Cash Register, Point of Sale & Credit Card Information Central

Technology Stand-off: Traditional Cash Register vs Tablet POS in the Event Industry

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 @ 11:42 AM

register_vs_ipad.png

While it seems everything is getting smaller, faster and more technologically advanced, you may ask yourself how these changes affect the point of sale industry. Does the traditional cash register still have a place in today’s business environment? Are iPads the solution everyone has been waiting for?

Portability

This might not be a big deal for most businesses, but for the event industry, portability matters. The nice thing about iPads is they are small, light and easy to pack. Compared to using a cash register, you can pack 10 times as many iPads in the same space. Granted, you need to be a little more careful in how you store them.

Where the portability factor balances out is in the extras that are used with the iPad. If you don’t plan on constantly holding the tablet, you will also need to pack a stand for each one. Plan on accepting cash? You’re going to need a cash drawer. Handing out printed receipts? Guess you’ll need a printer too. Once you add in all the other stuff, packing needs are much the same. For some instances, going cashless and only doing emailed receipts will work fine.

Setup time can vary between the options as well. Pull a register out of the box, set it on the counter, plug it in, and it’s ready to go. The iPad on its own simply needs to be placed on the counter and turned on. If printers and cash drawers are involved, it takes a little more time. Bluetooth devices need to be matched to the corresponding, pre-paired iPad, or will need to go through the pairing process for each device.

Security

Portability is also tied into keeping your equipment safe. At most events, product and equipment is left in booths or tents. When a cash register is left out, it isn't necessarily a desirable item for someone to take. The primary concern would be someone wanting to take whatever cash might be in it. Since very few people actually leave money in a register when no one is around, it makes sense to leave the drawer open. Would-be thieves won't have to break it so see there is nothing in it, and they won't walk away with something as conspicuous as a big cash register.

Tablets, on the other hand, are more of a temptation. They are easier to stuff into a jacket and no one would think twice about seeing somebody with one walking down the street. That means that each night, you'll need to take more precautions to keep them safe. Whether you hide them under the counter, lock them in a secure cabinet or room, or take them back to the finance office, they are going to get moved. 

Power Independence

One of the great things about mobile payment platforms is the freedom to go to your customers. That includes not being constantly tethered to an electric outlet. A cash register doesn’t have that luxury. In outdoor environments, where running power to remote locations is tricky or costly, iPad have the advantage. The battery life on an iPad with moderate to heavy sales will last 6-10 hours. Be sure to take your hours of operation into account when making a decision about power.

Don’t forget that any peripherals you use will also need power or a place to charge batteries. Printers, barcode scanners, and the like typically have a longer battery life because they aren’t in constant use. However, these pieces of equipment will need a spot at a charging station, too. This can create extra work by requiring several items being moved from a charging location to sales area, especially if multiple terminals are used throughout an event.

Reporting

Traditional cash registers rely on paper reports to convey information. Financial data, PLU data, time reports, clerk reports and more are all available in printed form. Tablet applications take full advantage of their connection to the cloud. Sales data is stored online and consolidated for easy access. Given the number of POS apps, these reports are represented in different ways. Colored graphs, tabular data, selectable date ranges all make sales data easy to read and sort.

Online reporting is also available with a cash register using a special wireless modem. The same technology that transmits credit card transactions can be used to send sales data to an online portal. This is a separate piece of hardware and therefore is an additional expense. Many point of sale apps also charge a small monthly data maintenance fee. This fee is assessed only if you require access to the data months after the event or sale.

Cool Factor

There is definitely something to be said for looking modern. Perception is a huge motivation for many events. Music festivals and youth oriented conferences in particular go to great lengths to achieve a specific aesthetic. The sleek, clean look of an iPad is a show of technological relevance and familiarity. This also makes it easier for cashiers to acclimate to the touchscreen interface.

While cash registers have made improvements to their look over the years, they focus on function over form. The commercial grade registers are built to withstand some harsh conditions. They can take a little more abuse moving from venue to venue.

Price

Everyone tries to keep an eye on the bottom line. Juggling between price and value are a concern. You want to make sure your system does everything you need it to for the lowest price.

A standard cash register is about the same price as an iPad on its own. A little less or a little more depending on the model. The difference grows quickly for a full point of sale iPad setup. Add in the software, a stand, cash drawer and printer, and the cost jumps up.

Summary

What features are most important to you? How do each of these factors influence your decision? Here’s how we ranked each system per category.

