

While I think Shopventory’s pricing is definitely better, I can’t say definitely that it’s the better value overall. For one, Square for Retail is optimized for businesses with very large inventories. And if you’re dealing with hundreds and hundreds of items you might prefer the search-and-scan based user interface that the app offers. But if you have a small inventory, or you’re not a retail business, and still want all the management tools? If you don’t care about the UI but want some of the Square POS features like offline mode or open tickets? It’s pretty obvious that Shopventory is the better solution. What’s right for you will depend on your priorities and your budget, so check out our complete reviews of both services before you commit to anything.

Web Hosted Or Locally Installed

Winner: Tie

Both of these solutions are web-hosted, which is awesome. Yay for the cloud! Don’t forget that you’ll also get some in-app reporting capabilities if you don’t want to log into a web browser, but they aren’t inventory driven, and they’re far more limited than using the web dashboard.

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: Tie

Apart from a small team on the Square Seller Community (a forum for online merchants), Square for Retail doesn’t have any exclusive support channels that are separate from regular Square support. So you should expect business as usual in this regard.

Square’s been plagued by complaints of shoddy customer service pretty much since the beginning. But honestly, I think most of those complaints are rooted in Square’s tendency to freeze or terminate accounts. For most technical (not account-related) issues, Square does seem to offer more reliable support. There’s email and live phone support, as well as a very comprehensive self-service knowledgebase. And the Seller Community is honestly a great resource as well.

But I find that the amount of information and how-to’s concerning Retail specifically to be troubling. There’s not a lot. Square has tons of videos but they seem to gloss over showing how to use the Retail app. If you want to know about specific features before you sign up, you should get on the Seller forum and ask. Otherwise, the only way to find out is to test-drive Square yourself.

Not only that, but it certainly seems like the process of obtaining a code to access phone support requires more effort than some merchants are willing to put forth. I get it. I loathe automated menus that make you jump through hoops to get to a real person as much as anyone else. And I’ve heard a smattering of complaints about email support. I think Square’s support is mostly good, but occasionally something does go wrong.

If you one of the merchants who’s felt frustrated at Square’s support, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at the quality if Shopventory’s. Phone support is only available for higher-tiered plans, but the chat option is great and the knowledgebase is extremely helpful as well. (I know. I’ve tested both.) The chat option isn’t quite live chat because it might take a few to get someone to answer your question, but once you get one of the reps to respond, it is a live conversation. I shouldn’t have to say this about any customer support, but sadly I do: I like that you get to talk to a helpful person who isn’t going to shoehorn you into a script.

Shopventory isn’t quite large enough to have the kind of active forum that Square has for support, but the knowledgebase is easily as detailed as Square’s. I find the video tour is super useful as an orientation to Shopventory, despite how much I absolutely hate watching video tutorials longer than about one minute.

It’s worth noting that you’ll still have to deal with Square for payment- and account-related issues if you use Shopventory. But for inventory-related issues, you can deal with Shopventory instead.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Shopventory

At this point, merchants’ biggest point of contention with Retail is that in some ways is a step back from the standard Point of Sale app. A few features are lacking in the Retail app. Plus, I’ve seen complaints that features Square promised at launch (or at least showed in screenshots) haven’t actually appeared yet.

Some of the complaints about Square for Retail we’ve seen include:

  • Problems With Cost Of Goods Recording And Reporting: This is a big one and it manifests in a lot of ways. Currently, the only way to update costs is to upload a spreadsheet. The app itself doesn’t allow you to manually edit individual item costs, and Square’s current reports don’t list item costs on everything. Merchants who were expecting to finally get COGS reporting haven’t been thrilled, though Square does say it’s on their list of improvement to make, so we may see some enhancements.
  • Lack Of Features: Specifically, with Retail, you lose access to Square’s offline mode and the open tickets capability. You can upload images as part of the item listing, but they don’t display in the app. Merchants have complained about their removal. I haven’t been super thrilled about how Retail feels like a step back from the Point of Sale application in terms of interface and features, either. And one big missing feature that I’ve seen a lot of chatter about is the ability to auto-populate purchase orders based on low inventory (or even the ability to see the inventory count in the same window as the PO).

