Monday, November 30, 2015

Cloud Based Point of Sale Systems: Things to Keep in Mind

2015 has really been the year for cloud and mobile point of sale systems for retail stores, restaurants and museums. About 65% of the businesses and organizations that contact me are only considering point of sale systems that work on mobile devices and are cloud based.  A few things to keep in mind if you are looking at the cloud based point of sale systems like Clover, Vend, Lavu, Shopkeep, Lightspeed, or Silver...

  1. In most cases the cloud based point of sale systems will only cost around 10%-30% less than a point of sale system that you lease to own or purchase outright (eg: Retail Pro, Sapphire, NCR CounterPoint, Retail management Hero, Etc.).  This assumes that you plan on keeping your point of sale system for 5-7 years and that you pay an ongoing monthly fee to use a cloud based point of sale system (which normally also includes support and updates).
  2. You lose some control when using a cloud based point of sale system. Best example is that a traditional point of sale system puts all the hardware, software, and data onsite within your business or organization. If a router fails, you simply replace it.  With the cloud based point of sale systems you have no control if their router breaks or if their server goes down. Look at the reviews for any cloud based point of sale system and see that users mention outages lasting several hours. The point of sale companies tout off line modes or similar features but the reality is that system wide failures are possible and there is nothing you can do about it when it comes to cloud based point of sale systems.
  3. Ownership: most cloud based systems are rented so you never actually own anything - very easy on your budget but you have to be comfortable with this pricing structure.
  4. Hidden fees and contracts: I've been very disappointing with several of the cloud based point of sale systems who require long term contracts with early termination fees and limitations on who you can use for your credit and debit card processing services. As with any point of sale system, due diligence is required on your part when it comes to reading and signing any agreements or contracts.
Now, this may all sound somewhat negative but I actually do feel that some of the cloud based point of sale systems are great solutions (I've previously used, sold, and supported several).  However, they are only good solutions in one or more of the following situations:

  • Single location or less than 10 locations with annual sales of less than $800,000 per location.
  • OK with never owning the actual software but paying an ongoing fee each month.
  • Low technology needs: OK with canned reports and don't have complex  inventory needs.
  • No internal IT person or "computer geek": cloud based systems are generally very easy to learn and use and do not require internal IT resources.
Are you  in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice?  I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (I am on Mountain Time) or via email at There is also a contact form to the right that can be used to reach me.

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