Intuit has teamed with Revel Systems to launch an iPad Point of Sale (POS) solution, formally called QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel Systems. The offering extends Intuit’s POS portfolio beyond the reach of the QuickBooks POS v12 Windows based retail platform and to the world of touchpads, online connectivity, and new verticals such as hospitality and more. This has been a dream for many POS practitioners and Intuit customer alike.
This article is the first in a series on the product. It is intended to be an overview of the product and not an in depth analysis, and starts with some background, a high level product overview, and a synopsis of the iPad module. In the next article I will continue the overview with a glimpse into the back-end, and then some commentary. Future articles will drill into particular functionality. Please feel free to request areas particular of focus.
Revel Systems has a number of industry specific versions with the same foundational infrastructure. This article focuses on the retail version.
The partnership between Intuit and Revel Systems was introduced by Intuit back in November, just one week after Revel Systems secured ~$100 Million in Series C Funding. Intuit looked at a number of POS software companies prior to forging an agreement with Revel Systems. Revel Systems’ product marketing centers on five key areas, and these provided some insights into why Intuit selected them as a partner. They include the following (I left out the marketing-speak).
- Intuitive iPad Interface
- Seamless Integration with QuickBooks Online
- Anytime, Anywhere Access
- Always On Mode
- Advanced Inventory and Reporting
Intuit and Revel Systems launched the QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel product in late February of 2015.
My company, QB Services, was fortunate to have participated in a hands-on Intuit / Revel iPad POS Training conference at the Wynn Encore in Las Vegas. It was a great introduction to the company, the Revel Systems team, and the product. Though certified in the product, we continue to gain knowledge of the product. Like any product, there is the good and the not-so-good. Both Intuit and Revel Systems have been very open to product feedback thus far, as we have already seen some of the recommendations incorporated into the product and others are on the near term roadmap. I’ll provide my editorial comments in the second part of this article.
Overview of QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel Systems
The product, QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel Systems, is the same product as is offered directly from Revel Systems. Thus, for easier reading, I will use the term Revel when referring to this product.
Hybrid architecture – speed and the benefit of the cloud: Revel is an iPad solution on the front-end with a cloud based, device agnostic back-end. Its hybrid architecture stores POS data on both the iPad and in the cloud, resulting in faster performance than a cloud based solution. This is a great feature and stands out from other vendors’ offerings.
Always On Mode: A major benefit and comfort is the ability to process sales even with the loss of internet connectivity. How can credit cards be processed even if the internet is down, you ask? Credit card sales are stored locally and then authorized when internet access resumes. You can set the maximum amount for a single offline payment, a maximum total amount for offline payments, and whether to request customer information when payments are offline. Yes, there is risk, but this feature allows the merchant to continue selling within their limit of risk comfort. Another differentiator.
Power and ease of use of the iPad: The front-end iPad app is easy to use. Many features and functions available are driven by the back-end, making for a flexible solution. There are a lot of options which can be a bit overwhelming at times and some features seem buried but, like all software, that is where training is key.
Back-end cloud based management tool: Activity is uploaded from the iPad to the back-end within a few minutes, providing real-time access to activity across all locations (Revel uses the term establishment to identify stores/locations). This is the cloud so all data can be viewed from anywhere on any device. The back-end controls many of the POS settings utilized by the iPad, providing a centralized management tool.
QuickBooks Online integration: Revel integrates directly with QuickBooks Online. The integration improved with the launch of the Intuit-partnered release. As of the writing of this article, there are still some nuances that need to be addressed before we can recommend going live with the integration, but it is close and we anticipate these being resolved quite quickly.
Hardware setup and configuration: Another thing that sets Revel apart is the hardware setup/configuration. The recommended approach is to purchase the hardware bundle and Revel will pre-configure all the components. All the merchant needs to do is connect the supplied router to the internet source, power up the components, and you have a working internal network with the iPad app connecting directly to their Revel URL in the cloud. What a great idea, as hardware and network setup can be very problematic and challenging! This doesn’t eliminate all efforts but reduces the risk dramatically. It also allows Revel to help troubleshoot hardware and network issues remotely. Brilliant! The downside is that there is an associated cost, but it can be worth the expense.
The bundle includes an iPad Air, iPad stand, receipt printer, cash drawer, IPP 350 debit swipe (EMV ready), barcode scanner (optional), router/access point/switch, surge protector and cabling. Revel also supports customer facing displays, typically an iPad mini.
The iPad Front End
The front-end iPad app is just like any other app; however, it is pre-configured when the hardware arrives and will automatically connect to the other hardware – internet, receipt printer, cash drawer, credit card, and the option bar code scanner.
The Log In screen
When you first launch the app it will prompt you to log on:
Logging in: The PIN is assigned in the back-end for each user. Enter the PIN and click login.
Communicating with the back-end: The bottom left-and side of the screen shows the status of the communication with the back-end. Normally, the data is sync’d automatically every few minutes. The Refresh button in the top right-hand corner can force the data exchange. Bottom line is that it is a seamless process.
Clock In/Out: Employees not logged in can clock-in or clock out. Clicking this will ask for the PIN.
QuickBooks Point of Sale Logo: Double clicking will show information about this iPad – establishment, station, device ID, URL. There is a troubleshoot button to help diagnose device and POS station issues. I heard a rumor that this Revel Systems logo will change to the new formal name and logo, but it could be just that… a rumor.