Revel Systems Review
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- Date Established
- San Francisco, CA
Revel’s point of sale system was birthed in 2010 by CEO Lisa Falzone and CTO Chris Ciabarra. The result of their efforts was a groundbreaking Apple iPad POS. In the fall of 2011, Revel began beta testing with several Bay Area businesses and was successful enough to capture the attention of early-stage venture capital fund DCM, which offered $3.7 million in Series A funding. By October of 2012, Revel announced it had reached profitability in just one short year. Since then, Revel POS has garnered support from investors such as Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, received a whopping $100 million in Series C funding. In January 2012 Revel was announced as the winner of the Best iPad Business App of the Year Award at the Macworld/iWorld event, beating out the popular Square mobile POS system. More recently, the system received SFBT Tech Awards’ “Best Enterprise Technology” and Business News Daily’s “Gold Award for Top iPad POS Systems.”
Revel currently has over 700 employees and international offices in Australia, Italy, Lithuania, and London. The company has over 25,000 terminals in active use and a solid reputation as a reliable POS provider. Some of Revel’s clients include Goodwill, Smoothie King, and Cinnabon. What has set Revel apart and made the system so appealing to these big-name franchises are its ever-expanding features, services, and integrations. Some highlights include: “Always On” mode (for offline functionality), a partnership and integration with QuickBooks Integration, remote support, and an intelligent reporting suite.
Revel offers industry-specific software packages for a monthly subscription fee. The software license, which used to be an upfront cost, is now built into the subscription. Industries range from restaurants and retail to smaller scale food trucks and yogurt shops. Pricing is flexible (depending on your industry and set-up) and is broken down per terminal.
The company has also started offering Revel as a Service (RaaS) pricing, which includes little to no upfront costs. With RaaS, customers pay a monthly fee encompassing monthly hosting charges and replacement of defective or malfunctioning hardware at no additional cost.
Each subscription includes 24/7 live support, unlimited data storage and security, unlimited software updates, and a QuickBooks integration.
Web-Based or Locally-Installed:
Hybrid. The Revel POS is run locally through your Apple iPad and syncs all data to the cloud. “Always On” mode ensures that your POS will continue to function if your internet connection is lost or experiencing a slowdown. Payment authorization for credit cards may not occur while the Internet is down, so while accepting cards without an Internet connection is an option, it’s also a risk. You can read more about the “Always On” mode on the Revel website.
Revel works well with Restaurant and Quick Service businesses, and many of their add-on products target these two industries. The software has expanded considerably lately and is now a viable option for retail businesses, grocery stores, pizza and coffee shops, salons, niche shops, and food trucks or mobile businesses. Revel has adapted its software to fit almost any type of sales environment out there, but adapting that software to your business’s specific needs will take some work.
Specific Size of Business:
Revel Systems is suited to large businesses since it can manage multiple locations and up to 500,000 SKUs. I’d also say that it is optimized for mid-sized businesses, especially those trying to keep up with their larger competitors, since it offers a plethora of applications and modular software that allows you to customize the system to your needs.
On the other hand, though it might work for some small businesses, I wouldn’t recommend it to your average mom and pop shop. Because it is so robust and customizable, it also takes a considerable amount of time and energy to set up. I have a sneaking suspicion that most small businesses would never have a use for most of the advanced features. Revel is certainly worth a look if you are operating a relatively small business, but make sure you explore your other options as well.
Ease of Use:
Once set-up, the software is relatively easy to use. The front end is especially intuitive and easy to navigate, and the back end is set up with training videos. To see Revel in multiple environments (restaurant, quick service, retail, etc.) check out some of their training videos.
Front End. Revel requires staff to login with a pin number to access unique settings and permissions. A touch screen displays a product matrix (with optional descriptions) on one side with order tallies on the opposite side. Quantities and modifiers are easy to add, as are additional payment and discount options. The Revel POS can also be used as a kiosk, or customer-facing display.
Back End Management. Revel is designed for easy navigation through everything from inventory to employee management, but its user-friendliness is not apparent until you get the hang of the system. Performing advanced functions (or even achieving basic familiarity with how the system works) takes serious dedication, time, and training. The “so easy a child could do it” motto often advertised by cloud-based POS systems does not apply to Revel, nor should it. Owning and operating a business is not child’s play; you shouldn’t go in expecting to be able to set up this very robust business tool in a day. That said, most of the basic functions are pretty easy to navigate and use. Exporting data is simple, employee permissions are easily managed, and adding, modifying or removing items can be accomplished directly from your dashboard.
Hardware and Operating System Requirements:
Revel currently works exclusively with Apple iOS devices (including the iPad Air and iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 and 4, and the iPad Pro). Revel offers complete hardware bundles and will work with any standard barcode scanner. You can purchase hardware elsewhere, but you’ll want to double check Revel’s preconfigured hardware list to be sure you’re investing in peripherals that will actually work with the system.
To see an exhaustive list of Revel features, check out their website or some of their training videos. They’ve got some pretty cool industry-specific features. For a shorter list, just keep scrolling.
