Yes, the trend of community-based, open-source software development has also affected the Epos universe. Some software products can be found, which can be introduced as the Linuxes of electronic points of sale, providing the basic features of professional, expensive software packages - for free. Before jumping at the opportunity to use free Epos software, businesses should consider the disadvantages of such solutions, and carefully select the software package that may suit their specific needs.
Pros and cons of free Epos software
Although free Epos software has many advantages, these products still suffer from many drawbacks.
Beyond the obvious benefits, there are more interesting advantages in choosing such solutions:
- This software is costless. No license fees, no usage fees, no installation fees. For many businesses, this is a good enough reason to choose the free product over anything else;
- Using costless solutions help businesses find out what they will need and not need in terms of Epos, and therefore represent a smart way to choose the paying solution which they will eventually adopt;
- As basic solutions, free Epos software product are often easier to use than paying products, and therefore represent a good way to start learning how this kind of solutions work and how they can help businesses grow.
However, there are many disadvantages:
- It is good to be basic, but sometimes basic is just too basic, and the software package will lack many features which businesses really do need in order to run their operations;
- Free software products are often less user-friendly as paying alternatives;
- Support can be very limited, unless there is a strong, active user community;
- Free software means DIY, so you will have to install everything yourself, unless you pay and use the services of a specialised professional;
- This brings the question of exactly what is free: very often, the free versions suffer from limitations based on a number of users or transactions, or they’re just demo products or trial versions.
- And of course, you will still have to pay for the hardware, and organisations publishing free Epos software do not have partnerships with hardware makers to bring the costs down in packages.
Available free Epos software
You will find below a non-exhaustive list of noteworthy free Epos software. Each and every one of them has its advantages and disadvantages... and only a few are really, really for free!
Vend works offline, on iPad, Mac or PC, as it is browser-based. The free version is limited to 1 register, 1 user, 10 active products, 1,000 customers, and has only community support.
Point of Success
This free Epos software is designed for the hospitality industry. It enjoys good integration capabilities, but features that restaurants will like such as table management, employee management or online ordering are all paid add-ons.
The great advantage of Immongo is that it was built for touchscreen devices, so as to allow true mobility and the best possible experience on tablets such as the iPad. Volume limitations apply.
Specially designed for retail, fashion, salon and restaurant businesses, Hiboutik notably included secure login credentials for multiple staff, with access right management. But accounting features require a paid upgrade.
Unicenta was also designed with touchscreen devices in mind, and is fully open source. But compatibility within OS X and Linux environments might be an issue.
ProffittCenter includes all the basic features of an Epos, with a no-frills interface and actual customer support. Although it is certainly the least user-friendly Epos software, ProffittCenter is the only one on the list that’s completely free to use, with the exception of Keyhut, which very much follows the same philosophy.