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tpellizzer (TechnicalUser) (OP)
29 Dec 12 14:57
Hello! I am in the process of evaluating POS systems. We are a two location quick service ice cream/food/coffee operation. I have eliminated the cloud Ipad solutions for now. It seems they have connectivity problems at the worst of times. I like both Aloha and Micros and both of their prices are close. Both utilize sql server which I believe is good for data sorting. I think both would do an excellent job but I lean towards Aloha. Here is the rub: Micros offers a two store solution for gift cards where all the information in stored on my local server while Aloha only seems to offer a cloud based system if you have more than one store. Is the Aloha salesperson accurately discribing the software or can it be configured like the Micros system? What is the reason that Aloha will not allow this to happen? I have attempted to contact Radiant Systems and they always just bounce me back to the salesperson. Any insights would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
TobeThor (MIS)
29 Dec 12 18:15
Bear in mind that there are multiple 3rd party options for gift cards for multiple location establishments. You don't have to hang your hat on the gift card capability from either POS. Plus you should also desire the ability for your customers to purchase gift cards via your website and deliver those gift cards to recipients via text and/or email and have those gift cards automatically interfaced/updated into the POS system. This allows you to cut gift card distribution costs and sell gift cards while you are closed...plus many other marketing benefits.

Re: Aloha and the cloud. Aloha's direction is a monthly fee based model of services. Radiant is focusing on recurring revenues. Gift cards, credit card processing, loyalty programs etc. It may explain why they are reluctant to offer a store based option.
MZ117 (TechnicalUser)
30 Dec 12 1:06
I would double what TobeThor said and -strongly- emphasize a third party (your credit card company may be able to offer them, too) gift card solution. We have Micros and Aloha, and we use Gift Cards through our Merchant Services account. The gift cards they offer are cheaper (in my experience) and as TobeThor said, much more versatile (and if its through a merchant or third party it doesn't matter what system you use). Plus, you can always change merchant solutions as your business grows and get better rates across the board... if you have large gift card sales, that may be a better item to negotiate with on rates, too! (And with third party solutions, most include Loyalty without even more fees through your POS...)

Micros and Aloha both have Pros and Cons. Two months ago, I would have recommended Aloha/NCR hands down, however more recently I love our new Micros 3700 system and a new location. You may be able to get by with a cheaper E7 system (since it sounds like your not doing table service), but if I remember correctly, you won't be able to have MyMicros merge the two locations with an E7 (although I may be wrong). [If that is the case, it would be easy with only two locations to manually get sales data and save you some money, too...] Aloha (now NCR) has a great iPad app (again with a cost) that lets you see all your vital information as well.

Either way --- I would -NOT- let gift cards be the deciding factor between which POS you select. You should try both Micros and Aloha/NCR and see what works best for you and who gives you the best deal. Finally, I do think Micros (at least 3700) is a little more compatible with third party drivers and SIMs than Aloha, but that shouldn't be a major factor, either.

[And don't forget there's tons of other POS systems out there besides iPad solutions... Squirrel, DinerWare, Matre'D, Aldelo (although I would absolutely -not- recommend them), etc.]

Good Luck and Happy New Year!
tpellizzer (TechnicalUser) (OP)
30 Dec 12 11:37
Thanks for all of your thoughtful responses. Our company will not need table service but may find a need in the future for ticket printing/screens in the kitchen or coffee bar. I am only familiar with a POS called InfoTouch which uses a database called "btreive". This system while being used in the lawn/garden industry, is just impossible to get custom reports. As a point of discussion, should I only consider a system that utilizes Sqyl server as a database manager? While we can certainly afford Micros and Aloha, are there other systems out there that you would recommend that would do a good job? Thanks.
IndexRobert (Vendor)
30 Dec 12 13:07
Hi tpellizer,

just to let you know, Aloha CFC does use SQL, but not for reporting. If your looking for custom reports, Aloha is not really the way to go. SQL support was discontinued in 6.7 and reintroduced with 7.0, but no way to build custom reports. You can use the DBF's in the dated directories and crystal 8.5 (if you can manage to get it somewhere), but creating reports that span multiple days is almost impossible. The only way to do that is use the summarize feature, which I really wouldn't recommend.

NCR says that it is coming, but up until now no way to write your own reports properly other than using Visual studio to create your own reporting framework or some other really technical solution.

MZ117 (TechnicalUser)
30 Dec 12 22:57
Tpellizer,

Not to try to sound like a sale pitch (and I do -NOT- sale), but the E7 would probably work well for you, if you are in fact going between Micros and Aloha. It's a cheaper system (than the Aloha [now NCR] or Micros 3700), allows remote printing, multiple terminals, etc. [For the most part everything it sounds like you need except for kitchen displays and the ability to print a logo on your receipt...) Aside from the Micros E7 informational bit...

