Here are our latest blogs posts from the team

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5/14/2013: Bryan Menell, SubtleData CEO, tapped as speaker for Money2020 Conference

SubtleData announced today that CEO Bryan Menell has been selected to speak at the Money2020 Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Money2020 will be the year’s largest event for emerging payments & financial services. SubtleData will be featured as part of the prestigious Money2020 LaunchPad program, the showcase for the industries newest start-up companies and groundbreaking products.

"We are thrilled to have Bryan Menell share his insig...
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Tags: Bryan Menell Money2020 Launchpad Anil Aggarwal payments mobile financial services
 

5/3/2013: The Week in Review - Aprill 28 - May 3, 2013

A few of the stories that caught our attention this week.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to share your perspectives on these stores and others.

USA Today: - Strategies: More small firms look at mobile-pay options

Mobile Marketer: Forrester Research: 75% of consumers access smartphones in-store

Mobile Payments Today: Read more...
Tags: USA Today Mobile Payment Small Business Mobile Marketer Forrester Research Mobile Wallet Mobile Payments Today Contactless Mobile Payments Javelin Mobile POS Twitter Square
 

4/26/2013: The Week in Review

A quick summary of the stories that caught our eye this week:

Are QR codes losing their magnetism? - via Mobile Marketer: http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/software-technology/15222.html

Targeting Consumers With Mobile Apps - via Nation's Restaurant News: http://nrn.com/blog/targeting-consumers-mobile-apps

Restaurants and Grocery Stores Have an Appetite for Mobile Payments - via Technorati: http://technorati.com/technology/article/restaurants-and-grocery-stores-have-an/

NFC payments are too complex and offer too few benefits says Tesco - via NFC World: http://www.nfcworld.com/2013/04/24/323704/tesco-nfc-payments-are-too-complex-and-offer-too-few-benefits/

The ‘Smart’ Tren...
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Tags: QR Codes Mobile Marketer Mobile Apps Nation's Restaurant News Mobile Payments Restaurants Grocery Technorati NFC NFC World Hotel Trends New York Times Mobile Personalization Retail Customer Experience
 

4/25/2013: Subtle + JSON = SubtleJSON

We introduced our JSON API at this year's SXSWi Developer Garage. One month later, developers are using it to build a wide range of apps that integrate directly with bar, restaurant, and hotel Point of Sale systems.

You may have even seen pictures of Adrian Grenier of the TV show Entourage at our SXSWi Developer Garage. Using our SubtleJSON API, we built an example app that allowed Adrian to order a beer directly from his phone (it took us just 10 minutes and 23 lines of code).

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Tags: SubtleJSON SubtleLIBS Python PHP Ruby Java JavaScript Objective-C Adrian Grenier Entourage
 

4/19/2013: What is Mobile Wallet Missing

In a recent article, Brian Cohen from Etailing Solutions, questions the role of Near Field Communications (NFC) in the mobile payment race and asks “What if we’ve got mobile wallet all wrong?”

As Brian mentions, one of the biggest roadblocks to widespread adoption of NFC is the requirement that a merchant purchase new hardware. In a business where margins are thin, every dollar counts. Requiring merchants to purchase additional hardware, before they can take a mobile payment, is an additional cost m...
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Tags: Near Field Communications NFC Mobile Wallet Mobile Payment POS Point of Sale System Point of Sale Integration Brian Cohen Etailing Solutions API
 

4/11/2013: Zero to One: Flip the Focus and Sell First, Build Last

Let's talk lean. Let's talk commercialization.

Developers in the SubtleData Developer Community are experts with our API -- adept at building functional mobile ordering, mobile payment, loyalty, business intelligence/analytics applications, with direct Point of Sale integration, from scratch or a retrofit of an existing app in days. And to this, we tip our hat. You can build the best app on Earth (and we've seen them), but if you don't have market, any market, the likelihood you'll complete your build is slim and success even slimmer.

Hear me now, believe me later: Sell First, Build Later.

