The Power of POS

With the POS market expanding, in both new hardware technology and the sheer number of options available, price point and power continue to dominate on-premise decisions when it comes time to pick a platform.

At first there were a few, then a few more, and now, they’re everywhere. In the on-premise environment, point of sale (POS) systems have become much more the norm than the rarity. So how does one company make its way amongst the many? And how does that benefit you?

The key to the emergence of Harbortouch in the POS marketplace has been its innovative approach to reducing the sometimes-staggering upfront costs of investing in this technology, especially for smaller bar and restaurant owners wary of the initial price tag. In fact, the company offers
its hardware for free. (To find out more, visit But there is more to it, these days.

Harbortouch is a national supplier of POS systems, credit card processing equipment and merchant services. We spoke with Harbortouch CEO Jared Isaacman about the growing POS marketplace, the necessity of this technology on-premise in 2014, and how his company is reacting to a new segment of similarly cost-efficient models available today. The bottom line is this: A bar without POS is like a boat without a paddle — you’re gonna float for a while, but you’re not likely to get very far.

BB:  What has 2014 been like for POS?
ISAACMAN:  I think the industry as a whole is realizing that POS technology is the certainly the way businesses are going to conduct commerce on a large scale. It certainly no longer is just going to be your mega retail chains and your big restaurants; it’s going to be, at some point, universal. And low-cost POS systems are a big factor in that. Instead of them being $20,000- or $30,000-a-pop, they’ll be similar to our model.  

BB:  How is the second half of 2014 shaping up for Harboutouch?
ISAACMAN:  We’re excited about the second half of the year because we’re unveiling two new products at our sales conference at the end of September.
We just came back from a marketing meeting and from our perspective what we’re unveiling makes what everyone else is just coming out with now about five-years obsolete. 

BB:  Can you go into any specifics about the new products?
ISAACMAN:   I will tell you that we’re an organization here that likes to take a lot of Apple influence into our design philosophy and our software philosophy, and it’s been two years since we released our Elite hardware, which from our perspective is still cutting edge. But I’d say that makes us about due for a new hardware release, maybe two new hardware types coming out, and certainly the latest versions of software and value-added services too. 

BB:  Is the growing number of POS companies entering the marketplace driving down system costs overall?
ISAACMAN:  I think what it’s doing is raising awareness, first and foremost. As consumers an even business owners, we react to what we hear everyday. We listen to the walls talking around us. And when you have nine different sales people walk into your restaurant saying, ‘Why don’t you have POS?’ and ‘Why don’t you have a tablet?’ and ‘You’re falling behind the times,’ eventually you may start to believe that. So I think
the awareness factor has gone way
up. Now, the number of unique and effective solutions really has not.

BB:  Is the low-cost investment in Harbortouch still the biggest draw for bar owners?
ISAACMAN:  That’s an awesome question. Because there’s no doubt that was our strongest selling point when our competition was MICROS and Radiant, etc. When everybody else is $20,000 or $30,000 dollars with $500 equipment fees, and we’re $69, we don’t bother get into all of the ‘Our equipment is better than yours,’ or ‘Our software does more things than yours,’ because economics wins alone. Now, you have tablet solutions and $99-a-month POS solutions, like Clover, which can be $90-a-month. So yes, you have more choices and you have more options that are getting closer to our cost-of-ownership. So
all that does is just open up the conversations we’ve been waiting to have for five years where we say, ‘Ok, but that’s a stripped-down ECR, ours is a full-featured POS, and they don’t give you Reservations, they don’t give you Tableside or remote online POS management like our Lighthouse product.’ So we’re talking about more things now than just price, which is what we were doing for a while, but that’s o.k. Our value proposition is still awesome.

BB:  Can a bar owner today truly maximize a venue’s potential without a POS system?
ISAACMAN:  No. There’s no way. I understood that economics were a barrier of entry for a long time, but wind back the clock even ten years ago, when your only option might have been a $25,000 MICROS-type system. The business had a much better chance by having it. Costs aside, your operational efficiency and table turnover is going to be dramatically higher with POS; you’re costing your business money every single day by not having one. Regardless of economics, there is value, especially in the hospitality segment. Retail can maybe get away with it by doing old-school inventory methods. But now, with customer loyalty progeams and such, it’s getting harder for retail to not have POS. But definitely, bar and restaurant hospitality venues have to have POS, and the fact that it’s more affordable now takes away all the excuses. It’s a must.