What are Rugged Tablets?
Tablet point of sale (POS) is the next level of technology, adding mobility and improving on the benefits of traditional POS for all types of businesses. But for maximum advantage, you need to select rugged tablets — ones that are designed specifically for the tougher conditions of commercial environments — rather than consumer-grade models. Rugged tablets have greater resistances to dust, liquids, temperature extremes, and accidental drops onto hard floors. Tablet POS can streamline operational efficiencies, enabling employees to do their jobs better and enhancing the customer experience. If you’re thinking of adding mobile POS to your technology profile, here’s what you need to know about rugged tablets.
Overall Advantages of iPad POS Alternatives
Tablets intended for personal use simply can’t handle the daily wear and tear that will be put on them in retail, restaurant, or warehouse environments. Rugged tablets offer several design advantages:
No matter how careful people are, eventually that tablet is going to hit the floor, whether it slips from a warehouse worker’s grasp or gets knocked off a restaurant table or retail counter. For consumer models, a fall onto concrete or other hard surfaces can result in a cracked screen or case, or damaged internal components that cause loss of functionality. Rugged tablets are built with greater impact protection and have drop ratings that indicate how much of a fall they can withstand.
Water and Dust Resistance
Drops can include falls into liquids (such as sinks or puddles), and spills and steam are common, especially in restaurants. And no environment is completely dust-free. Consumer-grade tablets do not have protective sealing to keep moisture or particles from getting inside and causing damage. Rugged tablets are constructed with components that give them greater resistances, and have ratings to indicate the strength of these resistances.
Ability to Accommodate Multiple Applications
Commercial tablets are used for a lot more than just basic transaction functions and processing of various payment types. Other tasks include providing product and inventory information to staff, streamlining restaurant ordering, and compiling customer data (such as purchase histories) for targeted marketing or loyalty rewards programs. Consumer tablets usually don’t have sufficient random-access memory (RAM) or processing capacity to handle such multitasking; but rugged tablets do.
Peripherals and Future-Proofing
Unlike consumer tablets, rugged models intended for commercial use are designed to include or easily accommodate various peripherals necessary for additional functionality. These peripherals include barcode scanners, magnetic card stripe readers, EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) “chip” card readers, near-field communications (NFC) capabilities (for contactless payments such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet), and even biometric devices. Look for models that either have these things or have the ability to add them later as needed.
How Tablet POS Benefits Restaurants
Adding mobility to your POS with rugged tablets brings several advantages to restaurants of all types.
Streamline operations at the front and back of house by eliminating the paper ticket system and either giving your servers tablets for taking orders, or placing them on the table for self-ordering. Orders go straight to the kitchen for faster prep times, and the potential for errors is greatly reduced.
Payment transactions conducted at the table are much faster than waiting for a server to run the bill back and forth from a stationary terminal. The increased speed leads to more table turnovers per shift, which means greater revenue and tips. Customers can also feel more secure because their credit or debit cards never leave their possession.
Don’t let long lines and wait times convince your customers to take their business elsewhere. Armed with tablets, your employees can get out from behind the counter and move down the line taking orders, speeding up service and increasing through-put.
Rugged tablets set up as self-service kiosks are another method of line-busting. And whether at a kiosk or at the table, self-ordering customers feel more comfortable exploring the menu and tend to order more food without the pressure of a waiting server. Some tablets can even allow customers to make their own reservations for a future visit, encouraging repeat business.
Effective Entertainment and Promotions
In addition to ordering functions, tableside tablets can provide entertainment for waiting patrons, such as videos for kids or games such as trivia quizzes for all ages. Or the tablets can provide additional display “real estate” for advertising and promoting your latest specials, offers, and menu items.
Upselling and Cross-Selling
Whether it’s in a server’s hands or on the table for self-ordering, a tablet never forgets to make upselling suggestions and offer prompts that will increase ticket sizes. From small add-ons such as extra cheese or guacamole to entire menu items such as appetizers, wine, or dessert, upselling brings in more revenue.
How Mobile POS Benefits Retailers and Enhances Existing Fixed POS
For retailers, tablet POS can improve the customer experience and augment (not necessarily replace) a traditional POS system.
Reduce shopping cart abandonment and lost sales incurred when customers get tired of waiting in long lines at your fixed POS. Rugged tablets enable your staff to conduct payment transactions from anywhere on the sales floor. The added convenience will encourage future visits.
