Whether the phrase, “Do you take cards?” triggers a sense of dread or you simply need to bring your outdated point of sale systems (POS systems) into the present of chip readers and contactless payments, this article can help you make sense of what to do next.
See the end of the post for more information on chip readers and EMV compliance.
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1. Square POS Bundle SetPros:
- Uses Square, a trusted and popular processor
- Comes with reader, dock, stand, register, and printer
- Includes 25 rolls of receipt paper
- Choice of black or white
- Can process chip, magstripe, and contactless payment
- Records cash and check purchases without fees
- Connecting wires included
- Stand is only built to accomidate iPad tablets
- May be more than some sellers need
- Costs more than simple reader alone
If you’re looking for an all-in-one system, you can’t beat the Square POS Bundle. In one purchase, you’ll have covered your register, receipt printer, tablet stand with magstripe reader, contactless payment and chip reader, dock for the chip reader, and even 25 rolls of receipt paper. All you need to bring is your iPad and you’re customer-ready.
The powerhouse of this POS system is the Square Contactless and Chip Reader which can process chip payments as well as Near Field Communication (NFC) payments like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Google Wallet. There’s a slot for reaching physical chips and every chip reader comes with the traditional magstripe reader that plugs into your headphone jack for customers who need to swipe–although the Square Stand in this set has a built-in magstripe reader so you can hang on to the smaller one as a backup.
Square’s chip reader can operate wirelessly on the included dock or be wired to your system. Square is known as the chip reader service with the fastest read times as well as some of the most user-friendly software and reasonable fee structure.
This sleek-looking Square Stand, with the built-in magstripe reader, is used to hold your iPad with lightning connector (not included) which runs the free Square POS App.
The included Star Micronics receipt printer is compact and is run by the Square stand, connected with included USB. It uses smart paper management technology in order to reduce the total amount of paper used which is good for both your bottom line and the environment. Plus, with the Square app, customers can opt to skip the paper receipt altogether and opt for an email instead.
It’s a thermal printer, standard for receipt printers, so it never runs out of ink, and the bundle comes with 25 rolls of thermal paper.
The cash drawer is run by the printer with the included connecting cord and can be opened manually or electronically. This is the largest piece in the bundle and is about 16 inches square so when you’re looking at your counter space, be sure you can fit both that and the printer comfortably with room for your customers to set down their things. See my article on Salon Reception Desks for good examples of setups.
As far as working with the Square app, it’s one of the best among point of sale systems. The fees are reasonable, they don’t charge for cash or check transactions but will record them for your records, they are easy to work with. The best part is that it’s a system people are familiar with so customers will feel comfortable using the system. See the video below for more information on Square’s fee structure and hardware options.
2. 2018 Clover Station BundlePros:
- Great for businesses with employees
- Processess contactless payments, chips, and magstripe cards
- Barcode scanner
- Receipt printer and cash drawer
- Touchscreen swivels for customer
- Fingerprint log in for up to 20 employees
- Must use Clover's processor company
- Too much for some operations
- Needs counter space
Clover Station is a full POS system including card processing, receipt printing, integrated cash register, as well as inventory and employee tracking. This is a good fit if you have employees, a larger inventory, and want something that can scan bar codes.
This three-part system is made up of a cash drawer, thermal receipt printer, and touchscreen terminal which houses the card readers and allows for a highly customizable interface for completing transactions.
The terminal has a unique swivel base that easily turns so the customer can sign or input their pin. For extra security, the terminal has a fingerprint lock that can store up to 20 prints.
The Clover application and dashboard allow you to see reports of sales, view inventory, and manage employees accounts. This does mean you have to have a Clover merchant account but their system is comprehensive and not a bad program to be locked into.
3. Ingenico iWL250 Wireless Credit Card MachinePros:
- Wireless handheld system
- Includes receipt printer
- Chip, contactless payment, and magstripe reader
- Flexibility in card processor
- Backlit for use outside
- Comes with optional pin shield
- No cash drawer
- Gettings system set up bit more tech involved
- Small paper roll means frequent changes
If what you need is something small that can travel with you, the Ingenico wireless line might be a good fit. These devices are small, handheld, and can process contactless payments, chip cards, and magstripes as well as print a corresponding receipt all from the same device.
It has a large keypad that is easy to operate both for the merchant and the customer when they need to enter a pin. It’s light, has an optional privacy shield for entering pins, and decent battery life.
