Cloud-based point-of-sale systems offer a number of benefits over traditional hard-wired systems, the most important of which (to many small business owners, at least) is a reduction in costs. Whereas the costs involved in a closed legacy system can be anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000, SMBs can be up and running with a cloud-based system for less than $1,000 (and even much less in some cases).
Taken at face value, POS systems that run on mobile devices can seem very similar. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll see that many of these systems offer their own unique value propositions for merchants. Cloud-based POS platforms differentiate themselves from one another by their advanced integration with digital loyalty programs, accounting tools, and mechanisms for creating gift cards and coupons, in addition to their varying price structures. Here are seven POS systems, each with its own features for merchants:
1. Leaf: Manage operations with a custom POS tablet.
Many cloud-based systems rely on iPads to process transactions, but Leaf has taken a different route. The company has created its own mobile tablet, called the LeafPresenter, which merchants can get for free. LeafPresenter tablets are ready to go right out of the box and accept all forms of cash, credit, and debit payments. Employees can process payments from anywhere within a store and send receipts to their customers’ mobile phones. Leaf receipts are “interactive,” which means they solicit feedback and encourage customers to share information about their purchases on social media. Leaf charges a flat rate of $50 per month.
2. NCR Silver: Use register data to build an email marketing campaign.
NCR Silver is a mobile POS system that operates on iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch devices. NCR, the company making the system, differentiates it from competitors by offering 24/7 customer service and marketing tools that SMBs can use to thank first-time customers and send automated emails to longtime ones who’ve stopped coming by. Merchants can use NCR Silver from inside or outside their establishments and can start it up by downloading the app on their mobile devices. Use of NCR Silver costs $79 per month (for one register, at one location), plus $.10 per transaction on each additional device (with a $29 monthly maximum). The company also sells a hardware bundle for $499.
3. Shopkeep: Continue processing transactions when the Internet goes down.
Cloud-based POS systems rely on a strong Internet connection to process transactions, which can be a real problem in the event of an Internet outage. Shopkeep has found a way around this issue, allowing businesses to ring up sales on in-store iPads and sync that data when the system goes back online. In addition to processing basic transactions, Shopkeep’s system can also be used for inventory management and business analytics and it integrates with loyalty programs like Perka. Shopkeep charges $49 per month for businesses with one register and sells a complete hardware package for $1,155.
4. Revel Systems: Use iPads for fast table service.
When they utilize Revel’s native iPad application, restaurants and retail stores can quickly process transactions from anywhere inside their business (versus having to stay at the front desk or counter), manage inventory levels at multiple locations, and track sales volume by employee. Revel has partnered with Honeywell, which enables retailers now using Honeywell’s bar code scanners to avoid switching to a new device. In addition, Revel works with almost all credit card processors through its USAePay payment gateway. Revel’s software licensing costs $1,000 per iPad for retailers and $1,500 per iPad for businesses offering table service.
5. QuickBooks Point of Sale: Connect your POS system to QuickBooks.
Businesses that already use Intuit’s QuickBooks for accounting can leverage that financial data and quickly set up a point-of-sale system. Once a business owner activates an account, he or she can begin authorizing transactions from an iPhone or tablet, or through the company’s POS software. By integrating with GoPayment, merchants can process transactions outside their establishments and charge the correct sales tax based on their current geolocation. They can also send email or text receipts with maps showing where the transaction took place. The QuickBooks Point of Sale costs from $1,099 to $1,799.
6. Breadcrumb: Manage your restaurant with a cloud-based system.
Rather than trying to be all things to all people, Breadcrumb offers an industry-specific POS platform. Since being acquired by Groupon last year, Breadcrumb has focused primarily on serving businesses in the restaurant industry, letting merchants split checks, manage table zones, comp meals, and control the timing of multiple meal courses in the same platform used to accept payments. Merchants can accept cash or credit payments through the platform, which runs on the iPad. Breadcrumb’s pricing plans range from $99 to $399 a month and include a full-service set-up.
7. Square: Accept payments on the go.
Square is now the 800-lb. gorilla in the mobile payments world, with more than 2 million merchants using the company’s card reader to date. Businesses that use Square’s platform can process credit card and gift card transactions using iPhones, iPads, and Androids, and offer digital receipts via text or email. They can also reward loyal customers with an in-app punch card and publish a menu on Square’s public directory. Thanks to a recent partnership with Angie’s List, merchants who use the mobile Angie’s List Business Center can accept payments within the iOS app. Merchants who use the Square platform can pay 2.75% per swipe or $275 a month. The company offers its card reader for free.
Know of other cloud-based POS systems that merchants should try? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.
Related content: Bringing SMB Point-of-Sale Systems to the Cloud