  Cash Register Cash Register
(with Online
Reporting)
iPad
(no peripherals)
iPad
(with printer &
cash drawer)
Portability ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Security ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  ♦ ♦  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Power
Independence
 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Reporting ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Durability ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Visual Effect ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Price $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Tags: Events

Remote Reporting at Events: What's It Worth?

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 @ 02:23 PM

ipad_wIcons_SMOne of the great things about technology is the time saving capacity associated with automating mundane tasks. Everyone is looking for ways to squeeze as much time out of the day as possible. As most event coordinators know, time really is money. When you rely on making your money over the course of a single week or maybe just a weekend, you have to breathe productivity. It has to be second nature.

When you’re up against the clock, every minute of the day, what are your options for saving time? At the end of a 14…15…16-hour sales day, the last thing you need is to spend hours going from register to register, stand to stand running reports, hand entering data into a spreadsheet, and calculating inventory numbers to do it all again tomorrow. That seems like the perfect place to implement a time saving, technological advancement.

Granted, the technology to perform remote reporting has been around a long time. A system that allowed inter-terminal communication was first implemented by a chain of department stores in 1973. The earliest microprocessor used in a point of sale system was developed for McDonalds in 1974. This allowed for price changes and reports to be performed from any terminal if changed to manager mode.  After several iterations, POS systems became much more accessible when they were integrated into a Windows platform in 1992. Until very recently, all these options required a great deal of infrastructure to operate. This left short-term, pop-up retailers with no alternatives in locations that didn’t have the necessary hard lines already in place.

In the last few years, cellular data transmission and cloud based storage have leveled the playing field for the event industry. Now, connecting a compatible wireless router to a cash register can facilitate sales data transmission. Tablet-based POS software offers an even more mobile option for making sales and consolidating sales figures in the cloud.

retail_event_SM

Now, let’s do a little real world analysis of what using a technology like this does to the bottom line for a few sample events.  These examples represent a events of differing scopes.

Scenario #1 – Merchandise sales at a 3 day conference.  Eight cash registers are used to keep track of the sales of 450 items that include clothing of various sizes and styles, reference materials, books and CDs or digital download cards. All the terminals are set up in the same store area.

Scenario #2 – Concession sales at a week-long festival. In this instance, there are a total of 120 registers in 30 locations spread out across the fair grounds. Each stand has between 10 and 50 items they are selling, with an average of 24 items. There are also 18 different vendors, some overseeing multiple stands, which need to receive their own reports as well.

To collect and record the information from paper reports, here are some reasonable estimates on the time it takes for each step.

The average travel time between locations is 2.5 min.

Printing, gathering and organizing the reports at each stand can be done in 5 min per stand.

Entering the data from each report into a spreadsheet takes about 2 minute per report.

The item report takes time to find each item on the spread sheet, match it to the printed report and record the number of items and dollar amount. Short lists mean items are easier to find and take less time, around 18 items per minute. Long lists take more time to match items and cuts productivity down to 10 items per minute.

Scenario 1  

To gather the reports, here is the time required. 2.5 min to get to the register area + 5 min to run/collect the reports + 2.5 min to get back to the office = 10 min
To enter the data from the financial reports; 2 min x 8 registers = 16 min
To enter the data from the item reports; 450 items/10 items per min x 8 registers = 360 min or 6 hours
In total, that’s 6hr 26min per day x 3 days = 19.3 hours of time spent.

You may have someone to do the running around and entering data for you, for maybe $15-20/hour. More than likely, you would want a trusted individual on the financial team or even yourself doing this type of work.

aerial_veiw_of_festival_SMScenario 2     

To collect reports for the festival, here is the time involved. 2.5 min x 30 locations + 5 min x 30 locations = 225 min
To enter data from financial reports: 2 min x 120 reg = 240 min
To enter data from item reports: 24 items/20 items per min x 120 registers = 160 min
When we total this time, we get 225 min + 240 min + 160 min = 625 min or 10.4 hours per day
Over the full 7 days of the event that comes to 72.8 hours spent on reports.

Again, who is designated to perform these tasks? To make sure they are done in a timely manner, it may take several people.  There are cases where the festival organizer needs to know overall totals and each vendor wants to know their own sales numbers. In this instance, data entry efforts would be doubled, or one party is stuck waiting for the other to pass the info along. There is also a good chance you will want to know what the sales are after the lunch rush or after a certain session lets out. That means another round of running and collecting reports.

