Alright I'm back with a final summary of our attempt at installing an I-pad based POS system. Two words sums it up for me:
After researching all the options, and talking to many different companies, I decided to try one called talech. I know there are a million options, but even one of the oldest and biggest, Shopkeep, could not have met my needs. I know this because I did a trial with their software and it had the same problems as talech, in spite of their sales guy saying it would all work out. I don't know why, but I was hell-bent on having an I-Pad POS. Big mistake there!
The people working at talech were very nice and the free customer support was generally (although not always) helpful, so it pains me to say this, but they really are not ready for prime time, and do not really understand the type of business functions that we needed. I got the feeling that they were growing way too fast as sometimes I got a techie who understood and could provide me with solutions, and more and more often, I got some clueless newbie who had no idea how to help.
I spent hours and hours uploading and getting everything ready to go live, with the assistance of the tech support. At the end of the period, what I had was a system that:
1.Crashed often (even after hard wiring all the printers), since you have to be connected to the internet to use the app, any glitches in connectivity bind up the whole system. Really. Has anyone ever had connectivity issues with either wifi or wired systems? It's pretty much the only thing you CAN count on.
2. Was not flexible enough between to go orders and for here orders, especially for those who were buying grocery items as well as ordering lunch items.
3. Could not meet the demands of taxable versus non-taxable foods, which is in constant flux (what business owner does not life in fear of a visit from the tax man?)
4.Required marketing information for every name (if Joe ordered a sandwich, you couldn't just enter Joe in the name area, you had to take time in the middle of a busy lunch rush to take down all his contact info). Tech support: "no sorry we have no way around that right now".
5. Provided summary day end reports that were not formatted. You had to download a spreadsheet and format it every day.
6. Was way too complicated to allow modifications. Have you ever been in an ordering line at a quick service restaurant, and the order taker is spending minutes swiping through menus to find the proper thing to push for "no onions?" Mind bendingly tedious.
7. Was way too complicated to deal with multiple people at one table all paying separately.
8. Barcode scanner sometimes found the items, sometimes not. I don't think it was the scanner's fault but the system, for various reasons that would bore you more than I already am!
9. Getting all the pertinent information to print on the order tickets was not intuitively built into the system. Especially a problem when you have different stations (hot food, cold food, salad station) all preparing food for one table. There was no way to connect the tickets for the various line cooks. Oh, yeah, you could do it if you set the system so it printed at every station for every ticket, even if that station didn't have anything to do with that ticket!
10. Required hardwiring of printers, although tech support initially told me it should work with wifi.
At each step of the way, we would try something and it did not work, so we'd do the next thing. You have no way of knowing, when you start out, whether or not you will even like the system. You have to keep doing the NEXT thing to make it work, and only when you have completed all the things that they told you you will not need to do, do you realize it's not a good match for you.
I could continue, but I think you probably get the picture. Maybe for a less complicated business, this app would work, but if you are trying to do as many things as we do, it was a mess. If you think about it, it kind of makes sense. In most restaurants, they take your order with pen and pad, then go in the back of the house to enter the order into the system. Standing in front of a customer trying to enter all the piddly little details is just not feasible. I learned the hard way, through many hours of training, data entry, hardware investment, IT support, and hard wiring expenses.
We have now purchased a Sam4S cash register with integrated credit card swiper and love it. We are back to taking orders by hand and running them to the kitchen. Not ideal, but it is much faster and it keeps things moving. I guess the human brain is still superior to a computer for some things.
Thanks for letting me vent. I've been needing to get this off my chest!
If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them for you!
Have a great day,