Point of Sale usability study targets iPad & iPhone systems

Point of Sale usability study targets iPad & iPhone systems

Summary: UX Magazine focused on user experience magazine takes a look at how customers handle a real-world point-of-sale credit card reader system that uses the iPhone and iPad. Yes, bigger (er, screen size) is better in this case.

UX Magazine focused on user experience magazine takes a look at how customers handle a real-world point-of-sale credit card reader system that uses the iPhone and iPad. Yes, bigger (er, screen size) is better in this case. In its iPad vs. iPhone: A User Experience Study, UX Magazine worked with the Bolt Peters research firm to look at the use of iPhones and iPads in a neighborhood coffee shop that implemented Square's mobile payment system (here's a promo Youtube video of the device in action). The Square Card Reader system uses software and a small reader hardware dongle that plugs into the audio port. There were two studies: one for the iPhone last December and a second for the iPad in April. The authors pointed to two results from the studies: the better usability and performance of the iPad improved the purchasing experience; and the degree of social interaction created by the iPad. According to the study, customers wanted connect to the merchant during the transaction, "but don't quite know what their role is supposed to be." The authors thought this was because the "spaces" of the merchant and customer were merged.

We observed one telling interaction that illustrated how the affordances of the iPad-cum-cash-register can lead to some awkwardness. In this case, the merchant swiped the customer's card (per usual) but immediately stepped away from the iPad to prepare another customer's drink. This left the payment process in limbo, and made the paying customer wonder what would happens next. After a moment or two, the customer glanced down at the iPad and noticed that the transaction had paused on the screen asking for a tip. He looked around, hesitated, and then gingerly reached over and pressed the $1 tip button. He did the same on the next screen, where he entered an email address for a receipt, only stepping closer to use the iPad keyboard. Throughout this episode, his body language spoke of his social curiosity for the iPad mixed with the social taboo of entering the domain of the merchant.
Perhaps, it's more about customer education. The iPad payment system isn't exactly like the more-familiar POS credit card systems in stores. In the case of the Square system, the customer is in charge of completing the transaction and entering an e-mail address to receive a virtual receipt (an unfamiliar task and requirement), unlike the usual store terminals that print out receipts. A very interesting study. Thanks to reader Ayana Baltrip of design:speak for pointing it out to me.

Topics: Hardware, iPhone, iPad, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • It all sounds very unintuitive

    Yikes, I would refuse to do business with an organization that forced me to engage in such unintuitive behavior.
    • And like Apple I'm certain they will miss your business

      Oh wait a minute according to you Apple has gotten your business adding to it's fortune. So I guess Apple won't be missing you one way or the other and I suspect the same will be said for others:P

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Are you seriously this dumb?

        @James Quinn
        [i]So I guess Apple won't be missing you[/i]

        This has nothing to do with Apple gaining / losing my business. If you had even grade school level reading comprehension skills (which you don't), you would have realized that I was talking about the retailer losing my business. I would refuse to do business with a retailer that forced me to use this unintuitive iPad system to pay for my item. Of course, your Apple zealotry kicked in when you thought, for a second, that I might be badmouthing Apple. Idiot.
      • NonZ... Fussing much?

        As I stated above they won't be missing you either I suspect. Which was my point. I also have my doubts as to the validity of your statement weather you purchase based on need or want if you need something and they use this iPad system I'm certain you will purchase it regardless. If you want something and they again use this system I'm sure you'll use it rather than walk around searching for another vendor that uses a different system. It does however amuse me to think you might be so bothered that you refuse to purchase based on this system. Now is it the system or the iPad you find so offensive?

        Pagan jim

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • RE: Point of Sale usability study targets iPad & iPhone systems


      Retailers are always trying to attract customer by using hip technically. Unfortionalty it doesn't always work.

      Its usually driven by a Opps or Marketing person who saw something on the news and then puts pressure on their IT group to implement it. Trying to force a business case gets blocked if the executives blindly get behind it too.

      Last year we tried to make sales tools for customers using the MS Surface. We gave thousands to a company that specialized in the device. We worked with their UX people and different test groups but it was never right.

