Whether you are operating a brick-and-mortar store or an online business, there’s a growing need for a POS (point-of-sale) system that can track and manage all transactions effortlessly. So, what exactly are the POS units, and why are they important? Do you remember cash registers commonly used to process all physical transactions earlier?
Well, the point-of-sale system is the upgraded electronic version of those registers, and they help handle credit card, debit card, and cash payments at retail stores. Choosing the right POS system can make a big difference to your transaction-related operations. In this Harbortouch POS review, we will understand why this POS has gained so much of popularity.
It’s a modern POS solution that comes with zero upfront charge, making the service accessible to businesses of all sizes and nature, especially startups. With Harbortouch POS, you get access to its software and hardware solutions, which offer the tools and technology to accept contactless payments and payments made through QR codes. You can also track your sales records and manage inventory with this all-in-one payment processing unit.
Let’s see what it has in store for you, its best features, common complaints, and other metrics.
Harbortouch POS is a low-cost payment processing solution for all kinds of businesses, including retail stores and restaurants, in the United States. Businesses looking for a hardware and software solution that can process cash and card payments while recording transaction details at a reasonable cost can count on Harbortouch for the best service. The biggest perk of the solution is its accessibility.
As mentioned above, it’s different from other retail POS systems in that it doesn’t require a significant setup cost. The company has spread its cost over a monthly subscription plan. This saves you the hefty capital upfront fee, which is a must for other POS units. It also means free access to the interface, receipt printers, scanners, and other tools. Harbortouch works with different software applications to provide you with all transaction and sale-related services in a single centralized platform. You can also partner with Shift4 to get free access to the Harbortouch hardware for up to a year, so long as you pay a small subscription fee every month.
Simply put, Harbortouch is a modern POS solution that accepts payments, helps you track sales analytics, keeps a record of returned items, manages loyalty programs, and handles all payment-related services. It’s an excellent solution for startups and small businesses that are not in a position to invest in an expensive POS system. Users get to choose from its two popular solutions—Harbortouch Echo and Harbortouch Elite.
The former is a smaller 13.3-inch version, suitable for small retailers and restaurants looking for a sleek and manageable device. If you want a bigger model, there’s an Elite variant that comes at a slightly higher price, has a 15-inch display, and is packed with a range of premium features. It’s perfect for large businesses, like restaurants and bars. Although its features are designed keeping a retail store in mind, it’s perfect for hospitality businesses, restaurants, and businesses in nearly every category.
Harbortouch POS Review: How Is The User Interface?
The company has created a user-friendly interface, which makes it easy to load products, track your inventory, manage sales, process transactions, and create a menu within a few clicks. The interface is designed to offer a seamless user experience. Once you get a hang of it, the tool will simplify your manual and repetitive jobs. Not only that, but the intuitive interface offers a great onboarding experience and training for staff.
It has customization options, but the layout could have been better, especially compared to the modern POS solutions we see these days. Businesses liked the check splitting and testing features. If you have used multiple POS solutions in the past, it won’t be difficult to get used to Harbortouch. But if it’s your first time using POS, be prepared to call customer service reps repeatedly or watch their videos to understand its core features.
The one area where Harbortouch excels is payment processing. Shift4, its payment processing partner, handles all kinds of payment processing, but sadly, it doesn’t have a fixed price for each business. The cost of processing depends on the reseller that installs the system, your business type, the number of transactions you process, and other factors.
It’s advisable to get a quote for payment processing from your retailer before proceeding with the plan. The only thing that people complain about the company is being forced to use Shift4’s payment processing service. They accept multiple payment methods including NFC mobile and EMV chip cards. One area where they have improved is the upfront payment processing fee. It charges a flat 1.79% + $0.10 per transaction.
Harbortouch might not have as many add-ons or integrations available as its competitors, but it does integrate with some popular accounting and food-related software applications to boost profitability and streamline management operations. For instance, it can be integrated with Uber Eats, which helps restaurant owners handle reservations and offer personalized services to their customers based on their searches, recently ordered foods, and likes and dislikes.
It is also compatible with DoorDash and Menufy. You can integrate the software with Mailchimp to simplify your marketing and communication solution and Sling for employee management. Likewise, the software can integrate with different solutions to simplify your overall management function, marketing operations, and online food ordering & delivery. The integration is also pretty simple with its Lighthouse Reporting function.
Harbortouch was not as popular before as it is now. That’s probably because the company had a strict contract agreement, where any retailer who signs up for the POS system must use the service for 3 years. In other words, you had to sign a three-year contract with Harbortouch to be able to use its POS system.
