CHALLENGE: Build the mobile POS that South Africa so badly needs.

As part of the experience of building this website, I get to track international trends in the Apple community, as well as discover the latest and greatest developments that make Apple an integral part of our lives.

In my latest expedition into the digital world, I came across this mind blowing startup in New York, called ShopKeep. This amazing initiative has developed a complete Point of Sale (POS) system that can not only run on the average PC, but also the iPad. With the ability to connect to a cash register, a receipt printer as well as a Credit Card scanner, this simple application has opened that door to small business owners to embrace the latest and most functional technology, at a fraction of the cost. 

Without having to purchase, integrate and manage multiple systems, ShopKeep manages your inventory, reports on sales figures, allows web access to realtime data and posts directly to QuickBooks.

The reason why I am punting this ground-breaking setup, is because this is exactly what so many of our local businesses need in South Africa. From the township spaza, to the local hair salon. Bars, Butchers, travel operators, biltong shops, restaurants, the list goes on. Imagine my huge sigh when I found out that ShopKeep is designed to work only in the US. The Application itself is pretty universal, but the Accounting back-end, as well as credit-card processing facilities are specific to the American market, and useless to us.

Naturally, my research began immediately to find the equivalent being used/developed in our own country. And what did I find? Absolutely nothing! No talk of upcoming POS developments. No news of current startups in SA revolutionising the way our entrepreneurs get their services off the ground. Nobody has tapped into this amazing potential, and allowed our local businesses to operate in the first class.

So here is my challenge

If you are a developer, entrepreneur, investor, techie, fanboy, cleaner, neighbor, whatever, and you can see the potential here, and have a way and mean to get it done, build the next complete mobile POS for the South African Market.
It is essential that the system be mobile, so running on the iPad would be key. Integration into a basic accounting, inventory and sales system will be important. Allowing card readers to be effective with the local card process providers will be gravy. And making it all look uber-fantastic? Absolutely!

Work on your own, team up with colleagues, partners, friends or exes. If you know of the right person/people to do this, then you have to include them, or else you will be holding back our development in this amazing country. Contact me for anymore information I can provide. Check out Shopkeep’s website, and watch the promo videos for some cool ideas. They have got some pretty impressive testimonials too with some seemingly happy customers.

If you are going to accept the challenge, let me know, and I will give you the soap-box and track your progress on the site.

There is no prize, no reward or keg of beer. But the ability to get your face plastered all over the county’s business, technology and marketing media would be a little plus point. Not to mention the yacht you would be able to afford afterwards of course.

With this fist challenge, work your magic. And don’t forget to enjoy!

13 thoughts on “CHALLENGE: Build the mobile POS that South Africa so badly needs.

  • Lee – thanks for the amazing post. We are absolutely delighted that you believe in our product and very much look forward to providing South African developers and the merchant community an amazing solution very soon. We agree that shop owners need a cost effective solution that makes their lives easier – good luck with your challenge!! – David

  • Can somebody give this guy a round of applause – thank you as always for what you are doing, SA needs someone to help fastrack our ability to keep up with the rest of the world.

  • When you say a complete "POS", I assume you would be referring to two different solultions, namely "Hospitality" and "Retail".

    Naturally, these would be two totally seperate solutions.

    So ideally, we would be looking at two seperate products at the end of the day…

    • At the end of the day, the more options and/or products that could be made available, can only work for the better. Allowing the client to choose the best POS package, and maybe even a choice of vendors, will work wonders for the industry. So if splitting it between 2, or more separate solutions, then by all means. Competition is a great thing!

  • I know this is a "Apple Domination" website, and you only mention the "iPad" to run the software on. But the Android platform is a much easier platform to target in terms of market penetration.

    Why? Costs of course. The cheapest iPad starts off at around R4K+, while an Android tablet can be imported for around R1,5k. The business owner doesn't care what device or platform he's using. As long as it works and the application is doing the job.

    Personally I would target the Android platform first based on the above analogy, as it makes more business sense for the business owner's pocket.

    Once I have an Android system out, I will go for the iOS platform.

    Just my 2 cents. 🙂

    • Naturally I am biased 🙂

      But in all fairness, choose your poison.
      I am by no means a developer, nor do I intend to be, but I think from an exposure point of view, the AppStore has nailed the formula.

      But if you feel that developing the concept in Android is easier, and then to port it to IOS, then that's what needs to be done.

      I also don't know much about the hardware compatibility from the Android perspective, where as Apple has certified hardware to do card scanning, receipt printing, cash drawers etc.

      Should be interesting!

    • In terms of Apple having certified hardware for receipt printing, kicking cash drawers etc., I can't really see what's specifically "Apple" certified. Do you mind outlining what hardware you're referring to?

      The reason why I'm asking this, as one will also be able to use standard Epson slip printers and cash drawers whether using an iOS powered device or Android, or even OS X or Windows, depending on how the developer approaches the solution.

      But you're right. This is going to be a very interesting development in the years to come.

    • You are right, it will depend on developer and his choice of OS.
      The reason why brought up the "Apple Certified" hardware, was just a note that the hardware compatibility will play a role in the development.
      For instance, this product I've written about above, ShopKeep, can only use a very specific printer. Whether this was by design or by flaw, it is clearly an important point.

      But once again, choice is what is going to make this project work. If the systems can support a multitude of hardware, then all the better.
      Maybe we can somebody like Epson or HP South Africa to climb on board here 🙂 *Cough*

  • hi Lee Im a sme wanting to use the ipad pos system in SA but cant find a sa app,any luck on your "challenge" do we have a app that works in SA?

  • Hey Lee,

    some interesting additions to this (correct but outdated) state of the PoS. We've evaluated our options for the upcoming beerhouse and found the following iPad PoS solutions being supported on the SA market:
    – iKentoo via
    – Vend being supported by three local consultants:
    – Some other solutions like Orderbird and other iOS/Android PoS solutions do support ZAR and proper VAT issuing, but aren't available with local support – you need to know how important that is to your business…

    We'll blog about our comparison between GAAP, Pilot, Easypos and the iPad/iPod version of our choice soon on

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