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The Register of the Future

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iPads continue to grow in popularity, and software and app developers are hard at work designing new uses for the tablet device. When loaded with the right software and mounted on a proper stand, restaurants and retailers are discovering that the iPad can make an inexpensive, highly customizable and effective POS terminal.

Revel Systems, a self-proclaimed leader in iPad POS technology, expects adoption by retailers to grow tremendously in the coming years. The company uses its Atlas software to create a complete POS solution on the iPad that requires no back-of-the-house server and provides up-to-the-minute analytics.

Revel Systems CEO and co-founder Lisa Falzone says it’s revolutionary for the POS industry because it requires little investment or development in physical equipment. “Apple has already spent billions of dollars creating it and marketing it and we can put software on it,” Falzone says. “It’s very user-friendly, very secure and our software can make it a hybrid system.”

Falzone says the problem with web-based systems is that they tend to be slow, but locally hosted systems don’t easily offer outside access. The hybrid design from Revel means that the iPad and app provide a database that stays “local” when adding menu items, modifying and scanning, but connects to the web for payments.

It “gives you the best of both worlds,” Falzone says. “It’s fast, and franchise owners love it because they can view how all those stores are doing” at any point in time.

Revel’s Atlas is currently being used by a number of restaurants and retailers including Twistee Treat, Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken and Beautiful Brands, operator of Camille’s Sidewalk Café, Dixie Cream, FreshBerry Frozen Yogurt Café and Rex’s Chicken.

Quick training
Philz Coffee, with 10 locations in the San Francisco area, recently installed Atlas in one of its stores as part of a pilot program. General manager Nick Taptelis says the quick installation, the ease of use by associates and the advanced analytics made it a smart decision.

Revel CTO Chris Ciabarra says associates can be trained on the iPad app in a few minutes. With touchscreen capabilities and a menu that is operationally similar to many other iPad or iPhone apps, most associates immediately pick up the flow. “You can [show a new associate] how to run an order and in a few minutes they’re doing it,” Ciabarra says.

At Philz Coffee, Taptelis says he hooked up the devices himself within 10 minutes. There is also an added advantage in having iPad-based registers in front of customers: It’s hard to measure from a branding and loyalty point of view, but many retailers who have implemented mobile devices such as the iPad in their stores says they’ve seen bright eyes from customers.

“Instead of having that bulky old register on the counter, we’ve got an iPad,” Taptelis says. “Customers are excited to see it because they likely have one.”

For those who would rather not deal with installation themselves, or for large installations at multiple locations, Revel has a partnership with Best Buy’s Geek Squad. So “if a chain with 200 stores wants to go live overnight, we can do that,” Ciabarra says. “We’re all about making it as easy as possible so they don’t have to deal with IT headaches.”

Solid security
Atlas is fully customizable with menus and screens that can be tailored to stores’ specific needs. The app features employee login capabilities, order taking and payment processing. Inventory control is also built into the system: As items are sold, inventory is automatically deducted and available for count comparisons to quickly detect theft, loss or waste.

Revel offers a number of custom hardware components, including arm stands to hold the unit in place, barcode scanners, cash drawers, card swipes, coin dispensers, printers and quick-service stands. All of these components are specifically designed to work with the iPad and app, and can be easily installed with little to no plug wiring.

There are also security components built into the hardware and system. iPads can be locked to the platform, and they are also encrypted and linked to local IP addresses so if they leave the store they will shut down. Managers can also remotely clear a device in the event of an unauthorized removal from the store.

One of the biggest benefits of Atlas is the almost real-time analytics that the system can deliver. Because it is cloud-based, Atlas can aggregate all information from all devices and locations on the fly, allowing upper-level management to easily watch store operations from any location. Ciabarra says retailers can also see what is the most popular or profitable item of the day. At Philz Coffee, Taptelis says it has made managing the business so much more efficient.

“I can login anywhere and see which employees clocked in and the orders that are coming in,” he says. “With the old POS system there were just no back-office capabilities.”