Looking for a free POS with a free card reader?
- Date Established
- Greenwood Village, CO
- Unique features for bookings
- Simple and strong reporting options
- Strong customer support
- Interface can be glitchy
- Can’t process payments offline
iConnect has only been around since 2011, but founder Subodh Gupta is already planning for a future retail environment that looks nothing like what we’ve seen so far. iConnect can’t sell you anything in an augmented reality just yet, but it does have some interesting features I haven’t come across in most point of sale systems. In addition to handling traditional retail environments, iConnect specifically caters to service industry establishments with special feature requirements (booking, scheduling, checking in and out, employee-specific service rates, rentals, and recurring memberships). Spas, hair salons, gyms, and tanning salons benefit from that fact that service industry features are incorporated right into the POS, thereby eliminating the need for additional software. iConnect has some other interesting things going for it as well, including inter-business messaging and an automatically generated booking website.
With a name like iConnect, it would be easy to think this POS system is designed only to be used in conjunction with iPads and iPhones – that assumption would be wrong, however. iConnect POS has recently expanded its reach to Windows devices and computers as well. This company is clearly trying to claim ground in uncharted territory, and I’d say they’re definitely leaving their mark. With only a couple minor flaws to note, iConnect is a serious POS competitor in a rapidly expanding market. Continue reading for a better idea of what iConnect is capable of.
Don’t have time to read an entire review? Take a look at our top rated Point of Sale solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, detailed user interfaces, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.
Table of Contents
- Cloud-Based or Locally-Installed:
- Specific Industry:
- Specific Size of Business:
- Ease of Use:
- Hardware and Software Requirements:
- Product Features:
- Integrations and Add-Ons:
- Compatible Credit Card Processors:
- Customer Service and Technical Support:
- Negative Reviews and Complaints:
- Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
- Final Verdict:
iConnect offers two pricing options that are available from month to month and include standard software, support, and the hosting fee.
- $75 per month, per terminal, per location
- Up to 10 employees
- Ideal for up to three locations
- Call for pricing options
- Best for franchise or corporate businesses
iConnect also offers three different hardware packages. The retail bundle is $1,550 per terminal, the Grocery Bundle is $2,450 per terminal, and the Restaurant Bundle is $1,500 per terminal. If you are interested in more pricing information you can contact customer service. You can also test the software out with a 7-day trial that doesn’t require a credit card or schedule a 10 minute demo.
Cloud-Based or Locally-Installed:
iConnect is 100% cloud-based. iConnect servers store and secure all of your shop data and wirelessly transmit it to your devices when you log in. Fortunately, iConnect is also app-based, meaning you can access all the necessary functions (the register, customer database, and booking module) even if the Internet goes down. However, because all of your information must be downloaded from the cloud when you log in, you will not be able to process payments if your connection goes down. This is one of the trade offs that comes with a cloud-based system, but as long as you have some kind of redundant connection or are in an area with a pretty reliable Internet connection, you have little to worry about.
Also, iConnect cannot yet process credit card transactions without an Internet connection.
iConnect is ideal for retail environments like clothing stores, boutiques, and gift shops. It also has a competitive edge with service industry setups like spas, salons, gyms, and any businesses that involve rentals or appointments. In addition, I’d feel comfortable recommending iConnect to most cafes and small food service operations, but there are some more advanced food service features not included in the system (like the ability to track dishes by their raw ingredients). Just be sure to explore the features carefully before you subscribe to make sure iConnect has everything you’ll need.
Specific Size of Business:
With one pricing point, $75 a month per location, and compatibility with three types of devices (iPhone, iPad and Apple/Windows computers), iConnect is intended to be scalable according to business size. The lowest tier is great for small businesses with one payment register, but would be a bit expensive for weekend market or craft fair merchants. The highest tier is geared towards enterprise level businesses needing a robust system that can handle multiple locations and a complex inventory.