* Train your brain to look for pain. (For example, did you know that merchant's typically pa...
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Tags: #appdev lean agile startup Point of Sale API prospecting sales and marketing
 

3/21/2013: Point of Sale Integration Key for Mobile Payment Adoption

Michael Farrell of the Boston Globe highlights the Innovator Project 2013 at Harvard in his article "Not paying by smartphone? You soon will, many bet". We at SubtleData obviously believe this is an inevitability, not simply a possibility.

(full disclosure: SubtleData is an 2013 Innovator Award Finalist...
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Tags: Michael Farrell Boston Globe Innovation Project 2013 Mobile Payments Point of Sale Integration SubtleData API
 

3/5/2013: SubtleData Named Finalist for Best Newcomer

PYMNTS.com has released the list of finalists for their 2013 PYMNTS Innovator Awards. SubtleData has been selected as a finalist in the Best Newcomer category. To vote: 2013 Innovator Awards Finalists We'd certainly appreciate any support.
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Tags: SubtleData Innovator Award Best Newcomer Finalist PYMNTS pymnts.com
 

2/22/2013: Austin #8 - Top 15 Cities for Startup Investments

Samantha Murphy from Mashable published a list of the "Top 15 Cities for Tech Startup Investments". Usual suspects San Francisco and San Jose are at the top of the list. However, reaffirming what many of us have know for a while, Austin lands at #8. For Samantha's article and the complete list - http://mashable.com/2013/02/21/top-cities-startups/
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Tags: Samantha Murphy Mashable Startup Investments Austin
 

2/19/2013: Stat of the Day

According to a report from Business Insider - http://read.bi/X5bSjm - Square's mobile payments in 2012 = volume rose to $10 billion. PayPal mobile payments in 2012 = $14 billion.
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Tags: mobile payments Square PayPal Business Insider
 

1/28/2013: Retail Renaissance: Trend Spotting at NRF13

Summary: One of two posts covering SubtleData's participation at the National Retail Federation's Big Show #NRF13 in New York City. Post one recaps the conversation and trends from the show and how developers and merchants can leverage the near future. Post two covers a first-hand glimpse into the event experience from SubtleData's founder and CTO, Richard Bagdonas.

Caveat: As the leader in retail, restaurant, hospitality (hotel/ resort/ casino) point of sale (POS) integration, SubtleData reserves the right to interpose its bias when interpreting the sights, sounds and conversations of NRF13. SubtleData is in no way affiliated with the National Retail Federation. These opinions are its ow...
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Tags: retail NRF13 POS integration retail BI analytics big data 2013 trends
 

12/31/2012: Human to Human, Happy New Year

Technically, the next twenty-four hours are no different than any other. This said, "Our" recent loop around the sun is as good a time as any--if not the best time--to communicate a value central to SubtleData...

Day-in and day-out we've become adept at facilitating computers talking to computers. Much emphasis is given to efficiency and economy and exchange and scale. Much investment made in automation. Much time given to establishing protocols and contracts. Much taken for granted.

With this, it is easy to forget that behind every API call, behind every line of code, every interface, every social update, every email, every proposal, a HUMAN BEING is working away at problems both per...
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Tags: community developer merchant human interaction purpose
 

12/19/2012: Your POS is ready to be your best salesman

The Point of Sale system is a modern replacement for a process that was once accomplished by using a wooden box to hold money. The next innovation was moving the wooden box to a steel box, then someone decided to put a mechanical calculator on top of that box which brought upon the age of the cash register.

From there technology took off and once the digital age came about these mechanical calculators were replaced with electronic cash registers that could store transactions. Jump ahead 30 years and you have today’s modern Point of Sale systems.

So what do all of these methods have in common? They still don’t make money for the restaurateur. (until now)

The latest POS systems cos...
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Tags: POS revenue generator ghrelin dessert
 

12/5/2012: Say goodbye to your users

Square's Jack Dorsey recently removed the word user from the company’s vocabulary. This makes perfect sense. When was the last time you heard a waitress talk about how many "users" came into the restaurant. Users log into a website. But are they really users? I appreciate Jack's focus on changing the way we think of people like you and me.

