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"Can Free Retail Point of Sale Software Really Help Your Business?"

- By Jeff Haefner


Are you looking for free retail point of sale software to help you manage your business better? If so, they you probably already realize that incorporating POS software can drastically improve your retail business. In fact, after most retailers have been using their POS software for a few months, they don't know how they functioned with out it!

However, purchasing free point of sale software may not be in the best interests of your retail business. Nevertheless, let's discuss the pros and cons of the issue!

Pros
  • Of course, the biggest pro is the fact that the program doesn't cost you anything. There are free retail point of sale programs available on the Internet that won't cost you a penny upfront. You'll find freeware, shareware, and open source POS software systems that you can download on the internet. For a struggling retail business, the fact that the system is free can be very enticing!

  • Another pro of a free system is that it does give you an opportunity to try a POS system in your store. This 'trying out phase' can really help you recognize that you do truly need a POS system. It also gives you the opportunity to learn what features you require in a POS system and to discover how much it helps you improve your business. So, in a nutshell, you get to try out the free system, without any investment except your time.


Cons
  • One con that you may not even realize is the reality that oftentimes, a free system is actually not free. The company providing the free retail point of sale software may provide you with the actual software for no charge, but they will charge you for installation, training, support and upgrades. You could actually end up paying more in the end than if up front you had researched and selected the best system for your unique business.

  • A second con of these free systems is that the programs have limited features and probably will not have all the necessary functionality to help you run your business to its optimum level. You may even end up trying to make the free point of sale program work for you, only to find out you've wasted a lot of time and effort in a program that just doesn't have what you need.

  • A third con regarding free systems is that most companies offering these systems provide you with no training. Imagine trying to drive an airplane without lessons. Well, you'll be in the same boat if you install a POS program when you've had zero training.

  • Along with training, a free POS system doesn't come with someone to help you configure the software to your particular business. Without proper configuration, you'll most likely be riddled with errors, incorrect sales reports, missing inventory, customer dissatisfaction and more. Just imagine, you'll be left to configure scanners, bar code printers, cash drawers, receipt printers, tax codes, inventory categories, customer categories, security backups, networks and more! What a potential headache and nightmare!

  • Probably the biggest con to a POS programs available for free concerns the fact that you will usually waste a lot of valuable time and money because you can't access the support you need, when you need it. As most retailers don't have significant computer expertise, you will have a difficult time navigating the potentially complex free POS program. Without good support and people to help guide you to make the most of your POS system, you'll just be throwing away your time and money.

It's obvious from this list that (in most situations) the cons far outweigh the pros. Realistically a free retail point of sale system is just not worth the time, effort, headaches and potential damage to your business.

I encourage you to think of your POS system as an investment in your business.

Ultimately, you should want to get a POS system to help save you time and make you more money. In the end, your POS system should provide you a good return on your investment. When you invest in a good system, you will get far more in return in regards to better sales management, increased inventory control, faster inventory turns and improved customer satisfaction. Definitely a return on investment worth aiming for!

Don't think short sighted in terms of the initial investment cost. Whether you spend $20 or $200,000, your goal should be to maximize your return on investment. In my experience, most free retail point of sale systems end up being a big time and money waster.

And if you find a free POS system that is a good fit for you (yes there are a couple good ones), you'll still need to pay for updates, support, and most likely training and configuration assistance.

So you might as well think in terms of maximizing your return on investment! Whether the software is free or not.

Despite all the information provided in this article, nothing I say may convince you. You might still be determined to find a free retail point of sale software system for your retail business.

In that vein, here are the best free POS systems that I'm aware of. Some of these systems are freeware and shareware programs that you can download. And others are open source systems that generally requires more computer knowledge and configuration time.

In any case, you'll have to spend a great deal of time and energy configuring the system and setting it up to work for your business. Without software training and likely no support, you will be left to your own devices to make the system a go. If you're still determined, here are ten free programs to check out:


If after reviewing these programs you've discovered that it might be better for your business if you approached the POS system as a business investment, then I encourage you to check out The Point of Sale Software Buyer's Guide. This excellent resource is filled with useful information and tips that will take you through the analysis of various systems and will give you everything you need to make the best choice for your business needs.

For more information about The Point of Sale Software Buyers Guide, visit www.possoftwareguide.com.



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