Ease of Use:
I find that iConnect has better introduction features than a lot of the other POS systems I’ve reviewed. After I created my account I was automatically guided through the basics of setting up my business profile, creating shop categories, creating products and services, enabling tipping and booking, and managing employees. The process only took about 15 minutes, and I felt like I had a pretty good overview of all the basic features by the end of it. As I ran through some of the back office functions, I was surprised to find that for such a complex POS, most of the functions were very easy to use. Overall, it is a very agreeable system, and I only have a couple small issues with it.
During my trial, I had the most trouble with the booking feature. It’s not that it’s difficult to use, but if you don’t perform the actions in the correct order, the process is more than a little frustrating. For example, I created a service in the inventory section and tried to create an appointment for that service. In order to create an appointment, you have to assign a service provider (designate which employee will be performing the service); it took me a while to figure out that to assign a service provider, you first have to enable the employee to perform that service in the employee management section. Once I had that remedied, I tried again and was left with an error message because the appointment I scheduled was too short. I realized that when I programmed the period of time the service takes in the inventory section, I had assumed the unit of time was hours instead of minutes (since there was no label) so I entered “1” instead of “60.” The system won’t accept appointments less than 5 minutes, but it would have been better to learn this in the initial creation process than the booking process. What if I was trying to book an appointment on my iPhone? Since I can’t access the inventory through the iPhone, I wouldn’t be able to create an appointment simply because there was no “minutes” indicator when I first created the service.
Another nit-picky problem I have is with the checkout screen. If you’re ringing someone up and you need to clear the register, you tap (or click) a little X button in the bottom corner of the screen. The button is out of the way, but on the iPad and iPhone, it’s right next to the button that suspends a transaction. I would hate to be going for the suspend button and accidentally press clear. From my experience working in retail and food service, I know how frustrating it can be to ring up a particularly long and complicated ticket only to press the wrong button and have it all disappear—especially when you’re working in a fast-paced environment. I would just like an “are you sure you want to do this” message before I accidentally give myself (and my customer) an ulcer.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
iConnect has recently rolled out its latest addition: iConnect Register (iCR). The iCR is essentially an all-in-one POS bundle that includes a tablet with the iConnect software pre-installed on a specially configured Android tablet, along with the rest of a standard set-up: an EMV reader, an enclosure, a scanner, and a cash drawer. From what I can tell (and has been confirmed by a representative), the software is essentially the same whether you choose to run it on an independent system or on iConnect’s proprietary hardware. The iCR is the only system you can use an EMV-enable credit card reader, however, because (according to the iConnect rep) the Apple hardware tends to cause glitches that mess with the EMV reader.
If you decide not to go with the iCR, iConnect also runs on the iPhone 4 (and above), the iPad 2/Mini (and above), Surface 2 (and above), and any Apple or Windows 8.1 (and above) computer with an Internet connection and a web browser. The tablet versions of iConnect run on apps you can download for free from the iTunes and Windows stores, while the desktop version is browser-based. iConnect offers four hardware packages through their partner POS Portal. These packages start around $335. You can also purchase individual hardware elements through POS Portal, but really, as long as you are purchasing peripherals that are compatible with iConnect, you’ll be fine picking them up from whoever offers the best price.
iConnect has a lot of features that are worth checking out. You can visit their website to get a full rundown of what the software can do, but I’m going to briefly highlight the features that really caught my eye.
- Booking Feature – Without a doubt, this is one of iConnect’s strongest aspects. To have a multi-functional booking service built right into the point of sale software is pretty amazing, especially when the booking features are quite robust. For all subscription levels, iConnect creates a simple online booking website for your business that features basic information about your shop and allows customers to create appointments. Once a customer has made an appointment, iConnect automatically sends out email and text reminders to help with retention. It’s possible to manage and review your full appointment list in the calendar view where you can book multiple appointments, add customers to a wait list, and assign different times, rooms, and equipment to service providers. iConnect also offers a check in/out feature to help track appointments.
- Service Management – Employees can be designated as “service providers” and preset services can be billed at different rates according to the service provider. So, if you own a hair salon, one of your stylists might bill a haircut at $50 while the other charges $75 because she’s more experienced. iConnect automatically handles these different payment levels. Salons that rent booths to stylists can also enable a “Direct Pay” feature that records sales at each booth without receiving the actual payment, which typically goes directly to the service provider. I also like the recurring billing feature—a great asset for businesses like gyms or salons that offer memberships.
