Our Handheld iPad Checkout Station using Square technology

By Andrew Davidson
on August 1, 2018

We run the epitome of an American small business converting analog media into new digital memories for our nationwide customer base. We occasionally get visits at our office door during our open hours of 12-6pm Tuesday through Fridays, and are dutiful to be available and ready for any customer transaction.

Part of being ready includes taking all forms of payment (cash, credit cards), plus making change, collecting autographs, sending receipts. Since most of our transactions happen while standing with the customer, and we couldn't devote space to a traditional Point Of Sale (Register, Cash Drawer, Receipt Printer, etc.) we created this handheld iPad Checkout Station that I use to process customer transactions while accepting or delivering jobs.

The brains of the unit is an iPad Mini running Square Point Of Sale ($0) with a thin black ABS case which we super-glued to another black polyester fabric zipper case. There's a Square credit card swipe receiver ($0) plugged into the headphone port, and you'll note we've colored in the front so we know which way the magnetic stripe should face (another story...) The screensaver is a picture of my raised eyebrow face should give you fair notice as to whom this iPad belongs to.


Once we unzip the polyester fabric case, we see the usual assortment of pockets and straps. The top slot holds our cash change, the slot on the right behind the cable holds instruction manuals for the Square readers. The 'pen' in the middle is actually a touch pen (not an ink pen) for customers who prefer to sign with a pen vs. their finger. We also have a stack of all of our business cards (and replacement recharging cables and adapters). Note the smart placement of the polyester fabric case on the black ABS slim case to allow full use of the iPad camera still.


Not much to see on the back here except stuck on the back of the unit is the Square bluetooth chip and swipe reader ($49). We'd initially planned on putting it inside the zippered slot seen, but found that keeping the customer's card visible at all times during the transaction was more important. We double-sided taped it to the polyester, and ensured the charging ports for both the iPad and the Square Reader faced the same direction. Since the customer usually can see their credit card the entire time, there's no suggestion of double-dipping.


I hope other small business owners can find and take inspiration from this shrinking of the traditional Point Of Sale and make it work for their own small business. Clearly, we have to maintain internet access for the iPad to do any live transactions, but it's easy to tether your iPad to your Mobile device and use both seamlessly. This could be used at a fairground, farmer's market, or retail market easily.