There’s no doubt that point of sale systems can help you reach your profit targets faster because of all the integrated solutions it brings to the equation. A really good system can save you money in the short and long term because of the added efficiency of operating one in your store. Sales are rung up faster, orders are taken with ease and inventory is updated in real time. The added speed that your establishment operates can net you bigger sales, a proud staff and happier customers –all because of a neat little POS system and a few computers.
But with all this efficiency and speed comes a price: POS software costs money. It doesn’t matter if you get freeware and do-it-yourself. You still have to cough up some much needed capital to get one. Remember that POS systems are an investment and not an expense, but paying for it hurts all the same. Here are three options you should consider before getting a POS system.
Option 1: Do-it-Yourself
By far the cheapest option would be to use old hardware that you currently have, like an old desktop computer or a laptop. An old dot-matrix printer could theoretically work, but getting a used receipt printer on Craigslist is not only a better option, your receipts would look better too. Do an internet search for free POS software and choose the best fit for your business. Take note that most free systems don’t have installation instructions and are no longer updated. You’re also not going to get any support, so you may want to hire an IT guy to help with the configuration. Don’t forget to scour the forums!
Option 2: Pay for a Subscription
This is, in my opinion, the best option you can take. Many companies offer a free trial on point of sale systems for small business and you should take them up on it. If they provide the hardware, even better, so you can test drive their system to its full potential. Paying for a monthly subscription means that you’re going to have support when and where you need it. Plus, you’re going to get help with installation and configuration. The best part of getting a subscription based POS is that all your data is safe and secure in the cloud. You can access this information wherever you are in the world! Lastly, the subscription costs are manageable, with an average staring fee of $70 for a small store. You just add what you need (additional staff, locations, reporting) and you can cancel anytime. The hardware used in most cloud based POS systems are iPads and iPhones, which (sadly) do not come with the package.
Option 3: Pay a License fee upfront (onetime payment)
This is the most expensive option if we base it on fees paid up front. You pay a onetime license fee for the software and hardware, which can range anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 or more. Some companies sell their software for $250 – $500, which you can then install and use on any compatible computer-based POS setup you have. If I were to choose this option, I would get the whole package, hardware and software, to avoid any compatibility issues and configuration headaches. The good thing about these legacy systems is that they’ve been around a long time and are a proven workhorse, so spending all that extra cash on a system like this would only hurt initially, but should pay for itself in due time.
You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to invest in a good POS system for your business, but you still have to pay something. Take the time to do your own research and testing. Try them all out. If you have time, download free POS software and do a test run. See if it will work for you. Also, you can always take companies up on their free trial offers. The choice between legacy and cloud based POS systems is entirely on you, so choose wisely because in the end, you get what you pay for.