Every brick-and-mortar business must have a way for customers to pay for goods and services. While the traditional payment method of a cashier at a point-of-sale (POS) system terminal is still the most common, more businesses are implementing self-service POS kiosks. With self-service kiosks, customers can ring up their purchases and pay without a cashier’s assistance.
Here’s a breakdown of how self-service POS kiosks work so you can determine if this payment method is right for your business.
A self-service POS kiosk has much of the same functionality as a POS system managed by your staff members. A user can select products for sale on a touchscreen or scan products using a barcode scanner, and the system can add up quantities, calculate sales tax and accept payment.
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While retail POS kiosk hardware looks similar to POS systems in cashier stations, there are differences. POS hardware used in restaurants and other service businesses is usually self-contained and free-standing instead of mounted on a desk or counter. However, hotels and some sit-down restaurants use tabletop or countertop kiosks for customer self-service functions.
With self-service POS kiosks, some of the functionality ordinarily available to a cashier is accessible to an employee with login credentials. For example, the employee could intervene to change a price because of damage or unprogrammed promotions.
Various business types are successfully implementing self-service kiosks. Here are a few examples.
Offering customers the option to do their own checkout has its advantages, but it’s not suitable for every business type. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of self-service POS kiosks.
After implementing tabletop self-order kiosks, restaurant chain Chili’s increased its order size by 20%, according to The Atlantic – possibly because customers felt free to order what they wanted without fear of being judged by the server.
The type of self-service kiosk most people are familiar with is the large unit used by grocery stores and big-box stores. These machines have a relatively small touchscreen, a built-in barcode scanner, an integrated credit card reader, cash and change acceptance and dispensing functionality, a receipt printer, a small shelf, and a bagging area. These kiosks cost $10,000 to $20,000 each. Read our guide to choosing a POS system and software.
However, there are other kiosk setups for different uses.
When you’re searching for a self-service POS kiosk system, consider these options.
The Lightspeed kiosk runs on an iPad, making it an affordable solution for small businesses. It has robust inventory management features, making it great for retail applications, but it also integrates with hotel property management software, so someone eating at a hotel restaurant can charge a meal to their room.
For restaurant applications, Lightspeed has a customizable tip-distribution feature and reservation module. Since it is iPad-based, it can be mounted in a floor stand or on a table or countertop; it can accommodate prepay with a free-standing setup, or customers can pay after they’ve been served when an employee places the unit on the table.
Read our review of Lightspeed for more information.
All of Toast’s products are geared toward the restaurant and bar industry, so its offerings have plenty of industry-specific features.
The Toast kiosk runs on Android and has an intuitive touchscreen. It gives customers the ability to customize their orders and can send them a text when their order is ready. Since it’s cloud-based, updating the menu as needed with daily specials or removing out-of-stock items is easy. Once an order is placed, the system automatically sends it to the kitchen display screens for quick fulfillment. It even encourages customers to sign up for loyalty rewards programs during checkout.
Contact Toast for pricing, or read our review of Toast POS for more information.
The Aila self-service POS is a sleek, compact retail station that can be used in any small or large retail store, from convenience to big-box stores. It uses iPads and has a sturdy, attractive stand with two shelves (one for products and one for bagging) on which you can mount various compatible devices, including card readers and receipt printers.
Aila’s system has a small footprint, so you can fit several if you have the space without it being too crowded.
Revel XT kiosks are fully integrated, so they’re a turnkey solution. The software can upsell customers, split modifiers for customization and accept gift card payments. The interface can show beautiful photos and videos as backgrounds, as well as include product descriptions to help you sell more. The interface can also be customized with different fonts and colors.
If you offer limited options via the kiosk, you can have a kiosk-only menu to simplify ordering. The kiosk interface can also capture guest information to help you fill orders more efficiently.
Revel’s software plans start at $99 per month per terminal and provide payment processing, but the company does not publish its hardware costs or processing rates online.
The Advanced Kiosks Ticket Kiosk is a compact ticket-printing kiosk with a 22-inch screen. It can print receipts and tickets three inches wide on thermal paper and has a free-standing base with wheels and a steel enclosure. (If you want tickets printed on ticket stock, there’s an additional cost.)
The built-in stereo speakers enable you to play promotional videos or movie trailers to entice customers. Upgrade options include payment processing technology with an EMV credit card reader, a cellular modem, a barcode reader, and vinyl graphics and logo.