November 7, 2013
In the U.S, restaurants and retail outlets are increasingly embracing tablets, especially iPads as a preferred mode of conducting transactions and getting the feedback from the customers. Tablet based POS systems are bringing significant improvement over the traditional POS systems in terms of cost and technology used. Most of the traditional POS from vendors like POSitouch, Micros and Aloha run on MS.net architecture and are vulnerable to crash and performance slowdown, just like a PC.
One of the biggest drivers of mobile based POS is the power of delegating the data and computing power to the cloud. This is where tablets are set to bring a paradigm shift to the entire POS industry. They are cost-effective, can collect the buying data and make that data easily accessible to any computing system. They can be used to make payments, take surveys, provide coupons and notify consumers of offers.
This innovation in payments space should not surprise many: iPads were launched 3 years ago and cloud computing has been the buzzword for about half a decade now. The convergence of cloud technology with mobile has provided unforeseen opportunities in payment space with the emergence of tablet-based payment systems.
The tablet based POS market can be divided into 2 broad categories:
As of now, iPads are much more prevalent as POS devices than other tablets, albeit some innovation has been happening on other tablets based POS, and some of the coffee chains and retailers have started accepting them in last couple of years.
iPad based POS:
iPad is being used extensively across retail outlets and restaurants in US. In coming years, many of the existing POS systems will be replaced with iPads. The advantage of iPad is that most of the tablet POS systems do not work with non-Apple devices: Square, NCR, Shopkeep, Revel are the largest mPOS system firms, and all of them focus on iPhones and iPads only.
These are few of the outlets accepting iPad based POS :
Non-iPad based POS:
In non-iPad space too, few companies are making noise.
1) One of them is Boston based start-up - Leaf. The company has come up with a tablet designed to be used as POS device. It runs Leaf's own version of Android (Leaf OS), and supports features like NFC, Europay, EMV and gift card.
The company claims to have around 100 customers using 500 tablets as of now, mainly in the Boston area. The firm is targeting restaurants, retailers and coffee shops, and expects exponential growth in next 3 years. The Leaf system costs only $50 a month (additional tablets cost $250 each), which is much lower than the price of some iPad point-of-sale solutions.
According to the company, the credit card dongle used with iPads are not dependable as they are not really made for business use and the tablets develop problems when used for commercial reasons. Leaf tablets, on the other hand, have been designed specifically for POS use.
2) One of the merchants using this POS system is Squeaky Beaker Cafe in Cambridge.
Besides, San Francisco-based GoPago, with the backing of JPMorgan Chase & Co., sells merchants a GoPago Live system comprising of an Android tablet and a GoPago card reader attachment.
3) Another system worth mentioning in this space is Vivonet’s POS system, Halo. Over 3,500 outlets are using Vivonet POS system with nearly 15 million checks being transacted as of now. This growth is fueled by big clients like Joe Coffee in New York. Besides, there are many locations managed by Sodexo using the Vivonet POS system, including university campuses like University of Texas and University of Massachusetts. The system works with iPads as well as Android based tablets.
4) Similarly, E La Carte, a firm founded by a group of MIT engineers, came up with ‘Presto tablets’ which allows people to browse the menu, order and pay without wasting any time. It has tied up with restaurants and chains like Genghis Grill, global restaurateur, HMSHost, and Evergreen Restaurant group, a franchise of Outback Steakhouse.
LTP View: In a nutshell, tablet based POS systems are here to stay. With a fast growing tablet market and venturing of more and more firms in this space with innovative models, the sight of merchants using tablets as POS will become more common in years to come.
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