The broad availability and purported ease of mobile dongle-style point of sale (POS) solutions, like Square, Groupon and Intuit’s GoPayment, have driven many restaurateurs and other businesses to consider a switch.
The appeal is that the systems are simple, low-cost, and indicate adaptation to new technology.
However, there are things to consider when making the decision to change.
According to Jared Isaacman, CEO of Harbortouch., “while paying at an iPad kiosk seems “cool” and certainly gives the impression that the restaurant is tech-savvy, is it really the best solution for your business?”
He argues that far more than looking cool, restaurants need fast, efficient, secure and reliable technology to drive success, support business growth and maintain satisfied customers who not only return, but also tell their friends.
When weighing options between traditional POS and a mobile-based solution Isaacman suggest here are several factors to consider in making the best decision.
Security and Reliability: Traditional POS systems have set the bar when it comes to enabling secure and reliable transaction processing. Mobile solutions rely completely on the signal availability and strength of the establishments wireless carrier or a Wi-Fi connection.
He points out neither of which is as secure or reliable as a hard-wired connection. Data thieves can easily intercept over-the-air signals, and excessive traffic or interference can hamper signal quality and availability, which could render the business unable to process payments at peak times.
With data security becoming an increasing concern, it’s critical to provide a safe, secure method of payment that protects both the company and customers from potential data theft. Choosing a system with built-in PCI compliance is an absolute must to ensure that they are delivering a secure transaction network.
Support for Cash Transactions: One of the advantages of a traditional POS system over mobile apps is the ability to avoid bouncing back and forth from a cash register to a card processing terminal. This could be a problem with mobile systems.
While some tablet based POS alternatives do support cash transactions, the majority of mobile payment apps are heavily focused on card-based transactions which could alienate customers who prefer to pay with cash.
This also creates a disconnect for the establishment, since the cash transactions can’t be tracked through the same system as card payments.
This makes accurate reporting very difficult, requiring manual calculation of total cash and card sales. On the other hand, traditional POS systems support all payment types and deliver advanced sales reports broken down by payment type, in addition to numerous other tracking metrics.
Back-end Management: It can be argued that on the back end is where traditional POS systems really shine over mobile solutions. The back-office functionality, reporting capabilities and overall ability to support high-traffic businesses made possible through a full-featured POS give restaurateurs unprecedented visibility into sales, product and employee performance that mobile solutions simply cannot address. While many mobile apps can provide some limited reporting, these are focused on the transaction process only, and provide the “simplest” experience possible, which inherently means they deliver far fewer features and functionality compared to traditional POS systems.
It is possible to cobble together several solutions to serve this range of needs: an HR/payroll management solution, a menu management/order-entry solution, plus the mobile POS. But this disjointed approach not only requires you to purchase and maintain separate software and systems to suit each function, but also means that the data housed and managed by each exists only within these specific silos.
Traditional POS systems also offer all of these valuable back-end features and more, like employee tracking, inventory management, customer and vendor databases for marketing use, as well as advanced reporting capabilities to deliver a top-level view of the entire business.
Many POS systems even include a built-in employee time clock that reduces the time managers have to spend on payroll.
In addition, employee productivity reports can help managers identify top-selling employees while hour-by-hour sales reports can help with efficient scheduling.
Some systems even offer the ability to import inventory data and send alerts when on-hand stock runs low; others go so far as to automatically generate a purchase order with the vendor at certain inventory thresholds.
Product and sales reports also enable establishments to identify best- and worst-selling items as well as other sales trends. These comprehensive reports not only reveal valuable business insights but also reduce the time spent on bookkeeping, accounting and the associated costs. None of these kinds of features and benefits are possible with mobile POS alternatives.
Implementing a full-featured, state-of-the-art, integrated POS can save any full-service restaurant or any business the time, cost and headache of upgrading later when the business outgrows the dongle system.