What to Expect from Your POS System: A Cost Analysis

Today’s most advanced POS systems consolidate all of your business operations onto one server that connects all your devices. They manage payment, inventory, the menu, employees, loyalty programs, online ordering and delivery, tableside service and payment, and more. Some of these features are likely more integral to you than others, depending on your business and where you’re able or willing to cut costs. With so many POS vendors out there, it can be difficult to find the best quality product for an affordable price.

Here are the approximate fees you should expect to encounter when shopping around:

  • Hardware: One time, fixed cost starting at $799
    • Terminal and credit card reader bundle: $850
    • Terminal bundle including terminal, case, stand, credit card reader, receipt printer, cash drawer and cables: $1,400
    • Additional printers: $350-400 each
    • Router: $400
    • Handheld POS system with credit card reader: $600
    • KDS: $1,000-$1,500
  • Software: Subscription fees average between $79-150/month
    • Per device: $75/month
    • KDS software: $25/month
  • Additional features:
    • Gift cards, online ordering and inventory software: $50/month each
    • Loyalty and rewards program features: $25/month
    • Third party API integration: $25/month

These fees demonstrate the importance of shopping around and getting quotes from a wide variety of vendors; $150 versus $79 per month for software makes a big difference for your budget. Every vendor is different, too, so choosing one isn’t as simple as finding the best bang for your buck. You need one who offers only the specific services you want so you don’t waste money on features you’ll never use. Don’t forget, though, that you’ll get a better ROI with better services; though price doesn’t necessarily dictate quality, it can be an indicative factor.

The type of hardware you buy further determines the cost. Typically, you’ll choose between SaaS systems (“software-as-a-service,” or cloud-based systems) that store data and operate from a remote server that’s accessible from anywhere with internet, and legacy systems (A.K.A traditional POS systems) that store data locally on a closed, internal network. Legacy systems typically cost more but provide certain benefits such as easing security concerns.

With software, consider more than subscription fees; vendors might offer additional services for a price such as on- and off-site support services, updates, KDS software and more. Be wary and ask vendors about these potentially hidden fees when you’re shopping around so you’re never taken by surprise when the bill comes.

Finally, consider the cost of installation and training. Deciding whether to pay someone to set up the system for you or do it yourself determines how big a hiccup you’ll experience in your day-to-day operations. Though installations are costly (approximately $75 per hour for a remote install or $100 per hour for onsite, and another $400 to build your menu onto the devices), you’ll waste a lot of time doing it yourself. Setting up and training yourself on the system can cause weeks of disruption to your usual operations, and that could have long-term effects that might not be worth the short-term monetary benefits.

Talk to vendors, ask questions and request a demo of their products to get an idea for how it all works. Though worthwhile in the long run, choosing a POS system that hosts all of (and only) the features you need is a big investment. Ultimately it’s not the upfront cost that matters—it’s how that system will impact your long-term ROI that counts.

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