One of the questions I receive frequently is about Point of Sale (POS) systems for Android — especially for small businesses. If you take a quick peek at the Google Play Store, you'll find plenty of options, some of which are associated with a service that requires you to purchase a costly backend to serve up the data.
Not so with TabShop. This free app (there is a Pro version, as well) handles your shopkeeping and POS duties. With it, you can check out customers, keep tabs on inventory, print invoices for customers, scan product codes, apply discounts, and much more. TabShop supports Bitcoin, Paypal Here, and Authorize.net payment services. Right off the bat, it's clear that TabShop is ideally suited for small- and medium-size stores, market stalls, kiosks, shops, bars, and restaurants. All data is saved on a local (SQLite) database that can easily be backed up.
As I mentioned, there is a Pro version of the app that adds the following features:
- CSV Product import/export
- Multiple table support
- Password protection
- Gift card support
- Charts and simple reports
- PayPal integration
The Pro version will only set you back $8.76 (USD). However, I highly recommend using the free version first to make sure the app meets your needs. Of course, an $8.76 investment for a POS software is hard to top.
With that said, let's install TabShop and get it up and running to do business. I'll be installing the app on a Verizon-branded Sony Xperia tablet — a perfect piece of hardware for this app. I do recommend a good stand or keyboard/stand combination (such as the Logitech K480) for use with this, for the sake of convenience.
As you've probably grown to expect, the installation of TabShop is quite simple. Just follow these steps.
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for TabShop
- Locate and tap the entry by SmartLab Business
- Tap Install
- Read through the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Once it's installed, you should find a launcher for the app either on your home screen or your app drawer (or both). Tap the launcher, accept the EULA, and allow the database to be initialized for the first time. You're now ready to start setting up your business!
The first steps you must take with TabShop is setting up your business. To begin, tap the gear icon on the main window (Figure A).
The TabShop main window.
From the Settings window (Figure B), make sure to enable USA Tax Mode (if applicable), name your shop, enter the payment details (PayPal Shop account, Bitcoin account, Authorize.NET information), set the Invoice Company Text and the Text Invoice Checkout text, Printer IP Address, and any other details required by your business.
The TabShop Settings window.
Once you've configured the Settings, you must then set up your Tax information. From the main window, tap the % button. In this new window (Figure C), you must configure the necessary taxes.
Configuring taxes for TabShop.
To configure your taxes, tap the plus sign [+] and then (in the resulting pop-up) add a name and a percentage for the taxes. Tap OK to save the new tax. make sure to retain the default 0.00% tax in case you sell services that do not require tax.
Once you've done that, it's time to start adding inventory. With the free version, you must enter your inventory manually. To do this, tap the barcode icon on the main window. From the inventory window, tap the NEW PRODUCT button and begin entering the product information (Figure D). If the product has a barcode, be sure to scan it at this point to make it easier to manage your inventory.
Adding a new product in TabShop.
Next, scroll all the way down to select the tax associated with the product. When you tap Tax, you should be presented with a pop-up that allows you to select a tax. After you complete this, tap Save to save the product to the database.
You can also create discounts with TabShop. These can be used for promotional deals, employees, etc. To create a discount, do the following:
- Tap the % tag in the upper right corner on the main screen
- Tap the plus sign [+]
- Give the discount a name
- Enter the percent off for the discount (Figure E)
- Tap OK to save
Adding a discount to TabShop.
At this point, you're ready to start using TabShop. From the main window, tap the keyboard icon to open up the POS tool. You'll notice that it looks like it defaults to a diner setup. As you add new categories (during item creation), those categories will appear in the bottom half of the screen. Tap a category to reveal the associated products for checkout. The POS piece of the puzzle is incredibly easy to use — a couple of minutes usage will have you up to speed.
You'll be hard-pressed to find an Android POS app better suited for your small business than TabShop. Give this a go and see if you don't wind up purchasing the Pro version and making it your go-to system for your business.
Do you prefer to run your small business on a tablet? If so, what is your go-to hardware and software? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.