8 Tablets, Tapping

By Jeffrey Green (@epaymentsguy)

Computer tablets will be hot presents under quite a few Christmas trees this holiday season. Many merchants also will receive some Christmas cheer from the devices in 2014, thanks to the rising use of tablets for shopping.

Tablets are fast replacing traditional stand-alone terminals, electronic cash registers and personal computer-based point-of-sale systems as merchants look to reduce cost but also obtain some of the same advanced functionality traditionally affordable only to the largest retailers. Today, a merchant buying a tablet-based POS solution could pay a tenth the cost of traditional PC-based software solution that includes installation, server and licensing fee expenses. Cloud-based tablet POS software updates automatically, usually at no cost, and it requires no on-site servers.

A variety of vendors – both traditional players and ones new to the payments industry – are offering merchants consumer-grade or proprietary tablets, POS software, or both. Many retailers are using the tablets to replace affixed terminals at checkout, but some are also using them for inventory management and other back-office duties, as well as to increase customer interaction on the floor and speed up checkout lanes.

Tablet-based systems also are better able to take advantage of cloud-based processing, and they work well with some of the more advanced solutions now available to merchants, including beacons that help them identify when customers are in or near their stores through their smartphones. This technology enables merchants to send customized offers and other communications to their devices. With geolocation-based services, such as those offered by PayPal and Square, the tablets can display customers’ images on the screen to simplify checkout when the customer has checked in using the merchant’s mobile app.

In the fifth segment of our “PYMNTS 12 Days of Christmas” feature, we’ll take a look at eight tablet-based systems that could bring joy to merchants both this holiday season and heading into 2014:

ShopKeep POS

ShopKeep POS Inc. was one of the first vendors to roll out a tablet-based POS checkout solution. It introduced its cloud-based iPad software solution in 2011, shortly after Apple launched its iPad tablet computer. In April, ShopKeep, which supports the Surround 360 POS software, won the 2013 Electronic Transactions Association’s Technology Innovator of the Year Award, and last fall it was among the first companies featured in PYMNTS.com’s MPOS Tracker. Its tablet-based solution is designed for quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and small local retailers, such as clothing and gift stores and coffee shops.  

Square Register

In November, just in time for the holidays, Square Inc. announced the planned release of a redesigned Square Register, optimized for faster workflow and featuring improved reporting tools. Among Square Register’s users is Blue Bottle Coffee, which began using the solution to accept Square Wallet payments earlier this year and had planned to make it its full POS system. Square Register is designed primarily for smaller QSRs restaurants and local retail establishments.

PayPal Here

In August, PayPal Inc. formed a partnership with Shopventory to add business intelligence and inventory-management features to its PayPal Here tablet POS softwaree. The iPad software integrates with third-party POS apps, and is designed for cash-based businesses and small and midsized retailers that work with mPOS providers.

Groupon Breadcrumb

In July, daily deals player Groupon released a new version of its Breadcrumb tablet POS software featuring a redemption tool that tracks how many Groupons have been redeemed. The upgraded software also stores offline purchase data for up to an hour, enabling merchants to continue accepting card payments should they temporarily lose their Internet connection. The POS software is designed primarily for full-service restaurants and bars, and local retail establishments.

First Data/Clover

In October, First Data Corp. unveiled the Clover Station to house the proprietary Clover tablet that runs POS and business-management software via the cloud. Earlier in the year, First Data piloted the Clover POS solution with hundreds of small businesses in several U.S. cities. Like Breadcrumb, Clover also can operate offline, and it includes merchant analytics with tools to access and use customer data. The system is designed for retail establishments of all types and sizes.

Revel Systems

Revel’s iPad-based service is designed for restaurant, grocery, retail, theaters and other businesses generating at least $300,000 in annual revenue. Its POS service comes in Light, Business and Enterprise formats, with varying levels of monthly and upfront fees. In October, Revel announced plans to integrate its POS solution with PayPal’s mobile-payment tools.

E Le Carte

E Le Carte’s Presto tablet allows customers to browse menus, add select items to their initial order, play games and make payments, all without ever leaving the table or talking to a waiter. Earlier this month, the company struck a deal with Applebee’s that will see 100,000 Prestos deployed by the end of 2014.

Leaf

In April, Leaf launched a reseller membership program focused on letting qualifying merchant acquirers to bundle Leaf’s POS platform with their own core payments products. PYMNTS.com interviewed Leaf CEO Aron Schwartzkopf, who described how independent sales organizations can benefit from offering the Leaf POS tablet. Leaf’s tablet-based POS software is designed primarily for small and midsize QSRs.

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