When 'Free' Means Something Else Entirely

Lured by the siren calls of 'free' from bundled pharmacy POS solutions? Sometimes 'free' can end up costing you the most. Here's what you need to know.

It’s a relatively quiet evening in my home when a particularly loud grumble of frustration erupts from the other room. Upon investigation, I find that tax preparations are underway - and the "free" application we were using is calculating something incorrectly in our fairly run of the mill filing.  

My solution to this was simple. Ditch the free service and pay for one that we know will work for us. Because at this point, we already were paying to have our taxes done. Just in a different way.  

"Free" isn’t free when it’s not working. "Free" isn’t free when there are hidden “gotchya’s” unnecessarily increasing your out-of-pocket expenses. "Free" isn’t free when you can’t engage in profit-building opportunities due to system-created limitations.  

This is something I talk about with pharmacies regularly, because “free” is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the world of pharmacy technology. Why pay for a point-of-sale system when your pharmacy management system throws one in for free? After a while, though, it becomes apparent that the system does have costs. They’re just invoiced a little differently. Today, we'll explore what "free" can really mean when it comes to a bundled POS solution. 

Hidden Fees

In a recent evaluation for a customer using a bundled-in “free” POS, we found that we could save them an average of $400/month on credit card fees. This netted them more in savings than the cost of our monthly subscription for an RMS POS system, which is a significantly more robust system than what they had.

This kind of savings isn’t out of the ordinary. The processor they were required to use with their existing system was overcharging them. And that’s exactly where the money to develop and support that bundled-in "free" POS system comes from: high, non-negotiable credit card fees.  


The expression “time is money” exists for a reason. Think about the time involved in manually managing your inventory, walking the shelves to figure out what to order, then creating those orders from scratch. How much time does it take to sticker items with prices instead of shelves? How often do you struggle to manually find data that you need for your accountant, auditing, etc.? 

If you're doing these activities yourself, this is a valuable investment of time that could be spent on more productive (and potentially profitable) activities. And if you're paying someone else to do them, it's additional money on the payroll - money that doesn't offer an ROI, and cuts into your cashflow and profits.

Loss of Profits & Opportunity

Every conversation you don’t have about nutrient depletion could be a lost supplement sale. Every month that you don’t know your gross margin return on investment and your best performing departments is a month you’re not maximizing profits. Every time a customer goes to another store because they can’t use digital coupons, you’ve lost that sale and maybe more in the future. 

There’s a far-reaching impact to limitations in your point-of-sale solution. Limitations which result in lost profits and lost customers. And when it affects your bottom line and your customer-centricity... is "free" really free? 


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