How to Select a Receipt Printer for Mobile POS

Posted July 1, 2014

ipad-in-actionIs your restaurant or retail store ahead of the technology curve?
Be honest – is it even close?

In this day and age, customers expect to see their favorite restaurants and stores using technologies similar to the ones they use on a daily basis. That’s why today’s top retailers and restaurateurs are turning to tablets and Apple iPads to run their businesses.

In 2014, this concept of mobile point of sale (POS) is very flexible. Mobile elements, such as mobile POS devices and mobile POS printers, can be mixed and matched with your existing assets to accommodate your specific business and/or budget needs. Mobile POS can include:

In both retail and restaurant environments, a combination of stationary and portable printers can be used to enhance your employees’ capabilities and maximize the effectiveness of your POS system. For example, Apple retail stores use a
stationary printer at the counter and equip their salespeople with portable iPod Touch devices enabling them to engage with customers and complete transactions on the sales floor.

Depending on your specific business needs, you can choose from a range of applicable printers to gain the necessary mobility to improve your operations. For example, your business may integrate mobile devices with stationary printers to equip employees with portable printers to be used on the sales floor.

This white paper will outline the benefits of a mobile POS solution, as well as the first steps you will need to take in selecting a receipt printer for your mobile POS solution.

Benefits of Mobile POS

Mobile POS solutions allow you to extend your reach and streamline your sales operations. They are ideal in stores and restaurants where technology is valued, space is limited and mobility is vital. Think about it: a state-of-the-art mobile POS system – complete with a printer – can perform end-to-end transactions in the time it might take a customer to travel to a traditional point of sale at the counter. With an effective printing solution, employees can complete transactions and generate receipts from handheld units.

Here are a few ways the technology can improve your productivity and profitability:

  1. Increased functionality for a fraction of the traditional cost
    When comparing the cost of mobile POS devices with traditional enterprise POS systems, retail and restaurants can benefit from significant savings. Your business can be operated by simply purchasing a mobile device, a POS printer and an app, which costs about $1,500 to $2,000. A traditional POS system could cost $5,000 or more and doesn’t allow mobility.
  2. Speed up the checkout process
    Mobile POS devices allow customers to complete transactions right from the sales floor so they can “skip the line.” Speedy, streamlined checkouts allow retail and restaurant businesses to increase transaction turnover
  3. Improve customer service
    Employees can not only improve the accuracy of order entries, but also focus more on the customer than the transaction. In a restaurant setting, the wait staff can send order tickets to a kitchen printer straight from their mobile POS device to speed up preparation times. Rather than taking extra steps to enter data on a desktop computer, they help guests straight from the sales floor or at the table – making sure orders are correct and the customer is satisfied.
  4. Expand your selling capabilities
    With mobile POS devices and printers, transactions can be completed anywhere with a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection – patios, tent or sidewalk sales, catered events, pop-up shops, etc. By expanding your selling capabilities to include outdoor areas and remote venues, you can expand the audience of your restaurant or store.Not to mention, through tableside ordering and more time spent with customers, employees can take advantage of upselling and cross-selling opportunities to increase the average ticket size and tip amount.

Defining Your Business Needs

Defining your business is the best way to start the buying process. It not only helps you to avoid overlooking vital requirements, but also to narrow your list by ruling out options that don’t meet your criteria. To do so, think about what processes or features are unique to your restaurant or store – specifically, what aspects do you seek to improve with your printing solution?

  1. Involve your team in the buying decision
    Your sales team or wait staff will be using your new hardware the most, so it’s crucial for them to be on board with your buying decision. If they aren’t, operational and organizational issues can result. They may not understand what the printer does or how it works.To ensure that you make the most out of your new mobile POS solution, ask your employees about their strengths, weaknesses and challenges of your current system. This will help you determine the amount of flexibility your mobile POS printer needs, how intuitive and user-friendly it should be and how many printers are needed to accommodate your store or restaurant.
  2. Determine which printer type fits your goals
    As mentioned, there are two ways to go about selecting a printer for mobile POS applications. Retail and restaurant businesses can either use mobile handheld devices connected to stationary printers or portable printers. Depending on each printer’s design and connectivity, their functionality and mobility varies.

