Cha-ching! That’s the sound of another sale and another day in business. But, the old-fashioned cash register is a bit dated. Sure, it does its job, but its job was made for the pre-Internet era when advanced tracking and sales automation was impossible. Today, it is possible, and not only that, it’s necessary to compete.
The first thing to think about is whether you’re primarily a cash-based business, a credit-based business, or if you do a bit of both. The reason you want to figure this out now is because there are costs for peripherals that you may or may not need.
For example, if you accept cash, then you’ll need a secure cash register that syncs with your terminal. If you only take credit, then you don’t need this register. Likewise, if you only take cash, you don’t have to spend the money on a card-swiper. So what is a good alternative for cash register machines?
You had better love Apple, because they’re the primary players in this space. Somehow, they have been able to maintain dominance in the newer POS and EPOS systems on the market. But, you can take payments via an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Since Apple is really good about consistency across platforms, the app you use for the terminal and credit card processing will look great, and function properly, on all three platforms.
Most businesses use custom iPad software for POS instead of trying to rig something together for an iPhone or iPod, however the smaller devices are perfect for trade shows and events where you might not want to lug around an iPad.
An EPOS (electronic point-of-sale that’s cloud-based) or a purely software-driven, non-connected, system will run you about $1,200, assuming you don’t already have an iPad. First, there’s the cost for the iPad – get a used one and you can save yourself some coin.
Next, there’s the receipt printer, the cash drawer, and the iPad stand. The type of stand you get will depend on what type of business you’re running. If you’re running a restaurant, you want a rugged stand that can take the punishment and abuse of being dropped and kicked, while still protecting your iPad. If you run a coffee shop, you might benefit more from a stand that flips the iPad around to face your customer so that he or she can sign for their purchase.
The peripherals that you need include a credit card swiper, a receipt printer, and a cash box. You’ll also need a rig for the iPad. But, the types of peripherals you buy will, again, be driven by the business you’re. Let’s say, for example, that you operate a business that’s entirely credit-card based. Believe it or not, there are times and places where taking cash is too risky – like street vending, for example.
These places almost require that you have a credit card machine.
But, there are also times when it’s just plain inconvenient to keep cash laying around in a cash register – times when you can’t secure the cash from strangers. For example, say you go to a trade show or an event where there are a lot of people.
You won’t be able to keep an eye on the register effectively in crowded areas, and there’s no way to secure the register to anything. Someone could just run off with it.
With an iPad, you can at least lock the tablet down between transactions, and institute a safety protocol where the device is erased if an incorrect password is entered. That protects both you and your customers, while “track my iDevice” options via iCloud allow you to either recover the iPad yourself or notify the police so they can recover it for you.
One of the coolest things about iPad POS systems is the customized reports. If you get hooked up with a company like Square or Shopify, the reporting is absolutely epic. You can see sales data tied into your marketing systems, offer cross-sells, upsells, and any other kind of sales you can think of. You can also track inventory, and sync everything across all store locations and devices. So, regardless of where you are, you’re ready to take someone’s money.