How much more could you get done if you had an extra 6 to 10 hours a day? How much could you save if you could reduce payroll by one or more people per day? How beneficial is it to you not to add a few more hours to your already long day waiting for reports? Consider the value in tracking your inventory, and verifying you are getting paid for each item.

laptop_wBridge_SMThe alternative is using electronic data transfer and cloud based reporting. This all but eliminates the time spent collecting reports and manually entering data. At any point during the day you can get an up-to-the-minute snapshot of your sales, segmented however you like; by vendor, stand, register or the entire event. The only time involved is in pulling up the website and selecting the type of report you want to see.

The reality is, during your event, there simply aren’t any “extra” hours. Therefore, it either becomes someone’s full time job to enter all the inventory data overnight or the next day, or it doesn’t get done. The ability to continuously check your sales, see what your top sellers are and preemptively coordinate restocking means you greatly reduce the risk of customers not getting what they want. It also speeds things up when they don’t have to wait for product to be delivered. Selling more items, and selling them faster means an increase in revenue. The bottom line, you’ll save on staffing and increase sales.

For a complete analysis of your specific event, contact American Metro for a Free Point of Sale Project Profile. With just a few simple questions, we will provide you with a cost/benefit comparison and help determine the ideal point of sale solution for you.

Tags: Events, M-Box, iPad

3 Reasons Why We love Events (and you should too!)

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 @ 01:34 PM


The Event Experience:

Breaking new ground with Tomorrow World, EAA and iPad POS softwareYou really can’t beat the excitement that is infused in a gathering of people who are all passionate about the same thing. An entire stadium thunders with cheers as their team scores. The dedicated followers who become immersed in a world they could only imagine while at a theme convention. Witnessing a once in a lifetime opportunity like a presidential inauguration. Being caught up in the energy surrounding these events drives us to make them successful. We want the attendees to have a positive experience.

Our Clients:

We love working with our wide variety of clients and assisting in making their many different events a success. We truly appreciate working with all event individuals and making their lives easier. After all, event planning is one of the most stressful jobs out there, so when we can take some of that burden off we are eager and happy to do so.

Technology:

We are involved in an industry and live in a world that revolves around technology. We love it, especially when it works. Technology has made our lives easier and faster than ever. Tasks that once took days now take only minutes, and its right at our finger tips. It can be challenging to keep up with technology as it constantly changes, but we will never take it for granted. It has improved the events industry by a landslide. Plus, our company’s technology assists with some of the most important pieces of an event: finances and data collection.

Tags: Events, Event Planning, Rental

How many Cash Registers do I Need?

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Wed, Jan 08, 2014 @ 10:33 AM

crowd photo

Have you ever wished there was an easy way to accurately calculate your equipment requirements? We’ve had many requests to help answer this question over the years.

Why this question is important:

  • Guests don’t want to wait in long lines.
  • You need enough equipment to get you through the crunch times.
  • Spending more than is necessary for equipment or personnel is counterproductive.
  • There is a limited amount of counter space available.
  • Accurately completing a transaction saves time and money.
  • A percentage of your customers prefers to use a credit/debit card instead of cash

Our team of on-site managers and technicians has been personally involved in events covering all ends of the spectrum. We’ve identified over 20 factors that can greatly influence the checkout process.

Where to start

The first thing we look at is the expected attendance or expected revenue from your event. If you know this, you’re well on your way. One or both of these numbers are generally available from historical data or new events can be estimated based on similar events.

A few of the other factors we use to complete the calculation are:

  • How many days is your event?
  • What are the hours each day?
  • Are there sales spikes during your event? (i.e., When a concert lets out; At the end of a session)
  • How many sales areas (vendors) are at the venue?

The rest of the questions are equally easy to answer. When the right questions are asked and answered, the correct result is achieved.

Additional benefits

Another positive outcome of going through this exercise is identifying a handful of procedures that may cost you valuable time at checkout. Having done thousands of events, we’ve seen
the impact of these small variables; each makes a difference of perhaps only a couple seconds. When you multiply it out, two or three seconds times 20+ variables can double or triple the amount of time it takes to perform a simple transaction. With a slight modification, you could speed up your lines and require fewer cash registers.

Bottom line: happier guests; lower expenses.

For more information or a needs evaluation, contact Tim Mueller at American Metro using the button below.