There’s a lot less user chatter about Shopventory overall (which makes sense with a smaller customer base). I think users who integrate with PayPal or Clover will probably be more dissatisfied than Square users, honestly. I think some merchants will dislike the same sort of shortcomings you find in Square for Retail: missing features like the ability to view inventory levels while creating a purchase order, or the ability to edit purchase orders. Overall, the comments I see from merchants are positive.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

Square gets a lot of love overall for its payment processing. Signup is quick and easy, rates are fair and affordable, and the hardware is good and fairly priced. But the Retail app seems to be less popular overall. In theory, it fills a niche that businesses with a high quantity of inventory have been needing. I know a lot of merchants were excited at the prospect when it launched, but I haven’t seen as much talk about it since then.

I don’t see a whole lot of chatter around the web about Shopventory. The website has a couple testimonials and I’ve seen the Square Seller Community talk about it, too. The discussions I’ve seen a focus on the good customer service and its fair pricing.

I’m calling it a draw here. Both options are good ones and serve their purpose, but there isn’t enough of a discussion to say which one has more positive coverage.

Final Verdict

Winner: Shopventory

I can’t say definitely that Shopventory trounces Square for Retail in every regard. One is an inventory management add-on, the other is a full-fledged POS with inventory management. So I can draw apples-to-apples comparisons about some things and say that yes, Shopventory has more and better quality inventory features. Its pricing is way more competitive if your only concern is inventory tracking. It will work great as an add-on to Square Point of Sale.

But Square for Retail has a search-optimized UI and free employee management tools that might be deciding factors for some merchants. So you could potentially get a better value with Square for Retail if you have a lot of employees and want easy time tracking along with the ability to manage large inventories.

The good news is we’re looking at two companies that are both committed to adding new features all the time. So in six months or a year, we could be looking at two majorly improved products. We’ll have to see how they stack up then.

Check out our complete reviews for Shopventory and Square for Retail to get a closer look at each. Also, both Square for Retail and Shopventory offer free 30-day trials, so you can test drive both of them (preferably not at the same time) and see which one works better. Thanks for reading and good luck with your search!

The post Shopventory VS Square For Retail appeared first on Merchant Maverick.


Best Shopping Carts For Global eCommerce

selling internationally

Online sellers are always looking to expand–expand their product catalogs, expand the reach of their marketing, and expand across sales channels. And when it comes to expansion, there’s no bigger project to undertake than international growth.

Successfully going global is only possible if you have the appropriate resources in the form of products, market, and software. And while finding a market and products is up to you, we here at Merchant Maverick can help when it comes to choosing the correct software.

International sellers demand more from their shopping cart setups than do domestically-based merchants. You’ll need your shopping cart to be able to display your site in multiple languages and currencies. What’s more, you’ll need to be able to handle complicated taxes and shipping functions. Your eCommerce software should either come with these features already built in or be able to integrate with extensions to fill the gaps.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing four carts that offer merchants the features (and integrations) they need to sell internationally. These software companies maintain a global focus, giving you multiple options for global success and staffing a diverse team of developers from all across the world. If you need the power to create a multilingual site — and a multilingual support team on hand at the moment’s notice — look no further than this list.

Keep reading to learn which eCommerce software programs we recommend for global expansion.


prestashop logo

With PrestaShop, international is the name of the game. PrestaShop is behind 270,000 stores worldwide. They have headquarters in Miami and Paris and employ over 100 employees who are proud to speak a variety of languages.

PrestaShop is open-source software that is free to download, highly customizable, and offers loads of add-ons. With a strong international user community supporting the development of the software, you can expect new releases and extensions regularly.

PrestaShop’s biggest downfall is that you’ll need developer skills in order to best use the software. What’s more, PrestaShop’s customer support costs a bit more than you may be willing to spend.

PrestaShop comes with a robust feature set built in. Here are a few of the ways PrestaShop is especially good for international sellers:

  • Set Currencies & Automate Exchange Rates: Set your shop to accept a wide number of currencies.
  • Multi-language Product Sheet: Quickly import product information in multiple languages.
  • International Forum: Find support from other users in a variety of languages.
  • PrestaShop Translation Product: Users can assist in translating new versions of PrestaShop.
  • International Add-Ons: Purchase and download extensions from international developers to further broaden your store’s functionality.

