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Selecting a Mobile POS App for Your Kiosk

  • Business
  • May 21, 2015 | Ryan O'Donnell

Kiosk stores are an easy way to dip your toe into the brick and mortar retail market, especially if you've only sold through Etsy, Amazon, or other online marketplaces. As the world of ecommerce has moved away from face-to-face and toward online buying, so too have Kiosks evolved from sellers taking their wares to the market to fully automated, stand-alone fulfillment platforms. Choosing the right point of sale system is a key decision small business owners should research and understand thoroughly.

Point of sale systems (POS) are used to manage the moment a customer pays a merchant in exchange for goods or services. Years ago, the tool of choice was the cash register. However, modern POS are capable of all kinds of services. By integrating with your inventory management, accounting, or sales tax solution, today's POS can act as a one-stop sales management solution.

App-based POS provide a lower barrier to entry compared to a stand-alone system, as you typically have a smartphone, tablet, or Internet accessible computer on hand. In 2013, Timetric Research reported,

"Even though traditional POS systems are still far more common – with MPOS terminals owning 17% of the total POS terminal market in 2012 – this number is expected to increase substantially and reach 46% by 2017."

Of course, app-based POS are easy for small business sellers to adopt. Most run on iOS or Android devices which are accessible, affordable, and transportable.

Benefits of a POS

Shopkeep has published a guide to choosing a POS system. In it they offer a solid introduction for those who have never used or considered a POS system before. They also highlight the benefits of having a POS system and the comparable drawbacks to not having a POS system

POS No POS
Track every sale with detailed reporting Tally receipts at end of the day
Inventory counts automatically update with sales Time-consuming weekly stock counts
Employees clock in and out as part of the system Write down employee hours by hand
Data is always accurate and accessible Errors and missing data are common

Little Big Time

The trend to online shopping has changed the way traditional brick and mortar sellers operate and kiosks are not shielded from this trend. However, with new applications such as mobile food vendors and easy to transport tablet devices, kiosk opportunities are expanding beyond the local mall.

You might be surprised to know the scale of kiosk business in the United States. The market for kiosks and self-service is a multi-billion dollar market. Creative applications such as bridal registries, digital jukeboxes, and photo kiosks continue to expand the application of POS services. And it isn't just large retailers who are benefitting from smaller store footprints. Entrepreneurs are using kiosks and popup stores to test markets, new product ideas, and locations with lower risk and quicker time to market.

Evaluating POS Systems

We highlight five key points every business should consider when choosing a POS system. These are in no way complete. Everyone will have their own unique requirements that should add to this list. However, these five point are a great foundation to start your selection process.

1. Processing Rates

How much does it cost for you to do business with an app-based service? Payment processing rates vary from app to app, as well as by how much sales volume you run through a service. Other pricing considerations include whether you pay a monthly or annual fee for the service and whether different types of transactions come with different payment processing percentages.

For example, Square charges 2.75% on swiped payments, but 3.5% plus an additional 15 cents if you manually enter the credit card information. Shopkeep, on the other hand, charges a flat fee of $49 per month.

2. Equipment Cost

How much additional equipment do you need for the system? In some cases, you use existing equipment, such as your tablet or smartphone, and plug the card reader into it. Intermediate systems may branch out with other ancillary hardware, such as barcode scanners, receipt printers, and POS kits like the Square Stand.

If you're using existing equipment, such as your tablet, make sure it's up for customer handling day in and day out. You want responsive equipment that doesn't leave customers waiting once they've made their purchase decision. Also, using add-ons like the Square Stand allow for more customer friendly interaction as the stand turns 180 degrees to allow users to interact with your tablet screen for reviewing their bill or signing off on a credit card purchase.

3. Ease of Use

How easy is the app to use? How long does it take you to process the average transaction? If you're clicking through menus and pressing 10 buttons to load your processing tools, you create a bottleneck in your checkout process. Put yourself in your customer's shoes and consider how you feel about the time it takes to check out. Better yet, think about the next person in line.

If possible, locate another kiosk or store owner who uses the POS system you are considering and take the time to observe purchases. You may even want to go through the buying experience yourself. If the store owner or the employees working checkout have a moment, ask them for their opinion on the POS. Find out what they like and dislike and what other POS systems they may have used at this job or any other in the past.

4. Secure

If you're processing orders, you're handling sensitive information and sending it across a data network to the app's payment processing server. Data security is an essential selection factor with an app-based POS. Talk to the provider about the security measures in place, what type of encryption is used, and understand exactly how the credit card information is protected from end to end.

5. Inventory Management

Sell limited supply or one of a kind items across multiple channels? Avoid angry customers who can't get the products they purchased by looking at app-based POS with inventory management and syncing capabilities. Inventory management integrates with other store channels to keep numbers up to date across every store front. In addition, it helps you handle pricing. For example, Square has a robust sales tax system that's especially useful as your settings sync all items with your devices. You have support for multiple sales tax rates, so you remain in sales tax compliance no matter how complicated your region's rules are. Sales tax collection and proper inventory management help you run your business in an organized and smooth fashion.

You don't need a massive infrastructure investment for your kiosk store when you get an app-based POS. These systems work well with a variety of products and industries, handling everything from payment processing to sales tax calculation.


Avalara Author
Ryan O'Donnell
Avalara Author Ryan O'Donnell