Rising brick and mortar businesses with a lot of ambition (but a limited cash flow) often get caught in this trap.
An old-school cash register doesn’t really cut it in today’s retail universe. But upgrading to modern point of sale hardware with powerful but easy-to-use software costs money. So those businesses fall victim to the “free” POS solutions offered by some companies.
But there’s the rub: it always costs money.
There’s no such thing as “free” POS. Free POS is actually a loan, so it costs you more money in the end. And it’s a financial deal rather than a point of sale arrangement, so you can’t expect the technical support that you deserve for your business.
In short, free POS may be cheaper up-front, but it will cost your business in economic and practical terms over the months and years.
So before you sign on that admittedly very enticing dotted line, ask yourself: are you the kind of entrepreneur who leans on quick fixes? Or are you developing a stable and forward-thinking business in which every detail counts?
The True Cost of “Free” POS Hardware & Software
Small and up-and-coming businesses that don’t have the cash-flow to buy a POS system outright are easy pickings for a “free” point of sale provider.
A larger business who can swallow the cost, such as a payments company, steps up to offer “free” point of sale software and gives it to the smaller company in return for monthly payments that may include interest of around 20% APR or more. An annual percentage rate (APR) is the annual rate charged for borrowing through an investment. So it's hardly "free" POS.
That’s not a good loan. And unscrupulous free POS providers will likely include a clause that allows them to hike those rates up at their discretion. This means you’re not only beholden to a company, you’re at their whim.
What’s more, as a small business owner, your idea is to upgrade your POS system to grow your company. But opting for free POS will significantly increase your monthly outlay, which would kill growth and become another liability.
Meanwhile, if things go very well, you’ll want to switch that free POS for a better deal. If things go very badly, you’ll want to dump it all together to cut your monthly spending. But in either case, you’ll find yourself faced with a hefty Early Termination Fee (ETF). It’s just not good business.
POS is Not Just About Money
Economically, it makes sense to avoid so-called “free” POS systems and invest in your own point of sale with a reputable provider. But it’s not just about figures in your spreadsheet.
You didn’t get into business to be told how to do things. Sure, you’re open to advise, to learning, to shaking things up. But ultimately nobody knows your business like you.
Sign up with a free POS provider and you can kiss a degree of that independence goodbye:
- You’re immediately locked-in to a way of conducting a central element of your business – customer transactions – the way your creditors deem appropriate (i.e. profitable for them).
- You don’t get the opportunity to use your own hardware if you’ve already laid out for it. That will have to go in the closet until your contract’s up.
- You don’t get to choose which payments processor you go with. That’s up to your “free” POS provider.
- If their payments processor is expensive (it probably will be) or doesn’t fit with the way you do things, you’re locked to it by contract. It’ll cost you more to get out of it early than to stay silent and put up with it.
- And let’s remember that your free POS provider is not a tech company. It’s a finance company. Not only are you locked to the hardware and software they provide, but you will get very little in the way of useful support over the months and years that you’re compelled to use it.
A POS That Serves Your Business
So we've agreed that free POS is not a good business decision. It can help a cash-strapped start-up put POS on the counter but leaves them stranded with long-term bills and limited support and adaptability.
What’s the alternative?
A reputable, service-oriented POS company will help you get up-and-running right away so you can make sales and track stock. They may even save you money in the long run. They’ll also offer financing to make an efficient point of sale solution affordable for businesses of all sizes.
- They’ll be there when you have a technical question, or want to get more of from your POS software.
- They’ll help you seamlessly migrate data from your current system, loading your product SKUs, customer data and more.
- They’ll understand how important it is to you that your POS continues to run smoothly at all times.
- And they will adapt to your needs, offering tailored solutions to the particular demands of your business or industry.
Looking for Affordable Point of Sale? The Time is NOW.
With Epos Now, you get to choose to which payment processor you go with, and you can stick with your existing processor if they’re working for you.
Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to choose a reliable and trustworthy company. Always think long and hard before locking your business into a long-term contract where you have very little say over the terms and conditions. Especially since there are adaptable, service-oriented paid POS providers out there waiting to help you convert those sales.
See if Epos Now is right for you: schedule a free 15-minute demo of our versatile and affordable point of sale solution.