So what does SubtleData call the people that interact with our company. Here is what we came up with.

Clients
SubtleData has no customers. Why is that? We only have clients. A "customer" is someone who comes to your business, buys something once and then leaves to never return. I always use the reference that you are a customer when...
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Tags: Jack Dorsey Square customer client user
 

11/16/2012: Has Isis already lost the mobile payments battle?

SubtleData has offices in Austin, Texas and partners in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both of these cities are the launching grounds for mobile payments provider Isis. We have been researching whether or not people are using Isis and the numbers are shocking. The typical response from the Austin and Salt Lake City “Technorati” (people who would be the first adopters of this technology) are pretty clear: not going to use it.

So why is it that the carriers were so mistaken in their forecasting of consumer trends?

We can look back to how the wireless carriers work. They buy exclusivity from specific brands to carry their products. Just look at AT&T’s deal with Apple. They purchased exclusiv...
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Tags: Isis Austin Salt Lake City AT&T Apple iPhone
 

11/8/2012: Can you be an app & platform? Perils of pivoting.

There is a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about app companies changing direction and becoming platform companies. This means that the company started life out building a mobile app that was directly marketed to consumers. They will have to continue to support their mobile app because, well… they have to. Then one day their execs decided that the only way to stay in business was to let other companies use their system to do similar apps. Not just similar apps, but normally exactly the same app.

A lot of mobile payment and loyalty companies are making this move. Some may call it "openness" while others call it sheer madness.

The difficulty for a developer looking to use their plat...
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Tags: platform loyalty reproductions
 

10/25/2012: What can Barnes and Noble do going forward?

If you haven't heard, there has been a breach of credit card data. This data never even made it to a secure system before it was compromised. It has been reported that Barnes and Noble Point of Sale PIN-pad devices (used to enter your secret PIN) at 63 of their stores had a hidden little gem inside the device: a credit card sniffer.

This sniffer was "listening" for the credit card swipe and the associated PIN entry and grabbing the data before it hit the POS terminal. This means that an untold number of credit cards are now at risk.

This is a serious matter. If we cannot trust the devices in the store, how can we make purchases?

There is an interesting and scary thing about POS...
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Tags: Barnes and Noble breach PIN sniffer
 

10/23/2012: Mobile payments are still quite klunky

When was the last time you were in line at a Starbucks and watched someone use their Passbook app to pay for their coffee? Were you thinking "wow that was super easy" or were you thinking "what is taking this guy so long... just use your credit card so we can get our lattes?" More than likely it is the latter. The idea of mobile payments is great, but the current implementations could use some work.

Most apps either rely on you to enact somewhere near 6 taps to get to the right thing and then you must wait in hopes that it works. We are all quite impressed when we see it work. That should cause us all a little concern. We don’t have faith that it will work every time like we have with...
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Tags: mobile POS mobile Poin t of Sale iPhone Android NFC stadium
 

10/17/2012: Are you ready for the coming wave of mobile apps?

As a restaurateur you know that the number of apps that can do very cool things for your business are growing each month. The difficulty is figuring out which apps to choose and if the apps "play nice" with your Point of Sale system. The concern that most Point of Sale companies have is that you choose too many apps and cause your Point of Sale system to fail. This can and has happened to other restaurants around the country. And it happens at the worst possible time (Friday night at dinnertime).

App developers are good at building apps, but they are not experts in building the integration software that works with your Point of Sale. It doesn't run on the phone so they end up cobblin...
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Tags: POS Point of Sale
 

10/5/2012: Walmart puts the kaibosh on Google Wallet, Isis, and NFC

Walmart is well, the "Walmart of retailers." In a stunning move, the company has said no to both Google Wallet and NFC programs like Isis. Isis is the joint venture between wireless carriers Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA. Walmart's vice president and assistant treasurer Mike Cook said in no uncertain terms that the retailer would not expose their $1.2BB in payments to Isis' NFC program or to the Google Wallet.

