NCR Silver Review
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- Date Established
- Alpharetta, GA
- Loyalty program
- Multi-store capability
- eCommerce integration
- Expensive monthly pricing
- Expensive hardware leases
- Early termination fee
- No free trial available
NCR Silver is a cloud-based iPad and tablet POS system made by the first point of sale company in the world, the 130-years-old electronics giant NCR Corporation. This software sets itself apart in a handful of ways and is used by many small to medium-sized businesses.
For some, the sheer size of NCR might be enough to dissuade them, especially since, nowadays, we tend to gravitate towards the struggling, quirky startup rather than the (seemingly) soulless corporation. And NCR is a corporation in the traditional sense — a message that comes across in the $6.41 billion in revenue it makes annually. Yet being the child of a rich parent does have its benefits. As a developer of various other POS systems — Aloha, which has been made specifically for restaurants, and Counterpoint, aimed at retailers — NCR can bring a certain level of know-how and seniority to the table. With its cloud-based Silver POS for small businesses, NCR has tried to position itself as an established POS company that responds to new feature requests and market demands, and to a certain extent, the company has been successful at it.
But peel back the veneer a little bit, and you’ll find that NCR Silver is not quite what it seems. I don’t have any real qualms with the software itself, as it is capable enough. But while presenting itself as cloud-based SaaS software comparable with the likes of Square, Toast, or Clover, NCR Silver has many negative attributes of older, legacy-based POS systems, including restrictive service contracts, expensive hardware leases, and opaque terms and fees. Since NCR started bundling NCR Silver software with its own merchant services and hardware in recent years, the terms of owning an NCR Silver POS system seem to have become even more restrictive while the cost has gone up.
NCR Silver does disclose its monthly subscription pricing information online, but you’ll have to dig a little deeper to get the full picture, and that’s just what we’ve done in this review.
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Table of Contents
NCR Silver does not offer a free trial, but you can get a demo through one of its sales reps — who will undoubtedly follow up with you about purchasing a subscription; reviewers say NCR’s salespeople are as aggressive as they come. If you decide to go ahead and purchase a subscription, you’ll need to choose between two options: NCR Silver Essentials and NCR Silver Pro Restaurant.
Both of NCR Silver’s POS monthly software plans are sold with the cost of POS hardware included as well as a two-year service contract. Your monthly fee for the “Essentials” plan depends on which hardware setup you select — you can choose from either an iPad option or an Android tablet option. With the “Pro Restaurant” plan, you can only choose the iPad hardware setup. Unfortunately, this kind of pricing scheme doesn’t give you the option to use your own POS equipment or even to purchase your equipment from NCR outright — not to mention the fines you’ll incur if you choose to terminate your contract before your two years are up.
In any case, here are the two NCR Silver plans you have to choose from:
- NCR Silver Essentials: The price for this plan is $108 to $149/month (depending on hardware setup). It includes NCR Silver Essentials software, hardware bundle with associated warranties, NCR Silver Concierge service, scheduled software upgrades, training, and 24/7/365 live customer care. For each additional register, you’ll pay another $48 to $89/month, depending on your hardware setup.
- NCR Silver Pro Restaurant: The price is $178/month. It includes all the features and support of the Essentials version, plus some restaurant-specific features, such as seat assignments, table layouts, split checks, and happy hour pricing. Each additional iPad will cost $64/month.
Overall, I would say these monthly plans are on the high side when compared to other leading small business POS solutions, especially considering the requirement of a two-year service contract. Per NCR Silver’s Merchant Agreement, if you choose to terminate the contract early, you’ll be required to pay for all of the remaining months on your term. That means you could be on the line for thousands of dollars if you decide to switch POS providers. On a small positive note, the monthly software price does include a loyalty program, which is not included as standard with most POS systems.
For what it’s worth, a couple of years ago, NCR Silver sold its two service plans (albeit with different plan names; the company like to change its plan names a lot) at $79/month and $149/month, respectively, with an annual contract; you could also opt for a month-to-month contract for $20/month more. This tells you that the markup to include the hardware is $29-$70/month, depending on which plan and hardware setup you use.
