As a small business owner,’free’ can be an attractive offer your bottom line finds hard to refuse. After all, who does not love free stuff? Particularly when it’s something which may typically cost hundreds to thousands of bucks to purchase, free sounds just like the deal of a lifetime.
However, before you register for the first free POS system you find in a Google search, finish reading this report. Let us look at the ins and outs of free POS software so you can decide if it is a wise business decision.
What’s POS Software?
First, let us define POS applications, so we’re all on the same page. Point of sale software is what brick-and-mortar businesses use at the point of purchase to help streamline efforts between back-of-house business operations and front-of-house customer-facing actions. The software, along with POS hardware, form an extensive point of sale system.
Two Forms of Free POS Software
When it comes to free point of sale software, expect to find two choices:
- Open-source Program
- Cloud-based software
Both are effective and may be a viable solution for your company. However, it’s vital to know how each work and which one will better support your business requirements and match your technical abilities. Let us take a look at both options, will we?
Open Source POS Software
Since open-source program is distributed with its source code available for modification, it is possible to customize the software in whatever way you choose. But unless you are a tech-savvy small business owner with programming skills, this likely is not the best thing to do.
With open-source applications, almost everything is a DIY approach. From POS installation and installation to troubleshooting and ongoing technical assistance, you will spend a whole lot of time sifting through online documentation and neighborhood boards to find answers to your questions.
Additionally, it suggests that data from the POS system is saved, on-premise at your company location. Therefore, you may only access the data if you are on site, along with the responsibility for securing sensitive client information falls squarely on your shoulders.
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Cloud-Based POS Software
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is cloud-based point of sale applications. This sort of software securely stores POS information on remote servers and makes all the information accessible online via a web browser and dedicated portal.
Although you can not alter the source code and need to use the applications’as is’ out of the box, cloud-based POS software is much more user-friendly and more manageable compared to the former.
POS Features: Free POS Software vs. Getting POS Software
Apart from network infrastructure, what sets one POS system aside from another are the characteristics and performance of the program. That is what also sets it apart on price, and not all software is created equal. With free POS software, you can expect to find limited capabilities compared to a premium version that will tap into your monthly budget.
Software companies market stripped-down versions of the applications with restricted features at a lower price point compared to their premium version with all the bells and whistles. Therefore, if you’re searching for free POS software, you want to know exactly what those constraints are and how they will impact your operations.
Odds are, free will only go up to now. While some smaller businesses may be able to skate by with the minimum attributes, others may find constraints stifle workflow, and end up needing to buy additional features.
Let us take a look at a number of the features that you can expect to find from the point of sale software supplier and where the constraints may lie at the free plan.
It should come as no surprise that stock tracking and management features are essential for retail companies to stay afloat. If you can’t monitor how much you are spending on stock and what items customers purchase the most, it’ll be tough to remain profitable.
With free point of sale software, expect the amount of SKUs to be restricted in relation to the paid version. As an example, a free plan might only allow for 100 goods or items, while the version with the monthly fee provides you an infinite amount.
Besides managing inventory, you will also need a point of sale system that can help manage your employees. Each worker should have their own login credentials and user permissions based on their role in the company. If the point of sale solution can monitor labor hours, arrange employee schedules, and supply sales analytics for each change, that is the icing on the cake.
POS companies typically allow for a couple of users using the free software deal, but it usually stops at that. If you have more than a couple of workers (or even managers), you could see how it can be problematic. Using a system using multi-user capabilities allows managers to keep track of which users are making sales and to establish goals for workers who may not have as many sales.
- Revenue reports
These reports provide business owners numerous sales metrics that provide insight to the lucrative areas of your business and other areas which may need more attention.
- Labour reports
Labor reports help you get a better understanding of how your employees are doing (or not doing ) and the number of hours they are working.
- Client reports
Client reports shed light on customer buying habits and tastes. This information enables business owners to fine-tune their own loyalty programs and marketing strategies to attain their target market better.
- Rental management reports
Inventory reports are arguably among the most important for any organization. With stock management accounts, you can monitor products in stock and how much money you’ve wrapped up in stock.
- Accounting reports
Tax season is stressful for everyone, especially business owners. Using a POS system that offers accounting reports makes it easier to compile the details and send off the data to your accountant.
Having a’freemium’ version, ensure you understand precisely what reports it includes which will make your daily managerial tasks easier.
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Returns and Refunds
Regrettably, not every transaction is going to be a sale. For retail POS systems, it is crucial that you could process returns and refunds effortlessly. From locating the first purchase and refunding the original payment method to adding the product back into stock, your retail POS system should be able to handle all these details.
Discounts and Promotions
Clients go crazy for a fantastic promotion or discount. It is a classic marketing strategy to get more customers through the doors, and it works. With your point of sale system, you should have the ability to apply discounts at the individual product level and for your whole order.
Free POS software might only allow for one or another, or in some cases neither. Understand how discounting works as you will have to use it sooner or later.
Much like promotions, clients love loyalty programs. Have a look at the numerous successful big-box retailers. The huge majority have some loyalty program set up to reward customers for their purchases.
Installation, Configuration, and Multi-Location
When it’s menu customization for a restaurant POS system or configuring the retail matrix to your boutique, obtaining a easy setup and configuration is vital to optimizing workflow and checkout rate at the point of purchase. This is especially important when you need more than 1 cash register or have multiple locations.
For those who get a larger-scale business with many places, free POS software packages normally can not offer you multiple locations or registers. Multi-location support is also an issue for smaller companies for the sheer fact of having more than 1 register. Your choice depends upon where you visualize your company going in the long run.
POS Hardware Will Still Cost You
Whether you choose to go free software or not, POS hardware and peripheral devices will still have a price tag. These are the output and input devices that help carry out the purposes of the POS program. This equipment can include, but not Limited to:
- Tablets such as iPads, Android, or Windows apparatus
- Touchscreen monitors or all-around pc
- Cash drawers
- Barcode scanners
- Customer-facing screens
- Receipt printers
- Charge Card readers
The Bottom Line
Though free POS software looks like a wonderful deal that would pique anyone’s interest, it is important to understand just what you’re getting for the price — or lack thereof. While free point of sale software may work for your company now, in six months you will need more attributes. Therefore, be certain you opt for a POS system that can grow with your organization.