When merchants look into the best possible options for how they can meet evolving consumer preferences, the topic of possibly renting a point-of-sale device, rather than buying it, will inevitably come up.

In a lot of cases, however, merchants might not know what that entails, and the many ways it can benefit them in both the short and long term. With that in mind, doing a little bit of homework on this topic to better understand the concept of “hardware as a service” can go a long way.

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Why HaaS Helps
There are plenty of benefits that come with HaaS, and many of them may be especially helpful for smaller merchants, in particular, according to Business 2 Community. The most obvious of these benefits is the cost, because while the upfront price tag of buying one, two, three or more new POS devices can be prohibitive, the ongoing cost of simply renting them is likely to be a lot more manageable. Moreover, because they’re only being rented, it can be easy to add or subtract POS devices from the mix as needs dictate.

Further, HaaS providers are also going to be the ones in charge of dealing with any technical issues that arise, meaning they can automatically update software and repair hardware if things go wrong. That, too, can be a big benefit for smaller companies that don’t have the time or resources to devote their more complete attention to ongoing POS maintenance.

It’s also worth noting that there may be a tax benefit for smaller companies when they adopt HaaS, according to Tech Advisory. This is true because while buying equipment is a “capital expense,” renting it is simply a service, meaning there’s far less tax liability. It may even be tax deductible in some cases. This, too, helps to add cost certainty at a time when businesses might need it most.

Renewability Is Key
When merchants are thinking about how best to make the leap to the next generation of POS devices, the quandary itself highlights the benefits of HaaS, according to Tech Quilty. Yes, it’s expensive to buy new point-of-sale devices even once a decade, but with HaaS that technology will be updated by a provider every few years at the least, meaning that devices will never slide into obsolescence. And when issues like the EMV liability shift arise in the future, there won’t be anything to worry about.

In this way, it might be easy for small-business owners to view HaaS as being akin to leasing a car, but also providing a top-notch servicing plan that ensures everything stays up-to-date and safe for the length of the lease.

Boots On The Ground
When thinking about how that “servicing plan” can positively impact a small business, one of the biggest benefits may come in the form of the certainty that service provides, according to Hammett Technologies. For instance, if a POS device ever experiences any downtime, it won’t require a long wait or an outside party to get it fixed. The HaaS provider will be able to deal with the issue relatively quickly and help get merchants back to operating at peak efficiency in short order. Apart from reducing stress for owners, that kind of smooth service also helps businesses over time by streamlining operations on the back end, and therefore wrings a little more return out of the investment.

Handle Security With Ease
Along similar lines to stress from ongoing operations, the whole point of upgrading to modern POS today is to increase the security of each transaction – and of payment ecosystems overall. EMV and mobile are far more secure than traditional magnetic strip cards, so it also makes sense to extend a stronger security posture to the back end of operations. That’s another area HaaS can help, according to Just Call The IT Guy.

Service providers have a vested interest in keeping systems updated with the latest and most effective security software available, which can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches. That, too, can provide greater peace of mind to merchants as they attempt to navigate the new payment requirements.

Designed for Small Merchants’ Needs
The fact is that while big businesses have the capital to get onboard with high-end security and the latest payment technologies as regularly as they need to, that’s not typically the case for small and mid-sized companies. To that end, there are questions merchants can ask themselves to see if HaaS is right for them, related to usability, cost, security, and so on, according to Inbay. The more “yes” answers they get, the more likely it is that HaaS can be a useful part of their future operations.

As a general rule, merchants should always be on the lookout for ways to improve all aspects of their business. If point-of-sale, in particular, has been a thorny issue in the past year, it’s quite likely that HaaS is the right answer going forward.