Phoenix-based Heckler Design has released the WindFall Duo, a dual-screen iPad stand that supports the use of both a vendor and consumer iPad, making the point-of-sale (PoS) checkout a more interactive experience. The idea is that the customer can look for other deals, check in to the store’s loyalty system, subscribe to the mailing list or simply check the pricing, while the merchant completes the transaction.
Heckler Design, which makes commercial-grade office furniture desk accessories and PoS hardware for the design-conscious, started out in late 2007 as a side project of the principal, Dean Heckler.
“I had designed a desk for myself and other people saw it and asked if they could buy one,” he said. “Soon after that, the iPad was announced and I thought there would be a market for a commercial grade iPad stand. Customer feedback when we released that was that they loved it but would like a secure version of it, which became the WindFall Stand. Whereas most enclosures then were around $300 and were not visually appealing, ours was $129 and was very visually appealing.”
Until this point, Heckler Design sold completely direct.
“We were naïve then to the benefits of channel sales,” Heckler said. “We wanted to design products, and make them available and put them up on a website. Of course what we can achieve through the channel is bundling – receipt printers, cash drawers, stands, cabling, in complete POS bundles. Distributors have been very helpful in producing a one stop shop that channel partners can buy from for a merchant in need of everything.”
After the WindFall Stand came out, Heckler Design began to add channel sales, which today make up about half of their business. Today they now support about a dozen different tablets and three different operating systems – iOS, Windows, and Android. They also design a lot of special products that never see the website.
“The tablet POS market is growing every day,” Heckler said. “When they first came out, they were very limited by the feature set, which was basically just a grid of buttons and a credit card swiper. It has taken time for the required features to come to fruition, but now there are many app and solution providers and a very deep feature set.”
Heckler described his company’s core market as ‘design-savvy’ merchants.
“They are ones who put a lot of attention into every detail of their shop and don’t want to compromise on the PoS,” he said. “Many are individual owners who have one or two shops, but there is also a market of larger companies with many stores who also want to put that same attention in their PoS. They are all competing to make sure the PoS is just as refined as the rest of the experience in the store.”
The new WindFall Duo, which is made of commercial-grade, laser-cut steel, is available in white or black and supports the iPad Air and iPad Mini. It ships with brackets for the IDTech SecureMag, and Magtek Dynamag card readers, and will support the EMV-capable Magtek eDynamo this fall.
“Think of the tablet stand as an elaborate cash register,” Heckler said. “Instead of the customer seeing what they have seen before with a Tablet POS stand, which is nothing, this provides an amount of interactivity in a sophisticated customer-facing display.” He indicated that of the two players who have dual tablet systems on the market today, one leans to the quick service restaurant industry, while the other is more retail-oriented.
Heckler said that while the dual display checkout originated as a differentiating feature in an app market that is getting hypercompetitive, up to this point it has been limited because there hasn’t been good hardware support for it, and the simple alternative of putting up two displays side by side creates clutter.
“Developers are hesitant to add a feature unless they know there is hardware support, so we are providing that support here,” he said.
While their channel business is growing, Heckler said that the quick-moving nature of PoS means that they will continue to have a direct presence.
“The market for payments in PoS is changing monthly and we service very design-savvy merchants with our products,” he said. “The market is moving much faster than the channel typically moves at, so if a customer wants a particular configuration in a specific colour, they can get it from our website, when they may not be able to get it through distribution. Of course they also don’t get the benefit of bundling, or of financing, which is often available through distribution.”
Heckler indicated that their distribution network is mainly primarily BlueStar USA and POS Portal in the U.S. and BlueStar Canada here, although the Canadian relationship is complicated because the Canadian sales actually come through BlueStar North America.
“That leaves us a little out of the loop for things like test marketing until Blue Star Canada buys directly, which is likely at some point,” he said.
Heckler also indicated that expansion of their distribution network is likely, as a result of market pressures.
“The trend here is how competitive the market is and how the tablet manufacturers are reacting to that,” he said. “They want to make sure that secure stands and other hardware are in the channel next to their products. It is the tablet manufacturers who are the ones making the calls to Ingram Micro and other distributors asking them to carry our SKUs.”