All small business owners are faced with very similar operating challenges. Reining in costs while maximizing revenues create tasks and brainstorming sessions across the country. In your localized area, you may be under pressure by an increased presence of big-box retailers. Or, perhaps an event in your area has changed the traffic to your business. Whatever the case is, in the push to minimize costs to your business, you are looking at cutting corners any way possible, including free point of sale apps.
One area of consideration you inevitably will have is taking a look at the technology you use. Determining what impact, if any, the technology you use is having on your business gives you an idea of where improvement is required. When looking to improve the efficiency of your business, and with cost savings at the top of your to-do list, you will be tempted to consider one of the many free options on the market. But are any free technology solutions actually free?
Free Technology Can Lead You on a Winding Path to Nowhere
Before making a decision about how you will pursue a technology refresh in your business, it is smart to look at all of your options. Part of the process will involve examining POS solutions and will have you sorting and filtering your options based on which products give you the most bang for the buck. While this does mean that a number of free options will appear on your list, this does not necessarily mean that this is the best route to follow.
In the process of considering free POS solutions, you will inevitably come across a treasure trove of POS apps. The apps will deliver many of the same functions that a fully equipped POS solution can deliver. These can, however, can introduce new wrinkles when making decisions around your technology options. Like their related POS platforms, they too will present you with making the same ROI analysis and are just as likely to present free options for consideration.
Determine if a Free Point of Sale App Delivers on Promised Features
Deciding on moving into an app-based POS solution will present you with no shortage of options. Free apps often promise to provide the user with most of the same features and capabilities as pay-for-use apps offer. But how do you determine if that is really true? While it sounds great initially, relying on free POS apps to manage key business processes may leave you feeling betrayed.
Preventing a scenario in which a promised feature falls short of its promises, or comes with an additional cost to unlock it, is all too common with free POS apps. The complexities of this can grow should you onboard another free app to manage the duties that the first free POS app either could not accomplish or had features that required a fee to unlock. This forces you into a corner; you can keep adding free POS apps to offset the limitations of your other apps or pay to unlock those much-needed features.
Even if you could make a piecemeal solution such as this function, odds are against you having any data compatibility between your now complex layers of apps. Analyzing data will require exporting information into a common format, and then processing it via yet another app. As you can see, this will quickly get out of hand and will induce a time and revenue bleed that will easily exceed what you may have paid for a fee-based POS app.
Can a Free POS App Provide Universal Hardware Compatibility?
There is another consideration to keep in mind when looking into a free POS app option: its ability to connect to hardware devices. Many fee-based POS apps include hardware recommendations and in some cases supporting hardware. Unfortunately, that is almost never the case with free POS apps. And that itself can create a large and very visible issue when it comes to designing your POS system.
Receipt printers, tablets or smartphones, displays, and barcode scanners are just a few examples of the hardware you most likely have on hand. A “free” POS app will not necessarily connect to all of these, or even one of these, without the purchase of a license. Of course, this is assuming the app you are considering supports any hardware at all. Free POS apps do not contain the robust software and drivers required for easy connectivity to hardware, leaving you with questionable at best reliability.
Pay-for-use POS app solutions will at a minimum provide you with clearly defined hardware requirements and specifications. This ensures you of having your stress alleviated and not aggravated when introducing your new POS app into your business. You will also be assured of having a clear support option should things misfire; saving you the time it will cost to troubleshoot issues on your own and without incurring unexpected support costs.
Discovering Available Support Channels for Apps
Support will be an important piece of your app selection puzzle. Apps that you pay for mostly include some level of basic support. While the default level of support may not be ideal for your situation, even basic support can make a difference when you have a POS device down or for those moments when an app update causes more harm than good. And, having support included with the product typically means that the person on the other end of the phone or chat will have a working knowledge of the app in question.
This is an area where free POS apps miss the mark. Many free options available to business owners do not offer any support, even for those users willing to pay a premium. Also, those that do offer support often rely on leased support agents or worse, a bulletin board style web page where users post problems by the volume and wait anxiously for a team developer, or any developer, to provide them with an answer. Simply put, the engineers behind many free POS apps more often than not leave their customers stranded when things go wrong.
Expertise When Considering Free Point of Sale Apps
In a never-ending effort to save on costs to help to grow margins, businesses often turn to free options. But when it comes to technology, especially the systems you need to rely on the most, this can turn into a high risk, low reward scenario. Free point of sale apps rarely provide all of the features that a business needs, forcing the user to find other apps to compensate. Support is very suspect, which can be a catastrophic event should your receipt printer fail to connect to your free point of sale apps during a rush period.
Avoiding free products as a part of your POS solution is a must, but so is getting the best ROI. This is why you must consult with a POS expert as part of your selection process. An intelligent consultant will learn where you need the most help and will lean on its POS knowledge and business expertise to aid in selecting the best POS software app for your specific requirements.
When you need to enlist the help of an expert to identify and implement the right POS app for you, 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. Reach out to us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your valued POS partner.