Choosing the Best Free POS System

How To Choose The Best Free POS System For Your Business

The best free POS systems can range from simple systems for microbusinesses to retail/inventory management system designed for larger multi-location retail businesses.  Some free POS systems are designed to work across multiple retail verticals, while other POS software is purpose-built for a specific vertical. The most important thing to look for is the 'fit' of the systems design and features to your needs of your business.  The money you save from a 'free' POS system can be immateral when compared to the excess labor costs resulting from a 'free' POS system that is a poor fit for your business.Before you select a free POS system, we suggest taking the following steps to help streamline your process and improve the chances that you will select the best free POS software platform for your retail business.

Steps to Select the Best Free POS System for your Business

Put Together a Budget – Before you start your journey to fund the best free pos system for your store, put together a budget on how much you would like to spend.  This should consider both upfront costs and ongoing fees and expenses to use the POS system.  Be sure to build in some contingencies for training costs and the cost of any network, security or other IT consultants that will be needed to install and activate your POS system.
Determine which type of POS hardware platform you need. POS systems can run on a variety of hardware platforms.  For example, if mobility is a high priority, you may want to look at a tablet-based POS system.  If you need rugged terminals or a larger screen, then a commercial grade all-in-one terminal POS system may be the best.  Do you need any digital signage, online ordering options or self-service POS kiosks? These following factors will influence the type of POS system hardware you need:

    • Size of checkout area
    • Signage or customer display requirements
    • Your budget
    • Number of registers and locations
    • Mobile needs
    • Workflow of typical transaction
    • Environment (wetness, sunlight, network quality)

Identify Critical Features. Each industry or business type tends to have a set of unique required features.  This makes sense, as the workflow needs of a restaurant will be different than a sporting goods store.  Before zeroing in on what you think is the best free POS system, write down a list of critical POS features for your business. For example, do you need to scan barcodes when receiving inventory?  Do you track serial numbers, or build kits of items?  Do you need a kitchen printer?  Would an accounting or ecommerce integration improve operations? While free POS systems can come at a low cost, even the best free POS system may also lack some critical features that you need at your store.

Look the Expandability of the POS Systems – Will your new POS system grow with your business?  You do not want to find yourself needing to replace your initial POS system after a couple of years.  In addition to features embedded in the software, look at the ability to expand the functionality of the POS system through plug-ins or integrations.

Consider Value of Integrated Payments. Integrated processing can materially improve the check-out process and offer some value-added services (emailed invoices with payment links, card vault to store cards on file).   If you like your current payment processor, you should check to see if your free POS system will integrate with your current processor.  If you need to switch, be sure to check the pricing as well as terms and conditions.  Are you locked into a long-term contract? What terminals are supported?  Is the pricing clear and fair?

Look Additional Costs of Using a Free POS System – Be sure to understand if there are additional costs to se a free POS system.  For example, are there any transaction fees?  Are you paying an above market processing rate?  Are there any cancellation fees or lease costs on payment terminals.  Do not feel pressured to sign an agreement until you understand al the terms and conditions.

Compare Viable Options.  Once you have enough data to begin comparing different providers, prepare a shortlist of those that you feel could be the best free POS system for your store gievn your functional needs and budget.

Research Online Reviews and Customer Service Ratings. If you select one of the better-known options, you should be able to find lots of online user reviews of the providers on your short list. There are many online review sites and blog posts comparing POS systems and payment processors.  In particular, pay attention to the most recent reviews – as these will best reflect the functionality and quality of support that you will experience.

Select the best free POS system for your business. Once you have all the data, go ahead and select the free POS system that meets the most of your criteria.

Is Even the Best Free POS System the Right Choice for Your Business?

A free POS system may be right for you if:

  • You’re a small business owner who’s seeking a free or low cost option.
  • Your business requires only basic functionality from its POS system.
  • You have found a free POS solution that satisfies the critical features required by your business.
  • You feel that your free POS system can grow with your business.
  • You are satisfied with the amount and quality of customer support available through your free POS provider.
  • You are aware of all hidden costs and fees in your free POS system and have factored this into your analysis.

A free POS system may not be right for you if:

  • You cannot find a free POS system that satisfies a critical requirement of your business.
  • You anticipate that your business may outgrow the free POS system in a year or two.
  • Your free POS system requires work arounds or manual tasks that will add to your labor costs.
  • Your free POS system has bad reviews for customer support or reliability.
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