Anyone who plans to start a business must decide on a point-of-sale system. Will you build your own system from the ground up or purchase a prefabricated system? Some opt for a quasi third choice--using an open-source point-of-sale (PoS) system that allows you to customize its feature to meet the needs of your business. Only recently has open-source technology been widely available to the general public, and information on open-source PoS systems remains somewhat scarce.
The time line of open-source point-of-sale systems goes back only a few years. The People's Food Co-op in Cascadia, Portland, claims to be first business in the world to use an open-source PoS system. PoS systems are one of the most expensive costs when running a small business; many can only afford outdated systems for which only a few companies offer repair, charging exorbitant fees in the process.
Where to Find Open Source POS Systems
Sourceforge.net has established itself as one of the premier authorities on open-source software development and distribution. Almost all open-source PoS systems appear on Sourceforge as well as their respective homepages. Checking local co-ops to see what they use for open-source systems might be the only other effective way to find a solid PoS system.
PHP Point of Sale
PHP Point Of Sale, developed by Chris Muench, is one the few successful open-source PoS systems. PHP PoS is a web-based program aimed at small businesses that rely on cash and checks to ring up sales. This software requires no specific operating system as it uses PHP for its native programming language and offers French and Spanish versions.
If PHP Point Of Sale does not quite meet your business needs, try Posterita. Posterita has a slicker, more professional look and offers several feature not commonly found in other POS systems. Posterita offers web-based functionality, or a business can access Poserita directly with a version based on Microsoft's ASP architecture. Poserita even supports bar-code scanners and handles credit card transactions.
Openbravo offers a highly respected open-source PoS system, amongst other open-source business applications it develops. Unlike most other open-source projects, Openbravo uses open-source projects to promote sales of related services. Instead of individual software licensing fees, Openbravo offers support and enhanced features through an annual subscription service. With a structure designed for touch screens and constant updates, Openbravo PoS might be the best option for medium-size to large businesses.