- Micros can create custom reports using Crystal Reports. They use proprietary SQL, but you have access to the database.
- As IndexRobert said, Aloha can do custom reports too through third party programs.
- Squirrel has a whole lot of custom reports readily available.
- Matre'D has several reports and can easily create additional ones from what I remember (haven't used it in about 3 years)

Keep in mind, if your buying a new system from either a dealer or corporate, they will most likely make any reports for you as part of your new customer package, and you can always have them create new on demand reports, if you so choose.

Lastly, while price is almost always a considering factor in a POS system, Micros and Aloha are generally the high end systems for large sale locations. If your not using Table Service, you could most likely use a system such as Squirrel or DinerWare and save a good bit of money to get the same POS benefit. The major advantages of Micros and Aloha are the general familiarity [especially for servers/employees moving restaurants) and stability, but again for the most part all systems are similar.

- I would stay away from Aldelo (as I said above) due to stability and using Microsoft Access... But every other system should offer a similar benefit...

Obviously, these are just my opinions, but I've handled IT and Setup of several restaurants with all forms of POS systems.

Happy New Year!
Moregelen (Programmer)
31 Dec 12 12:17
Just remember that while e7 does have a pretty powerful reporting tool considering its the 'budget' system, you can't really write custom reports for it. E7 also DOES NOT support SIMs.

As to gift cards, I have a location that has 3 stores and they are using the iCare gift cards from Micros; all of the stores are linked to the same MyMicros account so all of the gift cards work at all of the locations. This is basically the Micros gift card cloud equivalent. GSS, the local solution, isn't something I've ever seen used for different locations, except in the case of the one group we have using Enterprise Management (and they can afford to do that because they have 20 something locations).

While I like e7 well enough, it is a bit of a scary system because you don't really have access to it. I've lost track of the number of times I've had a customer call up and say "I'm locked out of the configurator! HELP!" only to dial in and find they managed to lock ALL of the accounts, including my super-secret-apparently-not-so-secret superuser account.... at which point the only solution is a database restore.
Another fun one is the call I got where someone deleted the default transaction screen (e7 is NOT stupid proof, if you click delete, it does it without a single complaint or warning).

Not to say that I don't like e7; I do. I'm just thinking that it sounds like you plan to set things up yourself, and e7 while fairly simple, is a system that can cause A LOT of frustration for someone who doesn't know the ins and outs.


After that? The full out Micros 3700 system and the Aloha system are basically comparing apples to apples. Yeah, there are big difference when you get down into the grit of it, but a POS is a POS is a POS. In the end, most of them are going to function on the front in very very similarly to each other. The biggest thing to look for is which system is better supported in your area; will they have to send someone out on a plane to get there a few days for now, or do you have someone local who can show up the same day you call?
tpellizzer (TechnicalUser) (OP)
2 Jan 13 9:55
Thanks again for all the help. I like the idea of a third party gift card supplier. This sounds like a realistic solution. I need to get pricing. It seems like if reporting is a major concern that I should go with Micros 3700 system since Aloha is still in the development/introduction phase. Someone mentioned the possibility of asking for a custom report as part of the deal. Is it a big deal for the dealer? Is it reasonable to ask for 4 reports to be built after the system is installed? Does anyone have a concern about Micros proprietary hardware? Does any one see the day when the legacy POS companies migrate over to Ipad based wireless system? I have heard horrible stories of restaurants using a Ipad driven system and then not being able to open the cash drawer for 10 seconds after transaction is completed.
MZ117 (TechnicalUser)
2 Jan 13 10:43
Remember, Aloha and Micros (3700 and E7) are very much proven POS systems and have been around for several years. Aloha is currently undergoing a transition (NCR just bought them) and migrating equipment, but they both work very well. As Moregelen said, who is closer to where your business is located? If it's a major city, no big deal but in smaller areas, whoever is closer would be a major edge, in my opinion.

As far as reports go, it shouldn't be an issue. Both Micros and Aloha by default offer virtually everything you need as is... Custom reports generally would be putting it all one one page or pages with specific information. The companies have access to tons of reports (and if you google reports you could find some too) and most dealers should be familiar enough to make custom ones, as needed. (We have both Aloha and Micros at different locations and never had an issue getting custom reports created... Then again, both POS systems are corporate locations here but I couldn't see a reason a dealer couldn't do it.) Every site we manage has about 4 custom reports also as a FYI, including customizing the primary sales report with specific information.

In regards to the future, both Aloha and Micros have told me (about six months ago at a convention) they are playing with iPads, but the implementation isn't going to be soon by any means. (They do both offer handheld devices, if you are interested...) That said, a traditional POS (in my opinion) is a much better option... Much harder to steal, more durable, less prone to rough employees, and they are very much time testing and work great with non-wireless support for instant transaction processing.