Note that NCR Silver is also sold through various partnered merchant services companies. If you buy through a reseller, you may be able to get a better monthly price that doesn’t include leased hardware (or a draconian NCR Payments merchant services contract, more on that in a bit). For example, Dharma Merchant Services sells the two NCR Silver plans for a much more reasonable $79/month and $149/month, respectively — which is exactly what NCR Silver used to charge.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
NCR Silver is a hybrid setup; the iPad app handles all the register-specific tasks, with limited admin functionality. But for full control of your POS — detailed inventory tasks, employee time, customer rewards, reports, etc. — you’ll need to access it through the web.
The hybrid architecture means that there’s a good amount of offline protection, and you can easily set up “offline credit” to accept payments during a connectivity outage (though you’ll do this at your own financial risk, as the system will queue up the charge for authorization long after your customer has left the building).
NCR Silver’s POS software is versatile in that it could effectively work with a variety of businesses. With such features as remote kitchen printing, item modifiers, split payments, and tipping, it could easily work at a quick-serve style cafe or coffee shop. But due to inventory management features, support for item variations (such as size and color), and easy handling of returns, retail shops of all flavors would find a lot to like here, too.
If you’re a restaurant owner, you’ll want to go with the restaurant-specific version.
Specific Size Of Business
NCR Silver is aimed squarely at small to medium-sized businesses, though I’ve heard that it supports some franchises as well. Until a couple of years ago, Silver couldn’t manage multiple stores under a single account. Even with this added feature, the company’s prime audience remains unchanged, and NCR is wise to keep its focus on where it’s at. Small business owners don’t usually get the kind of attention NCR is offering, and many will be happy to know that they are not sharing support resources with larger companies who can afford better service.
Ease Of Use
NCR has built its reputation by easing the pain of handling cash transactions. The software features a simple, intuitive interface that gives most tasks an almost weightless feel. I was able to accomplish nearly every task involved in setting up a store — adding inventory and customers, for example — without the slightest bit of assistance or forethought. That is how I do most things in my life — on my own and without a plan — so I felt right at home within NCR’s web interface.
Even mass imports were self-explanatory, using the CSV template NCR provides. The CSV is easy to find: Click on “Import Items,” and you’re presented with instructions and a link to the template. When I did need help from the web console, selecting the “help” link from within the interface brought me to the appropriate document for that specific screen. There is also a live chat option prominently visible in the dashboard area if you need to speak with someone immediately.
Working inside the POS app is just as easy, especially since the latest redesign. The interface is intuitive; I knew how to use it before I even saw it. Yeah, that sounds hyperbolic, but it isn’t. The app does what it was designed to do, exactly as you’d expect.
Having tried NCR Silver on both an iPad and an iPhone, I’d say count on buying an iPad. The iPhone screen is too small for everyday use and requires too much back and forth between pages — selecting items, seeing the full order, cashing out — which makes using the app cumbersome. It’s a complete 180-degree turn from the iPad app, which is easier to understand than Ikea furniture assembly instructions (and that’s a low bar).
Hardware & Operating System Requirements
Technically, the NCR Silver POS app can run on any iOS device. However, the only hardware you can purchase through NCR Silver is for 9.7″ and 10.2″ iPads as well as its closed-system Android-based PX10 tablet terminal, which features a customer-facing display. Disappointingly, the iPad hardware setup is not ENV-enabled to accept chip cards, though the PX10 hardware is, which also has the capability of accepting contactless payments. If you purchase your NCR software through a different merchant services company, you may be able to get an iPad set up with an EMV-enabled card reader.
Previously, NCR Silver sold other hardware setups, including the Android-based “Quantum” and “Register” terminals, and the “Total” terminal for iPad Air; these products are still available through some NCR resellers.
As mentioned, NCR Silver’s software plans are sold in conjunction with its hardware, so you can’t source your hardware yourself, at least not if you want to buy your system directly from NCR. There are add-on hardware options for scales, scanners, kitchen printers, and kitchen display systems. The website doesn’t list the pricing for these add-ons, but be prepared for an additional monthly charge if you need more hardware than the basic setup.