A lot of money has been spent on Isis from the big 3 carriers. They just recently announced that MICROS was the first POS company to work with their NFC readers. Although this seemed like a large win for Isis, it actually caused many of us concern because it w...
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Tags: Walmart NFC Google Wallet Isis AT&T T-Mobile Verizon MCX
 

9/18/2012: Subway Restaurants lose millions of credit cards

Enter a Subway sandwich shop and you don't expect hackers to be reading your credit card as it is swiped on the Point of Sale terminal. Unfortunately two Romanian men, Ulian Dolan, 28, of Craiova, Romania and Cezar Iulian Butu, 27, of Ploiesti, Romania, have pleaded guilty to installing keystroke loggers on the POS terminals and swiping a lot of credit card numbers.

The reason is that the credit card reader that connects to a POS system is just a keyboard. That keyboard isn't encrypted and so the credit card number is easily "lifted" from the terminal by listening to what is being "typed" by the reader.

As more and more information about this easy to do hack emerge, one thing is impo...
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Tags: Subway Romania keystroke logger skimmers
 

9/14/2012: ISIS is a no-show in Austin... again

For those of you who haven’t heard, the big carriers have gotten together to build a consortium for NFC payments on mobile phones called ISIS. Their first two launch cities were scheduled to be Austin and Salt Lake City. This project has been wrought with difficulties since it was announced.

The latest of the failure to launch issues has them pushing the launch date back, again. We don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that the new iPhone 5 from Apple doesn’t support NFC, or if the carriers cannot get the NFC readers installed at merchants. This delay announcement is on the heels of the iPhone 5 release by Tim Cook the other day.

They may have been banking on NFC in...
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Tags: ISIS NFC Apple iPhone Android TechCrunch Austin Salt Lake City
 

9/11/2012: iPhone 5 = No Field Communication for Mac fans

It is safe to say that Apple has a dominant position in the smart phone market. They aren’t just the tail that wags the dog, they pretty much own more than half of the dog these days. So when Apple announced plans for the iPhone 5, everyone thought that this was the coming of age for Near Field Communications (NFC). Unfortunately, anyone betting on a NFC company will be quite sore when they hear that NFC will not be in the iPhone 5.

NFC is a small antenna and chip inside the device that sends signals up to about 4 inches away from the device. NFC sounds like a good idea, but in essence your credit card is transmitting itself to anyone in close range. Think about a busy train through M...
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Tags: iPhone NFC Near Field Communication Apple iTunes
 

8/27/2012: Bowling for dollars can lead to higher income

We went bowling this past Sunday. That seems like a pretty benign activity, but the bowling alley lost a lot of money. You may ask “did you not pay for bowling?” or “did you leave with a ball or shoes?” and the answer to both is no. So what was it that caused them to lose a lot of money?

This bowling alley is situated in a bar, rather than the alternative which is more common. We didn’t see our waitress enough which meant that the food and drinks we were going to order went unordered and uneaten. We enjoyed our time, but not as much as we could have. The fact that this place is a bar, has plenty of wait staff, and we didn’t see them very often is not unusual. It happens all over th...
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Tags: bowling mobile POS iPad margin revenue
 

8/20/2012: How Square's all you can eat plan may take out an industry

Jack Dorsey (@jack) announced last week that Square will begin charging a flat monthly price for credit card processing. This goes well against the market's typical pricing of a monthly fee for the merchant account, a base transaction fee (usually around $0.20) and then a percentage fee based on the type of card and type of transaction. This is a very bold move that harkens back to the days when the cellular companies started offering an all you can eat model instead of having to manage minutes.

Square doesn't have any true competitors, so they are doing this to ensure that their potential competitors think twice about entering the market. There are folks who are offering mobile paym...
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Tags: Square Jack Dorsey American Express
 

8/2/2012: Everyone is a digital wallet these days

Everyone seems to be creating these nebulous things called digital wallets these days. Some are throwing in Near Field Communication (NFC) while others are using other methods to get card information from the phone and into the Point of Sale (POS).

One idea behind this craze is that you have one less thing to carry - your credit card. Another is the idea of not removing the credit card from the safety of your wallet. Some even think you will leave your wallet behind altogether. Are they joking?