That, fortunately, has changed. New users are supposed to sign a one-year contract. That might also seem like a long-term commitment, but for free setup and hardware options, it’s worth it. Note that to get access to its free hardware, you must also accept a one-year payment processing service from Shift4. They have recently reduced their termination fee, but the fee is still charged if you don’t return your hardware equipment within 15 days of terminating the contract. It charges $200, $300, and $500 for credit card reader, terminal, and POS unit respectively.
You can use its free demo and a 30-day trial to see if it fits your needs before signing up for a year-long contract.
Harbortouch has upgraded its security and offers basic security measures to businesses. It complies with the PCI regulation and follows encryption and other latest technology to protect customers’ and businesses’ data.
However, the platform has experienced security threats and breaches in the past. In 2015, around 4,200 customers were affected by a security breach that resulted in the hackers getting access to customers’ credit card information through Harbortouch. Another breach took place recently in 2022 when hackers stole 50,000 credit cards from customers in the United States. Although the company has deployed security measures, its track record doesn’t offer any safety assurance.
The reseller or the distributor who installs the POS will explain to you all the features, tools, and software applications integrated with Harbortouch. However, you may need customer service to resolve technical issues or payment-related concerns. So, it’s important to check the processor’s customer support department before investing.
Harbortouch offers live chat support where you can fill out the form and get in touch with a live agent to quickly resolve your concerns. Alternatively, you can call 800-201-0461 to talk to an agent. Although they do offer multiple ways to connect with their customer service representatives, the company doesn’t have a good record in terms of its customer service. Many users who have reviewed Harbortouch’s customer service have mentioned that it’s hard to get in touch with them or the response doesn’t come quickly.
The company has loaded its website with many in-depth articles and how-to videos that will walk you through the basic functions of the hardware and software applications, but support is not up to the mark.
Many businesses have found Harbortouch quite beneficial, as its interface, setup, and advanced features offer a host of benefits to those planning to switch to a point-of-sale system. That said, customers have left negative reviews too. Perhaps, the reasons are the security breaches, below-average customer support service, and a long-term commitment.
Harbortouch Pricing and Fees
Harbortouch is appreciated for its no upfront cost and free hardware for users who agree to sign a one-year contract with Shift4, its payment processing partner. The free hardware and software are, however, limited to a one-year duration. If you decide to continue with the payment processing and the hardware unit, you will have to pay a monthly subscription fee, which again varies depending on your business and the plan you choose.
Harbortouch offers two plans, as discussed above. Its Echo plan costs $29 a month and it's great for small retailers, cafes, and small restaurants. If you want a large display with additional features, you can sign up for the Elite plan at $39 a month. This plan is perfect for salons, spas, large restaurants, and other large retail establishments that need an all-in-one solution for payment processing and inventory management. Elite users get a lifetime hardware warranty plus access to free technical support.
Whichever plan you choose, you need to accept the 1-year agreement. Earlier, the company had imposed many contract restrictions, such as a fixed 3-5-year contract for every new user and a support fee. However, as the competition skyrocketed, they have removed those restrictions, and now you are supposed to stick to a 1-year commitment only.
Harbortouch POS Features
Harbortouch has tools that make payment processing simple for different businesses. It works for nearly all industries but is especially designed for restaurant and retail establishments. They have specified the features you will get for your cafe or retail business. You can find it on their website. In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at some of the robust features of this POS solution.
Tableside Ordering: The latest feature that many point-of-sale systems have been implementing to streamline their orders and ticketing system is tableside ordering. Hardbortouch already has it. With its iPad app, the orders can be automatically recorded and the tickets are generated and sent to the kitchen. This helps the chefs and restaurant staff know which table has ordered what food.
Table Tracking: With so many people booking tables in a restaurant online, table tracking has become an essential feature in a POS system. It allows the restaurant owner and the manager to get a clear view of the number of available tables, which are booked, and so on. So, it’s easier to allot tables based on their availability.
Reservations: Booking tables and viewing the reservation details is no longer a challenge. With Harbortouch’s POS, your employees can complete reservations or send the reservation link to customers so they can do it on their own. You can check the waitlist whenever you like. The system also sends automatic notifications when their reserved table is vacant.
Employee Performances: Harbortouch is not just a transaction and restaurant management software, but it’s designed to manage employee performances too. It’s easy to track which employee has put in how many working hours and who's your best seller. Tracking employees’ performances and offering them incentives based on that can help boost their morale. It’s also easy to manage permissions within the POS system.
Inventory Management: Although Harbortouch doesn’t offer extensive inventory management tools, it’s pretty good at tracking the inventory in your warehouse and helping you place orders from different vendors using this all-in-one POS unit. If you are looking to extend its inventory management functionality, you can integrate it with inventory software apps. There are two of them compatible with Harbortouch.
Online Ordering: Customers can place an order for the food online and have it delivered to their doorstep. Harbortouch can help restaurants track and manage online food deliveries efficiently.
