Insights

Why Top Retailers Are Switching to iPad POS Systems in Their Stores

By Aila Staff

March 1, 2021

Retailers large and small have begun the switch from bulky, traditional point of sale software and hardware to streamlined and modular iPad POS systems. These modern point of sale solutions let stores choose from a range of software options and provide compatibility with payment terminals, printers, and card readers. 

Here we’ll take a look at some of the reasons retailers are moving away from the siloed solutions of yesteryear and moving toward iOS and iPad-based POS systems. But first, let’s define an iPad POS system. 

iPad POS system for fashion retail

What is an iPad POS system? 

iPad POS systems leverage the powerful processor, camera, and operating system of Apple’s iPad to complete a range of payment transactions. With lower cost and fewer barriers to entry than traditional checkout systems, Apple’s iPad provides an ideal checkout solution for retailers regardless of size.

Small businesses often leverage iPad POS systems consisting of an iPad, a stand, and pre-built POS software like Square or Vend. Larger retailers deploying massive fleets of checkout devices, however, often turn to iPad-based kiosk solutions that are more durable and intuitive to use during the checkout process. 

The main components of an iPad POS system include: 

  • iPad
  • Payment terminal and/or card reader
  • Printer

Additional components that retailers might want to consider based on their offerings:

  • Cash drawer
  • Barcode scanner
  • Bagging shelves

iPad POS system for 10.2-inch iPad

Benefits of iPad POS systems

Two main factors have rapidly evolved the way consumers shop: the rise of ecommerce and the ubiquity of internet-enabled devices. These two factors have also contributed to increased expectations around self-service, convenience, and intuitively designed customer experiences. 

In a time when every shopper has access to the latest and greatest experiences right in their pocket, retailers also need to be able to meet increasing consumer expectations with their in-store experiences. In this regard, iPad POS systems offer several unique advantages. 

Intuitive design

The cash register has confounded and frustrated employees for over a century. The disparate nature of today’s point of sale systems hasn’t made them any easier to use. Now that more and more retailers are deploying self-checkout systems, we’ve seen some of the burden and confusion of that experience laid on customers instead of employees. 

By shifting this complex and disconnected experience onto one iPad-based platform, retailers can roll out checkout experiences that are easy to use and easy to constantly improve and update (without having to buy and roll out a whole new fleet of POS devices). 

This benefit also translates to iPad self-checkout systems, where consumers can complete their transactions on the platform that they already use in their day-to-day lives. 

Versatility 

With iPad POS systems, retailers also benefit from the rich developer ecosystem of iOS/iPad OS. This means they have a wider range of checkout software to choose from and the ability to roll out updates to improve the software and pivot toward new needs. 

The benefits extend beyond the software side of the experience as well. With USB-C-enabled checkout kiosks, retailers can easily add new printers, payment terminals, image-based barcode scanners and other devices to unlock the next generation of checkout experiences—without having to replace an entire deployment of POS devices. 

Total cost of ownership

There was a time when fully electronic, touchscreen-enabled POS solutions were an expense that even tier-one retailers were hesitant to deploy. But, since the emergence of consumer electronics like the iPad, the barrier to entry has been lowered to the point where most small businesses even turn to the iPad as the quickest, most convenient, and most cost-effective way to enable checkout experiences. 

Take the cost of an entry-level iPad released in 2021. With the latest processor, cameras, and software, the 10.2-inch iPad retails at $329. When combined with scanners, printers, and card readers, the cost of an iPad POS system is still often less than $1,000. 

Meanwhile, traditional checkout systems can cost the same or more, but often cannot be updated with new hardware and software. So, if you need your POS system to be able to accept next-gen payment methods like Google Pay or Apple Pay, you’ll have to replace your entire system. 

Performance

Apple’s latest selection of iPads packs exponentially more power than proprietary devices thanks to the ever-improving A-series processors. Checkout experiences on the iPad are also smoother and more reliable due to the Retina displays and performance enhancements of iPadOS 14. 

While traditional point of sale systems could face downtime issues during a loss of power, iPad POS systems are able to run off of the iPad’s battery for extended periods, avoiding any loss of service. 

mobile payments next-gen in-store smartphone

Choosing the right iPad POS system for your stores

When selecting an iPad POS system, retailers will want to consider several factors. Space, traffic, features needed, software, and cost are all important to consider. 

The right iPad POS system for your space 

iPad POS systems come in a range of sizes and mounting options that are ideal for big box stores all the way down to C-stores and pharmacies. There are self-checkout options as well as traditional cashier-driven experiences. Oftentimes a combination of self-checkout and traditional can help reduce lines and offer customers the experience of their choosing. 

Features needed

Today’s point of sale systems do a lot more than process transactions. They need to be able to accept a range of payment methods. EMV/chip, contactless, credit cards, cash, and emerging payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and in-app payments using QR codes are all gaining popularity. 

Other important features include offline modes, inventory integration, connection to ecommerce suites, and support for loyalty programs. 

Software

One of the benefits of iPad POS systems is the wide selection of software available to choose from. Some of the most popular POS apps include Shopify, Square, Toast, and Vend. However, there is a range of other vendors that might have features better suited for your stores. 

Leading retailers leverage Aila’s Interactive Kiosk for tasks like self-checkout, check-in, price checking, pickups/returns, fitting room, and more. Download our free Checkout Solution Sheet to learn more:

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