.Needs Assessment

Tags: Events, Event Planning, Cash Registers

Pop-Up Retail Point of Sale Checklist

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 @ 09:51 AM

checklistWhen producing a pop-up retail store, no matter the location, there are so many things to do and remember. Including stressful and important things that we can’t afford to forget! Technology is extremely important, especially when your revenue relies on it. This information will help you remember some of the important technological aspects that can determine your pop-up retail stores success or failure.

little checkmarkCash Register/POS System:

The most essential piece of technology that retailers everywhere depend on. So, how do you find a cost effective, reliable, and mobile system? Depending on your needs, the basics should include: either mobile options, all payment acceptance (credit/debit, cash), inventory management, or receipts (paper vs. email).

little checkmarkRouter:

A quality router is necessary for strong security and solid WiFi or cellular connectivity, when processing credit cards. It has the important applications of card swipers, security systems (if needed), WiFi network, printers, etc.

little checkmarkPeripherals: Scanner, Printer, & Cash Drawer:

Laser barcode scanners can be extremely efficient if your products have barcodes. It will make transactions quicker, so customers spend less time waiting in line and more time purchasing your products. External printers compliment a wide range of POS systems and can be important when printing receipts not only for your customer, but for you as well. Printers also have options in displaying logos and coupons that can help promote your business. Cash drawers are a simple but essential item, especially when only accepting cash. Steel drawers with a manager key option can assist with keeping your funds safe and secure.

little checkmarkInventory Reporting:

Not all Pop-Up retail events need inventory reporting, since some events sole purpose is to move product. However, it can be pretty useful when wanting a timely salesreport of the event. Instead of spending hours counting cash and checking receipts, you can receive a financial report in minutes from instant data readings during the event. This feature has become extremely valuable to event organizers everywhere, after all time is money.

Tags: Events, Event Planning, Rental

Free Customizable Templates to Make Your Life Organized

Posted by Courtney Swanson on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 @ 08:37 AM

time managementThere is nothing we want more than to be able to kick off our shoes by the lake or hit up the golf course. However, with summer in full swing, things can get out of control. Something we find to be a simple solution to organizing a hectic work-load is Vertext42. They offer free templates that are customizable to your needs and are easy to share. We value our time and understand that you do too. The excel templates come updated with customizable features, so they work with everyone. One of our office favorites is the “Yearly Events Calendar” which already includes all national holidays and it lets you organize with different notification colors to really make things stand out. Being in the event services industry this template has literally been a lifesaver for multiple people in our office. We found this source to be incredibly helpful and wanted to pass it on.

(Resource: http://www.vertex42.com/calendars/yearly-schedule-of-events.html)

Tags: Events, Training, Event Planning

10 Tricks Every Festival & Event Organizer should know!

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Fri, Jun 07, 2013 @ 12:06 PM

Whether you’re in the planning stages or getting ready to set up, the summer’s festivals and events are in full swing. We understand all the work that goes into preparing for these events, and we want to help make things simple!  Here are some unique tips that we would like to share with you to make life easier for event organizers everywhere:

  1. knot your cordsTired of extension cords unplugging? Tie them together to keep them from falling out.








  2. store and organize your cordsWith all the different cords you may need at your event, organize them like this for easy access and quick labeling!







  3. pallet on a keychainWhen working with a client on a specific color pallet, paint Popsicle sticks of the color scheme and organize them with a binder ring. This way you can bring them with you everywhere when looking at fabrics or design ideas.





  4. describe the imageWith all the Keys on our key ring, organize them with paint or nail polish for easier and quicker access, after all time is money!









  5. tape tabsTape is a must have for any event whether its scotch tape, masking tape, and the most valuable duct tape. Save the end with a bread clip for easier use.







  6. penny in a vaseIf you are having fresh flowers at your event, place a penny into each vase with a pinch of sugar to keep flowers perkier longer. How’s that for penny’s value?









  7. quick candle cleanupIf candles are a part of the atmosphere at your event, remember to spray each holder with some oil. This way the wax won’t stick to the glass and makes your clean up that much faster!







  8. clever containersOutdoor events and festivals don’t have too much security for your belongings. As event organizers we carry some pretty valuable items, so be sure to disguise them with a unique case!






  9. dry checksIf you participate in outdoor events and are still accepting checks or have valuable paper documents, be sure to store them in a Ziploc with a piece of cardboard to keep them dry and un-creased!









  10. reserved seatsUtilize Space. To help prevent the front rows from being empty, place reserved signs on the last row or two to make people shift forward (you can remove the signs once the front row is filled).




