Magazine Article | October 17, 2013

Serving Up Mobile POS Benefits

By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine

Data Control Systems helps its restaurant clients improve efficiency while increasing software license revenue.

Mobile point of sale systems have helped extend payment applications to the point of service in a number of venues, including stadiums, restaurants, and even airplanes. For resellers, these solutions can provide a value-add for existing customers and a potential source of new revenue as the number of software licenses increases.

Data Control Systems (DCS), based in Raleigh, NC, specializes in restaurant POS system solutions, and mobility is now a key piece of the company’s solution suite. Last year, owner Victor Gurganus was asked to provide a mobile POS solution for The Twisted Lime, a beachfront eatery and bar owned by a restaurateur that Data Control Systems had worked with in the past. DCS had provided a traditional POS system for the owner’s other restaurant, but for the new location, a mobile POS solution was critical.

The restaurant has a small inside seating area, but features a large outdoor deck that can seat up to 200 customers. “They needed mobility for the deck,” Gurganus says. “The owner had seen a mobile solution at a trade show and was interested in it. I’m not sure how he could have made the deck seating work without it.”

Fine-Tune Wireless Performance
Data Control Systems provided the Restaurant Manager POS software solution from Action Systems (ASI), along with two fixed POS stations from CRS and three rugged mobile terminals with card swipe functionality from Partner Tech. Payment processing is handled via Mercury Payment Systems, which is directly interfaced with the POS software.

“Because Mercury is interfaced directly with the software, you can do offline processing more efficiently,” Gurganus says. “Preauthorization is painless, because of that direct integration. There’s no middleware. The credit card transactions are processed faster, in just a few seconds, even though they are using mobile units.”

One fixed-station POS is for the bar and is equipped with a cash drawer and receipt printer. The other fixed station is a server POS terminal for the restaurant and serves as a backup device should the outdoor wireless solution fail. Servers on the deck use the Partner Tech EM-70B, Androidbased tablet computers to take orders and accept payment. “These tablets run the exact same POS application as the fixed stations,” Gurganus says.

Gurganus says his company had experimented with consumer-grade tablets for mobile POS at other locations in the past, but the replacement costs made them impractical for use in restaurants. He saw the Partner Tech units at a trade show and says he liked their durability and their price point. “It was cost-prohibitive to use regular tablets,” Gurganus says. “Once you add a rugged case and a card swipe to them, they were almost the same price, and it was an arduous process to outfit the consumer units for these applications.”

The tablets run on a NetGear wireless LAN that DCS provided to The Twisted Lime. The restaurant offers public Wi-Fi access on the same network, so the system includes two subnets, one for the servers and one for the customers, separated by a firewall.

Gurganus says the network required some tweaking because there was some interference from other nearby networks. DCS added an access point and altered the channels on the network.

Once the store opened, the owner also found that the number of people on the deck degraded the wireless signal. “We had to tweak that after the first week,” Gurganus says. “It was interesting to see, once the restaurant was open and full of people, how it changed the wireless signal.”

Selling More Software
For the client, having the mobile POS has made it possible to support the exterior seating area much easier than would have been possible if the servers had to transfer paper tickets to the POS station inside. Customers get their orders faster and are able to pay their checks more quickly.

“They can handle a lot more customers outside and provide better service,” Gurganus says. “The owner initially estimated he could have 150 people on the deck, but he’s running with more than 200 customers out there now. They’re using food runners, and the servers are making enough in tips that they can tip out the runners. There’s no way the owner could be as profitable without the wireless piece.”

DCS has also sold an additional wireless device to the owner for a portable bar used when the restaurant has live entertainment on the deck, along with an additional cash drawer and receipt printer. (All cash drawers and printers for this application were provided by CRS.)

Having a mobile option has also boosted business for DCS across the company’s client base. “We’ve been able to go back and look at software sales, and we can see that the average number of POS station licenses per site has increased nearly 40 percent as a result of adding the mobile solution,” Gurganus says. “The restaurants need POS station licenses for each tablet that each server uses concurrently, so that has been good for us and for the software vendor.”