The iPad is quickly replacing the cash register in many small businesses--and why not? When paired with a card reader, the affordable tablet provides storefronts with real-time tweeting and tagging capabilities and a seamless way to connect multiple registers and locations through the cloud. Outfitted with the technology below, entrepreneurs can finally say goodbye to those ancient, bulky and pricey POS systems.
1. All strapped in
Uzibull Flex for iPad
Best suited for heavy-duty restaurant or warehouse use, the Uzibull Flex has a thick, silicon skin that protects iPads from bumps and drops, plus shoulder and hand straps for easy carrying. Thick air pockets absorb heavy impact but also recess the dock connector and headphone jack deep into the case, so card readers won't fit while the protective cover is on.
2. Swipe and save
(Prices vary per plan)
This dongle (and app) can be used on iOS or Android smartphones and tablets; it also syncs with QuickBooks accounting software. Funds are generally available within three days, with no transaction fees, and up to 50 employees can link to a single account, making it ideal for small businesses.
3. Stand and deliver
($199 to $299)
Perfect for reception areas, this mount secures and protects the iPad for customer use. It comes in a desk/wall version, which elevates the tablet 12 inches off a counter, and a 4-foot-tall floor model. Steel tubing conceals a 3-meter, 30-pin-to-USB cable that powers and connects the iOS device.
4. Hinge benefits
iPad Enclosures Gravity Flip
($279, as pictured)
The iPad's small size makes it an easy target for theft. Gravity Flip locks in and raises the tablet 10.25 inches off the tabletop, keeping the device secure while easing eye strain. Made to order in many configurations, the Flip earns its name from a hinge that flips the tablet from cashier to customer so shoppers can sign for their credit card payments.
Which mobile payment app is right for you?
Best for the cash-starved: Square typically makes funds available the next business day.
Best for accounting geeks: Payments on the Intuit system integrate seamlessly with QuickBooks. There is no monthly fee for the pay-per-transaction plan; high-volume users may opt for the $12.95 per month plan to get lower swipe and keyed rates.
Best for social media mavens: SalesVu integrates with Facebook, which allows businesses to promote their deals online as well as process sales remotely.