The new Register point-of-sale app from Square promises to replace old, clunky point-of-sale (POS) cash registers in stores with something sleek, modern, efficient and easy, that you can run on your iPad. The problem then is what sort of case or stand to use to not only display your iPad, but also prevent it from being stolen from a busy retail store. Something that helps you to better swipe credit cards with the small Square reader would also be nice.
I found a few iPad stands that will work quite well in a store setting, two of which are expressly made for Square. Some are available today, and two are prototype designs that are planned for release in the near future.
The wood-grain stand featured in the Square Register video appears to be photoshopped, but the aluminum stand in the video is probably the Wallee Pivot. The Wallee Pivot works in conjunction with the Wallee Case to hold the iPad in place and allows you to mount it in different locations beyond the countertop stand. The HexaPose stand and the Maclove Titan Desktop Stand for iPad provide a similar solution. These stands hold the iPad and allow you to rotate the screen from portrait to landscape. They include a hole in the upright to route USB or security cables and are designed to sit on a countertop.
The stands described above do not offer any security features to prevent the iPad from being stolen from the store. Security cases like the Kensington SecureBack appear to be incompatible with the Square Reader because they don’t provide enough clearance for the reader to sit firmly in the headphone jack.
However, there are a few security cables that attach to the back of the iPad using a tamper-resistant adhesive that would allow you to use one of the stands listed above and still keep the iPad safe in a store. I would look into the Kensington Mini Plate Anchor, the iPad Lock from Maclocks.com or the Tryten iPad Cable Lock. The JP-UK Apple iPad2 Security Stand and Harness Bundle looks like it would also work and provides both a stand and a security cable to attach to the iPad itself. Of course, these security cables hold the iPad in place but do nothing to prevent someone from yanking the Square Reader and walking out with your ability to swipe credit cards.
The other problem with these stands is that they are a bit awkward to use when a customer needs to sign a receipt at the end of a transaction. Basically, you have to turn the stand around to face the customer and then turn it back to complete the transaction.
That’s where two future solutions come in that are purpose-built for retail stores. They hold both the iPad and the Square Reader securely, and allow the iPad to be used as a register and flipped over to face the customer for signature. The first stand, the Mogul, is being pitched as a Kickstarter project. It is designed to hold the Square Reader and make it easier to swipe a credit card as well as lock the iPad in. A donation of $190 will get you a stylish and solid stand manufactured from CNC-machined aluminum (but only if the project reaches its funding goal of $30,000).
The second stand is from Happy Owl Studio, a Colorado company that makes some very nice iPad cases, iPhone skins and a luxurious MacBook Air briefcase. (I’m currently rocking a Happy Owl Leather Skin on my iPhone 4S, but the bamboo one is nice too.) As a fellow Coloradan, I was really interested in their plans to produce the Cashbox, a beautiful wooden stand that holds the iPad and Square Reader, and also the cash drawer and a receipt printer, in one countertop design. There is even a slot on the side where you can slide in an Apple Wireless Keyboard.
The Cashbox has a very clever design solution to rotating the iPad back and forth to allow the cashier to ring up the sale and then present the signature page to the customer by moving the screen along an arc built into the enclosure. You can sign up to be notified when the Cashbox becomes available on the website.
While there is a certain modern elegance to the machined-aluminum look of the Mogul, I prefer the Cashbox for its natural materials and the clever design that incorporates all of the elements of a complete POS register solution — iPad, Square Reader, cash drawer, receipt printer and even a keyboard. If you don’t need the full solution, then the Wallee Case and Pivot Stand will work great, but I would recommend pairing it with one of the adhesive security cables so that your credit card terminal doesn’t get swiped.