Some type of point of sale solution is required for every restaurant or foodservice business. Options include an old register, a cigar box, or a multi-terminal $10-$20K computer touchscreen system. With so many options, it’s tough to decide where to start sometimes. But POS solutions are just another example of where the iPad and iPhone, along with other smartphones, have become game-changers. 10 years ago, you could plan on spending at least $1500 on software alone just to get started ringing up your customers. Today, your next POS could be just an app away in the Apple app store.
My local coffee shop uses ShopKeep. It runs on an iPad on a little swivel stand, allowing employees to ring up customers and let them sign for credit card payments with their fingers. The system runs in “The Cloud” (meaning its data and software setup are stored securely somewhere in outer-space). Running in “The Cloud” has its benefits. You automatically have a backup if your hardware fails. The system is available from any iPhone or iPad anywhere (with a secure login), which means you can access your POS and run transactions from any location with Internet access or using your iPhone data plan. And, software upgrades and technical issues are not as big a deal for the shop owner compared to running your own in-house system. The ShopKeep system runs about $50/month (you still need a credit card merchant account to process credit cards).
Another nice feature provided by running “In The Cloud” is being offered by numerous providers of POS solutions for mobile smartphones. With an iPhone and a Credit Card swiper, you are free to roam with your point-of-sale in hand. When operating in The Cloud, employees can run transactions while making deliveries or working events, and the transaction data is reflected in real-time on any device linked to the POS. A food truck can attend an event, and it’s parent restaurant can monitor sales from the main restaurant POS system. Pizza delivery drivers can swipe credit cards at the customer’s door, and this information is automatically captured in-house through “The Cloud”. This can be a powerful tool for efficient sales and management.
One iPhone example is MX iPOS for iPhone / iPad. MX iPOS is available in the Apple app store for around $5.00. It also runs in The Cloud, allowing delivery drivers to run transactions, or mobile food business to have multiple devices running the same POS system in multiple locations. It can be tied to standard credit card processing and requires no extra monthly fee to use.
I am not fully convinced that these cloud POS solutions are ready for use in large-scale restaurants yet, but for the small cafe, food truck, or boutique operation, these solutions are proving themselves to be well-liked and growing in popularity. I am keeping my eye out for some enterprise level, full-scale, tablet & smartphone-based restaurant POS systems running in The Cloud. I expect to see them soon, if they are not out there already.