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by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: December 9, 2016


Tablet POS systems are finding a home at more and more retail and hospitality businesses. Reports indicate that by 2017, 4 million tablets will have been shipped to be used specifically as POS systems in North American businesses. These systems are replacing bulky, legacy POS systems as a slender, more affordable offering.

Given that tablets have become ubiquitous among U.S. consumers, it’s smart for retailers to adopt a POS option with which customers are so familiar. In addition to this, easy-to-use interfaces, relatively low prices and a newfound ability to operate from anywhere make tablet POS systems a great fit for retailers and restaurants alike.

Still, it’s important to keep in mind the many different tablet options on the market. Android, iPad and proprietary tablets may all offer varying degrees of functionality, integrations and durability. And the actual POS software offerings have their own benefits and drawbacks, too. But we can help you find the best system for your business: Contact us, or read on to learn about:

What Is Tablet POS Software?
Benefits of a Tablet POS System
Common Functionality of Tablet POS Software
Typical Hardware for Tablet POS Systems

What Is Tablet POS Software?

Tablet POS systems package all the functionality of countertop POS systems into refined, affordable consumer devices. Some of these tablet-based systems are designed to be true mPOS (mobile POS) systems, which you can carry around to take orders and complete transactions from anywhere inside (or outside) your store.

Other tablet systems are designed to be stationary: Many of these are mounted in cases and set atop a cash drawer or counter. Other stationary designs include sleek stands that swivel around to offer customer-facing functionality. This functionality can benefit businesses and help improve customer experiences, as our report indicates.

Benefits of a Tablet POS System

Tablet POS systems are great options for smaller restaurants and retailers. For starters, the implementation and onboarding processes are usually quicker and easier with these tablet systems, due largely to the level of familiarity most people have with tablets, as mentioned previously.

In addition, most tablet POS systems offer the following benefits:

Affordability. As already stated, a tablet option will usually cost you much less than a traditional POS. There are various hardware add-ons that can affect pricing (see section below). The number of terminals or tablets needed can also drive the price up and down. Since tablet POS tools are most always cloud-based, they offer much cheaper upfront costs with low monthly subscription payments.

Customer-facing functionality. Utilizing a customer-facing tablet is a great way to create and sustain engagement. The most common reason for customers to use the POS is to complete the payment process. Many tablet POS systems enable the customer to review their order, choose a tip amount (if applicable), digitally sign for the payment and choose their preferred form of receipt.

Insight into sales data. Similar to standard POS systems, tablet POS software includes capabilities for in-depth sales reporting and analysis. Using these tools, you can pinpoint crucial information such as your most popular item, most valuable item, busiest and slowest times of day and a myriad of other data. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to make more accurate adjustments to your business.

Common Functionality of Tablet POS Software

For the most part, tablet systems offer similar capabilities as traditional, terminal-based POS systems do. These capabilities include:

  • Reporting and analytics: Articulates valuable sales data into simple analysis, charts and graphs. Enables you to see a snapshot of your store’s biggest revenue generators and where you have room for improvement.
  • Inventory management: Automatically records and manages inventory levels. Alerts you when it’s time to reorder a certain product. Manages supplier information.
  • Customer management: Enables you to build customer profiles to track purchase histories and contact information. These profiles are the foundation of successful customer loyalty programs.
  • Employee management: Centralizes staff schedules, payroll, time clocks and other employee-related information into one manageable, easily adjustable system.
  • Point-of-sale: Increases the accuracy and speed of the checkout process by auto-assigning prices. Enables staff to look up products and prices for customers.

Typical Hardware for Tablet POS Systems

To reiterate, many tablet POS solutions operate as stationary systems. Thus, many vendors and third-party providers offer unique stands and cases. There’s also a plethora of hardware add-ons available. Here’s a list of essential hardware you’ll want for your tablet POS system:

  • Barcode scanners: Most tablet systems packages include barcode scanners. Some are built in or onto the tablet’s stand or case, while others are wireless.
  • EMV card readers: With the recent EMV standard going live in the U.S., you’ll need to be EMV-compliant and accept chip cards, especially if you sell high-priced items.
  • Receipt printers: Though consumers can now get their receipt texted or email to them, printers are still a must-have for retailers and a great communication tool for restaurants.
  • Cash drawer: Not to be overlooked, this is a must-have for securely storing cash during the day.

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