More and more shop owners and small businesses are using an iPad connected to a debit or credit card reader as a modern checkout experience for customers. For most businesses it is a cheaper and more secure solution that a traditional POS system.
What is a point of sale (POS) system?
In simple terms, a point of sale system can be defined as “a computerized network in which checkout terminals are connected and operated by a main computer”. A POS system allows business owners to connect devices at checkout stations such as bar-code scanners, tills, credit-card readers, and receipt or invoice printers.
Since traditional POS systems are Windows-based, there have been several high profile cases of malware targeting them and data being compromised. As a result, business owners have started looking for new solutions, since the financial and legal liabilities of breaches of customer data can run into the millions, not to mention other costs such as the damage to a firm’s reputation.
Cloud-based POS systems effective with iPad
New technology is offering innovative solutions with increasing numbers of business owners moving their point of sale system to the cloud. Cloud-based POS systems deliver the benefits of a traditional POS system – payments, sales data, loyalty programs, gift cards – while minimizing costs and risks posed by viruses.
Cloud-based systems do not store sensitive information on the premises but data is stored in secure servers online. This means that one of the obvious benefits of cloud POS systems is you get instant access to data from any mobile device, and software updates are implemented instantaneously (referred to as the software-as-a-service or SaaS model). When combined with the sophisticated iOS operating software, the risk of viruses are minimized.
When it comes to cost, there are big differences between traditional and cloud-based POS systems. A traditional POS system typically involves software license costs per register and a yearly maintenance fee, and sometimes support and training involve an additional cost.
Cloud-based POS systems eliminate such costs, and signing up for an iPad POS solution typically involves a monthly fee that covers software, support, and upgrades. It is worth mentioning that migrating from one POS system to another can be difficult, but some new POS software providers have made this easy with special data import functions or will do this on your behalf when setting up your new account.
Running a business with an iPad
Apple’s iPad tablet is a great device for businesses from multiple perspectives: firstly, it runs on a sophisticated operating system and has all the built-in security features a business owner needs to help keep customer data safe. Secondly, the iPad’s high design quality can create a good impression in your store or business environment, and thirdly, it is a mobile device so you can make sales anytime and anywhere you have a data connection.
By eliminating many of the up-front costs of traditional POS systems, entrepreneurs can capitalize on the flexibility and low start-up costs to start small and grow.
iPad POS solutions rich in features
Instant access to real-time sales data is not the only feature of many new cloud-based POS systems. Many point of sale software solutions provide a rich array of analytical and reporting tools and inventory management solutions so you can keep track of the performance of your business, stock and employees, and of course your customers. There are also options to synchronize online and instore sales and the systems can also be used offline and the data will be updated when you reconnect to your Internet.
Cloud-based iPad POS service providers
In the US, there are a variety of cloud based POS solutions designed especially for iPad, such as ShopKeep POS, Revel iPad POS, and Vend. SMEs in the UK can choose from the likes of AirPOS or then Chip and PIN solutions that work with iPads, such as iZettle and Payleven.