The Instore point of sale system offers an “all-in-one” solution for sales, staff management, and promotion. The portal and iPad application are used together to provide businesses with an affordable system is easy to use with minimal setup.
Use Instore to:
- Make and track sales
- Manage staff
- Run promotions
- Create and use gift cards
- Accept online orders
If you are looking for an iPad POS system for your restaurant, cafe, or deli that is easy to use, this review is for you.
After creating an account for the free trial on Instore’s website using just an email address and password, the store setup process moved forward effortlessly. All setup is done in the web portal including store information, menus, people, and social account connections.
The dashboard shows Sales in a nice, simple layout with navigation along the left-hand side for easy viewing of Sales, Menus, People, and Social (connected accounts like Facebook or Foursquare).
There is also a convenient store location button at the top, which is used to change locations with ease. The bottom of the website contains a small toolbar showing that the trial has started and the number of days remaining. Signing up for a monthly subscription can be done easily from this bar.
MORE: View Instore's Profile to see how Instore works!
Once your employees, managers, and owners are set up online, they are able to log into the iPad app. This free application can be downloaded from the App Store.
The iPad app interface is simple and intuitive with easy login, clear button options, and it updates quickly when you change your items, menus, and employees online.
What it does well
To make things easy, the review will be split into two sections, one for the web portal, also called "Office" and one for the iPad App.
The office web portal functions as the control center or back-end for managers to define their menu items, set-up employees, review transaction analytics, and much more. The changes made here are reflected in the connected Instore iPad app.
Dashboard: labeled as the Sales section, it displays after logging in and has lots of useful information. The Net Sales by time or custom time range graph is a nice way to view the day’s sales quickly.
Along the left is a vertical of boxes, which can be rearranged, that contain further sales information such as order detail, top items and categories, payments by tender type, sales by employee, labor costs, and even discounts.
Notes on Dashboard (Sales) Section:
- The Dashboard area is also where reporting can be found. Reports generated from the iPad app are displayed here for easy printing or emailing. Individual reports can be printed, exported, or emailed from Office. Simply click on the report box to view the detail then select Print, Export, or Email.
Menus: this section provides a very easy way to set up Categories and Items. You can add or edit Categories and Items from the same main screen with Customization, Location Tax, and Tipping tabs across the top for each. Categories and Items can also be rearranged with a simple dragging motion. Each Item is placed in a category, contains a description, has different size and price options, an optional special tax rate, and a customization option.
Note on Menu Section:
- When configuring an Item there is a section for Food Information which includes checkboxes for Eggs, Milk, Shellfish, Vegetarian, Low Sodium, Kosher, and many others. Food Information is viewable on the Instore app on the Item customization screen. It helps employees answer customer questions about food allergies, dietary restrictions, etc., reducing training time.
People: there are 4 types of People that can be set up within that section: owner, manager, employee, and friend. The setup process is a quick one with required fields of name, role, email address, password, and pin. Telephone fields are available, but not required and photos can be uploaded for each person.
Employee passwords are used to access Office so they can view their time sheets. They do not have access to sales and menu data. Their pin numbers are used to access the iPad app.
Social: this section allows you to connect your store’s Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare accounts. So you can send out offers, respond to messages, and more, all from the Office.
The question mark icon, used for helpful tips, reveals a pop-up search box with results displayed directly above the box. After clicking a result link, you are taken to that article which displays within your store’s website window; no leaving your store setup! There are FAQ’s, tutorials, articles, and other helpful information in this section.
A gear icon at the bottom brings up a settings screen to configure account details, create and manage locations, add and edit discounts, customize receipts, and update billing information.
All-in-all, the Office backend of this point-of-sale system could not be much simpler or more functional.
Pretty much as soon as you open Instore’s iPad app it is ready to take your first order! The interface is as intuitive as the Office web portal. The main order screen shows the menu in either category or items in list format. Selecting an item places it on the check on the right.
Checks: these can be assigned to a server with options for table assignment and to-go or delivery orders. They can also be split by payment type for those customers paying part cash and part credit or gift card.
Checks can also be split by item, which is an important feature for those parties requesting separate checks.
Notes on Check Section:
- Employees can be set as Cashiers on the tablet and be automatically assigned each order OR assigned order by order using the Assign button.
- Discounts can be added or removed at both the item and check level.
- The tip screen appears on credit card and gift card transactions. You need integrated credit card processing set up to view this.
People: Employees who have been entered on the Office backend can clock-in or serve as the cashier. Anyone clocking in or out uses a pin number to confirm they are present. Those logged into the iPad app are displayed as an icon or photo (if one was uploaded to the website) in the upper left corner of the screen.
Checks: this section shows Open, Paid, Refunds, and Online orders. Once a check is selected, it displays the order and can be emailed, canceled, or continued and edited at this point. More items can be added to the check if it is still open or it can be paid. When checks are still open, a notification number appears above this button in the navigation which is a small but thoughtful feature.
Journal: this area is nice for showing the day’s activities per person with the time of activity. There is an option to add money, pay out money, or create a no sale activity. This is also where X and Z reports are generated with simple button clicks.
There are a few settings that can be configured on the iPad app which include printers, requiring notes for system functions, allowing tipping, changing tablet location.
If an Owner/Manager wants to make changes to their menu on the tablet, they need only login to Office, make the change, and sync the tablet. Instore does don't allow changes directly in the app to avoid employee abuse.
Online & Mobile Ordering
Instore also offers integrated online and mobile ordering through EatStreet, a cloud based food ordering service. This feature gives you the capability to take food orders through your website or the EatStreet mobile app for iOS and Android. When a customer places an order online, EatStreet sends it immediately to you through Instore for fulfillment.
Pricing & Availability
As you may have gathered, the Instore system uses both a web interface and the iPad app together so you will need an iPad 2, Mini, or higher. Instore offers the physical components of the system “a la carte” and you can purchase any or all of the pieces that you require through their site (or whatever vendor you choose).
One free component, in addition to the web app and iPad app itself is the free MagTek iDynamo Credit Card Reader ($109) that you get for signing up for a Merchant Account through Mercury Payments or CardConnect. Alternatively, you can keep your current merchant account if you want by utilizing the CardConnect payment gateway which is "Processor Agnostic".
The free trial technically lasts for 14 days, but you can (and likely will) receive more free days by completing any number of tasks during your setup such as: creating items, making social connections, and generally setting up your store. This feature essentially replaces the “traditional” tutorial by making you learn by playing with and setting up your restaurant, though tutorials are always available through the aforementioned Help feature.
After the free trial, subscriptions are $99 per month, per location and an unlimited number of iPads can be used at each store location.
The Instore team seems to have thought through the essentials of what a restaurant or store owner/manager needs in a POS system. On top of that they've added features that cause Instore to exceed expectations such as social account integration, gift cards, and online ordering. The interface for both the Office backend, and the iPad app, is simple and intuitive, so employees should have little problem getting up and running on this system.
Bottom line: Instore takes the complexities of point of sale and organizes them into an easy to use solution for your business. The built-in promotional tools will help grow your business while counting every dime. If you need a system that is hassle-free, rock-solid, and complete, Instore is what you’ve been searching for.
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