Did you know that the cash register wasn’t invented until the 1870s? That makes this icon of business not-quite 150 years old. In the past, invoices were often made one-off, in the relatively few cases that receipts were given at all. And in a relatively strange fashion, shops and small business owners are returning to a rather more intimate way of doing business: using mobile and cloud-based point of sale systems.
There are dozens, possibly hundreds of different mobile point-of-sale systems available, all of which digitize the collection of money. In some cases, they might be as simple as an app on a smartphone or tablet which allows bill paying with mobile phones using apps like ApplePay or Google Wallet. Others plug into mobile devices for card swiping, or are simply small, handheld devices which serve both functions and allow for more custom applications.
The most popular and widespread of these include Revel, LevelUp, Square, and Shopkeep. But other businesses have cropped up to meet more niche needs. For example, Retail Management Solutions has a dedicated POS system just for pharmacies, and touchbistro.com specifically serves food trucks and pop-up restaurants.
Most of such POS systems don’t even charge their owners a monthly fee, but charge a small per-transaction fee, which can range from 3.75% on the high end to 1.75% on the low end. Many of them offer more than just checkout services, too: apps and cloud services allow businesses to check in on their business anywhere, anytime. They can check sales stats, see transactions happen in real-time, even scope out inventory.
So, how do some of the best stack up? Let’s find out.
Square Helps Businesses Go Anywhere
Square allows business owners to opt between an iPad with a built-in credit card swiping mechanism and a small headphone jack plug-and-play square which can fit in a pocket. If you’ve stopped by a new boutique cafe anytime within the last six months, you might just have used the tablet version, which costs $99 and can be easily mounted on countertops.
Both of these are incredibly mobile, but the plug-in Square is among the smallest, making it easy for small businesses to have on-hand any time of day or night. And Square often provides this smaller option free to consumers. Square also offers several other features, which include restaurant tickets, receipts, online orders, tipping options, and customer feedback prompts.
ShopKeep Integrates Client Data and Marketing
If you have a business model which is very unique, or has many different aspects and requires a platform that meets a diverse set of needs, ShopKeep might be the best option. Its platform plugs into Quickbooks for accounting ease, and customers are prompted to subscribe to company newsletters when they pay… when can be linked into MailChimp campaigns. And on top of collecting bills, it monitors inventory and staff, ensuring that operations are efficient and well-managed.
Owners and managers can log into a website back-end to monitor performance, but the device also syncs with the iOS app. It’s a little more costly, at $49 per app, which is registered to an iPad. And that app can do a lot more than just track stats: it can be used to plan out ambient music, runs timecards for employees, and generates weekly and monthly reports.
LevelUp Increases Client Engagement
LevelUp has customizable hardware which isn’t limited to Apple-produced operating systems, and is built to increase customer engagement. Clients who provide their contact details at checkout receive reminders to stop back by and has clever tip and engagement prompts at checkout to grow a business’s list of clients with ease. On client birthdays, it sends coupons; and it makes reviewing venues incredibly easy. LevelUp charges about $50 per small scanner and about $100 for a tablet checkout system.
The Bottom Line
It’s up to every small business owner to make the final choice on what POS is best for their situation. But the wide variety of options available, each of which offers interesting and unique features, makes it an easy decision to say goodbye to the traditional register and hello to an easier transaction.