I have touched on the topic of outright purchasing a point of sale system (which will realistically run $6,000 - $12,000 per store) versus buying a system that charges you a flat monthly fee. It appears that I may have skimmed over one critical difference between the two purchase options.
Traditional point of sale systems like Retail Pro, Microsoft RMS, and NCR CounterPoint charge an annual fee for keeping the software updated. A check of some of my records indicates that the annual "maintenance" fee runs around $200 - $500 per location. On top of that fee is the annual support (or help desk) agreements that usually run around $400 - $700 per year.
If we average these costs out, and divide by 12 (for 12 months), we get around $75/month. That is a monthly or annual fee that you pay on top of the original purchase price!
Now, if we look at systems that charge a flat monthly fee (HarborTouch, LightSpeed, RICS, Bindo, Clover, Silver, etc.) - you just pay the flat monthly fee which normally includes updates and support. Given that the monthly fee's start right around $49/month, that makes the monthly fee solutions very attractive.
Note that I am comparing only one aspect of a point of sale buying decision and the monthly versus intial purchase price is just one item to factor when finding the best point of sale solution for your business.
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