Like many retailers and foodservice operators, you’ve probably considered the idea of using iPad POS hardware to introduce a mobile POS component in your business as a substitute for, or addition to, your traditional fixed POS system. However, just because you’re familiar and comfortable with the product based on personal use, doesn’t mean an iPad POS is the best option for your store(s) or restaurant(s). For many environments, an iPad POS simply isn’t rugged enough to go the distance, but a Windows-based ruggedized tablet might be a good iPad POS alternative. Here’s why:
1. Drop resistance. iPad POS or Windows-based ruggedized; any tablet hardware used in a retail or foodservice setting is bound to be dropped sooner or later.
Windows-based, ruggedized tablet advantage: Windows-based, ruggedized tablet hardware is designed to resist damage, including damage that may result when a unit slips out of an employee’s hand or off a table or counter, subsequently hitting the floor. Every Windows-based ruggedized tablet has a drop rating that indicates from what distance it can be dropped without sustaining damage once it comes into contact with a concrete surface.
iPad POS disadvantage: Consumer-grade iPad POS hardware features no special impact protection. Manufacturers of these devices do not provide drop ratings—so if a unit is dropped, you’ll have no idea whether, or how well, it will function afterward.
2. Water and dust resistance. Whether from spills or as a result of being dropped into a puddle on the floor, an outdoor dining area, or a table, tablets used in restaurants will inevitably get wet. Tablets deployed in stores may also get wet should they be, for example, inadvertently left on a counter in the employee rest room or atop a table in the break room, where beverages are consumed regularly. And, there’s no getting entirely away from dust in any environment.
Windows-based, ruggedized tablet advantage: Windows-based, ruggedized tablets are constructed with components that render them resistant to damage caused by exposure to liquid and dust.
iPad POS disadvantage: Consumer-grade iPad POS devices do not have any type of seal or other layer of protection that prevents moisture from seeping into their interior or resists permeation by dust particles.
3. Ability to accommodate multiple applications. Most retailers and restaurant operators use their tablet hardware not only to ring up sales, but also for a myriad of other applications, including handling multiple payment types (mobile, for example) and modalities (e.g., credit, debit, and gift cards); locating out-of-stock merchandise at other stores and processing orders for it, etc.
Windows-based, ruggedized tablet advantage: Handling many demanding POS applications—not to mention ancillary applications like inventory and assortment management—necessitates having in place retail hardware with a high degree of random-access memory (RAM) and processing capacity. Windows-based, ruggedized tablets intended for commercial use possess both attributes.
iPad POS disadvantage: iPad POS offerings typically do not have enough RAM and processing power to support demanding POS applications.
4. Peripherals access and future-proofing. Peripherals such as magnetic stripe readers, barcode scanners, and sometimes, biometric devices (e.g., fingerprint scanners) are a “must” for most retailers and hospitality players. Near-field communications (NFC) capabilities to accept contactless payments and readiness to accommodate chip cards under the Europay/Visa/Mastercard (EMV) standard are also desirable.
Windows-based, ruggedized tablet advantage: A multitude of tablets designed specifically for POS applications are NFC- and EMV-ready. Many come with the above-mentioned POS peripherals, or are configured so that the latter may be easily added on.
iPad POS disadvantage: Tablets intended for use by consumers and pressed into service to create iPad POS systems are not offered with companion peripherals. Finding (and potentially modifying) units so that it is possible to use them in tandem with systems of this type can be time-consuming and costly.
Admittedly, iPads have their place. However, in most cases, that place is not in the retail and hospitality space. Best to bypass iPad POS in favor of a ruggedized, Windows-based configuration.