What is the true value of free? The term free sparks images of poorly produced promotional items, or sales that feature buy one, get one offerings. Determining the value in some freebies and loyalty programs, such as getting your free coffee after ten coffee card punches are crystal clear. Other freebies, such as free POS software, are much cloudier in the value they bring to the table.
The temptation of free POS software may cloud a business owner’s judgment despite the varying catches or vague language hidden in the product’s terms and conditions. Launching and running a business can mean buying some high ticket items that you may or may not have been prepared for, leaving you feeling a little shy in doling out more of your hard-earned revenue. Before starting, you must understand what your requirements are from a POS solution and accept nothing less.
Functions and Support in “Free” POS Software
Perhaps the biggest of all concerns around free POS solutions is that all of the functionality you desire may not actually be free. There are varying levels of “free” that we have seen offered with no-cost POS solutions in the marketplace, including:
- Providing either the hardware or software free, but charging usage fees for the other. This one is most common in the POS world. The software comes free, but the associated hardware comes with various rental or support fees.
- Limiting your choices or forcing you to use a payment processor with unfavorable terms. This is another area where the “free” part of the POS solution is quickly drowned out by incurred costs via payment processing.
- Unreasonable support contracts and fees. Does the free POS solution force you to pay for support? Most not only charge a non-negotiable hourly rate for support, but many do not provide support outside of normal office business hours, which may leave you in a lurch if you remain open into the evening.
These are just some of the ways that free POS software solutions end up becoming a black hole for your business dollar. Outside of these, one other key aspect that may make your free POS solution costlier than its “for cost” competition is additional charges may be required to unlock and use certain functionalities contained within the system.
Not All Features are Created Equal
Innovative POS solutions can present businesses with a myriad of functionalities that span all of your business processes in one, concise, container. Free POS solutions often offer many of the same functionalities as pay-for-use POS systems, but with costly catches. Functionalities are offered as standalone items to be paid for in whole, or unlocked via a subscription-based model. Additionally, free POS solutions may simply not bring certain options to the table, such as not including staff management or the ability to create and generate custom reports.
Another key consideration when comparing free POS solutions to paid systems comes in the quality and interoperability of offered feature sets. Free POS options may advertise that they come with the same transaction, inventory, and reporting options as pay-for-use POS system, but many times these are lacking in overall functionality and can be quite confusing for the user. Couple this with inadequate support, and you have a recipe for POS disaster. Equipping yourself with a free POS solution can limit your growth horizons instead of expanding them, and may leave you lacking in other important areas that could affect sales and your reputation.
Free POS Software May Not Fully Secure Transactions
Security is on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days, and this space is not reserved for small businesses. Violations can bite both the small fish and the big boys, as evidenced by the Dunkin’ Donuts breach in which hackers gained access to customer’s accounts. When considering the move to a free POS solution, you must keep security at the top of the want list. You will need to ask yourself if the downsides to a free POS solution contribute to a highly secure, regularly updated environment that can be trusted with both yours and your customer’s sensitive financial information.
Relying on a free POS solution with questionable support options, as well as features that may be incomplete or nonexistent, presents you with a security disaster waiting to happen. Avoiding potential situations that can compromise valuable data is a must, as breaches are usually well-publicized and will adversely impact your business. The seriousness of establishing a heightened level of data security and POS compliance in your business should quickly steer you away from the promises made by free POS software providers.
Shake Yourself Loose From the Promises of Free POS Software
Tight profit margins and increasing operating costs are more than enough to turn a business owner’s eye toward free or even cheap POS options. While never falling short on promises, the lack of functionalities and potentially hidden per-item cost structure should serve to make you reconsider this option. Long-term support issues and limited security transparency can quickly turn your cost-saving endeavor into a project that bleeds red.
Your partner will devise a strategy designed for the precise needs of your business. They will not try to sell you more than you need and will offer the flexibility and scalability needed to adjust rapidly in changing business conditions. Most importantly, they will ensure that your POS software solution is highly secure and brings support that matches your business flow.
When you need to enlist the help of an expert to identify and implement a transparent POS solution, talech is here to help. We take the time to identify your business challenges and work with you to apply a solution that brings you to the top of your game. With a wide range of customizable features and flexible hardware options to choose from, you can feel confident knowing the system you’re implementing gives you the results you desire. Reach out to us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your valued POS partner.