Thermal printers

To produce an image, thermal printers selectively heat coated thermal paper as it passes over the print head. Their advanced design makes them ideal for modern, fast-paced restaurants or stores with a mobile strategy.

Impact printers (for kitchen printing needs)

Impact printers use pins and ink ribbons to produce a series of dots. These printers can usually print black and red ink as well as graphics. Restaurants might favor this type of printer for their kitchen environments, as the paper used with thermal printers can be affected by extreme kitchen temperatures.

Portable printers

The sleek, compact and lightweight design of portable printers allows the operator to step out from behind the counter and engage the customers on the floor. They can be worn by retail or restaurant employees on a belt or shoulder strap, allowing their hands to be free to operate a mobile device for payment processing, tableside ordering and line busting applications.Because they are purpose-built to be used with smartphones and tablets, they are compatible with iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices. They are able to print wirelessly using either Bluetooth or wireless LAN connectivity.

Bluetooth and LAN connectivity

Bluetooth and local area network (LAN) technologies both provide wireless communication, but are designed and used differently. Bluetooth technology is a wireless technology that utilizes radio waves to allow wireless communication between devices, limited to a short range of about 30 feet. Bluetooth-enabled devices communicate with other Bluetooth devices (paired one to one), whereas LAN devices allow a network of devices to communicate with one another with a much wider range.

With Bluetooth or wireless LAN connectivity, receipts can be printed from the sales floor to the kitchen or other areas in your retail store to streamline operations and improve productivity.

Considerations for Your Selection

Your value-added reseller should provide you with printer options that will seamlessly integrate with your new mobile POS system and allow the mobility needed to bolster your store or restaurant operations. The following are a few of the necessary requirements of a printer to be used in mobile retail or restaurant environments.


To be able to print receipts while away from a stationary POS system, it’s necessary for your printing solution to include Bluetooth or Ethernet printing capabilities. The point is to perform store operations without limitations, so your receipt printer should allow you portable or flexible printing options with the development tools available for use with popular mobile platforms.

As mentioned, it’s important to understand that Bluetooth connectivity is paired one to one, acting as a single connection between two Bluetooth-enabled devices. Ethernet/LAN connectivity allows wireless printing on a local area network — a helpful feature in environments where many printers are deployed and used at once, or where printers must travel distances further than 30 feet. Consider these factors to determine which option more closely matches your mobility needs.


If your retail store or restaurant requires employees to bust lines and check out customers, be sure that your portable printer model will be able to support mobile payments. For full mobility, your portable printers should have a small, lightweight design so they are easily carried by employees of varying sizes and strengths; a long battery life so they are able to last the length of a full shift; and an integrated magnetic stripe reader with encryption for secure credit or debit card payments.


If you plan on using a Bluetooth-enabled printer with Apple products – as many modern retailers and restaurateurs are choosing to do – it must be certified by the Apple MFi (“Made For iPhone/iPod/iPad”) licensing program. This program allows manufacturers to get the hardware components, tools, documentation, technical support and certification required to create devices that connect to iPod, iPhone and iPad. Make sure your wireless LAN printer selections are also compatible with popular mobile platforms such as iOS, Android and Windows.

Vendor Support

Be sure to choose a hardware vendor who can offer the appropriate training for your staff so that you are able to maximize user adoption and minimize training time. Not to mention, it is critical to have access to IT integration and support services that will keep you running smoothly and with little disruption to your daily operations.

Mobile POS has revolutionized the food and retail industries, enabling them to make more sales in more places and in a shorter amount of time. Now that you have the proper knowledge to begin your purchasing process, it’s time to propel your restaurant or retail store to a higher level of productivity and profitability.

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