Let's use my wallet as an example. I currently have my state required driver’s license. Without it I get into big trouble at places that need identification (including the police if I get s...
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Tags: digital wallet NFC Chase ATM phantom loyalty
 

7/28/2012: NFC claims another victim

Near Field Communications (NFC) was slated to be the poster child of the new mobile payments world. Unfortunately, there is a battle between merchants and banks about who will make the first move. This is leaving a lot of companies with no revenues and dwindling savings accounts. One such company ViVOtech is the latest victim.

NFC sounds like a good idea. So why has NFC not taken off?

First off is the hardware. NFC requires NFC readers which are expensive to make. The reason is that there are a lot of security risks around having a phone that can signal a reader with payment information. If someone were to build a reader they could bump into people on subways and effectively r...
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Tags: ViVOtech Alloy Ventures NFC Chip and PIN Verifone MagTek
 

7/26/2012: Why EMV and Chip and PIN may be dangerous

Hackers at this year's Black Hat conference have demonstrated the vulnerabilities with EMV and Chip and PIN credit cards. Showcasing how they could load a trojan horse onto a payment terminal with a chip on a fake credit card.

Hackers were able to have the card install a program to collect credit card numbers, PINs and other information. They then used a second card to read the data from the first program.

So this begs the question. Why is Chip and PIN and EMV better than what we have today? Sure, the stripe on the back of our cards is the same tape found in cassette tapes and we haven't seen those since the 80s. The readers for these cards are prolific and are basically the heads ...
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Tags: EMV Chip and PIN hacker Black Hat
 

7/25/2012: So you need to connect your app to a POS, eh?

Event horizon: you come up with you killer app idea. You decide to find other people who can help you get it built. You do your research - "everyone needs your app." Your team leaves their day jobs, you raise a bunch of money, you get co-working space for your team and start building the app. Then you realize that it needs to connect to the Point of Sale systems. No problem. You just need to “hook into them" so you send one of your folks off to get that done.

You start calling the POS companies telling them that you need to get integrated into their system. You call the big players - no response. You try the small players - you get a response and the answer is no. You just cannot ...
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Tags: mobile point of sale mobile pos integration
 

7/18/2012: Why BlackBerry may be too spoiled to thrive

Developers are constantly looking for new mobile devices on which they can develop mobile apps. Having an app on every platform has been all the rage, but it does have its drawbacks. Each phone platform has a different programming language, so if you are an app developer writing software for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and Blackberry, you will have four different codebases to develop and most importantly - maintain. As a business person, how do you know when it is time to pull the plug on a specific platform?

A recent lawsuit brought against Research In Motion (RIM) proves this point. RIM was just handed a devastating blow by the court. They were asked to pay over $148MM to anoth...
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Tags: BlackBerry RIM iPhone Windows Phone
 

7/16/2012: What you need to know about the $6BB Visa Settlement

Many of us in the industry have been paying close attention to the lawsuit brought by several large retailers against Visa, Mastercard, and several large banks. The lawsuit deals directly with the interchange fees that banks and Visa charge the retailers. There is so much money flowing past the retailers, that they wanted to jump in and participate in that revenue stream.

Well their voices were heard. In last week's settlement, Visa, et. al. agreed to pay $6 billion in cash and reduce the interchange fees by 10 basis points. One major thing to note is that retailers will no longer be prohibited from charging more to customers who pay with a credit card. Up until now it was against the...
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Tags: Visa Mastercard banks interchange fee phantom loyalty program net promoter score feedback
 

7/5/2012: Mobile ordering benefits guests, staff, and restaurateurs

One of the most obvious issues with restaurants is staffing for peak times. There is an ongoing conflict between what the parties want when it comes to staffing. The restaurateur wants to serve as many meals as possible because their money comes from margin on each meal - they want to have as much staff as possible to handle the demands. The staff wants to have as few people as possible so that their individual tips remain high. The customers want great service which comes from more staff so that they feel well cared for.

