Any merchant looking to open their first location will come across the inevitable question “What type of POS should I chose?” With so many choices out there between hardware, software, integration, etc.. it can be a daunting task. The first concern for most merchants is cost. 

The off-the-shelf solution:

Some POS providers offer a complete package including the computer, cash drawer, scanners, receipt printer and software preloaded to work with your hardware. Some retailers find this solution best because they’ll be running out of the box for one price. Down the road the retailer realizes they are generating more sales then expected and would like to have an additional system at their location but realize the software on the out of the box POS system doesn’t work on more then one terminal. This is also a problem if the retailer decides to open up multiple locations. Since the package was a one time purchase the retailer must now pay hourly support to the company it bought the system from and the cost of ownership for that system gets out of control as more support is need as the hardware ages. Another problem with the all-in-one POS package is checking sales, inventory and other business information outside the office. Some POS systems provide this but you must pay for another license to have the software on your home laptop or computer. As you can see, it’s important to choose a point of sale system that can dynamically grow with your company so lets move on to web based point of sale software.

The Web based POS Solution:

In most retail environments today, having a Web based POS is the way to go. As with the off the shelf solution you most likely will purchase all the same hardware. The main difference is Web base POS software isn’t hardware dependent. You can shop around for a affordable computer to run transactions through and use almost any receipt printer, barcode scanner or cash drawer you want. As your business grows you add more stations, locations and hardware as needed without worrying about compatibility issues and updates to each individual station. Most Web base POS providers offer great support over the phone, through integrated chat and forms at little to no cost. Instead of purchasing a license for you home laptop or computer you can simply access all the features of your point of sale through any device with an Internet connection. With most Web based point of sale software you month-to-month and some may require contracts.

To recap, off-the-shelf point of sale systems are the choice of some retailers because it’s a simple plug-n-play solution from the start but as business growth occurs this solution may not scale very well and could end up costing more in the long run. With Web based point of sale software you have more flexibility and freedom to access information from any Web enabled device.  Some merchants may be leery of contracts with Web based POS software companies but with a little research you can find a solution to best fit your needs.

Checkout GratisPOS by Agilx for a free complete Web based POS system, it’s simple to use yet it will scale to accommodate the need of any size or type of retail organization.