Business in a Box: Is Square’s turnkey point of sale experience really $299?

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You can have a fully functioning EPoS system for just $299, or at least that’s what the article on Techcrunch would have you believe. However, if you dig a little deeper into the Square offering then the basic package is far more than $299.

To efficiently run your point of sale the basic hardware you’ll need is:

  • Touch screen monitor
  • Cash drawer
  • Receipt printer
  • Barcode scanner
  • Chip & Pin terminal

To buy these from Square will actually cost you over $796, and you’ll still need to buy your own iPad – meaning at least $1200 of hardware.

You may be thinking that’s still quite cheap for an EPoS system however there are still other factors to consider.

You’re buying half the screen size

15” is the standard EPoS screen size however an iPad comes in at around 10”. That’s 5” of screen space that your missing out on. Which may not sound a whole lot but in terms of viewable surface area the 15” monitor has over double the viewing space of the 10” iPad. You can see a visual example on TVcalculator.com

This difference will become especially noticeable as you add more products, and so more buttons, to your system. The reduced screen space may mean you have to use more layers and pages to display the same number of items. Which in turn means more keystrokes and so more time for your staff to input orders.

Also I haven’t touched upon the difference in CPU power, storage and resilience (suffice to say the iPad has a lot less than a PC of the same price)

Is your internet reliable?

Square’s point of sale unit “requires an internet connection at all times to function properly.” In other words, if your shop loses internet connection then you’ll find yourself without a mission critical service.

A true EPoS unit not only allows you to take cash payments if your internet is down but you can also manage your stock and view reports and sales analysis all while working offline.

Weighing Scales

Do you weigh loose items such as fruit and veg or maybe you have a cheese counter and butchery and so you’ll need to weigh items. A traditional EPoS unit can be fully integrated with weighing scales however this isn’t possible with Square Register.

Can you buy a full EPoS system for $299?

Sadly the answer is no.

While I’m sure Square’s iPad solution will be attractive to a number of home businesses, as it will allow them to quickly set up and take card payments, the truth is for any retailer who relies upon their Point of Sale as a mission critical system you need to invest in the reliability and power of a traditional EPoS unit.

A note on using iPads and other tablets

The iPad works great as a mobile or back up Point of Sale operated by roaming sales assistants. It’s even better as a tool for table service for your waiters. However, it’s not ideal as your business’ only point of sale. Even Verifones report on the rise of mobile point of sale talks about using tablets and similar mobile devices as a way to aid current EPoS rather than take away from it.

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