The Pros and Cons of a Cloud Based POS System


When I made the decision to move my POS system to the cloud to run my business I decided to do it for several reasons:

  1. It’s a very expensive POS system to purchase outright so I liked the lower cost of entry
  2. I expected less POS implementation hurdles because it ran in a browser
  3. My staff would have access to the POS system from outside the “four walls”

I’m happy to report that all of those things went just like I thought they would. What I didn’t think about (or what I didn’t realize) was that there is another side to the cloud-coin so to speak. Here are five things to consider before you move your Point of Sale to the cloud:

5 Things To Consider Before Switching to a Cloud-Based POS System

1. Every year I have to renegotiate my renewal (and the price never goes down).

Just prior to the date my “annual renewal” for my cloud-based POS came about I received an estimate from my sales rep. I was caught by surprise because the quote for my monthly subscription was higher, by quite a bit. My rep said that was standard practice. They commented that they had added new features to the POS software plus their costs had gone up. I fought back and won some concessions, but after seven years I can honestly say that the price has never gone down in that time.

2. If I’d have leased my POS system 3 years ago, it’d be mine now.

My big realization came after 3 years. It hit me that I’m looking at paying a monthly fee for this application for the rest of time and if I’d have leased the system three years ago, it’d be mine. No more payments. No more having to renegotiate a new contract every year. No more feeling like a hostage.

3. I feel like I’m held hostage and can’t leave them.

Now you’re probably saying to yourself – “you just said you’ve had this system for 7 years, if it’s so bad, why haven’t you made a change?” Well, I didn’t say it was a bad system, but I have run into a few more realizations. With the cloud-based systems I’m using (yep, I signed up for more than one…), they ultimately control my access to my data. I have to use “their” tools to access it and I’m restricted to the level of access “they” decided to give me. That seems fair….until you want your data so you can move to another option. Oh sure, I checked before buying, the sales rep assured me I can get my data….oops, not so fast. While it’s true that I can export certain “standard” data, there is some data I can’t access (some data they just don’t give access to, and some data such as any custom or user-defined fields I created). So, unless I’m willing to walk away from some of the data I’ve considered important to my business for years, or maybe there’s a way I can pay someone to code a custom way to get it, I’m stuck.

4. Upgrades are an annual event that we now have to budget for, a little surprise we didn’t see coming.

Once a year whether I want to or not, I get a notice indicating that on such-and-such day at some wee hour of the morning, they’re going to upgrade me to the latest and greatest version. Cool! I don’t have to do anything and they upgrade me, I just open for business the next day and off we go. Not really. When I read the notice, all the little fine-print they make me agree to by checking a box stating “I Acknowledge”. It says I have a 2 week window to test everything I currently use and make sure it still works. I have to run every report, test every function, validate every custom field or custom report, and if they’re broke in the new version it’s my job to fix them before the upgrade. Again, that seemed reasonable. Well, that was until the date they picked didn’t fit well with my businesses timeline. I called my vendor, changing my date wasn’t an option, they told me the “hosting server” I was on was getting upgraded that day and they couldn’t make an accommodation for one customer because there were a lot of other customers on that same server. I was told I had two weeks and if I needed assistance I could hire a consultant to help us through the upgrade. Upgrades remain an annual event that we now have to budget for, a little surprise we didn’t see coming.

5. Why is it always the Internet’s fault?

When I contact their customer support because my staff has an issue with the system (maybe it’s slow or maybe the screens are freezing/non-responsive), I always get a similar response: “I’m sorry you are experiencing issues with the system sir, if you’ve checked the access to your ISP and its ok, the Internet must just be slow”. Well then, how come I can get to other websites without issue? “I don’t know sir, you’ll need to ask your ISP”. So, I have no trouble with any website but yours yet you’re telling me there’s nothing you can do? “Correct sir, the problem is not on our end”. Great, its always a pleasure working with you folks.

Weighing the Benefits of Cloud Based POS Systems

After all this time are we happy with our cloud-based POS system? As you can see from this list, some things yes and some no. In my case the total cost of ownership is beyond what I’d forecasted and beyond what I was lead to believe. The biggest thing that would make me happy is to not feel trapped. I feel I can’t leave without spending a good deal of money to get out of where I am and a good deal more to get into something new. For all my happiness with what my cloud-based POS system does for me, I’m counting the days until I can feel free again.

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