Gina Obert
By Gina Obert on May 12, 2016

iPad POS vs. Traditional POS: Which One is the Best Fit for You?

When you’re buying your next POS platform, you have a world of choices these days. Perhaps the biggest question you’re facing is whether to stick with traditional POS or go for an iPad POS platform. The question of iPad POS vs. traditional POS gives you a lot to consider, but first look at the core features any worthwhile system should have.

The Point of Sale System Basics

Payment processing. Any POS platform on your list should be able to accept multiple types of payments, from debit and credit cards, to emerging near field communication (NFC)-enabled options such as Android Pay and Apple Pay, and finally checks and cash.

Inventory control. It’s absolutely essential that your POS system helps you manage your inventory by tracking products and ingredients so you can reorder only when necessary and reduce your risk of outages and shortages, which can dampen your sales.

Waste management. A good POS system can reduce waste in your business, whether it’s solving shrinkage, letting fewer fresh ingredients spoil, or limiting employees’ inadvertent misuse of your products.

Sales reporting. Your POS platform, which contains a wealth of insights about your sales data, can create granular or high-level reports, identify sales patterns and trends, and predict futures sales.

●​​​​​​​Staff management/optimization. Manage your workforce with your POS system. Enable workers to clock in and out using the POS system, which reduces the hours you spend managing payroll each week. Use your POS to schedule worker shifts based on your traffic and sales history to ensure that you have enough employees on hand during peak demand and aren’t overstaffed when business is slow.

Once you’ve considered the basics, you need to compare iPad POS vs. traditional POS to see how their particular capabilities and limitations stack up.

Traditional POS

Fixed. Traditional POS stays anchored in one place at the cash wrap. In restaurants, servers and other staff walk many miles between the fixed POS, their tables, and the kitchen. In retail stores, customers must queue up at the POS to check out instead of being assisted anywhere on the floor.

No Internet connection needed. Whereas a network outage can derail iPad POS, which often relies on the cloud, traditional POS doesn’t need an Internet connection to operate.

On-site reporting. Typically reports in traditional POS only can be viewed on computers that have special access, and there often are limitations on which files can be exported from the system, which can make it difficult to share data with stakeholders.

iPad POS

The benefits for restaurants include:

Better tableside service. Instead of having to leave the customer’s side in order to hand off an order to the kitchen, wait staff can seamlessly transmit orders from mobile POS without walking away from the table, offering an elevated customer experience.

Paying at the table. With iPad POS, customers can settle the bill via the mobile POS terminal. This provides greater peace of mind as their cards never leave their sight.

Retail stores will appreciate:

Sales assistance anywhere. Leverage iPad POS to help your shoppers from any point on the store floor. Without leaving a customer’s side, look up inventory information, order out-of-stock items from another branch or your website, and cross-sell by suggesting additional items to complement her purchase.

Mobile checkout. Use iPad POS to skip the cash-wrap queue and complete the transaction on the spot, enhancing the customer experience and reducing the potential for cart abandonment.

When it comes to iPad POS vs. traditional POS, don’t forget to factor in the total cost of ownership as well as upfront, out-of-pocket expenses. Mobile POS usually requires a lower upfront expense and a monthly subscription fee rather than a capital expenditure, but depending on the system your business requires, TCO could favor either a traditional system or a mobile one. Also make sure you are comparing apples to apples and consider the cost of adding modules or tools that aren’t included out of the box. Hardware replacement costs can be another factor — something you will face much more with mobile devices than with stationary POS equipment.

Why Choose Between POS Systems?

Instead of seeing iPad POS vs. traditional POS exclusively as an “either-or” proposition, many businesses embrace the benefits of mobility by implementing an iPad or other mobile POS unit as an extension of their existing fixed POS systems. This approach gives you the flexibility to go mobile when it makes sense, without making a massive investment.

Speak with your POS technology provider about the best system for your business.


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Published by Gina Obert May 12, 2016
Gina Obert

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