We’ve mentioned this a few times before, but this time we’ve really, finally, truly, selected our main Point of Sale for the store.  We’ve looked at Lightspeed Retail, Bindo, NCR Silver, Crystal Commerce, Square, ShopKeep, Shopify, Vend, and a few others that I can’t remember at the moment.
Many of them simply didn’t have a pricing plan that worked for our kind of store.  For example, Bindo’s basic plan is $76 a month.  That’s a bit pricy on it’s own but what’s worse is that you can only have 1,000 products in inventory.  Given the number of small items we carry, that number may be a bit low for us.  To move to the next tier (10,000 products) jumps to $128 per month.
Crystal Commerce was the most appealing of them all, because it’s focused on games and hobbies, but it lacked any off-line functionality (it’s currently 100% web-based).  Also, its iPad UI is a bit challenging, so instead of an iPad register, we’d be looking at a Mac.  In talking with their folks (who are incredibly knowledgeable and professional), it sounds like we’ll want to keep an eye on them over then next year, and we may end up switching to them in 2016.
In the end, we decided to use ShopKeep for three reasons.  The first is that they’re one of the only vendors (other than Crystal Commerce), that didn’t speak negatively about their competitors.  With most of the vendors we spoke with, as soon as we mentioned a competitor we were also reviewing, they would point out all the various flaws with the product.  With ShopKeep, they always focused on what they could do.
The second is that their iPad register is clean and stable.  It supports multiple employees, is capable of working offline, and just generally feels like it’s an integrated appliance.  Of course, like all the others, it’s just an app you download from the App Store, but it feels more polished than the others we looked at.
The final reason was pricing.  It’s $49.00 per month per register (we’ll only need one), and that’s that.  They tie into any Merchant service we wish to use, and they don’t have any per-transaction fees.
For our merchant service, we’d settled on Chase Paymentech.  They win because their prices are competitive and they are, by far, the most upfront and pleasant to deal with.  Merchant Services are, quite frankly, a mess.  Things that sound like simple plans “We’re only 0.25% above interchange with a $.10 transaction fee” end up being rather complex when you realize there are dozens and dozens of different interchange rates, and some of them have percentage + transaction fees as well.  So, “0.25% above interchange with a $.10 transaction fee” could be 2.5% with $0.20 in fees.
Square, incidentally, has the cleanest fee structure (2.75% for anything).  That works great on the low end, but, as you get above a $15.00 ticket, the numbers don’t look great (for certain interchange rates).
For the first year, anything we picked for a merchant service is a bit of a gamble – we have no idea what our average ticket will be, nor which cards will be popular in the store.  Thankfully, most merchant services (Chase included) don’t require contracts, so we can be nimble if we need to be.
Since participating with Square is free, and simply costs money when you use them, we’ll be using them as our backup processor.  Also, ShopKeep does not yet have an online store feature, so we’ll be using the Square Marketplace to handle online transactions.  That complicates things a bit, in terms of inventory management, but we think we have a workflow to keep things in sync as best we can.