Breadcrumb Payments (previously named Breadcrumb Payments) was your run-of-the-mill POS until Groupon purchased it in 2012 for $10-15M, integrating it with Groupon’s discount system. There are currently two versions: Breadcrumb Pro, a full-service restaurant app; and Breadcrumb Payments, which is the focus of this review. Breadcrumb Payments is free to use, and seems best suited for small quick service restaurants & light retail. It lacks some of the more useful functions of its big brother, but it does enough to hold its own.
Much like Square, Breadcrumb Payments keeps hardware & setup extremely simple. While it only works with iPad 2, the system takes all of five minutes to register. During signup, Groupon will send a free proprietary reader; additional readers can be purchased for around $15 or so. Breadcrumb Payments will also integrate with other readers, Star printers, & APG cash drawers. All hardware can be purchased directly through Breadcrumb — as well as wireless routers & iPad mounts, if necessary. The iPad 2 camera also functions as a built-in barcode scanner — a useful, & surprisingly uncommon, feature in a mobile POS.
Breadcrumb Payments is available in the iTunes App Store for free download. The software has no subscription cost, but users are limited to processing through Groupon only. Pricing is structured as a flat rate of 1.99% + $0.15 per swipe (2.49% + $0.15 keyed); Amex must be processed through Amex directly using an existing ESA number. The first $5000 processed by every merchant has these fees waived, but then the flat rate takes over going forward. Owners can begin running cards as soon online registration is complete. The interface is clean & simple, with open tickets to the left & large, colorful buttons on the right. There are keys along the bottom to ring custom charges & discounts, as well as pull up the camera scanner. If separate user PINs have been created, the active user will appear underneath the sale, just above the payment key & the saved tabs key (if active). All POS options can be adjusted straight from the terminal by accessing the menu on the upper left.
Basic reporting is available here, as well as transaction history & till management. Customers listed in the database display recent data, notes, & the option to open a new transaction. Operations can be tweaked by entering the settings menu; here tax rates, tips, peripherals, & receipts can be customized. There’s a nifty logo option that lets merchants put their own company photo along the top of receipts — and the ability to randomly generate fortune cookie-style bromides as a footer. Employee permissions can be assigned, & open tabs activated as well.
The Menu Editor is simple and intuitive. Items can be added individually or under categories, and bar-codes can be assigned to make ringing that much simpler. Everything can be color-coded or labeled with photos. Discounts can also be added as menu buttons. There is seemingly no limit to modifiers, allowing merchants a lot of leeway with product variation. Finally, if owners don’t know where to start, there are pre-populated sample menus available based on industry. Selecting Nail Salon, for example, will fill the menu with various manicures, etc. This cuts down on setup for simple shops.
Breadcrumb’s back office web portal contains the remainder of adjustable settings & reports. For the most part, this consists of colorful sales breakdowns & the ability to change the deposit account for credit card transactions. There is a menu that displays actual transfers to the account — a definite advantage for any merchant wishing to see processed deposits in the same system as sales data.
Beyond the easy-to-use POS, there are a few noteworthy benefits to setting up this software. For one, urban merchants especially may find their lives made a bit more interesting with the inclusion of Groupon integration. Special promotions can be scanned & tracked along with any other bit of transaction data — allowing owners to easily track Groupon’s effect on business. Secondly, the aforementioned custom receipts add a bit of flair to trendy quick service shops.
There is offline capability as well, enabling merchants to continue processing even while experience network outages. All transactions will upload when service returns. And if that doesn’t set a merchant’s mind at ease, the 24/7 support definitely will. Email, web ticket, & toll-free phone service is available anytime.
Even among trendy new options, there are limitations. The most obvious is, of course, the pricing. While “free” always seems great on paper, those flat transaction fees quickly add up. Groupon appears to have split the difference between an industry-standard tier rate & Square’s popular flat-pricing; by using a low flat percentage (at 1.8%, almost a full 1% less than Square) AND a $0.15 transaction fee, Groupon effectively hedges its bets against the losses Square is committed to taking on low tickets. In essence, Breadcrumb has the advantage of lower rates than Square on large tickets, but still earns some measure of profit on bills of less than $10 total.
To owners shopping for the best rate, this may not turn out to be the best option. Low sales totals will translate to high rates, & higher tickets — though lower than Square & other flat pricing freebies — will still never approach the lower rates negotiated through other processors. It seems as though Groupon is aiming for a higher tier of quick serve merchant than Square: a single location running something above that $10 average transaction, but still underneath the radar of the POS heavyweights. Ultimately, it may turn out to be a smart move from their perspective, as anything operating above that level is likely to be open to Breadcrumb Pro — which offers a much more comprehensive system. To owners, however, it may look like Groupon gets them coming & going.
Case in point, POS lacks a table grid & custom tips. Gratuity can be programmed into three choices, but users cannot set their own tip. In a way, it almost forces the software into use as a small retail shop — except that it seems to allow for too few SKUs for anything larger than a corner shop or newsstand. Even that isn’t clear, and that highlights another slight issue with the service: the lack of a large knowledge base. This is mitigated by the 24-hour support, of course, but checking the site for answers is an exercise in futility if looking for anything but basic functions. A user should not have to file a service ticket just to find out the upper limit on item SKUs. Perhaps most inexplicable — and damaging to its retail aspirations — is a complete lack of inventory management on either POS or back office reporting. A simple stock count would be better than nothing.
Assuming someone does use it for their quick serve or retail stand, they will not be able to split tickets among payment types or accept gift cards (not even as a generic “other” payment type). The system also lacks a punch clock for employees — which is odd considering the opportunity provided by access PINs. Stranger still, employee sales data appears to only display through the POS reports — and not the Dashboard reporting through the web portal. Shouldn’t this perhaps be the other way around? Better yet, just make it available in the back office; why should owners have to logon to the POS app just to see an individual’s daily sales?
Lastly, though customer tracking is admirably detailed in most respects, there are two major flaws with the system. First up is the inability to add a customer to an existing sale; employees had better remember to ask for customer info before starting a ticket because John Doe can only be added to the sale at the very start — and only then by going into the customer menu & opening his profile. We learned this the hard way after ringing up a large test transaction consisting of numerous items & modifiers — only to have it completely wiped out by attempting to attach a frequent customer. Second — and in our opinion, even more obnoxious — is the need to manually type in a customer’s email to send a receipt. What’s the point adding an email to a customer profile if the employee must enter it for each sale? Remembering to add a customer early is one thing, but needing to copy & paste emails just to avoid typing after every transaction is a bit much.
– 1.99% + $0.15 per swipe
– 2.49% + $0.15 per keyed transaction
– American Express is separate, between 2.3% – 3.5% + $0.00 – $0.15
– Solo: $99 – 1 iPad
– Cafe: $199 – 2 iPads
– Mid-Size: $299 – 5 iPads
– Flagship: $399 – 10 iPads
So while there are some bizarre quirks to Groupon’s free software, Breadcrumb Payments remains a cost-effective and visually attractive option for small merchants. Restaurants in need of table service functionality will probably want to upgrade to Pro, but QSR/retail owners right in that sweet spot between Square & POS Lavu may find it an appealing interface. Provided the flat processing rates don’t counteract the savings from the subscription-free software, the system is intuitive and frighteningly simple to operate. With Groupon throwing its weight around, Breadcrumb has seen a lot of momentum in & around New York & San Francisco. If this success translates to further innovation, Breadcrumb Payments may start cropping up just about everywhere.