True Cost of Owning & Operating iPads in Your Store

As talk of the new burger restaurant down the street utilizing iPads as menus begins to travel around town, other local business owners start pondering the idea of how they can take advantage of an iPad in their store.  The versatile iPad allows for many in-store uses.  Serving as a point of sale system (POS), web browsing kiosk, product catalog, restaurant menu, store billboard or email collection tool, the list could go on and on.

Although there are many obvious benefits of displaying an iPad in your store for consumers to use, we need to be realistic; iPads aren’t cheap and most stores are operating on tight budgets these days.  Is this high-end tablet and security kiosk really worth the costs and hassle?  What if I purchase one and it gets stolen or broken?  Will customers even use it?  These are all valid concerns that should be evaluated.

Weighing the Costs of Using an iPad at Your Business

iPad CostThere is a common misconception that iPads are quite pricey and the most expensive tablets on the market today.  In quality and appearance, iPad is the Cadillac of the tablet world.  However, their baseline models typically price under their name brand competition.  Although fully loaded iPads may cost close to $1,000, typical businesses would only require an entry level model that costs half of that.  A 16GB Wifi version costing less than $500 is all you probably need.

iPad EnclosureSecurity Enclosure/Kiosk Cost – If you operate in any retail or public environment, iPad protection is a must. Today, a variety of kiosks exist that range from portable counter top units to permanent, floor mounted set-ups.  A typical, quality counter top enclosure can be purchased for anywhere between $200-$300 while a well manufactured floor model usually ranges from $600-$1,000.

iPad Insurance – If you use a durable security kiosk with your iPad and set-up in a relatively safe location, insurance may not be needed.  However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?  Numerous computer insurance companies cover iPads as well.  For example, the Worth Ave Group offers full coverage for theft and damage starting at $32 per year (less than $3 a month).  Not too expensive if you are looking for peace of mind.

Maintenance / Employee Time Commitment – The selling point many app companies promote is that their business apps will save your employees a significant amount of time.  This is particularly true for self-checkout and restaurant menu apps that can completely replace certain job functions in a business.  Aside from powering the iPad off at night and occasionally cleaning finger prints off of the iPad screen and enclosure, routine maintenance is minimal.

Factoring in the above, business owners need to figure out what set-up is a right fit for their business.  For some, a complete iPad and kiosk counter top package costing $600 – $700 may make the most sense.  For other businesses, such as those with a showroom or large store, a floor mounted iPad kiosk set-up may serve better.  As tablets begin to reshape the retail environment, it would be wise to take the time to analyze the cost/benefit relationship of purchasing an iPad for your business.  While some businesses were able to beat out competitors and increase sales by leveraging internet marketing when it was a new concept,  those that are early adopters of in-store marketing with iPads may see similar success.

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