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Tablets and return on investment: More than a flashy interface

by Lisa Falzone

November 5 2013

Lisa Falzone is the CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems, which makes iPad point-of-sale software for restaurant, retail and grocery.


Having an iPad replace your clunky old cash register looks cutting-edge and trendy, but what are the answers to the questions every business owner wants to know: “Is it worth it for my business?”

While many would argue that a tablet point-of-sale (POS) solution is the right answer for most businesses dealing with a point-of-sale solution to conduct business, there are several things to consider when determining ROI to see if it’s a fit.

A tablet or iPad-based POS can certainly go beyond mere aesthetics and -- with the right software solution -- can in fact turn your point-of-sale into a powerful tool to guide your business to success.

More than a pretty face -- durability and savings

The physical benefits of a tablet are readily apparent. First off, tablets are surprisingly durable and withstand the wear and tear of everyday use, not to mention the lightning-quick transactions they enable that are ideal for the fast-paced environments of restaurants and retail stores.

Secondly, if your tablet POS should break down under pressure, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to replace. That considered, when compared to the repair costs associated with legacy POS systems, the cost benefit is immediately evident. For example, traditional systems often require a specialized technician to come out and make repairs, and associated hardware is expensive to replace.

Dealing with either of these scenarios can cost the owner upwards of several thousands of dollars. Owners should also take into consideration that such repairs are time-consuming, which impacts valuable revenue that would otherwise be received if that establishment were in normal operation.

Another benefit of tablets is that they are mobile--an obvious trait, perhaps, but a useful and powerful one when running a business in today’s world. Restaurants that use tablets save valuable time, increase efficiency and build customer engagement with the added flexibility of being able to go directly to a customer to take his or her order and even process a payment.

For example, when a member of the wait staff takes orders on an iPad Mini, he doesn’t have to return to the main till to punch in the order. Rather, the order is sent directly to the kitchen the moment he enters it in, and the server can move on to the next table without a hitch. The customer can also see the server keying in the order in real-time and will be intrigued by the use of cutting-edge technologies.

(Tablets in Retail and Commerce will be a key session at TabletBiz conference & expo in NYC on Nov. 13)

Cloud is key for real-time reporting ROI benefits

What is arguably the most impactful benefit of tablets, however, goes beyond the surface level. To optimize the behind-the-scenes benefits, it’s important for business owners to seek out a tablet POS solution that is cloud-based so that owners can access and manage sales and inventory data from anywhere to -- again -- take advantage of the mobility component that is so often necessary in conducting business today.

One of the largest time and cost savings of a cloud-based system is that it negates the need to physically have or access a back-office server since all data is accessible from anywhere with Internet access (i.e. smartphone, computer, etc.). This has proven particularly beneficial for multi-chain retail stores and restaurants since selecting a solution that provides comprehensive cloud-based reporting can offer a holistic view of server, site and location performance.

This is a huge game changer for businesses that rely on a point-of-sale solution, so it’s worth reiterating: With today’s most innovative POS technologies, owners actually have the ability to access data in real-time and review detailed reports on their business’ operations from anywhere.

This allows business owners to have all the information they need at their fingertips to make necessary adjustments on-the-fly, granting business owners the power of real-time adaptability to stay ahead of the curve, anticipate inventory issues and maximize their ROI. This on-demand type of reporting lets owners make more informed decisions, thereby preventing losses and increasing revenue.

In choosing a right POS that will optimize ROI, security is also a big factor that should be top of mind for the business owner and the POS provider. If executed correctly, a tablet or cloud-based POS system can actually help protect a business’ data. Encrypted card swipes and compliance to PCI standards ensure that cloud-based systems are more secure--and thus, more difficult to hack than hard-wired systems.

There’s also no concern about losing stored information vital to a business, since cloud-based data is backed up to redundant servers, meaning there are always backup stores of essential data.

With the physical elegance of tablet POS systems, it’s important to take the backend factors into account when selecting the right options for a business. The financial gains to implementation are sure to quickly surpass the cost of the system and will continue to reward a business for life. After all, beauty is only skin deep.

Lisa Falzone is the CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems, which makes iPad point-of-sale software for restaurant, retail and grocery.

Lisa Falzone is the CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems, which makes iPad point-of-sale software for restaurant, retail and grocery.

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