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NCR Silver is the mobile entry by established consumer transaction heavy, NCR. The main advantage NCR carries into this space is experience. As a longtime provider of hardware, software, and banking services, they are well equipped to handle all facets of the tablet POS market. Generally, Silver operates best in small- to medium-sized outlets with single locations — especially for retail or quick service. The system is fairly straightforward, yet attractive. It also includes some time-saving features that will appeal to merchants looking to grow their brands.
Silver operates on any iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch (4th gen) — though Android users are still left out in the cold. The system only encompasses one location and starts with a single register, but can be expanded accordingly. Peripherals include receipt printers, stands, drawers, card readers, barcode scanners, and even reader-scanner combo units for use on iPhone & iPod. There is also a smaller Bluetooth printer so merchants on the go can still print hard copy receipts.
NCR provides all its own hardware — although any compatible peripheral should work. This arrangement benefits long-term clients due to NCR’s free overnight hardware replacement, if purchased directly from them. Moreover, NCR has veered off the beaten path to provide complete starter bundles at Staples retail outlets. For $499, owners can buy a cash drawer, receipt printer, swivel mount, & card reader — all designed to integrate directly with NCR Silver.
System integration is simple — whether through NCR or third-party processors — and NCR hardware is set to go as soon as everything is hooked together. Owners bringing in their own merchant services providers will be delighted to know that NCR’s years in the POS market at large has enabled them to integrate directly with many providers using their own proprietary gateway, NCR SecurePay. This reduces overall cost by allowing a wide variety of processors while not requiring additional gateway accounts or fees (see pricing section).
Users will see the familiar tablet POS layout upon logon — open sale on the left, buttons on the right. As an added bonus, NCR provided an option to switch the buttons to the other side of the screen, if desired. The buttons themselves are all color coded for easy reading; categories line the bottom with colored bars that match the borders of the item buttons within each menu. In this way, users can tell at a glance if they’ve pressed the correct button to reach the products they’re seeking. Though Silver features the usual search capabilities & a favorites menu for common items, it nonetheless speaks to the attention given to detail. NCR prides itself on mining customer feedback for ideas, and these small touches highlight that focus.
Inventory & reporting — both accessible through the back office web portal — are robust & visual. Employees can be assigned unique profiles & PINs to record activity. Helpful graphs illustrate data for simple accounting & tracking, and everything is available in real time. Inventory items can be uploaded up at 999 at a time to save time (although modifiers must be added individually). Users can access a quick inventory snapshot to view a summary of stock levels. All in all, the system is loaded with efficiency features such as these to cut time as much as possible for do-it-all owners that have other issues requiring their attention.
Silver really comes into its own as a marketing machine. Essentially, many tablet POS systems have relatively comparable capabilities; decisions are often made based on aesthetically pleasing interfaces or specific features. NCR included one such feature to set Silver apart: its customer database. Automated email blasts can be crafted for customers & sent directly through the system, negating any need for a separate marketing platform. Customers can be sorted according to various categories to limit the scope of certain promotions to targeted groups. Discounts, coupons, & promotional flyers can be set to automatically mail out to customers based on purchasing habits. Frankly, any merchant not making use of NCR Silver’s marketing power is throwing money away.
Alongside that considerable plus, Silver has a few other nice points. The ability to process gift cards — both system-integrated & third-party — is a useful feature, as is the ability to use scanners to speed up checkout. NCR also features free live support seven days a week. Emails are answered promptly & expertly, and phone support staff is equally knowledgeable. There is also a newer web chat option available through the main site.
There are a few limitations to the service, however — hopefully ones worked out as NCR moves forward with Silver. For instance, phone support is limited to business hours — which can be awfully restrictive to busy merchants in need of immediate assistance. Again, NCR’s agents tend to respond quickly, but for many people that live presence on the phone is a calming one when things aren’t working smoothly. It’s a strange sort of barrier from a company that otherwise seems to have considered customer service in its mission.
Similarly, there are other commonly lacking options that may ultimately prevent NCR Silver from taking off in certain industries. Most glaring among these is a lack of table grid for full-service restaurants; while there is an assign table function, it’s in a list format that does little to help organize bustling food service employees on a busy night — especially when considering the visual style of the POS on the whole. And though tickets can be held open to close later, only closed sales are visible across all terminals; any open tickets can only be accessed by the same register that initially held it. In contrast to an app like Ambur, for instance — where all open tickets can be pulled down by any active terminal on the network — Silver lends itself to the kind of minor snafus mobile POS systems are supposed to circumvent. Restaurant managers hardly want their servers trying to figure out which register has the table’s check when the diners are ready to dash.
Finally, there are some relatively minor omissions. There is no accounting software integration, no punch clock on front end terminals to track employees, and no ability to customize receipts with a company logo. Oddly enough, there is also the capability to price items by weight — yet there is no scale integration built into the system. It almost seems at times like the system launched half-finished: comprehensive in some areas, yet bizarrely lacking other common details. Given NCR’s track record, it seems safe to say it’s a matter of time before improvements are made to the software; in the meantime, though, there are definitely a few flaws worth considering for prospective merchants.
NCR has separated their tablet based system into Retail(NCR Silver) and Foodservice(Pro Restaurant Edition). Here’s the updated pricing for both systems:
– $59/month per register
– Add $0.10/transaction up to $29/m for each additional register
Pro Restaurant Edition:
– $129/month for NCR Silver Pro Restaurant Edition
– Add $0.10/transaction up to $29/m for each additional register
NCR Silver is a relatively new entry into the marketplace, but it certainly makes a strong impression. At first glance, it appears to have everything a merchant could want — with major corporate support to boot. In particular, the customer database functions make it a front runner for any owner seeking to turn their modest startup into a marketing juggernaut. The seamless integration & one-stop hardware sales are also likely to attract businesses looking for someone else to do their heavy lifting during setup. There are some basic limitations, as noted, but Silver nonetheless shows promise in a competitive new arena. With NCR’s muscle behind it, it could grow to become a major player in the tablet POS industry.