I believe everyone has their own proprietary hardware. We've never had a major issue with either Micros or Aloha in regards to hardware, with the exception of a thermal printer dying after a few years here and there. Both systems are time and user proven and tested to work great in very high traffic environments non-stop (think bars and clubs as the best example) without failing.

As far as credit cards go, theres tons of them... Heartland, Chase, Mercury, First Data, Elavon, just to name a few... You should absolutely shop them around not just for gift cards and loyalty but for the best rate possible, too. (Side Note: Several major merchant processors offer online processing at the same rates, if you have a website, too... Ask!) --- And, keep shopping around every few years for that matter... (And if you want to be "on the edge" there's Google Wallet and stuff like that, but I don't know how they would work with POS...) Stay away from Square; high rates and it's not meant to be compatible with a separate POS system.

Finally, if reporting is your biggest concern, ask about it up front in and have it included in your quote. That way there are no "we need 10 more hours of labor to spend 5 minutes creating a report" surprises at the end of the day. And, ask about support options. The systems are very reliable, but warranties are always a good thing. Finally... don't feel bad getting your Micros and Aloha dealers to compete with each other; they both want your business and you may be able to knock some money off the price!

Good Luck in your decision!
TobeThor (MIS)
2 Jan 13 18:18
Additional Thoughts

With two locations; be sure the gift card reporting works for you regardless of who you end up choosing. IOW's: when site #1 sells a GC; where does the money go?
When site #2 redeems a GC that was originally sold in site #1; where does the money go? Inquire if your GC company can deposit GC sales $'s into a central bank account and when GC's are redeemed, the corresponding site that redeemed the GC gets the funds sent to their bank account. This simple approach to depositing GC sales creates a kind of kitty account that you control. Also bear in mind that at the end of the year your accountant must create GC sales/liability totals for each site. The reports regarding such are critical to avoid a lot of manual labor to figure it out; especially if there are different business partners in each site.

As far as back office reporting; many POS systems give you access to the reporting data that resides in say Crystal Reports. This capability gives you an easy way to create any custom reports via spread sheet programs. Be careful here though; many POS Dealers say they can export/import into SS programs but leave that ball in your lap or charge you significant fees to accomplish what is really simple functions. This capability is crucial when you want to create "one page" snap shots vs. printing several reports and having to manually input the totals into a SS program to have a simple one page report. Ironically I have found "Big" POS companies seem to have less options to custom create your own reports and I can understand that due to their customer base. I'm sure the folks at TGI Fridays don't want their "local" Managers being able to massage sales totals.

As MZ117 stated; IPads are indeed coming to the big POS players BUT don't expect them to be totally enthusiastic about the move from their own hardware to an Apple product. Share holders don't want to hear that hardware sales are down unless those revenues are being replaced by another revenue stream. That's why (IMHO) the big POS companies have been moving towards a fee based POS with multiple streams of recurring revenues. Not saying it's bad... just saying.
Knectech (Vendor)
11 Jan 13 5:24
Knectech offers a cloud based solution that allows for enterprise reporting and database management from top down. If you're interested in more information, contact us.

Knectech Point of Sale
Moregelen (Programmer)
13 Jan 13 12:50
@iPad: We actually just had a meeting about that in my office with some micros reps. They are making progress on it, but their tablets that they make themselves really are just awesome. They work VERY well, and can do so much more than an iPad.. the downside of course being they cost way, way way more than an iPad.

As to custom reports, I don't know about Aloha, but with Micros 3700 you can create custom reports using the database with Transaction Analyzer, which you can then even link into the auto-sequences. Usually we only write custom reports when it really does have to do custom operations, rather than just displaying existing information differently.
doubledown6 (TechnicalUser)
15 Jan 13 12:07
I used Aloha in my restaurant from 2009 until September of this year. It was my first POS system and did very well. The issue I ran into was this. Radiant built itself by acquiring other companies. Each module and software was written by a different 3rd party. They would acquire it, then have to make it run for the Aloha system. Because of this I found that Aloha additions were much more expensive and didn't function as well together. In addition, with NCR acquiring Radiant and being a hardware giant, I became very concerned as to how long my radiant hardware terminals would be supported. In the end I chose to switch to Micros and couldn't be happier. It was as bit more money wise, but every person creating a new technology for the hospitality industry writes it to work with Micros because they're the biggest. Only Micros drawback, make sure you have a compatible merchant services processor. I had to switch from a local to Heartland (and they're great) because if I didn't I had to use Micros little pass thru service for which they charged $0.03 per card swipe.

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