So why does it seem that most restaurants cannot get staffing right? The reason is simple. There is no exact science to knowing what the peak is going to be that d...
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Tags: mobile ordering Euro Cup peak times higher tips Velveeta staffing
 

6/26/2012: HITEC 2012 Day One

It is day one of this year's HITEC show in Baltimore and there has been one thing very prevalent at the exhibits. The cloud.

Many companies have the word "cloud" in their name or their tagline. One even had a large blow up cloud that was a bit overinflated and looked like it was a pair of collagen-inflated lips on a recently-deceased corpse more than a cloud.

What is the first thing that you think of when you hear someone mention they use the cloud? Inexpensive. Do the companies here think that they are improving their brand when they use the cloud in their brand? I hope not. If they do they are sadly misguided.

Cloud is a concept for reducing the internal costs to run a co...
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Tags: cloud mobile point of sale HITEC baltimore
 

6/17/2012: How POS companies can embrace mobile and win

Point of sale (POS) companies have notoriously been closed systems that do not allow other companies to integrate with them. Except for scheduling and time and attendance applications. They need to allow developers to create unique offerings has just not been there.

Enter the mobile era.

Mobile has changed everything. Merchants of all kinds now look at the point of sale as a platform from which they should be able to connect a variety of applications that best suit their needs. POS companies that embrace the mobile evolution of their business will most assuredly survive. Those that don't will slowly be taken out of the market by the many iPad and tablet-based POS companies that a...
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Tags: iPad POS mobile POS platform MagTek Casio
 

6/13/2012: To QR or not to QR?

QR codes gained in popularity a few years ago with their peak in 2010. Statistically significant results from QR code campaigns showed that the most popular demographic for people using QR codes were women between the ages of 35 to 44. But what about today? Are QR codes that important anymore? Will they stay popular among the younger generations?

The answer is pretty simple. No.

The reason is that QR codes are seen as “old tech” to the younger generations. For all intensive purposes, they are just as glamorous as the bar code on the bottom of the Cheerios box. Younger folks look for more integrated software rather than loosely-coupled scanning systems. While there are shoes wit...
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Tags: QR Cheerios mobile wallet Miller High Life Future Tech
 

6/4/2012: Why replace a POS when you can integrate?

It seems like a lot of companies that are in the loyalty and rewards space are buying point of sale companies in order to get further traction within hospitality. We recently saw news that the fine folks at Groupon bought Breadcrumb POS in order to extend their market penetration. The difficulty that we see with this approach is that restaurateurs have already spent $15,000 - $25,000 on a point of sale system and don’t want to scrap it just to use another mobile app. They would rather have it just work with their existing point of sale.

This is where SubtleData’s platform makes more sense and should make the point of sale manufacturers sleep better at night.

SubtleData doesn’t requir...
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Tags: MICROS Dinerware POSitouch Groupon Breadcrumb hospitality pos
 

5/25/2012: How 7 minutes could lead to 10% growth for restaurants

Imagine your everyday restaurant. You walk in, get seated, enjoy wonderful food and service only to be left hanging when it comes time to pay. The dance that includes asking for the bill with the universal drawing a check in the air with your hand leads to the bill being presented moments later. Now comes the fun part. You wait for them to collect the check, take your card in the back where they could be doing who knows what with it, then minutes later they return with your card and the check. Total elapsed time: 8 minutes. The most damning part of this is the last thing you remember from the restaurant is waiting to leave. That is not what the restauranteur wants you to remember. Tru...
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Tags: restaurant table turn lunch rush
 

5/22/2012: Why Home Depot could use iPads to save margins

My wife and I were shopping at Home Depot last weekend. Our bathroom remodel required us to order custom handles for our new shower. We are regular customers of Home Depot so we went there first. The gentlemen from plumbing had to use a 4 inch thick book to show us the handles. This is the first area that Home Depot could benefit from an iPad securely mounted at the custom order area by the kitchen cabinets. Instead we were asked to look at a half inch picture of the handles and make a decision.

We made our selection and said we would like to order them. He sent us walking up to the front of the store to go to the customer service desk. It turns out that 20% of the people sent to that...
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Tags: Home Depot retailer iPad lost revenue
 
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