I have been a software consultant and computer programmer for almost ten years. The idea that someone will build you a custom POS system for $1000 is not realistic. Custom software development from someone who is reputable and capable of actually building a production grade piece of software will cost you anywhere from 30-100 per hour of development time. You could not even communicate what you want to build to a developer for a $1000.
Despite my skills and know how, if I were comparing the time I would need to invest with the purchase price of a production system for a single store, I would choose to buy off the shelf myself. If I could reuse that piece of software (in additional stores) or resell it…of course that is a different story. There is no way someone could build you a custom piece of software for the same price as you could purchase it for.
Let me point out a couple of things about buying software that I implore you to consider:
1.) Typically software is a small portion of the cost of your POS system. Although most vendors want to sell you the hardware and the software, you can save some substainal money by paying a fair market price for the software and buying hardware second hand. Typically if quoted 15-20K for a POS system, less than half of that is for the actual software license. Again, you may get some resistance from the sales person who will try to convince you to buy all brand new hardware, installation and training from them, someone will eventually sell you just the software license at a portion of that overall price. The more comfortable you are around computer hardware the more viable this option probably is for you.
2.) The real cost in technology is not upfront. Although it seems like it when you are looking at a 15K quote, the real value is in how well the company supports the software, how quickly they adapt to changes to your business, how easy is it to use, how much does it cost me to get upgrades, how much will it cost me to get things up and running, etc. The real cost (or value) is how much it saves you, makes you and costs you to maintain over the lifetime of the business. Regardless of price, someone who creates for you a custom piece of software will never provide you with ongoing support or be able to adapt the system for you without you shelling out a lot more money. Trust me, I know if I get a client a to agree to a 10K custom piece of software there will be at least 30K over the next five years in follow on work to adjust their system as their business model changes. So while the upfront costs look expensive view it as a relationship…you always put more into the courting process than you do as the relationship grows.
Finally, get on craigslist, or even check here and you find people everyday looking to sell their POS system for 10, 20 or 30% of their original purchase price. I have recently seen a Revention POS system less than 5 miles from my home for sale, some hardware included for $2500, less than five years old. I believe it will be around another $500 to transfer the license. I am not advocating Revention (read plenty here on them and draw your own conclusions), simply trying to point out that the system was $3K versus $15K+.
While I did not intend to make this a sales pitch by any means…I have more than enough of my own stuff to do…lol, you are welcome to contact me if you would like some assistance evaluating or finding used systems and I would be happy to help. As long as we don’t burn more than a couple of hours I will do it pro bono, if we exceed a couple hours I will put you on the clock.