Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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B a c k i n t h e W i n d y C i t y Where Lightspeed is an absolute viking, however, is in the retail setting. Just as Square and Upserve (formerly Swipely, the credit-card-con- nected analytics platform that now owns Breadcrumb) have become the standard bearers of customer analytics on the quick service restaurant (QSR) and fast-casual side of things, Lightspeed has built a powerful analytics platform for the independent retailer. Lightspeed's wealth of customer data and reporting was one of the things that attracted Lance Lawson, owner of Space 519, a beautiful new boutique featuring women's apparel, housewares, and apothecary products. In addition to an unparalleled and highly curated selection of retail products, Space 519's new shop, tucked in a quiet corner of Chicago's tony Gold Coast neighborhood, features a bistro with a very legit specialty-coffee program. The POS system in the café? Square. "The ease of use, setup and employee training with Square is leaps and bounds better," says Lance. Then why use Lightspeed on the retail side? Lance explains, "We use Lightspeed for its in-depth merchandise and client information tracking, which is much more important for our retail component. With our sit-down restaurant and coffee counter, Square offers enough of this kind of tracking. And the cost is also so much less." Both Chicago's Space 519 and Seattle's Nordic Museum are new enough that it's probably too early to start naming victors amongst their chosen POS platforms, but in the context of their respective vertical sectors, it's not hard to see why Square has conquered the entrenched and unsophisticated monoliths that are Micros and Aloha. From its inception, Square made it easy for anyone to accept credit cards with its $10 card swiper plugged into the 3.5mm audio jack of its mobile phone or tablet. If it had stopped there, Square might have been relegated to the rocky shores of craft fairs and farmers markets, and would still have millions of merchants using its system. Square expanded to retail and restaurants with a virtual longboat of useful features, though. Square's cloud-based strategy is its primary strength. It's no longer necessary for a manager to go to the shop to pull a sales report: Square (as do many of their mPOS competitors. mPOS, by the way, means mobile point of sale.) provides real-time ac- cess to sales data, down to the individual transaction, and notifi cations can alert a manager or owner to all manner of performance metrics as they happen. Most of all, a cloud-based point-of-sale system means that when a customer knocks a pint glass of cold brew onto the store's only iPad rendering it a paperweight, the store can keep the line moving by simply loading the app on the manager's iPhone or Android device, or send a barback to the nearest offi ce-supply store to purchase a new iPad, and be back up and running in 15 minutes. Try the same with the main terminal on one of the older Win- dows-based systems. It's not uncommon for a Micros support-desk technician to tell a customer it will be 8 or 10 or 24 hours before a tech will be available, and onsite dispatch ("truck rolls") cost money. Traditionally, it's upward of $155 for the travel fee, $155 per hour for service, and unless one wants to roll the dice on a refurbished touch- screen terminal for $500, replacing a terminal can be anywhere from $1,500–$2,000. Overnight shipping alone would be onerous, then add to that a day's worth of lost credit card sales. In the United States, even a coffee shop with an average transaction of $7 and 300 customers (that is a busy shop) likely does 85 percent or more in credit card sales. If you don't have a cloud-based system when your equipment goes down, that's your staff telling 255 customers that their money is no good. Chances are, some of those customers will have cash or run and get it, but otherwise, it's $1,500 walking out the door each day until Micros shows up to charge the owner $310 plus the cost of a new terminal. The ease of replacing a soaked POS terminal seems to be an advan- tage of iPad-based tablet POS systems. Other popular mPOS systems include Toast and Clover, but those systems run on Android devices that have been modifi ed to the point of being almost semi-proprietary. Toast's popular 10-inch stationary terminal is manufactured by ELO, a company which in turn has focused on POS as its niche, and there- fore are unlikely to be found in the nearest home electronics retailer. Similarly, Clover came out of the gate with an Android-based terminal that was seamlessly integrated into their own proprietary stand and printer. Not exactly the kind of thing one can easily purchase on a busy Sunday morning. Still, there are real advantages to a more proprietary, An- droid-based system in an updated, custom enclosure, the way Square has done with its very new hardware iteration. In addition to a sleek, customer-facing display (no more "excuse me while I whip this thing around for you to sign"), the self-contained hardware reduces the number of cables and plays into Square's strength: simplicity. The popular Hollywood, Calif., coffee bar and community space Cuties was an early adopter of Square's latest hardware. "The new system at Cuties is helpful because when our bar is staffed with one person, the customer can fi nish the transaction while we immediately hustle to make their drink," says Cuties co-owner Virgina Bauman. "It speeds up the whole interaction and lets us focus on the product we sell, rather than selling our product." "Honestly I'm still so impressed every time someone uses ApplePay. Someone paid their tab using their watch the other day and it blew my mind! I also love the integrated customer tracking, allowing us to see what percentage of our customers are new or returning, which helps us understand what kind of information is helpful (or redundant) to share when we're at the register." —Diana Mnatsakanyan, Undercurrent Coffee 102 barista magazine

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