It’s disappointing, to say the least, that NCR has switched to its current pricing model wherein hardware is bundled with its software, especially considering that the iPad setup doesn’t even include a chip card reader — or the iPad itself. That just doesn’t leave you the merchant with many options. If NCR Silver were like most cloud POS providers, it would let you buy your POS equipment outright for a few hundred dollars, and you’d just pay NCR for the software. But alas, NCR is what it is, and by that I mean it will charge you an extra $30+/month for two+ years just to use its basic iPad enclosure, cash register, receipt printer, and Mag-Tek iDynamo mobile card swiper — an older plug-and-play card reader which is worth about $50 at most.
NCR Silver has most of the standard features you’d expect from a cloud POS but is lacking in a few areas.
- Fully Functioning Cash Register: Accept multiple tenders, including gift cards, house account charges, and Bitcoins. Pay cash in or out, run till counts, add and override tax amounts, hold tickets to be recalled later, and quickly add discounts to transactions. Printer routing allows you to set items to print — or not — to a kitchen, bar, or prep area printer. The ability to integrate a weight scale has been added, along with the ability to set a tare weight.
- Inventory Management: The inventory module doesn’t just keep track of how many items you have. It also tracks your vendors and costs, records reorder points, supports variations (such as size and color), and allows forced/optional modifiers for food service establishments. The recently added Inventory Snapshot feature also lets you see the total value of all your on-hand inventory.
- Employee Management: Maintain employee profiles with customizable access parameters and user roles. Assign each employee a unique pin for login and to track labor hours with the time clock feature. You can also let employees clock in and out for unpaid breaks and even set minimum break times to be enforced by the POS software.
- Cash Management: NCR Silver offers some cash management features that make it easier for high-volume businesses to monitor their cash flows. You can assign cash drawers to specific servers, giving each drawer a “shift” that will limit who can use the drawer without a key. These shifts will also begin and end with a blind till count — the over/short calculation displays on the End Shift report.
- Reporting Suite: You can get a general look at your store’s performance with the Activity Summary, which provides a snapshot of net sales, transactions, tips, taxes, returns, discounts, and the sales generated by email campaigns. For a closer look, there is also a sales dashboard alongside a customer dashboard. For even more in-depth analytics, Silver offers a basic swath of exportable reports on the finer points of your business.
- Multi-Location Functionality: With the multi-store features, you can get a bird’s-eye view of your entire operation or drill down to each site for specific details. Too often, I see systems with low-stock thresholds that claim to alert you, but that alert only sounds when you sit down and run the low-stock report. NCR Silver goes the extra mile and alerts you proactively.
- Offline Functionality: Full offline protection is available, meaning you can run credit card transactions (at your own risk, of course) when there’s an outage, and NCR will queue up the authorizations until the system is back online.
- Email Marketing: NCR doesn’t stop at having a master list of names, numbers, and addresses. It’s not uncommon for POS software to email receipts, but how about a follow-up message the next day, thanking the customer with a special offer? This email functionality is one of NCR Silver’s stand-out features. You can manage your whole email marketing operation — broadcasts, newsletters, welcome emails — from within the member area.
- Loyalty Program: If a customer is already in your database, a credit card swipe will cause the software to prompt the cashier with the matching name(s) to associate with the sale. There are also two ways to work a rewards program — by dollars spent or the number of visits — as well as integrated social media marketing tools (Facebook and Twitter). As mentioned earlier, there are accompanying analytics so that you can track all of your customers’ responses (including a section for “Customer Notes”).
- Mobile Ordering: Through one of the software’s most recent developments — the NCR Sidewalk app — customers can order ahead. If your business is linked to this service, customers can search by location, place orders, and pay in advance from any mobile device. Unfortunately, at this point, the app doesn’t appear to be Android-friendly, and many users have been unable to log in.
- eCommerce: eCommerce is available through an optional monthly add-on called Silver Commerce. This program gives you a template to create an online store that syncs with the inventory of your brick-and-mortar store.
- Gift Cards: NCR Silver is enabled to accept, sell, and reload magnetic stripe gift cards. However, the ability to support gift cards is dependent on your payment processor.
The Pro Restaurant version includes everything in the Essentials package, plus:
- Menu Management: Update menus and prices instantly across multiple devices.
