May 10 -Founded by a former shop owner, ShopKeep is hoping to get a bigger piece of the growing mobile retail point-of-sale business, by allowing small-to-mid size retailers to use iPads to process and track customer sales at a low monthly fee. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Joel Branson, a general manager at One Girl Cookies, a trendy New York bakery, was opening a new store when he realized he urgently needed sales equipment that would make his busy life easier. He wanted something to ring up transactions, clock in staff, do inventory and let him see what's going on at his other location. Branson spent hours checking out different point-of-sale systems, and came across ShopKeep, a small New York-based company that operates a cloud-based POS with an iPad. SOUNDBITE: JOEL BRANSON, GENERAL MANAGER, ONE GIRL COOKIES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's very cost-effective, for the complete set up, honestly, it cost about 20% of what a big, bulky Windows-based PC point-of-sales costs, which is great. The iPad has numerous functionalities. I use it for my stereo. I use it for my time clock. I use it for the Internet. Everything on the $50 a month is nothing in comparison to all the time I save, actually not having to dig through all the receipts, it's so easy to use, I don't know. I have been doing it for eleven years, and can't even imagine going through the first nine without this." ShopKeep has 6,000 customers around North America. It employs 63 people, who just moved to a new, spacious office in downtown Manhattan. The company's founder and CEO, Jason Richelson, started ShopKeep after getting frustrated with an inefficient transaction system in a grocery and wine store he ran in Brooklyn. That store financed Richelson's new idea. Later came venture capitalists. SOUNDBITE: JASON RICHELSON, CEO AND FOUNDER, SHOPKEEP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The brand that we created, ShopKeep, the brand really is about being unintimidating, approachable, and retailers are generally scared of technology." Customers pay $49 a month for each register, a discount for three or more, and a one-time equipment fee of rough $11-hundred, which includes an iPad, a cash drawer, iPad stand, card swiper and printer. ShopKeep is just one of the emerging players at the crossroads of technology and retail. Square, which is backed by JP Morgan Chase, has the early lead. The equipment, iPad not included, costs about $750 and on top of that retailers fork over 2.75 percent per transaction. There is a monthly flat-fee option of $275. And there are other differences, Square allows retailers to use devices run by Apple iOS and Android for nearly all non-cash transactions. ShopKeep registers only work with iPads. Android devices can be used for backroom operations only. According to research firm IHL, the traditional point of sale industry was worth about $18 billion worldwide in 2012, and is expected to grow about 5% this year. Mobile POS, like ShopKeep, rang up about $2.3 billion in 2012, surging to an estimate $3.2 billion by the end of 2013, a much faster growth rate than its traditional retail counterpart. SOUNDBITE: JASON RICHELSON, CEO AND FOUNDER, SHOPKEEP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We're now are getting so many customers and they continue to want this feature and that feature, and we're trying to deliver what their needs are, but we can never can make everyone happy. But we're trying very hard, that's why we moved to this office, we will be able to hire more engineers, hire more people so we can deliver on the needs of our customers." Though growing fast, the mobile point-of-sale industry is still minute compared to the retail experience. But with tablets and other mobile devices gaining more traction in the retail world, ShopKeep has to continue to innovate in order to convince new customers that its platform is the easiest and the cheapest way to go.