iPad Tablets: The Future Point of Sale? 2.16.11

Are tablets taking over? According to a New York Times article, Smartphones and Tablets to Take Over in 2011, the message could not be more clear. The article states, “mobile devices that are full-fledged computers” are the next logical progression after personal computers have run their course. Researchers say it was only a matter of time before these mobile devices moved in and overtook their predecessor (the PC), in the now overly-saturated technology market.

While the tablet is growing in popularity among consumers, the technology is now expanding into new business markets. With a variety of applications, the tablet is marketed as an all-in-one solution, even for point of sale. Revel Systems recently launched a new line of Point of Sale systems based on the Apple iPad. Through this platform, the company offers complete solutions through a restaurant quick service, restaurant table service, and iPad retail POS. Revel is seeking to attract both the POS Hardware and software markets.

Without prior knowledge on POS hardware, an iPad tablet platform sounds like a great idea! However, before jumping on the bandwagon, there are a number of things that must be taken into consideration.

How durable is a tablet compared to a retail-hardened point of sale system?  Is the tablet going to withstand greasy fingers, spills, untrained employees, and extended wear and tear? Probably not….the tablet was not originally designed for such a harsh environment.

Secondly, how secure is the tablet in the platform (shown below)? Would it be difficult for your employees or customers to unscrew and walk away with? Tablets are not a cheap purchase, and while I like to trust people, it is important to plan ahead and think smart.

 Thirdly, companies who are releasing tablets have not traditionally manufactured point of sale solutions. As an IT manager, this should throw up a red flag. Clearly, IBM, NCR, Panasonic, and other manufacturers would have created a similar solution if they found the tablet platform as an essential technological progression for the Point of Sale industry. Rather, IBM offers a similar solution, AnyPlace kiosks. This system has been around pre-tablets, and is known for a lightweight, durable, and easily customizable design.

Consumer tablets may be the future, but I do not believe this is synonymous with the future of point of sale. The Wright brothers showed us the future of air transportation, but we don’t all drive flying cars. Most technology simply cannot span all industries! If you are an early adaptor who feels so inclined to try using an iPad tablet system, I would love to hear about your experience! For the rest of you, if tablets are indeed where POS technology is trending, wait for the experts to create one and follow in their able footsteps.

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