Loyalty: Many customers prefer restaurants and retail stores that offer loyalty programs. Fortunately, Harbortouch offers gift cards and an option to create promotions and offer benefits to your loyal customers. You could also integrate the system with Mailchimp to streamline marketing and communication.
Reports: Harbortouch has incorporated a report feature, which generates detailed sales reports, showing you what’s working the best and where you can improve. You can use Harbortouch’s Lighthouse Reporting function to manage sales, labor, and other reports, plus install new software and integrate it with the app efficiently. The tool comes with a 60-day free trial, so you can test and decide if you’d like to proceed.
Setup: The best part about this POS solution is its quick setup and seamless installation. It requires on-site installation, but you can get in touch with a support representative, who will walk you through the entire setup process.
Software and Hardware Access: Partnering with Shift4, Harbortouch’s parent company, will give you free access to hardware and software, but that comes with a monthly subscription cost. Just because there’s no upfront cost doesn’t mean there’s no subscription fee. The good news is each new user of the software gets a 30-day free trial. You can test the tool, its features, and the interface before having to sign up for a long-term commitment.
Pay-at-Table: This feature allows your customers to place an order for their food right from the table and make the payment as well.
These were only a few features to name. Once you have completed the installation, you can explore its features. Feel free to call support if you face difficulty understanding any feature or are having any technical issues.
What They Can Improve
There’s no denying Harbortouch has impressed its users with a clean and intuitive interface, which is pretty easy to understand. Once you are used to the features, you won’t face any difficulty using the software. The Lighthouse reporting feature is also pretty great, as it gives people insights into their business and employee performances.
As we mentioned before, Harbortouch has received a few complaints and some negative reviews for some of its services. Below we have discussed a few common complaints that we hear often about the software.
Software Freezes: Imagine having a customer waiting in the queue to complete the payment at your Harbortouch’s POS only to realize the software stops. Many customers have registered complaints about the software freezing at peak business hours. This can happen because of a technical glitch or the automatic software updates that happen in the background.
Lack of Transparency: Many customer reviews suggested that the company charged higher on credit cards than what they were promised. Moreover, Harbortouch has mentioned no upfront cost in its advertising, but in reality, the company does charge hidden fees, which are not disclosed in the agreement.
Long-term Commitment: Another common complaint that customers have raised regarding Harbortouch is its long-term contracts. Although they have reduced the length of these contracts from 3 years to 1 year, it is still not appreciated. Customers find it very difficult to break the contract. They are also charged with a fine if they break the contract before the termination and fail to return the company’s hardware within 15 days of the contract ending.
Poor Customer Service: Harbortouch can improve its customer service. Despite covering multiple channels for support, customers reported that they had to wait for an hour and longer just to get to talk to a representative. This can get pretty challenging at peak business hours when you have customers waiting to reserve tables, order food, and make payments, while your system is experiencing a downtime.
What Are Its Alternatives?
Access to hardware and its software without an upfront cost, plus an intuitive interface that’s perfect for beginners and experienced POS users are some qualities that make Harbortouch an ideal option for retailers and restaurant businesses. That said, it has tough competitors that offer excellent services and serve as an all-in-one POS solution. Let’s check out a few:
Square is an excellent choice for retail establishments and restaurants looking for a premium point-of-sale solution. It offers a card reader, which is designed to make day-to-day business transactions smooth and manageable. To put it simply, Square offers hardware and software solutions at a reasonable cost, a transparent processing rate, and intuitive software with a clear and easy-to-understand interface. It’s a great alternative to Harbortouch.
The in-person transaction options combined with its robust online tools make Stripe another great competitor of the Harbortouch solution. They offer transparent pricing, thus giving you accurate numbers about the total you will pay in the sign-up and subscription fee. They also have a clear interface and tons of customization tools.
Create a Merchant Account
Apart from these two Harbortouch’s competitors, you always have the option to sign up for a merchant account. Many merchant account service providers offer point-of-sale systems, which help you combine your merchant account with their in-house POS. This offers some extra benefits to the retailers. For instance, you can save significantly on payment processing, as your processor and the POS provider are the same.
Choosing the right POS can play a huge role in ensuring smooth business operations. While Harbortouch claims free hardware and software, plus a reasonable fee structure, it does come with many hidden charges that are not disclosed in the contract. They have an intuitive user interface and multiple plans for restaurants of different sizes. They also offer integrations with different software solutions, allowing you to manage your financial and other management-related activities seamlessly. However, it’s advisable to explore your options, compare different products, and choose the one that fits your needs and budget. Harbortouch has received many complaints about its poor customer support service, hidden fees, and long-term contracts. So, make a decision after considering everything.