It cannot have escaped your attention that the conventional high street is struggling. As an increasing number of established retailers fall by the wayside, others will rise, phoenix-like, from their ashes. This entrepreneurial spirit has led to a new way of doing business – including how payments are made and accepted.
|Table of contents →|
|What is an iPad till system and why are they popular?|
|iPad till EPOS systems|
|iPad till apps|
|The best iPad POS systems for small businesses|
|iPad till systems and POS software FAQ|
What is an iPad till system and why are they popular?
The days of an old-fashioned till are numbered. Now, an increasing number of retailers are using iPads to accept and process sales. Using Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) technology, transactions are made via tablet and the data stored in the cloud.
This could be a cash purchase – simply enter the details of the sale into the iPad so the income is calculated and store the currency. With the aid of a card reader, you’ll be able to accept contactless credit and debit card payments. These, too, will be applied to your sales ledger through the iPad. Alternatively, for larger purchases, customers can manually type in their PIN using the iPad screen. With a suitably advanced EPOS, you can even take online payments from e-wallets, such as PayPal or Apple Pay.
Listen very carefully. That noise you can hear? That’s enraged and anguished gnashing of teeth from Android users located around the world. They’re wondering why we are referring to iPad till systems, not generic tablets or even the Samsung Galaxy. The explanation is as simple, though likely unpopular with half the population – Apple has a superior developer ecosystem.
We are not saying that Apple is better than Samsung, or any other provider. That is another debate for another time, and to be blunt, another company. We are not in the business of playing favourites. There are some indisputable truths as to why an iPad is the way to go with a tablet-based POS, though. These include:
- iPads are agonistic hardware. This means they can run with any EPOS software. iPad users are not locked into using one particular piece of software, and you can change your EPOS provider at any time (contract permitting)
- Apple was the first dominant force in the premium smartphone and tablet market. As a result, countless early apps were coded with iOS in mind
- As a result of the above, third-party app developers – including EPOS developers – prefer to work with Apple
- iOS typically receives all new patches, updates and entirely new apps before the competition, so their apps remain at the cutting edge of technology
- It’s easy to find tech support for Apple products. Every major town or city has an Apple Store
- Apple apps are difficult to clone and pirate. This encourages developers to use iOS for their apps
- The iOS app store is tightly controlled. Apple personally approves every app, ensuring that it is fit for purpose and not riddled with bugs. The Google Play store is the wild west – a completely open marketplace. Great for innovation, not so much for reliable EPOS technology
- Apple products are widely considered as intuitive and user-friendly, even to technophobes. This will instil confidence in customers and reduce training for staff members
If you feel that an Apple till system is the way forward for your business, you’re in good company. Countless shopfronts and small businesses are adopting this technology. There are a few things that you’ll need to get started, though.
iPad till EPOS systems
How much technology you invest in to match your iPad EPOS system depends on how much money you are willing to spend, and the image that you are attempting to convey to customers. iPad payments are fast, reliable and simple. However, some customers may be suspicious of a business that only offers the opportunity to pay by tablet. They will find the presence of more conventional machinery reassuring.
Many major high street retailers still use traditional (we are reliant to use terms like, “old” or “outdated”) POS tech. This is understandable. Switching from a long-standing POS to a new, cloud-based POS takes time, effort and money. Customer data may be lost in the transition. Staff may grow frustrated at needing to learn a new way to process transactions. As discussed, regular customers may be put off by this sudden change to an EPOS. Make no mistake, the switch will be obvious.
Traditional POS payment systems are large and clunky. They are rooted to the spot and sport a till for holding a cash float, barcode readers and a conventional receipt printer. These POS systems also store data on a centralised hard drive. This needs to be updated manually. EPOS systems used with iPads are much smaller. Everything is stored in the cloud, so all you’ll need is your tablet and a card reader. Transactions and inventory levels are automatically updated, ensuring that brick-and-mortar and online stock levels are updated in unison.
That is not to say that you cannot have a traditional POS system for your business. The choice, as ever, is yours. EPOPS systems are ideal for an SME, though. They are cheaper to purchase or lease, take up less space, look considerably sleeker and more stylish, and are famously user-friendly.
You can also purchase additional peripherals to match those used by a traditional POS system. Barcode readers can be synced with iPads, and with the purchase of a printer, you can offer customers a paper receipt to confirm their purchase. Your EPOS system can be as basic or as advanced as you’d like.
iPad till apps
If you decide to join the iPad till system revolution, you’ll need an appropriate EPOS app. Which of these that you use depends on what set-up you decide to go with.
Which app you choose depends on a range of factors. Price, monthly fees, services provided, compatibility with card readers and more will all play a part. Here are some of the most popular EPOS apps for retailers that are compatible with iPads.
- CAP Retail Point of Sale
- Epicor Retail Solutions
- Epos Now
- KORONA POS
- Lightspeed Retail
- Rain POS
- Shopify POS
- Square POS
- Talech Register
Intimidated by all those options? Let’s reduce the list for you a little. Below, we will summarise the five finest POS systems for an SME to use with an iPad.
