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This article was published in the December 2014 issue of STORES Magazine.

Society Bakery moves point-of-sale systems to the cloud

Cookies may not be a dime a dozen these days, but the field of those who make them — and other baked goods — just might be. So when Roshi Muns opened Society Bakery in Dallas, she knew that she’d have to streamline her services to ensure customers would choose her for their next sugar rush.

When Muns moved into a larger location recently, she switched up the point-of-sale system, replacing two machines and a cash drawer with iPads loaded with the Cartwheel Register app. The app, created by Tantrum Street, provides freedom to move around the store as needed. When Muns meets with a customer to discuss a specialty cake order, she can take the order from the iPad at the table where they’re talking, and the customer no longer has to move to the checkout area in order to pay.

If the store is particularly busy, Muns can also use the app on her iPhone and essentially create another register.

“Before, we had all these bottlenecks because we were limited by where we could take payment,” Muns says. “We’re a specialty bakery and we want our customers to feel very special when they walk in. I want them to feel that we value their dollar and their time. This makes the whole transaction pretty seamless.”

Sweet somethings
Granted, a cash register app may not seem all that innovative on its own. What makes Cartwheel Register work best, Muns says, is its ability to provide security — and reliability. When she operated a food truck, she did so with a popular card reader.

“It sounded like a great rate, but when you swiped the card, it would never work. You’re in a hurry, you’ve got a line of 30 people in front of you and speed is of the essence,” she says. Malfunctions meant manually entering card data, which increased processing fees.

Cartwheel does not require a card reader, instead using a patent-pending method that reads cards via an iPad or iPhone camera. The software uses encryption and tokenization, essentially substituting randomly generated numbers for sensitive information. It brings powerful security with PCI compliance, says Tantrum Street co-founder Kit Carson. “We have Level 1 compliance, so by using Cartwheel Register the merchant is automatically compliant. It’s just another complication or headache that we remove for small business owners.”

“I never see the [credit card] number again,” Muns says. “There’s no way for me as a merchant to access it.”

The icing on top might just be the flat fee: Currently, every card-based transaction is 2.6 percent plus 24 cents. “It doesn’t matter if it’s scanned or keyed in,” Carson says. “It is truly one flat rate for all transactions. It’s a core part of our philosophy of simplicity with no asterisks.”

Baked-in success
As a small business owner, Muns can now focus on her products and the expansion to a third location while maximizing the profit of existing locations.

“I’m a one-woman operation,” she says. “I don’t have a team of investors. I have excellent managers and employees, but there are a lot of hassles that we had to deal with before Cartwheel came along.”

Key among those were the frustrations that came from a previous hodgepodge of equipment. “The amount of phone calls from companies saying, ‘If you don’t update this or buy that, you won’t be able to take credit cards tomorrow.’ … [I] would waste so much time picking up the phone to answer a call from a salesperson who wasn’t always telling the truth,” Muns says. “Sometimes they would say, ‘An update is not going to do it, you need to buy another swiper.’ They really hurt a small business.”

Cartwheel updates arise because the company is constantly adding new features, Muns says. “Yes, there are updates, but they are the same as any update that every app on your phone has. You just hit ‘update’ and it updates. There’s no skin off our backs to do it.”

Cartwheel Register integrates with Tantrum Street’s Skip Wallet, its digital wallet for consumers. When a sugar craving strikes and the customer is without her wallet or phone, she can simply enter her name and personal identification number at the POS to pay.

Mobile payments have been heralded as the next big thing for a few years now, but Carson believes the time is right. “People are getting more and more used to doing everything on their phone, including making purchases,” she says. “We are finally at that point.”

Skip Wallet is only available for iOS devices, but the software will eventually be available for Android and Windows operating systems.

Using Skip Wallet also suppports philanthropic causes. Every time a customer pays through Skip Wallet, 5 cents of the purchase goes directly to Good Returns, a social enterprise network that partners with companies and individuals to provide small business loans to organizations that directly address the world’s greatest problems. Tantrum Street adds 10 cents to each donation.

Actionable information
Integrating Skip Wallet and Cartwheel Register brings several advantages including instant checkout for the consumer and significantly more analytics.

“The analytics are a level above the regular transaction,” Carson says. “With Cartwheel Register merchants get a variety of reports, but when customers pay with Skip Wallet merchants get to provide a seamless customer experience while receiving all sorts of valuable pieces of information that really add up.”

While her previous POS system offered some level of data, Muns rarely accessed it. These days, though, Cartwheel Register sends her an email report daily, outlining sales and fees, detailing best-selling items, number of transactions and the profit margin for each item. She can even anticipate spikes in sales based on past performance. That became even more important as she moved her original store to a much larger space to meet demand.

“I pay a lot more attention to numbers, like the number of transactions and average transaction per customer,” Muns says. “It gives me a lot of insight.”

And that is a sweet deal.