      I would love to say I was surprised but my initial experience playing with the MS Surface was people needed time to play with it to understand how it "worked". It becomes like a first language once they get used to it, but who has time to do that in a retail environment.

      The iPAD and iPhone would be simliar. Only advantage they may have is that everyone has one or has played with their buddies or relatives.
      • Thanks for your comment

        Excellent to read about your personal experience in this area. Thanks!
      • RE: Point of Sale usability study targets iPad & iPhone systems

        @maskman01 Hi, I would of agreed with you since the iPad and Iphone were not ready for Real POS systems as the real industry would just laugh at an app like square as it does not have all the features one would need for fine dining. But then I found a company http://revelup.com they have a iPad app that would put all of our money where are mouths are. check them out! Full blown POS system with cash drawer, credit card swipe, and printer. along with so many software features you would expect in a real POS system. <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/shocked.gif" alt="shocked"> check them out!
  • RE: Point of Sale usability study targets iPad & iPhone systems

    Well, this is hardly the strangest payment scenario I've ever seen, and let's not forget there are already many bizarre PoS interactions out there. There's still a lot of confusion in the US over self-swipe systems, and I've often found myself waiting on a cashier who was waiting for me to his some recently-appeared "OK" button.<br><br>There are some non-bandwagon attractions to a potential iOs PoS. It's a device with a universal access port, a well known form factor, high battery life, built in wireless comms and a reputation for security. Thus it's perfect for any use where the barrier to traditional PoS is the dedicated hardware -- everybody needs a cell phone. It's ideal for introducing credit card payments in environments where they'd otherwise be unusable, such as swap meets, street events or charity events.<br><br>Of course, good luck trusting any of those uses.
    <br><br>Really, the next big thing is going to be merging the Paypal concept of authorizing payments without revealing "secrets" with the "touchpass" / Bump2Pay concepts of secure authentication via hardware. I've already merged my computer, entertainment system and phone. You want to really free up my pockets, remove the need for me to carry magnetic cards. And give me the ability to safely pay the guy at the sandwich truck with a quick tap.
  • RE: Point of Sale usability study targets iPad & iPhone systems

    One year ago we developed a mobile POS system for restaurants and bars. Its stable fast and has great functionalities. Waiters and customers can work with the system. For a demo on your iPod, iPhone, iPad or HTC Touch, please visit [url]http://mobielkassasysteem.nl[/url] and [url]http://cash-care.nl.nl[/url] And mobile ordering and -payments on the terraces is as easy.
  • Durability, Battery Life and Theft Prevention are all Concerns

    Our team develops point-of-sale systems and we too have considered the "real-world" possibilities behind using these devices in restaurants. However, our conclusions at this point in time lead us to believe these devices are not a good fit just yet.

    Though this article does not specifically talk about the devices being carried around, there is always the possibility that the wait staff in a restaurant could use these portable systems to take orders and accept the customers payments. In this particular scenario one cannot overlook that these devices are "hot" items on the market today and could easily become a target for theft. Additionally, though the battery life is getting better, they would not stand the test of an entire business day where the devices may not have time to rest on the included charges.

    Drop a device, expose it to liquid or excessive heat and you have another problem on your hands. Though these scenarios are much less likely to happen in retail, they are much more likely to occur in the restaurant business.

    Though the future of electronics and mobile payment applications and equipment is changing rapidly, we feel these devices are best suited for simple consumer use.

    Oceanside Software Corporation ? & Oceanside POS
    <a href="http://www.oceansidesw.com">Oceanside Software</a>
  • Mobile POS solutions

    Despite of all development based upon mobile payment, I think we have to wait another two year. In the mean time you so a lot of interesting development on point of sales solutions in the Cloud. Our restaurant works since 2009 with the Dutch iPos system. Besides this web-based ordering and payment system, and recently we introduced an ordering system for our guests. This ordering system is based upon QR scanning and is integrated with the iPos system. [url]http://mobileposrestaurant.com[/url]
    Restaurant Mazie