Top 5 iPad POS systems for small businesses
OK, so you’re ready to leap into accepting payments through iPad. This table describes our five recommended POS systems, and why we feel that will benefit your business.
|Vend||Vend is possibly the best option for any retailer with a customer-facing presence. A Pro account costs £89 per month per user (£69 per month if you take out an annual subscription and pay up-front), so it may a little expensive for a business that primarily trades online or has a low turnover. You get plenty for your money, though, including offline payments, inventory management and a wide array of reports. You can even scan barcodes on a smartphone using the Vend app, and this POS system is compatible with virtually all card readers and payment processors.|
|Lightspeed||Lightspeed is most popular with restaurants and cafés, though it is also building a reputation in the retail sector. This is a great POS system for any business with regular customers. The advanced features available on this POS system build customer profiles, provide detailed management of inventory, and even creates delivery documents if you wish to ship products. Lightspeed can also seamlessly sync multiple POS systems. The flat rate for Lightspeed is £79 per month (dropping to £69 if you pay for a year up-front), though you will need to pay a little extra for some of the more advanced features.|
|iZettle||iZettle, owned by PayPal, is arguably the most popular EPOS service in the UK. You will not pay to use the software unless you are in the catering trade. iZettle Food and Drink is a little more comprehensive, offering the opportunity to create menus on-screen using your iPad. This comes with a monthly fee of £29 per month, though. Whichever plan you choose, transactions are charged at 1.75% per card payment and iZettle offer a range of bundled peripherals at preferable prices for existing users. iZettle comes highly recommended by many small businesses, regardless of the industry in which they ply their trade.|
|Square||If you’re just starting with an iPad POS, give serious consideration to a Square POS system. Although Square software is completely free to use with no monthly fees (transaction fees are capped at 1.75%), it offers a wide array of features. Naturally, though, there are catches. For a start, you can only accept payments using a Square card reader. Customer support is also poor and additional services can be expensive. Overall though, Square is a great first step into the realm of iPad POS, especially if you are unsure if you are entirely comfortable with this technology.|
|Shopify POS||A Shopify setup is ideal if your business conducts a lot of sales online. It syncs all sales data, whether online or off, into the cloud for constantly updated records. It can be synced with additional peripherals, boasts 24/7 customer support, and offers competitive transaction fees. Unfortunately, these are countered by hefty monthly subscription charges. To make the most of everything this POS system offers, including the ability to process gift vouchers, you’ll need an advanced account. For custom reports and analytics, you’ll pay an eye-watering £237 per month. This may be worthwhile for SMEs with high turnover and a significant online presence, but prohibitively expensive for a new venture.|
iPad till systems and POS software FAQ
To use your iPad as a POS system, you’ll need a card reader and a POS app.
Card readers are easy to come by, varying in price. Some of the more popular examples are card readers provided by Square, iZettle and SumUp. Alternatively, you may be offered the lease of a card reader by the holder of your online merchant bank account or as part of a larger POS set-up.
The POS app that you use will need to pair up with your choice of card reader. You’ll find all of these apps on the iOS store, or you can get them straight from the website of the vendor. Setup is usually immediate. Just install the app and follow the wizard instructions. Once you’ve done so, you can start taking payments from your iPad.
An iPad cannot replace the traditional cash register, in that it cannot store cold, hard currency. However, it provides most of the same services once you install the appropriate components. To use your iPad as a cash register:
• Invest in an iPad. We hope that much is obvious.
• Acquire a safe or drawer to store any cash. Cash may not be as popular as it once was as a payment method, but it remains legal tender and must be secured.
• Buy or lease a card reader. Pick a model that accepts as many payment types as possible, so you do not restrict your potential customer base.
• Install relevant POS software that works alongside your card reader.
• Integrate all payment types into your POS system. This way, cash, card and voucher purchases will all be accounted for in one location, preventing the need to run multiple ledgers.
• Purchase a barcode scanner if this will benefit your business. Weigh up whether you can save time by scanning barcodes or you’re happy to enter product data manually.
• Consider buying a printer so you can offer paper receipts to customers. If not, just email them a PDF
Et voila. Your iPad is now a 21st Century cash register. Isn’t technology grand?
Apple has its own, unique POS system called the EasyPay touch system. If you have ever purchased products from the Apple store, you will have seen EasyPay in action.
You will be invited to scan the barcode of anything you want to purchase and checkout using the Apple app. No interaction with employees or waiting in line at the checkout is necessary if you have an iOS appliance on your person.
These two definitions sound very similar, but in reality, they are quite different. POS stands for Point of Sale, which acts as a cash register. An EPOS, as you may have guessed, is an Electronic Point of Sale. EPOS systems are much more flexible and secure. As they are cloud-based, an EPOS can be used anywhere with an active internet connection – though many also work offline.
A traditional POS system can only manage cash or non-contactless debit or credit card payments. An EPOS can accept contactless payments as well as online transactions. What’s more, an EPOS can be linked up to an iPad. This is rarely possible with a traditional POS, which will only be compatible with bulky, specialist hardware. Finally, an EPOS will provide real-time updates on inventory and analytics.