Should Your Company Buy or Lease Point-of-Sale Software?

Point-of-sale (POS) software serves as the foundation for any retail business. It enables companies to securely accept customer payments in exchange for the items they buy. But the average POS system costs between $500 and $3,000 per station, which can be out of reach for a startup or budget-challenged business.

Fortunately, there are many options available for businesses today, including leasing the equipment and having the cost built into your monthly fee. Before you make a final decision, though, it's important to conduct thorough research and find the best one to fit your own unique environment. Here are a few different POS options for your small business.

Purchase


Many businesses shy away
POS hardware due to the high price. However, this option could save money over the lifetime of your business's relationship with a credit card processing company. You may be required to sign a long-term contract or pay a termination fee with leased equipment, whereas some companies that allow a purchase option may let you cancel at any time. Best of all, if you purchase equipment that doesn't work as well as you'd hoped, you may have the option of returning it as opposed to a lease agreement where you're tied into the equipment for the duration.

Businesses that can gather the up-front money to purchase POS hardware may be better off in the long run, since they'll be able to skip a higher monthly payment. Once your business owns its terminals, you may be able to take them to another processing services provider, depending on whether or not your equipment is compatible with its software. If you lease, you'll be forced to either purchase new equipment or find another provider that offers affordable rates with a lease.

Lease


Affordability is one of the top reasons businesses choose to lease. For a business just starting out, that means paying a small monthly fee rather than a large up-front payment. The extra money can be put toward building and growing your business, bringing in extra money that will allow you to purchase instead of lease if you choose to do so. You'll also see
in leasing, since you can claim the amount you spent each year rather than amortizing it over multiple years, as will be required in a purchased system.

Another benefit of leased equipment is that you'll be automatically updated when technology changes. The recent switch to EMV technology demonstrated the need for this, with many businesses still holding off because of the expense of upgrading. Many retailers with an existing lease found that the upgrade was provided for free as part of their lease agreement. However, some retailers with leases realized that their provider was unwilling to upgrade, which left them vulnerable with no alternative.

Tablet Based


In recent years, businesses have found a much more affordable way to purchase equipment up front. POS setups are available that can work with a smartphone or tablet, allowing businesses to accept payments in their stores and on the go. With
, retailers can set up an in-store POS that operates similarly to a traditional POS system, complete with a cash drawer and card reader. Since setup is easy and employees are already comfortable with using mobile devices, this environment can have a smaller learning curve than traditional systems. Some businesses may be able to use existing tablets to connect to a payment processor's software and peripherals, saving additional money.

The portability of these systems is a big plus. Instead of having cash registers stationed at a specific spot in a store, retailers can move their POS to different areas in the store as demand fluctuates. Businesses with multiple locations can share equipment between storefronts and dismantle them to take advantage of remote selling opportunities. With a card reader, employees can accept credit cards throughout the store, reducing lines when things get busy, or accept payments at conferences and other events.

To get started accepting payments, every business needs a POS system. While the right software is essential, it's also important to choose the right hardware to fit your own business's needs. Knowing all of the options will help you make the right decision, whether you opt to buy, lease, or use the hardware you already have on hand.