- Inventory Management – When creating a service or product, the program will auto-generate a SKU number; you can use this number or override it with your own SKU. You can also enter in a separate product code for easy searching if you’d like. Larger businesses with lengthy, fast-moving inventories and multiple locations can also take advantage the stock transfer feature. I will note that there isn’t an option to specify the unit of measurement you’re using for inventory items. It’s up to you to remember whether you have 10 bags or 10 pounds of french fries in your inventory.
- CRM – Tracking customer information is simple since you can assign each customer a unique code, log email addresses and phone numbers for marketing purposes, and enter a “preferred service provider” if they’d like their work done by a particular employee. As far as marketing goes, you can enable a built-in loyalty program that works on a point system you can customize, allowing you to establish the rate at which customers earn points and the exchange rate on those points. Also, iConnect has built in text message, email, and push notification marketing capabilities (through MailChimp and Twilio).
- Reporting – iConnect offers over 55 easy to generate reports. Sales includes such reports as deleted tickets, detailed sales by product, sales by vendor, sales by customer, tax reports, and more. There are similar options for products, including a reconcile report, cross selling report, rental/membership charge reports, etc. Of course, you can also run reports by locations with specified date ranges and various filtering options. One of the most convenient features is the ability to add your most commonly used reports to your favorites list for easy access.
- Website – With iConnect you can create and personalize your own website. You can sell your items online through the eCommerce function and even allow customers to book appointments online. This feature also allows you to link to your Facebook and Twitter pages, which can help keep you connected to your customers.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Right now, iConnect offers these integrations:
- QuickBooks – iConnect directly integrates with QuickBooks accounting software. You can link iConnect and QuickBooks by matching your ledger names right into the iConnect software.
- Sage – You also have the option of integrating with Sage accounting software. However, this integration is not as direct as QuickBooks since it goes through an API and requires a little bit of development. According to iConnect’s customer service, this integration is geared more toward enterprise-level businesses and is not recommended for small to mid-sized businesses.
- MailChimp – iConnect also integrates with MailChimp, a customer marketing software that assists with newsletters and promotional campaigns. MailChimp draws directly from your iConnect customer database.
- Text Messaging – Twilio and Clickatell are integrations that allow you to launch marketing campaigns through text message and push notification blasts.
- Magento – Though not currently available, iConnect is working on an eCommerce integration with Magento for your web store needs.
- Microsoft Power BI – Understand and breakdown your company data with Microsoft Power BI.
- Avalara – With Avalara, you can make sure to accurately calculate your taxes.
- Gift Cards – Integrate with either Valutec or Givex to sell and redeem gift cards.
In addition to these integrations, there are also a couple add-ons within the system that you can utilize for an extra monthly charge:
- Walk-In, $25/month – This is a customer-facing feature that allows customers to check themselves in for appointments.
- Kiosk, $25/month – Another customer-facing feature that allows them to scan items and browse a product catalog unattended.
- Self-Checkout, $25/month – This add-on allows your customers to ring up and pay for their own food, services, merchandise, etc. through a stand-alone customer-facing device.
- Task and Goals, $25/month – This is an employee-facing feature that allows you to post goals, deadlines, and reminders for employees.
- API Access, $50/month – If you’d like to integrate any additional software or plugins with your POS system, you can always purchase access to the API.
- Premium 24/7 support, $65/month – This add-on gives customers access to 24/7 customer support.
Compatible Credit Card Processors:
iConnect now offers integrations with several big name processing gateways. Using an iConnect register, you can accept EMV payments through integrating with First Data, TSYS, Heartland, and North American Bancard. For non-EMV compliant payments, iConnect also integrates with Elavon, Global East (Global Payments), Vantiv, Evo, WorldPay, and Chase.
