POS 2.0... iPads!
Andy Lim, ceo, POSLavu, says, “We got our start because restaurants are fed up with bulky, slow, expensive POS systems with proprietary software needing constant updates. We beat them on every level: ease of use, mobility, pricing, coolness, efficiency.” Lisa Falzone, ceo, Revel Systems, agrees that comparing iPad-based systems to traditional POS is, “like apples and oranges. We are intuitive, sleeker, and more secure.”
POSLavu and Revel use cloud computing, which eliminates back-of-the-house servers. “All data is kept offsite on a centralized server,” says Lisa. Real-time reporting is accessible remotely, for multiple locations. “I can get numbers and current inventory from wherever I am,” says Bryan Crosswhite, owner, The Cajun Experience, with soon-to-be-four locations in the Washington D.C. area, and a POSLavu client. Bryan says another value of iPad systems is speed of ordering. “When our servers hit ‘send’ at the table, we’ve already shaved five minutes off the process.” Training is also expedited – Bryan says it was a matter of letting his team “play” with the iPads.
Some mount iPads as terminals and use iPhones or iPod touch devices to take orders, which Andy recommends because they are easier to carry; Lisa adds that some clients tether iPads because they are concerned about theft. But Chris Wishart, owner, Trio, Mt Airy, NC (who uses Lecere Corporation’s system) says he likes the real estate of the iPad’s big screen and that form-fitted pockets sewn into servers’ aprons make all the difference. “The iPads are incredibly durable and they’re faster; they have more memory and a larger interface – which saves time placing orders and lets us include information for staff about menu items, wines, etc. It’s an amazing resource and teaching tool.”
Addressing what can be a misconception about iPad systems, Chris says, “They are NOT expensive! You can’t get a horse-and-buggy version of a traditional POS system for less than $10,000. I opened with four iPads, a MacBook Pro, wireless printers, and routers for $4,000.” While Andy admits that it can be more of a leap for those who have invested in expensive traditional POS systems, Bryan has a message for them: “Don’t wait to invest – do it now and you’ll see the results in long-term growth.” Chris agrees, “There is no disadvantage. Why isn’t everyone out there doing it?”
POSLavu is a software company – customers buy a software license and then a subscription, which includes hosting. Subscription prices vary according to the number of terminals/iPads. Printers, etc. “Although hardware setup is VERY EASY, please remember that after you make the purchase of the software you need to setup the hardware to work with the software. We will provide a recommendation for a reseller that can help you do just that if you need help,” says CEO Andy Lim.
Lecere Corporation recommends commercial, off-the-shelf hardware (Apple iPad 16GB, Epson wireless printers, etc.; they provide 802.11G wireless router). The typical cost to purchase hardware for a medium-size restaurant is about $2,500. Setting up menus, service spots and staff in FIRMS is straightforward, which customers can do themselves using Lecere’s customer website. There is no up-front cost for software purchase or subscription; you pay only for your usage—like a utility. Fees are calculated using a sliding scale of rates that start at 1% of the month’s net sales (gross sales less taxes and tips) and drop to as little as 0.1% as net sales increase.
A note about payment processing:
Payment processing, while an option from most vendors, is “still a little awkward,” according to Andy Lim, CEO, POSLavu, because it involves tips, electronic signatures, and handing over the devises to customers. It is common for checks to be printed out from wireless printers and settled traditionally; receipts can be emailed.