The Hidden Costs of “Free” POS Platforms for Dispensaries

In the competitive landscape of the cannabis industry, businesses are constantly seeking cost-effective solutions to manage their operations. While free point-of-sale (POS) platforms may appear enticing, a deeper examination reveals hidden costs, potential pitfalls, and the predatory nature of certain providers. This article explores the challenges associated with free POS platforms, emphasizing the importance of informed decision-making and the potential drawbacks that can ensnare unsuspecting cannabis businesses.

The Allure of “Free” POS Platforms:

  1. Initial Attraction: Free POS platforms often appeal to budget-conscious businesses, promising a cost-effective way to manage transactions and inventory without the burden of upfront fees.
  2. Lock-In Strategies: Some providers employ lock-in strategies, enticing businesses with free services but subsequently locking them into contracts that are difficult to terminate without incurring substantial costs.

The Predatory Nature Unveiled:

  1. Limited Functionality: Free POS platforms may offer limited features, compelling businesses to invest in additional add-ons or upgrades to meet their operational needs. This creates an illusion of affordability while requiring continuous investment.
  2. Hidden Fees and Charges:
    • Integration Costs: Integration with essential tools such as Metrc or Biotrack may incur additional charges, offsetting the initial savings associated with free platforms.
    • Technical Support: Access to quality customer support may come at an additional cost, leaving businesses stranded with technical issues.
  • Web Coders and Developer Dependency:
  1. Customization Challenges: Free POS platforms may lack the flexibility required for businesses with unique needs. Customization often demands the expertise of web coders and developers, adding an extra layer of expense.
  2. Vendor Lock-In: Businesses relying on custom coding to enhance platform capabilities may find themselves locked into a specific web development team or face challenges when transitioning to a different solution.


  1. “The True Cost of a ‘Free’ POS System”POS Nation
  2. “The Pitfalls of Free Point of Sale Software”ShopKeep
  3. “POS Systems: How to Avoid Hidden Costs”Business News Daily

Avoiding the Predatory Trap:

  1. Thorough Research: Businesses must conduct thorough research before opting for a free POS platform, considering hidden fees, long-term contracts, and limitations in functionality.
  2. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Analysis: Calculate the total cost of ownership, including potential customization, integration, and ongoing support expenses, to make informed decisions.
  3. Consider Scalability: Choose a POS solution that aligns with the scalability of the business, reducing the risk of outgrowing the system or facing unexpected costs during expansion.

While the allure of free POS platforms may seem tempting, cannabis businesses must exercise caution and conduct a comprehensive analysis of the associated costs. The predatory nature of some providers, coupled with dependencies on web coders and developers, can lead to unforeseen expenses and challenges. By approaching POS decisions with a critical eye, businesses can avoid the pitfalls of “free” and make choices that truly align with their operational needs and long-term goals.