For those of you who want to stick with your current payment provider and credit card machine, iConnect does offer the option to record your payment without actually processing it. You’ll have to make sure the two accounts settle at the end of the day, but it is an option.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
I have yet to find any negative reviews concerning iConnect’s customer support. In fact, almost every review on iConnect’s testimonial page has great things to say about the service team. My interaction with iConnect phone support was also a very pleasant experience. The staff member I spoke to was friendly and took the time to thoroughly answer all my questions. My attempts to contact the company via email and chat did not receive responses in a timely manner, however. I sent in several emails and did not hear back from the company until three days later; I was also only able to get the chat response to work sometimes.
Overall, iConnect does a really good job of offering tutorials and educational resources. Here are some ways you can learn more about the software:
- Email – You can email iConnect at Sales@iConnectPOS.com.
- Phone – iConnect phones are available 24/7 at 303-757-2800.
- Support Ticket – You can submit a support ticket to technical services from the POS interface.
- Tutorials – When you’re logged into your iConnect account you can check out the back end tutorial area, which features a comprehensive list of video tutorials on key iConnect features. You can also find these videos on YouTube.
- Knowledge Base – iConnect has a FAQ section and Support Center page with articles on general setup and hardware.
- Blog – iConnect features an active blog that contains tips and tricks for merchants, and generally highlights how iConnects features can help you make the most of your business.
- Social Media – Check out the iConnect Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Google+ account.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
When it comes to reviews, you have to be a little wary because anyone can say anything—good or bad. I usually pair comment trends with my own experience to establish the validity of any particular complaint.
- Software Issues – There were only two people who noted minor glitches in the system, which is an improvement over past software editions. Routine glitches are to be expected and are somewhat unavoidable with any system, but the iConnect team seems to be pretty responsive so I don’t think there’s much to worry about. The only issues I have are the ones explained in the “Ease of Use” section above: the booking process is not as clear or easy as it could be and there is a nit-picky problem with clearing a transaction on the checkout screen.
- Initial Support – In the past (over a year ago), some people have reported problems with support while using the trial version. I understand the need to prioritize existing customers over people that may never use the software in an actual shop, but I tend to judge how good the customer service will be as a subscriber based on how I’m treated as a trial user. The only reason I’m not making a bigger deal out of this is because most customers seem overwhelmingly satisfied with technical support, but I wonder how many potential clients were lost over an unanswered email.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Most of the positive user reviews I found are on iConnect’s website in their testimonials section, though the consensus all around the Internet is generally positive. Many reviews focused on iConnect’s friendly and supportive staff and there were several general comments about how iConnect helps improve business.
- User-friendly – Several reviewers mentioned how easy iConnect is to setup and use. I found phrases like “easy to start,” “beautiful interface,” and “very user friendly and convenient.”
- Good Staff – iConnect gets a lot of kudos in the support department. There was a clear trend from reviewers who felt that the iConnect staff really worked with them to resolve issues.
- Service Industry Features – iConnect has a great range of distinctive service industry features that you won’t find in most other small-scale, cloud based POS systems. It’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into developing an interface that meets the needs of service industry professionals.
My final thoughts on iConnect? As far as I can tell, both from CEO Subodh Gupta’s vision of the POS future and what I’ve seen of iConnect’s capabilities, the iConnect team seems to really understand the need for evolution and adaptability in this ever-expanding market. With robust reporting features, extensive employee management, impressive marketing capabilities, and access to multiple customer-facing features that streamline the shopping and transaction process, it’s difficult to go far wrong with iConnect. By creating an all-in-one POS solution, Gupta has made it possible for this POS solution to accommodate most (if not all) of the changes you may experience, whether they are in size, product, service, or storefront.
Though iConnect is suited for virtually any business, it has definitely carved out a niche for itself in the service industry. There aren’t many other cloud-based or locally-installed POS systems out there that have iConnect’s capabilities with booking and scheduling. If I were the owner of a salon, spa, or gym I would definitely consider iConnect as a serious contender for my point of sale.
Take the system for a trial run. Test the customer service, build yourself an inventory, create and schedule a couple employees, play around with the online booking feature and then let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you!