Websites such as eBay, Craigslist, and LetGo have changed the way we shop. Rather than heading directly for an electronics shop, furniture showroom, or just a vehicle dealership, many buyers assess online listings to see if they could find what they want, lightly used, at a bargain price.
But a point of sale (POS) system for your company is something you shouldn’t purchase this way. While a used POS system might appear to be a deal on the outside, here are four things you are actually buying when you click on”add to cart”
1. An Old Operating System
Like any computer system, a POS system employs a particular operating system (OS) to operate. Whether it’s Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, or a proprietary operating system, if the POS solution you are considering is not running on the most recent version, you might put your company in jeopardy.
With an obsolete OS, you are running the risk of security vulnerabilities that would put your organization at risk for data breaches — something no small business can afford. Security breaches that result from these cyber attacks may lead to data loss, liability, fines, and bad publicity — that means using a used POS system may, possibly, put you out of business.
Older versions of an operating system are usually slower and more vulnerable to downtime and failure. You also run the risk of ending of life support where the POS vendor will stop selling and sustaining the merchandise and leaving you to fend for yourself if something goes wrong — and it’ll fail, finally, and probably at the worst possible moment.
With a POS system working on an obsolete OS also can limit what you can do with the system. You might want omnichannel capabilities, task automation such as inventory management, employee management, and daily reports. An obsolete OS will not support the POS program’s latest and greatest features such as these, which means you will be stuck doing things the conventional way.
Sometimes, it might be possible to update to a new OS that will support the most recent POS software applications, but it will not be free. You’ll need to pay for the update, and that can quickly negate the money you save by purchasing a used POS system.
2. Outdated POS Software Applications
If you obtain a complete point of sale system with pre-installed software second hand, the POS software you are buying might have no value to you whatsoever. The software setup on the system might only apply to the prior enterprise.
As an example, a retail point of sale system with an elaborate stock matrix and layaway options is a really different software application than a restaurant POS system using a kitchen display system integration and divide check functionality.
On the rare occasion that you might purchase a used POS system with applications that is suitable for your company”as is,” remember, old POS applications might not be PCI compliant with the current standards. This variable could compromise your ability to safely accept credit cards which raises your chances for getting a victim of a cyber attack.
Additionally, you’ll want to transfer ownership of this software account (which typically contains a transport fee) or pay for a new software license to be certain you’re using the software legally and to let you manage and upgrade the software moving ahead.
Additionally, and this is a biggie, you will also have to reprogram the POS software for your particular stock items or menu. Reprogramming point of sale applications can be harder and time-consuming than beginning with a clean slate.
Lastly, you’ll want to invest time and resources into training your staff about how best to use the software. Bear in mind that if you buy a new POS system, that permits, programming, and instruction usually amount to the most crucial part of the primary invoice — so either way, expect to invest in these areas even if you get another hand POS system.
3. Worn and Outdated Hardware
POS hardware manufacturers update their products often to keep up with complicated and power-hungry software applications. The demands from their clients for ergonomics and ease of use, and the competitive race to keep up with industry trends make improving their product offering a continuous work.
If you have ever shopped in a heritage department store like Macy’s or JC Penney, did you happen to see the old school POS system which looks like it might pass for a classic Apple Mac computer? While classic style is in vogue when it comes to decor or fashion, it is a large faux pas when it comes to technology. New POS hardware includes a sleek, modern aesthetic and is often made to conserve counter space. What type of message will a clunky, used POS system send about your brand?
Additionally, the older POS hardware is, the harder it will be for you to find replacement components or to get support from a support desk because service techs are probably trained to concentrate on the most recent devices.
Additionally, it will become increasingly tough for you to locate the ideal hardware drivers which enable a link between the POS system and peripheral devices like receipt printers, barcode scanners, touch screens or cash drawers which automatically open.
Finally, while most POS hardware manufacturers provide standard warranties on new purchases, when the guarantee period expires, repair costs will come out of pocket. If you get a used POS system you may inherit the rest of the current guarantee, and that is about it. Most manufacturers don’t provide a warranty extension, and if they do, do not expect it to be cheap.
With new hardware, then you can send faulty parts back to the manufacturer for replacement or repair. With hand-me-down gear, you might need to live with what you’ve got.
4. Limited Payment Processing Capabilities
A pivotal point to consider in case you’re still contemplating buying a used POS system is that payment processor you can use with the system. If you are a seasoned business owner, you are no stranger to shopping around for the best credit card processing charges — and you know just how much they can differ from 1 supplier to the next. A few added cents that some merchant providers charge per transaction may add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars each year.
Not all point of sale systems integrate with each significant payment processor, and more frequently than not, the POS system is tied to one or two select suppliers. If you do not bother to do the proper research, you might unknowingly be creating a costly long-term devotion with a merchant account supplier.
You can also find used POS systems available which are not EMV compliant. Since U.S. merchants began accepting chip cards using the EMV liability change in 2015, many merchants have updated their operations and are attempting to make a fast buck off the old unit.
What to Do If You’ve Got an Old POS System
However, if you’re one of those merchants seeking to make a fast buck on your previous POS system to help offset the cost of a new one, there are a couple of avenues you can explore.
Donate the Old POS System
Start looking for local charities that accept donations of electronics. Your contribution may be tax deductible.
Write it Off
And talking of tax deductible, speak with your accountant to find out if you’re able to write off your previous POS system as an obsolete fixed asset.
Check with local recycling facilities in your area. They will usually accept electronic equipment to ensure they are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
Point of Sale Buyback Program
Some local POS resellers may offer trade-in or buyback programs that will provide you credit towards the purchase of a new point of sale system.
Sell it by Piecemeal
Even though the whole POS system as a whole might not be valuable, that does not mean you can not sell off the parts. Peripherals like a thermal printer, barcode scanner, or money drawer might still have value as individual items on the resale market.
To Sum Up
Let us be honest. The initial cost of a new POS system will set you back a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per unit after everything is said and done. Likewise, a used POS system will cost you just about the same — and the countless hours of telephone calls, corporate red tape, and constraints you are going to need to cut to get the old POS system to operate with your organization. Wouldn’t it be easier to get a new POS system and save yourself the hassle of dealing with some else’s hand-me-downs? We certainly think so.
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