This one is pre-loaded to work with First Data processing but the neat part about Ingenico devices is that they can work with a variety of software. It’s just a matter of getting the software on there.
If you already have a card processor you like, be sure to check with them to see if they are compatible with Ingenico systems. Some processors known to be compatible are First Data, Chase Bank, Elavon, WorldPay, and Heartland.
4. Square Dual-Touchscreen RegisterPros:
- You don't have to have your own tablet
- Two connected touch screens touch screens
- Can processes contactless payments, chip, and magstripe cards
- Practically ready to use out of the box
- Sleek, minimalist design
- Screen for customers to see their purchases
- Square's fast processing speeds
- Can choose to add accessories like printers
- Highly customizable
- Reasonable flat rates
- No receipt printer or cash box
- Fully contained and doesn't run on the Square app
- Locked into Square system
We’ve already looked at the Square Bundle but if you find you don’t have a lot of need a cash drawer or paper receipts or you don’t want to have to buy a brand new iPad for your new point of sale system to work, this might be for you.
The whole system is a set of two connected touchscreens: one for the person working the register, and one for the customer. The customer facing screen shows their transaction in progress and which allows for transparent and intuitive payment. The card reader is housed here along with pin entry and signatures.
The larger, back-facing screen is highly customizable so you can set up your system to manage your inventory, create reports on your sales, send invoices, get customer feedback, and build a customer directory.
This all uses Square’s flat rate payment model with no monthly fees which is one of the cheapest in the field so it’s hard to complain about that.
5. POSimplicity Retail SystemPros:
- Includes receipt printer, cash drawer, and barcode scanner
- Comes with Android tablet
- POSimplicity software installed and ready to go
- Intuitive system
- Can generate lots of reports
- Card reader is free but must get separately
- Locked into system with monthly fee
- Too much for smaller operations
This cloud-based system from POSimplicity is great for operations that work with a lot of inventory and have employees to manage. The pre-installed software is user-friendly and great for setting up customized inventory and employee profiles with clock in’s and out’s.
It comes with an Android tablet, tablet stand with receipt printer, barcode scanner, and cash drawer. You may have noticed I didn’t mention card readers. That is the one big flaw with this system in that while there is an integrated card reader for this system it doesn’t come in the initial bundle–but that doesn’t mean it’s not included. I’ll explain.
The POSimplicity cloud system involves getting a merchant account with them and paying a monthly fee. Once you sign up for the software, they’ll overnight you the card reader for free. So it kind of comes with the system because you can’t exactly not sign up for the software, but it’s still an annoying extra step.
Their software is really comprehensive which is nice. You can view all kinds of reports and graphs on your sales and inventory by accessing your dashboard on your computer or tablet.
What type of point of sale system do I need?
From one-person micro-businesses to small business owners with dozens of employees, if you take payments, you need a credit card processor. And if you're taking payments in person, you need the proper hardware to protect your customers' information and your wallet.
But there is no one best processor or point of sale terminal because it truly depends on your business and its needs. The Pro's and Con's above can help you sort out which hit the points that best align with your operation.
If you have a lot of employees to keep track of, something with managing software is a must. If you travel on site for work, portability is going to be key.
What is EMV compliance?
The shift to convert all traditional credit cards that use a magnetic strip to chip cards which have a small computer chip embedded in them wasn't just new technology for technology's sake. According to the Congressional Research Service, between the years of 2004 and 2010, credit card fraud in the US rose a whopping 70 percent so something had to be done to make payments more secure.
If you wanted to compare the security levels of mag stripe cards versus chip cards you'd be looking at something like comparing a simple padlock to an encrypted computer security system. There's just no contest.
But new chip cards meant the need for new chip readers. EMV compliance refers to merchants updating their POS systems to support chips by their deadline of October 1, 2015.
That was years ago--am I going to be fined if I don't have a chip reader?
No one's coming to arrest you--it's not that kind of compliance. That said, you do need a chip reader A.S.A.P. because there could be consequences coming your way.
See, EMV shifts the liability of credit card fraud. If fraudulent charges are made at a merchant who is EMV compliant, the bank or credit company is liable to the customer for any losses--just like before EMV. However, if fraudulent charges are made at a merchant who is not EMV compliant, now you as the merchant may be liable for any losses.
Which means a new POS system may seem like an expense in the now, but it can prevent a huge financial disaster if you don't update.
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