- Fully Functional POS – Revel POS works in a hotkey fashion; cashiers can tap on menu categories with drop-downs of items and modifiers to select. Or, if you prefer, barcode numbers can be entered into the system for scanning items. Multiple tax rates, discounts, service fees, and surcharges can be set to automatically add or manually add at the time of sale. In the “edit item” screen, cashiers can set orders to-go, for delivery, repeat items, remove items, enter discounts, enter special requests, and add quantities. And of course, the POS can also void payments, allow for tips, split bills, email receipts, print/reprint guest receipts, and enter rewards card numbers. If an order has already been sent to the kitchen you have the option of going back to it and adding additional items, sending only the newly added items to the kitchen. Obviously, items already sent cannot be edited or deleted, but they can be repeated, discounted, increased in quantity, or voided off the bill.
- Real-Time Inventory – Adding and managing inventory with Revel is simple, requiring only an item and price (though other fields, such as cost and SKU, are also available). A style matrix is available for easy mass entry of inventory items that are similar but differ by color, size, or style. Additionally, inventory can be imported using a template (like the one listed on their support page). Revel is capable of tracking inventory per ingredient, and food cost reports are also available on the ingredient level. Low stock items are listed in red on your inventory page with nifty reorder buttons. Revel can even handle retail fuel sales with wet stock management.
- Purchase Order Management – In addition to creating POs and associating inventory with vendors, Revel helps you manage when stock items arrive and are added to your inventory. You can notate partial orders when vendors only send you a portion of your stock and finalize orders once the order is complete.
- QuickBooks Integration – The Revel QuickBooks Integration automatically transfers data from your POS to your QuickBooks accounts to streamline the bookkeeping process, syncing sales, inventory, purchase order and accounting data into QuickBooks Online. Sales summary information is pushed into QuickBooks each day, allowing users the ability to view total sales, discounts, and refunds created on the Revel POS. The integration also sends employee schedule and payroll information to QuickBooks, as well as purchase order and inventory adjustments. Any updates in Revel sync automatically. Note: For the initial setup, Revel will need to do some mapping to synchronize your data. Some users have complained about issues with the integration, but more on that later.
- Till Management – All cash management functions are located under the manager selection of the settings tab: batch processing, over/under till, and printable quick-view reports like total cash/credit/check/gift certificate for the night, items sold, and time management.
- Customer Management – Revel tracks customer purchases as well as all necessary customer information such as name, address, phone number, and email. This information can be exported and used to create mass marketing campaigns or used to cross-sell other items. You can even customize table reservations by adding customer preferences and send text notifications when the customer’s table is ready.
- Employee Management – Each employee can have their own unique and secure PIN-activated login or swipe card in order to track time, employee performance, and employee activity within the system. Employee reports can be created based on number of voids, number of discounts, sales volume, and productivity. Access parameters can be customized per employee responsibilities. The system can also handle employee time scheduling.
- Flexible Ordering – Revel systems has designed creative ways to make ordering easier, including features like Tableside ordering, mobile and online ordering, and customer facing displays. Most recently, Revel has added the ability to play a video on the customer facing display whenever it is idle.
- Kiosk POS – Using the iPad POS as a kiosk, customers can place their order and pay all on their own. They can browse menus, select or edit items and quantities, and place orders with their name. Orders can be completed by paying with credit, debit, or gift card, or cash.
- Kitchen Display System – In kitchen view, sending an order or entering payment over iPad sends the information to the kitchen display system. The expedite view allows servers to see if an order is in progress or completed. The kitchen view (a.k.a. cook view) will display the order plus any modifiers, the time the order came in, the server name, the customer name, and of course, the status of the order (completed or not). Once the food is taken out, the server touches “completed” in expedite view and clears the order off the screen.
- Digital Menu Board – Revel is integrated with digital menu boards. This means the Revel system and your menu displays can talk to each other and exchange data. Whenever you update your menu in the Revel POS, your digital display will update as well. Read more about Menu Boards on their website.
- Intelligent Reporting Suite – Revel reports are pretty extensive, and they’re easy to read. Some of the dozens of reports available include transaction details, sales summaries, ingredients sold, PLU report, available/used gift cards, total voids, total credit transactions, refunded/exchanged items, percentage of labor against sales, and employee check out report. Real-time tracking provides instant visibility to sales, staff, and location data. All data can be exported as you need it.
- Safe and Secure Servers – Revel’s hardware, software, and network are PCI-DSS compliant. Sensitive credit card information is encrypted and never stored. Revel’s Data centers are PCI compliant and SAS 70 Type II certified. All data is encrypted and backed up on a regular basis, and single location businesses operate on their own database.
- Multi-Store Functionality – Revel is built to handle a single store or a chain of stores.
- Loyalty Program – The Revel POS offers a cardless loyalty program as well as other third party integrations. They plan on expanding their loyalty offerings in the future.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Revel has an open API and a whole slew of third party integrations. Below is a listing of some of the major integrations, all of which can be located in the Revel marketplace.
