May 21, 2014, 12:28 PM

Groupon seeks to replace cash registers with tablets

The Top 500 e-retailer launches an iPad-based system called Gnome.

Lead Photo

Groupon's Breadcrumb system

Groupon Inc. has launched an iPad-based system designed to help bricks-and-mortar merchants redeem discount vouchers from consumers without requiring consumers to have a printed voucher or use their mobile device. The system will also help retailers craft marketing campaigns based on data collected by the system.

Called “Gnome,” the device logs cash transactions, accepts debit and credit card payments, prints and e-mails receipts, calculates taxes, serves up consumer transaction histories and issues refunds, Groupon says. Gnome comes with 24/7 live support. The device integrates with such accounting software as QuickBooks and Xero.

Merchants using the system can accept Groupon discount vouchers via Bluetooth technology or by searching for consumers by name, the voucher bar code or the voucher discount number. “Customers no longer have to present a printed voucher or even show their mobile device,” Groupon says.

A Groupon spokesman says Gnome charges Visa, MasterCard, and Discover transactions at an 1.8% plus 15¢ per swipe. Keyed or card-not-present transactions can be processed at 2.3% plus 15¢ per transaction. American Express rates vary by business type. Merchants using the device also pay $10 per month from their Groupon receipts.

Groupon says merchants that use the system can personalize marketing campaigns around the consumer data and transaction history stored by the device.

Gnome expands upon a service called Breadcrumb that Groupon introduced about a year ago and which was designed for use inside restaurants, the spokesman says.

The Breadcrumb service enables merchants to process their credit and debit card transactions via free software on an iPad. Fees for Groupon Breadcrumb range from $99 to $399 per month, depending on the number of tablets a merchant is using to complete transactions, according to a report from consulting firm Mercator Advisory Group Inc. Merchants pay $545 for an iPad, stand and processing system. That price increases to $820 for systems with a receipt printer and to $1,070 for a cash drawer and web router. Processing fees are 1.8% per transaction plus 15 cents for Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards.

Groupon Goods, the arm of Groupon selling physical merchandise rather than vouchers, is No. 44 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide

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