The Green Sheet Online Edition
May 24, 2010 • Issue 10:05:02
Cloud-based terminal and cash register
SoundPOS is what Bill Pittman, Chief Executive Officer at SoundPOS LLC, calls "a virtual terminal on steroids." Outside the accompanying hardware swipe device, the product rolls the components of a multifaceted POS system into one integrated software piece that includes both payment terminal and electronic cash register.
"What we're doing is providing a software solution that combines the functionality of a cash register with a payment terminal," Pittman said. "The normal approach is to get a cash register with payment terminal functionality, which is more or less a hardware solution.
"The idea behind SoundPOS is that the industry's evolving from terminals to integrated solutions. Some people are giving away their point of sale solutions to live off their merchant services revenue. I'm providing a POS solution that is really the evolution and next step of the virtual terminal."
Pittman said the "cloud" model of SoundPOS confers numerous advantages. For one, it is cheaper and significantly easier to maintain than more conventional systems because it operates from SoundPOS' server rather than the merchant's; therefore, the merchant is freed from having to deal with technical issues that might otherwise slow or bog down the merchant's computer or POS network.
The software model also makes it easier to upgrade the system, as enhancements do not require new purchases of replacement hardware, but rather are made seamlessly in the virtual space. "Since the product is all served out of the cloud, we have the ability to update them with enhanced functionality seamlessly," Pittman said.
Pittman added that SoundPOS includes a user interface that utilizes the same technology employed by Google Maps. The technology allows SoundPOS users to instantaneously manipulate Web portal information, including the portal's screen design. For example, merchants calling up, entering or changing product information can do so from the cloud as quickly as they could if the information was stored on an in-store database.
"Historically, when you build a solution in a browser, every time you make a change on the page it has to post to the server and then come back," Pittman said. "We built our stuff with a new technology that loads it at once, and gives the ability to have a user interface with immediate interaction with the application.
"It's really critical for the point of sale. For example, a customer [returns] an inventory item, and when you scan the bar code, it instantaneously brings it up at your point of sale, versus having to go back to the server and do a query lookup on the database and then bring it back."
Perhaps most significantly, the program allows merchants to integrate basic cash register functions with more advanced programs, such as data entry and storage, inventory management and customer tracking. This is in contrast to a hardware-based terminal and cash register, where such tasks often require manual data entry and other roundabout methods of information transfer.
"Cash registers are really dumb, and we've provided a solution that has the same dumb functionality of the cash register, but gives the merchant the ability to really split and grow their business over time by migrating more from that dumb functionality to the more intelligent functionality of a POS system," Pittman said.
An example of that intelligence includes historical reporting, daily transaction summaries and listings of how many "widgets" a business sells in any give day, Pitmman noted. Users can also take that data and post it to an accounting application like Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks.
"So now the average small business running QuickBooks for accounting can do their transactions during the day and post their information to their QuickBooks at the end of the day just by clicking a button," Pittman said.
SoundPOS is a browser-based POS program, though Pittman said merchants using it don't have to click on a traditional browser icon to start it up since it automatically loads and opens when merchants turn on their POS systems. Merchants can also sign into the system remotely, using a normal computer browser and logging in through the SoundPOS online merchant portal.
Pittman said the program is also built to support touch screen operations. It is sold exclusively through reseller channels, he noted, and includes a self-branding option for ISOs that wish to brand it as their own application.
"One of my favorite sayings is that [single] branded products move to the lowest cost seller," Pittman said. "If everyone's selling the same widget, a merchant can just go online and find the cheapest one. But they can't do that if everyone's selling their own [uniquely named] solution."
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