- Happy Hour Pricing: Automatic event pricing is handy for happy hours and other time-sensitive promotions.
- Table Mapping: Customizable table mapping helps keep your staff organized and minimizes order errors.
- Split Checks: Options include the ability to split checks by the seat, groups of seats, or an equal split.
- Multiple Order Modes: Options include sit-down, takeout, drive-thru, delivery, and catering.
There are a few important things NCR Silver doesn’t do, however. For one, even though you can view your vendors, there is no vendor management feature or purchase order functionality. Restaurants may be disappointed that the system does not include reservation management or a table timing feature that estimates how long it will take for tables to turn.
Some features added to NCR Silver in the latest major release, version 5.0, include the ability to select which items you want to print on a gift receipt (this allows you to add regular items and gifts on the same ticket) and a tip keypad for the customer display (on the Android version only). The next incremental release, 5.1, added a much needed low-stock alert to let you know when you need to reorder a particular item, a partial data sync option, and an option to save your POS settings in the cloud to make it easy to add a new device.
Customer Service & Technical Support
NCR Silver offers 24/7/365 support on all accounts, which is good. However, some customers are unhappy about the quality of support, stating that after they were talked into signing up by NCR’s salespeople, they received insufficient guidance from NCR Silver to address any technical issues that cropped up. With that said, others praise the customer service, and overall, the support is quite accessible, thanks to having multiple modes of support:
- Live Chat: You can chat with a sales representative Monday through Friday (9 AM to 5 PM) on the NCR Silver site. You can also get ahold of tech support anytime through the Back Office web page within the system.
- Phone Support: Call or text the Customer Care Team directly. You don’t even have to sort through the automated menu options that normally accompany a call to tech support. You’re connected to a real live person the first time!
- Email Support: You can also email support directly for personalized help.
- Customer Care Website: The site has a comprehensive knowledgebase of articles, videos, and user guides.
- Social Media: Like most companies, NCR Silver maintains active Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram accounts.
Compatible Credit Card Processors
NCR Silver credit card processing depends, in part, on which entity you buy your system from. If you buy your system from NCR Silver directly, you’ll likely be required to sign up with NCR Silver’s in-house payment processing service, NCR Payment Solutions. NCR’s payments arm was only recently implemented in 2019 as a result of NCR’s 2018 acquisition of JetPay.
So is NCR’s switch to in-house processing a good or bad thing? I’d say bad — take a look at the merchant terms and conditions for NCR Payment Solutions, and you’ll see that the company requires a three-year processing contract with an early termination fee, including liquidated damages. It also has an “exclusivity” clause barring your business from using any other merchant services during your term, among other one-sided conditions. There is no mention of how much the company charges for processing.
NCR Silver is also sold by various approved resellers (merchant services companies), which offer their own merchant service contracts for payment processing. Some options include Vantiv/WorldPay, Elavon, Dharma, and even PayPal Here (though the only PayPal Here card reader compatible with NCR Silver is the basic headphone jack swiper, which is subject to an automatic reserve). If there’s one main takeaway I’d like you to get from this section and probably from this review as a whole, it’s this: don’t buy NCR Silver from NCR directly. If you decide you want this system, get it from a reputable credit card processor that’ll offer month-to-month billing and fair and transparent rates, with no long-term hardware leases — things NCR, unfortunately, cannot provide you.
Integrations & Add-Ons
NCR Silver integrates with several external software programs. The list of supported integrations is far from extensive, but it at least includes popular accounting software and a few others:
NCR Silver also integrates with NCR’s eCommerce product, NCR Commerce, for an additional monthly charge.
NCR Silver’s online reviews are pretty mixed. While you can find many glowing reviews about the software written by professional reviewers, many user reviews tell a different story. NCR Silver is not BBB-accredited and currently has an “F” rating on the website, based on six complaints filed against the business and failure to respond to two complaints filed against it. In the App Store, NCR Silver has a 2.7/5 average out of 28 ratings.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Here are some common complaints in user reviews of NCR Silver:
- Glitchy Hardware: I found a couple of reviews reporting “finicky” credit card readers that consistently malfunction and force merchants to manually key in credit card data (thus compromising many of the safety features designed to protect against counterfeit fraud). There have also been complaints of Bluetooth hardware randomly unsyncing with the system. Normally, I wouldn’t ding the software providers for hardware issues, but NCR insists on supplying your hardware for you. If the company is going to make you buy the equipment it picks out, it should at least make sure that equipment works.
