2011 POS Innovations: Mobility on the March
While traditional POS add-ons and offerings continue to be released this year, the hospitality industry is also becoming much more comfortable with mobile point-of-sale (POS) solutions. Established technology vendors are rolling out new innovations and forging partnerships that bring POS capabilities to consumers’ own devices, and are getting more aggressive about releasing affordable enterprise-grade mobile POS devices.
Meanwhile, a bevy of new startups are entering the mobile POS fray. It remains to be seen which will stand the rigors of the restaurant environment, or hold up to the scrutiny of the PCI Council.
Hospitality Technology has scanned many of the latest releases in point-of-sale technology to help restaurants keep up-to-date on mobile solutions.
Tabbedout Tackles Quick Tab Payment
One of the newer players is Tabbedout, a secure mobile payment solution that allows patrons to open, view and pay their tabs, for free, with an iPhone or Android smartphone. Tabbedout is already getting attention from several major POS vendors; MICROS, Future POS, Jumpware, Dinerware and Agilysys have all certified the app for use with their systems.
Lanai Rooftop Lounge in Austin, TX recently incorporated Tabbedout into its Dinerware POS system. Lanai managers and servers found Tabbedout easy to use and also helped their staff be more efficient without requiring time-consuming training or additional equipment purchases. “Lanai Rooftop Lounge is focused on creating a unique guest experience which is only enhanced through Tabbedout. Enabling customers to start and settle tabs when they want to, gives us more time to serve them and to make sure they are having a great experience,” says Lesliann Nemeth, general manager, Lanai Rooftop Lounge.
eTAB Does Tableside Subscriptions
Another new POS vendor, eTab, debuted its table-side ordering and payment solution this past May at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. The solution allows restaurant and bar patrons to order and pay for meals at their table through a digital menu interface on a portable touch-screen computer, wirelessly connecting each table to the restaurant’s wait staff and existing POS system.
eTab provides its equipment for free and charges a monthly service fee of $400 for maintenance, programming changes and updates — a cost well below other systems. Installation of eTab into a restaurant’s POS system and wait staff training requires approximately four hours.
Agilysys’ InfoGenesis Goes Roaming
For its part, Agilysys has extended the reach of its InfoGenesis POS system with the launch of the InfoGenesis Roam mobile software solution. This food and beverage solution, which was launched at HITEC 2011, enables employees armed with Apple iPod touches to move throughout a hotel property to offer food and beverage service. Once orders are taken on the iPod touches, they are automatically sent off to the kitchen.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is currently using the mobile technology. “The InfoGenesis Roam solution speeds order entry and food delivery, and makes cabana food and beverage service very easy for us,” says IT director Mike Essig. “By the time the cabana attendant returns to the kitchen, the guest’s food is already being prepared. The solution easily saves five to ten minutes of guest wait time.”
ISISPOS Banks on iPad
Also new this year, ISISPOS is a point-of-sale system that is built on Apple Xcode and operates on the iPad. It allows servers to take orders at the table which are then wirelessly transmitted to the kitchen over WiFi or 3G. The solution also facilitates tableside payment and can even be used to suggest wine pairings or add-on items for each order. Because data is stored on the cloud, restaurant management is able to access that information from anywhere. The information collected using ISISPOS is also fully compatible with many popular small business accounting programs, such as QuickBooks, Simply Accounting and Mind Your own Business.
Squirrel Burrows into Apple, Android
Earlier this year at the International Restaurants & Foodservice Show of New York, Squirrel Systems announced the launch of the latest addition to the Squirrel Mobility suite of products, Squirrel Professional for Apple mobile devices. Squirrel Professional allows restaurants, bars, and hotels to manage their food and beverage operations from stationary terminals as well as mobile tablets and handhelds like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Whether using a stationary terminal or an Apple mobile device the same software runs on both. As a result, little to no training is required when implementing an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch with the Squirrel system.
Rounding out its foray into the mobile space, Squirrel followed-up its Squirrel Professional for Apple release with one for Android, announced at the 2011 National Restaurant Association. This release provides restaurateurs with an even wider variety of choice when selecting a tablet because Android is an open source mobile platform that can be installed by any hardware manufacturer.
Apriva Partners with EVO for iPhone Solution
Apriva (www.apriva.com), a provider of wireless transactions and secure information solutions, partnered with EVO Merchant Services this year to provide an EVO-branded payment processing application that is compatible with iPhone version 3G, 3GS and 4 devices and browser-based phones. The new application, EVO Mobile Pay, utilizes AprivaPay mobile payment software. EVO Mobile Pay offers a number of features suitable for swiped or keyed transactions, including signature capture and printing receipts through optional readers and printers. EVO Mobile Pay’s encryption and security meets or exceeds all leading standards, including PA-DSS. EVO also anticipates introducing an Android version of its EVO Mobile Pay application in the near future.
Action Systems Has the ‘Write’ Stuff
Action Systems, Inc. (ASI) this year released the latest software version for its Write-On Handheld tableside ordering and payment solution using an iPod touch. This release, Version 17, includes a number of new features such as split check; real-time alerts on triggers such as item deletions, item voids or VIP customers; and support for real-time inventory counters allowing for improved visibility of item stock levels. Cava, a Greek Mezze restaurant in Rockville, Md., adopted the Write-On Handheld and its wait staff uses iPod touches for all tableside order taking. “Taking orders with the Write-On using an iPod touch has already helped improve the average check and increase table turns,” says Andreas Georgiou, manager of Cava. “Now new features like alerts give me real-time operational information no matter where I am in the restaurant, and split check makes servers even more efficient.”
Micros Makes Memorable Menus
With more than 330,000 restaurants worldwide running Micros solutions, it was only a matter of time before the POS provider also joined the mobile fray. The company released a smattering of innovative capabilities this year including Micros mymenu, an interactive restaurant menu and marketing portal built for the Apple iPad that enables restaurants to showcase upcoming events, programs, food and beverage menus, and daily specials; as well as to facilitate tabletop ordering and payment processing. Micros also released an iPad ordering app, mymicros.net, a mobile BI reporting engine, and a mobile wallet, iCard. Lastly, Micros partnered with VeriFone to release a near field communication (NFC) service that will accommodate the emerging wave of NFC-enable devices for payment and the redemption of electronic coupons and promotions, called NFC Pay at the Table with VeriFone PAYware Mobile.