Not only can your employees perform checkout functions, but they can also assist customers with product and inventory information. They can check to see if a desired product is in stock at another of your locations, for example, and order it for home or store delivery. And the tablet can provide upselling or cross-selling prompts based on the item being looked up or on customer purchase histories.
Customers can also look up product information themselves and browse your virtual inventory while in the store with tablets set up as self-service kiosks. Allow customers to check your latest circulars and deals, manage their loyalty program memberships or gift registries, and view products beyond what’s currently on your shelves.
Tablets can provide additional advertising space and ways to engage customers with interactive displays. Shoppers can view instructional videos, play games, or answer questions that help them select the best product fit for their current needs — everything from cosmetics to plumbing fixtures. Interactive displays can encourage customers to linger in the store; and the longer they stay, the more likely they’ll buy.
How Mobile Computers Benefit Warehouse Data Collection
Rugged tablets are ideal not only for customer-facing applications but also behind the scenes for warehouse data collection.
High Durability and Reliability in Extreme Environments
Warehouses are tough on equipment, and if a device quits working in the middle of a shift, the lost time and productivity can be costly. A tablet with an IP54 rating is sufficiently protected against dust and liquids, and a four-foot drop rating means the tablet can stand up to an accidental drop on concrete. Rugged tablets are also built to handle vibrations from forklifts and other machinery, as well as temperature and humidity extremes.
Fast Data Capture
Integrated barcode scanners operate at speeds necessary to ensure high productivity for warehouse workers. And the integration means fewer pieces of equipment for operators to carry.
Android Operating System
Android has overtaken Windows operating systems in popularity, particularly in the warehouse industry. Integration and scaling are easily accomplished with Android’s open platform, making it the recommended choice for rugged tablet data capture solutions.
Rugged tablets have significant ergonomic advantages over traditional gun-style data capture devices. Tablets are lighter, more compact, and less bulky to wield and carry than traditional devices. The gun-style scanners are more likely to cause repetitive-motion injuries and worker fatigue, resulting in lost productivity and workers’ compensation claims; but tablets are more comfortable. Tablet display screens are also larger (7 to 10 inches), making it easier to read and navigate the user interface. And rugged tablets are built with longer battery life than consumer-grade models, to maintain the display and functionality through a long work day.
What to Ask Before You Purchase a Ruggedized Tablet POS
When you’re ready to start experiencing the advantages of mobile POS for your business, here are some things to look for as you make your rugged tablet selection:
What is the drop rating of the tablet you’re considering?
The drop rating will tell you how far the tablet can fall onto a hard surface without suffering enough damage to cease working. Experts advise looking for a drop rating of four feet onto concrete for most restaurant and retail applications. Also check for the ability to withstand multiple drops.
How resistant is it to dust and water?
Rugged tablets will have an Ingress Protection rating, which is the letters IP followed by two digits. The first digit indicates level of resistance to dust (on a scale of 0 to 6), and the second digit is resistance to liquids (on a scale of 0 to 8). An IP54 rating is generally considered sufficient in the retail and restaurant industries — and the higher the numbers, the greater the protection.
Can it be used in both indoor and outdoor settings?
Another environmental factor that your mobile POS needs to withstand is temperature fluctuation, as you may need them for both indoor and outdoor use. Many rugged tablets are built to MIL-STD-810G, a military standard that involves rigorous testing under a variety of conditions, including extreme temperatures. Rugged tablets should handle operating temperatures from 32oF to 104oF, and storage temperatures between -45oF and 114o
What type of warranty, service, and repair options are available?
Despite their greater durability, rugged tablets should still come with a warranty that is at least as good as those offered for their consumer counterparts, and service options that last for the lifetime of the device. When it does need service or repair, you’ll want to be working with a manufacturer whose technicians have extensive knowledge and experience with rugged hardware.
Rugged tablets are worth the investment, not only because of the benefits they offer, but because of the cost savings they bring. When a consumer-grade tablet is damaged from a fall, a spill, or other accident, there are additional costs beyond the necessary repairs or replacement. You lose valuable time while the tablet is out of commission, in the form of lost sales and lost employee productivity. Rugged tablets resist physical damage and thereby prevent financial damage.
When you’re choosing a rugged tablet POS, consider the vendor you’re choosing as well. Touch Dynamic has been meeting the technology needs of a variety of industries since 2001, with experienced employees and dedicated support. To find out more, contact Touch Dynamic.