Tags: Events, Event Planning, Service

Never Too Early for Event Planning

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 10:14 AM

Event InfographicThe summer months keep us on our toes and are in the front of our mind as it is our busiest time of year. However, deep down something even bigger is stirring: our participation at the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) trade show this September.

We know, we know, June is just a few days away and the start of summer is here. But we want to get people thinking ahead for all the trade shows happening this summer season. More importantly, we want to share with you how to get people talking about YOUR trade show exhibit. It’s never too early to start planning of success.

At American Metro, we are currently in the process of planning our goals that we want to accomplish at the Annual IFEA expo. Setting goals ahead is very important for obtaining desirable end results and is crucial in making these costly tradeshows worthwhile. The best advice we can give is to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of other coworkers. It is a great way to work creatively and bring in fresh ideas. After all the creative juices are flowing, FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS!

Here are some tips to help direct your efforts:

  • Know your target market and nurture those few, rather than trying to tackle the many.
  • Be consistent with your theme, booth, pre-show and after show mailers.
  • Relay a clear and concise message to your target audience which will help bring in business.
  • Don’t forget to have fun and make it a memorable experience for all involved, it can be easier than you think!

Below is a helpful infographic “Planning Your Exhibit’s Success” created by Agung Prabowo on Infographic File. Check it out for some quick tips and important reminders for your next tradeshow event.

1.)    http://www.infographicfile.com/infographics/view/795

 

Tags: Events, Rental

THE POWER OF PLASTIC (There’s muscle in those credit cards)

Posted by Haley Kavanaugh on Wed, May 08, 2013 @ 03:12 PM

customer with credit cardInteresting figures out from Dunn and Bradstreet point to an easy way to increase POS revenue at events and even in general business transactions. Quite simply, push the power of plastic.

Findings show the average American consumer will spend between 12 and 18 percent more per transaction when using a credit card as opposed to cash or check, even on small ticket purchases.  For instance, global fast food giant McDonald’s reports their average sale per customer increased from $4.50 to $7.00 when using their credit/debit card.

And most other establishments where the average ticket is above $20.00 find more than half of their customers will opt for plastic over cash.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

Making the use of credit cards and other forms of plastic convenient, easy and fast can only improve your overall revenue. To calculate possible returns, take a look at these examples, to see the likely impact to your bottom line and profitability.

In the case of an event, if you know historical or expected attendance numbers as well as the average amount spent per attendee, you can make this very simple calculation too.

Example of a festival not currently accepting credit cards at all sales areas:

125,000 people in attendance
$20.00 spent per attendee
$2,500,000.00 total revenue

If every attendee opted to use their credit/debit card and spent D&B’s lowest projected increase of 12 percent more at your event, increased revenue would be $300,000.00.

Of course we all know not every customer is going to choose plastic, but this is where revenue increases become very real.

If 5 percent of attendees use their credit/debit cards:          $15,000.00 increased revenue
If 10 percent of attendees use their credit/debit cards:        $30,000.00 increased revenue

Actual expectations will be 30 percent of attendees:            $90,000.00
- Credit card processing fees, at 3 percent:                       ($ 2,700.00)   
Net Revenue Increase                                                              $87,300.00   

The verdict is clear. There’s power and a whole lot of profitability in plastic. Call us today at 888-645-4876 to enter in your statistics and reveal how much more revenue you could be bringing in at your event.

Tags: Events, Credit Card Equipment

2012 Cash Register Rental Statistics

Posted by Bryan Mueller on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 @ 04:02 PM

With the steady growth we have experienced over the last several years, it's hard to say what an average year looks like at American Metro. Nonetheless, we do like tracking our register rentals each year. Here's some of the stats from 2012.

2012 Register Rental Stats

As you can see, American Metro deals in all types of events spread across the country. To further break down the distribution, we shipped registers to 24 states, plus the District of Columbia, and Brittish Columbia, Canada.

The majority of events (51%) fell under the Pop-up Merchandise category. This type of event averaged 8 registers per rental. 

Sporting events comprised the second most frequent type of event at 20% of our rentals. They tend to use more registers with an average of 36 per event.

The numbers listed only include those events that used registers. When factoring in events that just used credit card equipment, the final event count is over 300 with total equipment reaching over 5,400 units rented.

If you would like to find out how the experienced team at American Metro can help with your event, click the button below. 

I'd Like a FREE Quote

Tags: Events, Cash Registers, Rental