Printing receipts from LightSpeed for iPad while you’re in your store (on the same network as your LightSpeed server) is easy.
Printing receipts while you’re away from your store is difficult.
<< note: this article will get a little technical >>
A current client would like to use LightSpeed for iPad remotely at a “pop-up retail” shop– a temporary, one-day only sales venue. In the case of my client, the ability to print a receipt for a customer of their “pop-up” store seems crucial. LightSpeed for iPad can’t really do this because its Client / Server architecture precludes printing to devices with which the Server is not familiar. A printer somewhere out on the Internet is essentially a moving target and so it’s nearly impossible to make the LightSpeed server aware of it.
Let’s examine the usage scenario. In this “pop-up” retail store, we have a sub-section of our Main Store’s inventory available for purchase. Our customers will pay with cash, credit cards, and debit cards. Our LightSpeed Server lives back in our Main Store / Warehouse and is connected to the internet with a static IP address (actually behind a firewall with Port Forwarding enabled for the LightSpeed protocols– more on this later). We’ll need LightSpeed for iPad to connect to our LightSpeed Server for processing sales remotely. Receipts should print to a printer we have nearby in our “pop-up” store.
While I haven’t found a clean and simple way to meet this requirement, I have a few theoretical solutions… Rube Goldberg would be proud.
Make the printer visible on the internet and add it to the LightSpeed Server Mac. Using a 3G enabled WiFi router / access point that has DDNS (such as the EdiMax 3G-6200n), we could print over IP to a receipt printer to which the router is using Port Forwarding.
Email the receipt to a mail enabled printer such as any of the HP ePrint printers. This would mean the printer would have to be configured to join a WiFi network, which could be provided by the iPad itself using the Personal Hotspot feature. I’ve actually tested this scenario and it works, but network latency could keep the customer waiting for the print-out. I’ve diagramed this to the right.
Email the receipt to a fax service which could in turn fax the receipt to a nearby fax machine.
Ultimately, it would be ideal if every customer at the “pop-up” store could simply accept the receipt by email– problem solved.
If you have any other ideas, post them here…