For more information on PrestaShop, check out our full review or try one of PrestaShop’s easy-to-access demos.


woocommerce logo

WooCommerce is one of the most widely used eCommerce solutions around. While the stats are uncertain (WooCommerce claims a part in 28% of all online stores, while BuiltWith says Woo is behind 42%), what is certain is that Woo is enormously popular in the eCommerce world.

WooCommerce is free, open-source software that plugs directly into It is highly customizable and scalable. WooCommerce’s Achille’s heel, as with many open source solutions, is the unfortunate combination of limited customer support and a moderate learning curve. WooCommerce also follows a Core+Extensions model, which means that built-in features tend to be rather basic.

Despite these obstacles, WooCommerce is an excellent choice for international sellers. With employees located in 19 different countries, you’re sure to find support in a range of languages. And given the many international developers contributing to the project, international features are well within reach.

Here are a few of the international selling features that WooCommerce offers:

  • Calculated Taxes: Set tax rates for the countries and regions in which you sell your products. Show taxes based on your customer’s shipping address and billing address and your store’s base address.
  • Supports International Transactions: Accept multiple currencies with the right payment gateways.
  • WooCommerce Translation Project: Users help make WooCommerce available in multiple languages.

For more information, take a look at WooCommerce’s tips for selling internationally. Or, head over to our review and download the software for free.


magento logo

If you’re looking into open-source solutions, but our first two suggestions don’t quite meet the mark, you should take a look at Magento.

Magento is used by developers worldwide and supports a user base of 250,000 merchants. With such a wide base, the Magento marketplace is always growing. You can expect a steady release of new extensions and payment gateways from Magento’s global developers.

As an open-source software solution, Magento comes with similar advantages to PrestaShop and WooCommerce. The software is free to download, highly customizable, and scalable. Magento includes a robust feature set and boasts an international user community.

As you might expect, the trouble with Magento lies in its usability. In order to best utilize the platform, you’ll need to have confidence in your developer skills. The software comes with a steep learning curve, and there is no phone number to dial for technical support.

Regardless, Magento is a great shopping cart for merchants who are looking to expand internationally. Here are a few of the reasons you should consider Magento:

  • International Forum: Get help from a community of 150,000 developers. These developers can also help you create extensions that work for your target countries.
  • Extensions: Take your pick of a vast marketplace of extensions. You’ll find extensions for international payment gateways, currencies, and shipping carriers.

For more information on using Magento to sell globally, take a look at the company’s advice on making your site global ready. To learn more about Magento in general, head on over to our full review or get started now by downloading the platform for free.


shopify logo

If you’re in the eCommerce industry, you’ve heard of Shopify. This Canadian SaaS solution is famous for its usability and clean design. And over the past few years, Shopify has skyrocketed in popularity. The platform now hosts over 500,000 stores worldwide.

Shopify is the only hosted solution we’ll be including in this list. In general, if you’re looking to build a website that reaches customers around the world, open-source is your best approach. With so much opportunity for customization and growth, you’ll likely find that an open-source solution better fits your international store’s needs.

However, like we’ve discussed, open-source comes with its own challenges, including limited usability and technical support. And so, if you want to take a global approach but aren’t sure you can handle the technical challenges of open-source, Shopify may be the way to go.

Here are a few of the international selling features you can benefit from as a Shopify user:

  • Multi-lingual Checkout: You can set your checkout to operate in over 50 languages. You’ll need to translate the rest of your theme on your own.
  • Non-US Taxes: Set up tax rates for other countries. You can also set your store to charge taxes on shipping rates.
  • Numerous Payment Gateways: Take your pick from over 100 payment processors in order to accept payments worldwide.

For more information on Shopify, take a look at our full review or get hands-on experience by signing up for a free 14-day trial.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, one or more of these shopping cart options has piqued your interest. As always, I encourage you to take your research further. Read our full reviews, look up comments from current customers, and take advantage of every trial and demo you can get your hands on.

You might also read our article, The Most Important Questions To Ask Before Shipping Internationally, and download our free eBook, The Beginner’s Guide To Starting An Online Store. In this fifty page guide, we unpack everything you need to consider as you approach online selling.

But for those of you who are already planning your global expansion, I wish you the best of luck and bon voyage!

The post Best Shopping Carts For Global eCommerce appeared first on Merchant Maverick.