Mobile Payment Processors/Forms of Payment
Compatible Credit Card Processors:
Third party integrations for gateway payment processors and payment processors are listed in the marketplace section of the company website. Revel uses the gateway payment processor USAePay as well as FreedomPay, and NewTek. The list of payment processors includes Mercury Payment Systems, Moneris, Adyen, Tyro, WorldPay, FirstData, and others.
If you don’t know the difference between a payment gateway and a merchant account, or if you’re just overwhelmed by the idea of trying to find the right merchant account with the lowest rates, then please let us know. We offer consulting services for merchant accounts—it’s our area of expertise.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Revel offers 24/7 support to all customers, and the ways they offer support are pretty broad.
- Phone– Revel sales, technical support, and billing staff are available through their main line at (415) 744-1433.
- Email– You can email support directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or submit a request with their customer support form.
- Remote Support – To troubleshoot issues directly without all the extra confusion (such as describing the thingy that keeps blinking), a technician can access your POS remotely to diagnose issues.
- Web Support– You can check out Revel’s support page for commonly reported issues. You can search for what you’re looking for or submit a request for support.
- Onsite Support– For onsite technical support you’ll need to contact Revel. There are additional fees involved, which you can view here.
- Revel University– This is Revel’s website for training and videos.
- Social Media – Revel does have a blog; if you’re interested in what they’re working on, it’s worth taking a look. There are also various social media accounts you can take a look at, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Hundreds of merchants have tried Revel POS, and reviews of their experiences can be found right here on the Merchant Maverick site (in the comments section below). Here are some of the more recent issues and complaints with the system.
- Issues with QuickBooks Integration. There have been some negative reviews about Revel POS, particularly with the QuickBooks integration. While I’m not too worried about the integration itself, what needs improvement is the technical support for QuickBooks issues. Technicians should be better prepared to assist merchants with issues that arise, especially for such a crucial part of their business. Jeffrey from Great Neck Pools wrote:
“The troubleshooters don’t seem to have a clear understanding of how the integration is supposed to work as evidenced by conflicting information I received regarding the inability of Revel to push inventory data to QBO. In the end, one of their reps simply admitted to me that it doesn’t work and that they need to do some rework on the entire system.”
- Initial setup can be long. The initial setup of menus, products, and inventory can be long and tedious, especially for businesses with unique processes. Though this is a fairly common complaint, I will defend Revel by saying that systems like this are complex pieces of software designed to meet the needs of many different types and sizes of businesses. That means there are going to be a lot of options and settings to wade through. Many of the problems I’ve seen described by users (aside from the lack of technical support) largely have to do with the user not taking the time to familiarize themselves with the product before diving into operation. In order to get the most out of a product designed to be highly customizable to your specific business, you’re going to need to spend plenty of time familiarizing yourself with the system and the various technical support options available to you, because you’re probably going to need to use them regularly (at least at first).
- Glitches. This is a particularly common problem, especially concerning system updates. A couple people have complained that Revel pushes out updates before they’ve been fully aired out and tested for glitches. I didn’t experience too many problems with the system. It did crash once when I was trying log out, but I was trying to get out of the system anyway, and it opened back up right away with a window recognizing that the system had just crashed and asking me to describe what I was doing when it happened.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
- “Always On” Mode. Formerly known as offline mode, this feature allows you to continue to do business as usual even if your Internet is down (or experiencing a slowdown). This feature is still pretty unique among POS providers, and allows you to continue to accept cash and card payments
- Versatile POS. Revel is thoughtfully designed and works well for many merchants. Its cloud-based functionality is also a huge contrast to the more rigid functionality of computer based POS systems, making it versatile and adaptable to fast-paced businesses with ever-changing needs.
- Constant Improvements. Since our initial review of this software, there have been some pretty significant improvements, and Revel shows no sign of stopping. Upfront software license fee? Gone. In its place is a manageable monthly subscription model with the license costs built in. Inventory options? Expanded and improved with room to grow. Slow-responding technical support? That I’ll leave you to judge.
- Customer Service. Revel reports a Customer Satisfaction Rating of over 93% for software, hardware, and logistical issues. Though it hasn’t always had a great technical support reputation, Revel has recently stepped up its game in this arena, taking steps to improve customer relations including the recent revamping of their suite of training videos.
If you’re looking for a cloud-based POS for a restaurant or hospitality business then Revel is definitely on par with systems like ERPLY – systems that provide high functionality without being prohibitive to anyone without a computer engineering degree. No other comparable system has a kiosk mode, kitchen view, expedite view, and table listing functions. For regular retail businesses, Revel has definitely improved its offerings and is a solid option, but I’d shop around and read more Revel POS reviews (and reviews of other POS systems) before making a decision.
If you’re a small business, Revel is certainly scalable for virtually any size; however, depending on the revenue you generate, the monthly subscription may still be too high. You also may be overwhelmed by the amount of work required to set up a bunch of features and settings you may never use. However, if you’re planning on quick growth, it would be nice to not have to transition from a system like ShopKeep to a one designed for larger businesses. In the end, if you’ve got the revenue for one of the more expensive cloud-based solutions, Revel should have everything you need to run your business.