- Not EMV-Enabled: As mentioned, NCR Silver’s standard iPad equipment is not EMV-enabled. Unsurprisingly, Silver users have complained about not being able to accept chip cards and about the overall price they paid for their POS equipment from NCR Silver.
- Glitchy Software: Inaccurate reports, bugs in new releases, and system freezes/crashes are the most common complaints I saw in this category. Almost all reviews that mentioned having a software issue also stated that customer support was contacted but unable to solve their problem.
- Sketchy Service Contract: Reviewers have complained about losing money due to signing a restrictive service contract with NCR Silver, often not having fully understood the terms of said contract upon signing. Several reviewers have stated that they were charged for POS equipment they were told would be free. I haven’t seen too many complaints about NCR’s actual merchant services, perhaps because many Silver merchants are using the system with outside merchant service companies, such as Elavon.
- Poor-Quality Customer Support: Some reviewers have complained that NCR Silver’s customer support reps are unable to handle complex issues and that calls are directed to even less knowledgable call center employees when customers seek support outside of regular business hours.
- Limited Features: The reporting suite isn’t nearly as robust as it could be, and NCR knows this. It’s even tried to supplement the system by integrating with Silver Console (formerly CimpleBox), which specializes in extensive reporting. But even that’s another $20 to $70 a month for a service that should probably be built into the software already. There are no third-party eCommerce integration options — something that is almost inexcusable for a competitive POS now (especially one as expensive as NCR Silver) — and no purchase order or invoice management and no scheduling system. You can’t scan inventory into the system or track inventory by ingredient. For a POS that is supposed to be optimized for most (if not all) foodservice operations, quite a few advanced features are missing.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
There are positive reviews of NCR Silver out there too. Here are some things businesses like about NCR Silver:
- Easy To Use: NCR Silver has a simple, easy-to-use interface, which makes the system easy to learn and a breeze to train employees on. Silver’s ease of use is probably the most common praise for the system in user reviews.
- Email Marketing: While not as advanced as a dedicated system like Mailchimp’s, several reviewers mentioned they were impressed by NCR Silver’s email marketing program, which integrates with customer data, allowing businesses to segment their customers and send personalized deals.
- Built-In Loyalty: A loyalty program is a great POS feature to have, and the fact that NCR doesn’t carry an additional monthly charge is a definite plus.
Generally, it seems that small businesses with minimal POS experience are impressed by NCR Silver’s feature set and the overall iPad POS experience — except for customers who experienced significant problems with their hardware or software. This is in contrast to more experienced cloud POS users switching from another POS, who more frequently point out the system’s various shortcomings.
NCR Silver gets high marks for its ease of use, flexibility, and built-in marketing tools. The good news is that all of these great features, together comprising the foundation of the software, are still there and working well. At this stage, any development is essentially going to be an elaboration on those basic features, adding more functionality and more frills. The NCR brand has a lot of money and expertise behind it, which is doubtlessly why the NCR Silver line remains popular and is even used by some franchises.
Unfortunately, while NCR makes solidly good POS software, its Silver product suffers from other issues — namely, the restrictive service contract foisted on merchants who want to purchase the system. Unlike many other cloud POS competitors, NCR Silver comes with a multi-year service contract, outdated equipment, and expensive hardware leases. I can see how a small business might be impressed by NCR’s “big name” and think that NCR Silver is similar to other popular cloud POS companies, but in truth, it’s a completely different animal. NCR Silver has good features, but they are similar to and, in some cases, not even as advanced as those of the competing cloud POS systems. Rather than choosing NCR Silver, almost any small business would be better served by a POS company that offers a month-to-month contract and an option to purchase your hardware outright.
If you do decide to go with NCR Silver, make sure you read and understand all the terms of your contract so that you’re not confronted with any unpleasant surprises down the road.
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