Over the past three years, a flood of iPad-based point-of-sale (POS) platforms has come to market, a boon for small businesses seeking a simpler way to take their companies into the digital age without paying lots of money. There are two things that make the ShopKeep solution especially appealing. First, it's led by an entrepreneur who used to run his own small store, so he understands the challenges faced by shopkeepers. Second, even though ShopKeep's application is cloud-hosted, personal customer service is a hallmark of how the company does business.
"What I have found is that they have been very aggressive in updating their software to get it to where customers want," said long-time customer Ike Escava, co-owner of The Bean, a four-location coffee shop chain in New York City. "I feel I have their ear."
That isn't an accident. After struggling with technology for years, founder Jason Richelson is very particular about how new ShopKeep customers and prospects are treated, not just when they're installing the system but along the way. Even though the application — which runs on both iPads and smaller Apple iOS touch devices — doesn't require much training, ShopKeep's Web site is one of the few I've found recently where there is actually a phone number to call someone. "We talk to all of our customers," Richelson said.
That's a policy that's going to get harder, being that the company just crossed the 10,000 storefront threshold. Although the company doesn't release its revenue, sales tripled during 2013 and it just raised another $25 million in venture capital from Thayer Street Partners, bringing its total so far to $37.2 million. One of the first focuses for the new money will be establishing extended customer support operations on the West Coast and also in the company's first international location in Ireland.
"I started ShopKeep because I was fed up with the software available to me in my wine store, and I knew there had to be a better way," Richelson said, commenting about the funding. "Partnering with Thayer Street is a significant step in our evolution as a company, given their deep experience in tech-enabled financials and long-term investment approach. We're aiming to be the first billion-dollar software-as-a-service company to come out of New York."
Although the platform is updated with relevant features on a regular basis, ShopKeep just released an extensive overhaul to its interface that speeds transaction processing, advances security and broadens its back-office and inventory management features. The system works with encrypted credit-card swipers from MagTek; the credit card data isn't stored in ShopKeep's cloud. Some of the new money will go toward deeper analytics and reporting capabilities for its customers, Richelson said. "We are really like an ERP for small brick-and-mortar businesses," he said.
Reporting was one of the biggest factors that led The Bean's Escava to ShopKeep in the first place when he decided to ditch his previous Window-based system. "It has been a big change to my business to access my reports in the cloud," he said.
For small-business owners who rely on QuickBooks, ShopKeep offers a QuickBooks integration that enables them to export data to the General Ledger. There are also integrations with PayPal, the LevelUp mobile payment platform, and AppCard customer loyalty program.
The ShopKeep onboarding process includes recommendations about which hardware is appropriate for a company's given retail requirements. Pricing for the ShopKeep service itself is $49 per register, per month.