Why every business should consider an open source point of sale system

435 readers like this
435 readers like this
Hearts, stars, and dollar signs

Opensource.com

Point of sale (POS) systems have come a long way from the days of simple cash registers that rang up purchases. Today, POS systems can be all-in-one solutions that include payment processing, inventory management, marketing tools, and more. Retailers can receive daily reports on their cash flow and labor costs, often from a mobile device.

The POS is the lifeblood of a business, and that means you need to choose one carefully. There are a ton of options out there, but if you want to save money, adapt to changing business needs, and keep up with technological advances, you would be wise to consider an open source system. An open source POS, where the source code is exposed for your use, offers significant advantages over a proprietary system that keeps its code rigidly under wraps.

With an open source POS, you get a few key things.

Unlimited flexibility

Open source systems play well with others. Their ability to integrate and connect with third-party products—from accounting and customer relationship management software to order management and inventory systems—makes them an attractive proposition for business owners who need to expand beyond the feature set of a proprietary POS.

In a 2014 technology survey, restaurant owners said integration would be a major factor influencing their next POS upgrade. This is one area where open source really shines. A proprietary system is what it is. But with open source, you have endless possibilities for integration and customization. If you think your business model is ever going to grow and change, it only makes sense to consider an open source POS that allows you to adapt as needed.

Faster development

Another advantage of open source systems is that they are often backed by a large community of developers who are continually building new functionality and improving on old features. By its very nature, the software development cycle for an open source project is much quicker than it is for a commercial product—bugs get fixed faster, updates get released sooner, and new modules are constantly being developed.

Lower cost

In this case, "lower cost" means "almost free." You still need to buy the hardware, but the software itself is free to use. An open source POS doesn't have the high start-up or ongoing maintenance costs of a proprietary POS, which can be anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 a year, nor does open source force you into the locked-in pricing of a proprietary model.

In the 2015 version of the food service technology study, more than half of the restaurant owners surveyed said they were paying for multiple technology vendors—in some cases as many as 10. The cost savings of switching to a single open source system with custom modifications and no ongoing fees could be significant.

There is a caveat, however. If you don't have a tech-savvy staff, you may need to hire outside help to install, modify, and upgrade your software. Open source does allow for unlimited integrations and customizations, but you'll need someone with technical expertise to take care of that, which can incur additional fees. Still, it can be a very cost-effective option.

Better security

If the source code is out there for anyone to see, doesn't that mean it's open to malicious programmers who want to hack into your data? Isn't that a security nightmare? On the contrary.

The large community of developers that builds new functionality also searches out and repairs security flaws. There are many more sets of eyes dissecting and fixing open source code than there are reviewing the code for a proprietary product. In that way, an open source POS is actually more secure.

There are many options for open source POS solutions, to name some:

Making the jump

You know your business better than anyone. Only you can decide what point of sale software is right for you. Given the compelling advantages of an open source POS over a proprietary POS—flexibility, rapid development, lower cost, more security—open source is something every business should consider.

Content Writer at Acro Media. We specialize in open source commerce solutions using the Drupal Commerce platform.

10 Comments

Great article. A ten minute oil change business near me uses a POS that runs on Ubuntu Linux. I'm not sure that is covered in your article but it sure impressed me when I was getting my car serviced.

Know about open source software for run movie theater?

We used a customized version of Floreant pos for a movie theatre. This was tricky floor plan system was used for seat layout. We used postgres as backend server and connected seven all in all pos terminal. Only custom feature we needed is to connect with movie list and schedule. I can say it saved us a lot

In reply to by Châu (not verified)

Isn't Odoo now closing source?

Livepos have amazing software features that really satisfied us and while setting up, everything is well explained with lots of details. It's easy to use the system.

The reason why I chose to have a point of sale because some say having one pos is very helpful. I'm using Livepos for years now, it is really easy to learn and operate. Features are compatible with our business.

Do any of these have integration with mobile credit card swipe / chip readers? Looking for a solution that can work at a nonprofit booth.

The dashboard of livepos is really wonderful. It’s easy to handle and best of all it is in real time. I like how they provide different graphs for the most important information.

Livepos really made a positive change to our store. This is the perfect point of sale for the retail and small business.

Livepos is very easy to use. We’ve been using it for a couple of years now.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.