Magazine Article | January 16, 2013

Making Mobile POS Pay

By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine.

Speedy deployment services and cost consciousness help win a wireless POS bid for a price-sensitive client.

POS Geeks, a VAR based in Los Angeles that specializes in restaurant and retail point of sale (POS) solutions, recently deployed a wireless POS solution for a local restaurant that not only saved the client money on the front end, but also provided productivity improvements that will help the business expand to additional locations. In addition, POS Geeks has been able to leverage that sale into additional opportunities with clients in other verticals.

The restaurant, American Farmhouse Tavern & Dining Hall, first contacted POS Geeks after searching online for a standard POS solution. The restaurant wanted to install a low-cost POS system that could track employee clock-ins, manage inventory, simplify communication between the wait staff and the kitchen, and reduce theft at the register.

Previously, the company relied on a low-cost cash register and handwritten orders. Because the restaurant was manually moving orders from the floor to the kitchen, there were mistakes in the orders and confusion in the kitchen. The restaurant also struggled with timekeeping and payroll management.

POS Geeks bid on the project against three other solutions providers but almost didn’t win the business because of the customer’s cost concerns. “During our preliminary conversation, we quoted the customer on a complete Windows-based solution,” says Armen Vartanian, IT director at POS Geeks. “We were initially turned down because the project was over budget.”

Undeterred, a member of the POS Geeks sales team scheduled another meeting with the owner and demonstrated a wireless solution that would shave thousands of dollars from the total system cost. Both the owner and staff were somewhat reluctant to consider the wireless system, since they were used to manual order entry, but were eventually convinced to move forward by the lower system cost and potential productivity improvements.

Solution Leverages iPod Touch for Mobile POS
POS Geeks proposed a mobile system that included five STAR Micronics SM-T300 wireless thermal receipt printers, a STAR Micronics TSP100 receipt printer, and four STAR Micronics SP700 impact kitchen printers. The printers are integrated with SoftTouch POS and SoftTouch iPOS hospitality POS software, a Posiflex 15-inch LCD touchscreen terminal, a Val-U Line MMF cash drawer, five Apple iPod Touch devices, a Linea-Pro integrated card reader for the iPod Touch, a SonicWall four-port wireless router, and Linksys wireless access points.

According to Vartanian, the wireless solution cost just $15,000 — significantly less than the $25,000 a traditional solution would have cost. Those savings ultimately helped win the bid.

In particular, the Apple iPod Touch devices were less expensive than other mobile devices. The VAR selected the STAR Micronics printers because the mobile unit could work with Apple iOS devices, was water/dustproof, and includes a built-in credit card reader. The kitchen printer is built specifically to work in high heat and humidity environments.

Both the SM-T300 and SP700 printers were assigned a static IP address and connected to the restaurant’s LAN, while the TSP100 printer was connected directly to the Posiflex touchscreen terminal for use in cash transactions and closeout procedures. Configuration and testing took one week, while on-site training and installation took two days.

The STAR impact printers were installed at three kitchen stations and the bar. When orders are taken on the iPod Touch and wirelessly sent to the kitchen, they are automatically sent to the correct kitchen station without wait staff having to hand them off.

Mobile POS Payback In Just Over One Year
According to Vartanian, the solution has helped the restaurant increase sales volume, profitability, and customer service. “The estimated ROI for the system was 87%, and it paid for itself in a little over a year,” Vartanian says. “That payback came through increased sales, accuracy of orders, payroll savings, and improved customer service.” POS Geeks has benefited, too. After the success of implementing this project, the VAR has closed dozens of similar projects and continues to see a demand in wireless solutions.