Whether you’re running a Verizon outlet in Philadelphia, a Jimmy John’s in Sioux Falls, or a Storm Guard Restoration Service on the stormy Florida coast, a point-of-sale (POS) system is going to be an essential tool for your franchise. Franchises are entrepreneurial by nature and POS systems earn unique benefits for busy franchisees by filling unique requirements, in addition to the benefits that modern cloud-based POS systems bring organically. Here are the basic elements a franchisee might need in their POS system:
- Reporting functions to capture and disseminate sales data from each location.
- Cost-efficient ways to optimize a franchisee’s operations across multiple locations.
- A user-friendly experience platform to make training easier and more effective.
- A credit card processing system that is compliant with EMV standards (that’s for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, the new chip card standards that started affecting merchants in 2015).
- A scalable design for franchisees working with multiple locations or diverse business models.
- More technically advanced franchisees might consider adding video surveillance with on-board analytics to analyze traffic patterns, identify questionable transactions, and other advanced applications.
Let’s look at five cloud-based, EMV-compliant point-of-sale systems that make excellent choices for franchisees.
1. Best general POS system for new franchisees: Square
Square is ideal for quick-service restaurants or cafes, or for franchisees whose transactions are relatively simple. Square, unlike most POS providers, doesn’t charge a monthly service fee, and its powerful but easy-to-navigate platform can handle payments, digital receipts, open tickets, inventory, reports, and more. It’s particularly well-suited for small businesses that can use it as a mobile POS on a smartphone or loaded onto a tablet at the counter—Square is also compatible with both Apple and Android, unlike some of its competitors. With no charge for downloads or updates, Square is also an extraordinarily cost-effective POS solution for franchisees, who only need to buy a $49 EMV card reader to get started. Once you’re up and running, Square charges 2.75 percent per swipe, dip or tap and 3.5 percent plus 15 cents per keyed-in transaction. Other features allow franchises to manage other applications like payroll, employee management, invoicing, and customer engagement.
2. Another robust web-based POS choice: ERPLY
New York City-based ERPLY is a web-based franchise POS system that also caters to retail and quick-service businesses. The company has a well-tested POS platform, given that it supports more than 100,000 customers ranging from franchises to small businesses. ERPLY is interesting in that the company offers an offline option, meaning that franchisees can conduct sales transactions without a live Internet feed, and then sync their data once they are reconnected. ERPLY is also a good choice for rapidly growing businesses, as its scalable retail platform can accommodate small chains with less than 10 stores as well as enterprise clients with more than 500 stores. The company also offers customization of the user interface and customer-facing applications to meet the needs of clients. ERPLY starts at $200 per month but also includes a 14-day free trial.
3. Best choice for restaurants: Breadcrumb
Well-established Breadcrumb has advantages for restaurant franchisees in that it was designed and built by professionals in the restaurant industry, but also has the significant backing of its owner, Groupon, which acquired the company in 2012. The company offers features that are particularly attractive to restaurant staff including an offline mode, menu customization, and the ability to split, transfer, and merge checks. Other features include Breadcrumb Live, which allows franchisees to track sales, guest counts, and sale items in real time from any smartphone, and a kitchen display system intended to improve communications between the front of the house and the kitchen/bar. Breadcrumb is a little pricier than other options, starting at $99 per month for a single terminal license plus 10 cents per transaction, as well as up-front costs of about $2,000.
4. The popular, affordable choice: ShopKeep
ShopKeep captures many reviewers’ #1 rating and is an excellent POS solution for retail, restaurants, quick service locations, and small- to medium-sized businesses. ShopKeep is unique in that it was designed by a merchant who was frustrated by archaic POS systems, leading him to create a sleek, innovative iPad-based platform. The company serves a remarkable diversity of customers including coffee shops, boutiques, bakeries, specialty retail, and liquor stores, among many others. The platform starts at $69 per month, with variable payment fees.
5. A best solution for bigger franchises: Revel Systems
Revel Systems is a robust and well-established iPad POS that remains popular among a diverse array of franchises. The company’s sweet spot is larger, multiple location franchises operating in the restaurant and retail sectors, although the platform’s scalability makes it useful for a variety of business models. For franchisees that value customization in order to differentiate themselves from the competition, Revel offers a higher degree of customization, allowing franchisees to innovate by adding new POS functions ranging from touch screen kiosks to delivery and inventory management. It’s also an ideal platform for franchises with security issues, as it’s the only IPad POS solution currently that offers secure Ethernet connections versus wi-fi or cloud only solutions. Pricing varies as Revel Systems offers industry-specific software packages for a monthly subscription fee, broken down per terminal. It’s an excellent value for large businesses, as it can handle multiple locations and up to half a million stock keeping units (SKUs). It is not ideal for mom and pop operations, as the platform’s customization options and complexity require quite a bit of time and effort to install.