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Turning Your Tablet into a Point of Sale System – Is it Time to Make the Switch?

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Turning Your Tablet into a Point of Sale System – Is it Time to Make the Switch?

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: May 13, 2013

POS Considering upgrading your business’ point of sale system (POS) to one that runs on a mobile device or tablet?

Mobile payment platforms that turn your tablet into a credit card processing device have become increasingly popular with small businesses, thanks to offerings from companies like Square, Intuit and PayPal. But mobile POS is evolving beyond being a convenient way to swipe credit cards on-the-go. The next generation of POS systems will not only turn your tablet into a cash register, they offer fully-fledged business management tools including CRM services, inventory tracking, loyalty program integration and employee management tools – all made possible thanks to the power of cloud computing.

So what are the advantages of a tablet-based POS system for small business owners and what factors should you consider when making the switch? Here are some benefits and points to consider.

Cost Savings

Traditional POS systems typically involve an up-front fee of around $3,000, with some running as high as $50,000 (according to Street Fight magazine). In addition, you can expect to pay an annual software license fee per register and a yearly maintenance fee of 18-20 percent for upgrades. And, since costs are paid up front, chances are you’re stuck with the system you choose even if you don’t like it.    

Cloud-based tablet POS systems, however, can be up and running for as little as $1,000 or less, with no upfront fee. Cost-savings also extend across the lifetime of the service – you pay a low monthly fee (which also includes instant software upgrades, support, back-up and upgrades) and can cancel at any time. 

Easy Integration of Sales and Marketing Tools

In this age of ubiquitous information, many of us have come to expect instant, anytime, anywhere access to the data that matters most to us. Cloud-enabled tablet POS systems make this a reality with fingertip access to sales and inventory data – whenever you need it. Some also offer advanced integration with loyalty programs, accounting tools, as well as coupon and gift card generation options. You can even take advantage of marketing outreach features, such as auto-generated thank you emails to new customers and “poke” emails that encourage dormant customers to stop by. Other tools let you track sales volume by employees and manage inventory and restaurant seating. Others also offer integration with mobile card reader platforms such as Square and Intuit GoPayment.

Ease of Management

Not only does cloud-based POS cut the costs involved in managing your systems, it also streamlines their management. All the software upgrades are instant; trouble-shooting is taken care of by the system provider, and your applications and data are securely backed-up and stored within the cloud. No need to invest in additional service contracts or IT headcount.

If you think about the cost and time involved in managing your own POS and any downtime or system issues your run into – the appeal of a mobile POS system starts to catch on.

Things to Watch Out For

Benefits aside, there are some things to look out for when considering a tablet POS:

  • Migration – Migrating any system can be tricky. Put this on your due diligence list and screen providers to see what migration tools or services they provide. Many will be able to handle a simple inventory and customer data import from a spreadsheet.
  • Internet Downtime – You’ll need a good internet connection to process transactions and manage your data. If you are worried about outages, then this type of POS may not be for you. The good news is that some providers are offering off-line services that let you sync transactions when you come back online.

To help you in your research, check out Street Fight’s comparative guide – 7 Cloud-Based POS Systems for SMBs.

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Image courtesy of Belal Khan, Flickr

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

ChooseAlliance - best POS system software for management. Great POS system for small business/management, gives intuitive solutions for a successful business strategy.Visit here : http://www.choosealliance.com/
Wow, what a great idea, if you have a robust app to this then why not!
Customers tend to appreciate it even if they don't have to stay in line till the next cashier is available. There is a popular retail store that already takes advantage of this and it is super easy to shop there and be out of the store once you are done.
Gotta love Technology
Many companies have since been attempting to take a piece of the Apple pie by releasing various competing models, from the hundreds of Android devices on the market. Cases with in-built keyboards can increase productivity, and many do the job well. However, with an already expensive piece of kit, this is an additional cost. Surely if typing on the iPad – or any tablet for that matter – is so difficult, an ultrabook or transformer model tablet would be a more convenient tool. Opera mini: http://taioperaminivn.mobi/
I'm just so impressed with mobile technologies! Having the ability to go to your customer and receive payment on the spot via credit card is awesome. This takes small businesses to a whole new level, and it makes taking credit and debit cards easy and manageable for just about anyone. These days, you don't even need a tablet, you can receive payment from a smartphone. As a small business owner myself, I cannot stress enough the importance of staying abreast of technologies as they may have the power to completely change your business.
As a small business owner, a mobile POS is now a must-have and I honestly don't know how I lived without it!! I have had great success with VeriFone. Their mobile pos is easy to use, minimal installation, and always super fast. I use it on my iPhone 4S and on my iPad. Highly recommended to any small business owner out there! PAYware Mobile e105    This comment was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.
5 more tips to fellow SBA subscribers on opening up and expanding business abroad. 1) Be aware of US Federal regulations for doing business overseas. Available info sources at SBA, Dept of Commerce, etc. 2) Be aware of business regulations in destination country. Is it under any embargoes or political/trade sanctions? Countries under US trade and other sanctions do not advertise the fact. They will do anything to get your business, and the overseas seller of business might not volunteer the info, or may be ignorant of political repercussions. 3) Do you require visas to get there? Or do you conduct business from the comfort of your office in the West? 4) Be aware of What constitutes illegal business overseas. What may appear to be commissions could be serious breaches via corruption from govt officials.5) Do not hesitate to consult with local independent consultants as those subscribing to this valuable SBA resource. (This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices http://www.sba.gov/community for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.)
Many companies have since been attempting to take a piece of the Apple pie by releasing various competing models, from the hundreds of Android devices on the market. Cases with in-built keyboards can increase productivity, and many do the job well. However, with an already expensive piece of kit, this is an additional cost. Surely if typing on the iPad – or any tablet for that matter – is so difficult, an ultrabook or transformer model tablet would be a more convenient tool.
In addition to cost savings tablet based POS systems also provide a wealth of data on customer purchase, coupons and other areas that you can use to understand what customer buying behavior and make better marketing decisions. You cannot do it with the traditional POS systems.

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