10 Questions to Ask Before Buying Software

August 17, 2021

Consignment software will make your life a million times easier… if you choose carefully. It’s not surprising to me when a customer calls and says they want to open their shop in a week or two and need software ASAP. This puts them in a position where they feel rushed and don’t take the time to consider what they really need. They often promise they found a software they like better because they have better prices or use their iPad to check out customers. Well, the reality is, for consignment, resale, buy outright, antique malls, etc., the software has to be specific to this. Meaning, a retail software may work for the basics, but when it comes to behind-the-scenes, such as consignment splits, you will find yourself doing a lot of manual work. Because understanding consignment software and why it is so important to choose the right one takes time and research, I’ll save you the trouble and give you 10 questions to ask before buying software.

#1 Do you get unlimited support?

Within this question, there are many questions. Do they offer night and weekend support hours? What is the average response time? Do they offer email and phone support? They may offer support, but the support gives bad service. It’s better to find out before signing up than after. When you’re on a call with them, ask them this question. Similarly, if they only offer email support, this may take longer to get a response or even communicate clearly. Be sure to find out and know what you’re signing up for. Due to different time zones, there is a low chance every single problem you encounter with the software will happen between the hours of service.

#2 Is there a contract?

You never want to be tied down, and a huge red flag is a contract. As soon as you have signed that contract, that company may not feel they have to give you as good service as they did before you agreeing. You also want to be able to get out of the contract for any reason, whether you are unsatisfied with the software or have to close your store down. Nevertheless, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

#3 Is there free and unlimited training?

Switching to new software or starting with software, in general, is overwhelming. You not only have to worry about your own training but your employees too. It can become even more overwhelming if you don’t have good training offered. Ask if there are training videos, live training and if they are unlimited. You may have it all figured out now, but what if you have new hires? They are going to need training as well.

#4 What are the startup costs?

Owning a business is expensive at any point but especially starting. If the startup costs are too much, you may need to reconsider or prepare if you have enough time. Find out if the potential software is a monthly payment or if you have to pay a huge amount out of pocket right away.

#5 How much is the hardware?

This goes along with startup costs. Hardware can add up. Some necessities are computers, bar code scanners, label printers, etc. Make sure the software company is flexible. If you only have Apple computers and their software doesn’t work for Mac, that’s an issue.

#6 Do you pay per location? Terminal?

Having multiple terminals is not only smart, but it’s more efficient. It wouldn’t be ideal for getting software that charges per terminal because you may realize you need more terminals in the future as you grow. You may even add terminals specifically for returns, gifts cards, holidays, etc.

#7 Is your data being backed up?

When the inevitable happens, such as a natural disaster, a computer virus, or any technical difficulty, you’ll want that data to be backed up. Understand how your data is being backed up with that software.

#8 Do they have all the features you need?

Make a list of the features you need, such as an online store, a gateway to communicate with your consignors or vendors, dealer remote item entry, etc. Make sure you know the features that you absolutely need. This will help narrow it down for you. Keep these in mind so that you don’t get sucked into the companies that give you rose-colored glasses, promising a ton of features you may not actually need.

#9 Is it installed or cloud software?

This is an important question because it will determine a lot of how your business runs. There is a higher risk with installed software due to the limitations. Cloud software opens many doors such as checking in on your store from anywhere, using any computer, easily adding more terminals, etc.

#10 Why have people stopped using their software?

You have to do your research! The best piece of advice overall is to read reviews from current and past users. Of course, no place is going to have perfect reviews. I’m sure if you look up your favorite restaurant, there will be some bad reviews. Take each review with a grain of salt but notice some of the red flags. These reviews may even help you come up with more questions for your potential software company. You can also join Facebook groups and hear directly from people in the same situation.

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Paulette Squicimari