Discussion - New Tuckshop Payment System

Proposal Type:

Joe Christian

The current tuckshop system isn’t as user friendly as it could be. Currently tuckshop items can be paid for via the membership system or in cash. Cash is becoming redundant, and the membership system doesn’t work if people have guests or if we have external events. It’s also not as obvious as a till system.

Cash has to be paid in and Barclays are making this harder and harder to do. I’ve written this proposal while in a queue to pay in the current tuckshop takings…

Im proposing we invest in izettle. They provide a card reader and an app. We provide a tablet on a stand. The system is designed to work as a self service till, so it is robust and members can’t steal using it etc. We currently use this at work for the tuckshop and its great.

If we wanted it to, the app keeps track of stock and tells us about popular selections etc. It does all our account keeping for us automatically.

The only downsides are that it takes a 1.75% fee on all transactions, (though this is similar to paying via the membership system). It also has a minimum £1 card spend, with most drinks 60-80p this means members would have a few choices:
Buy 2 items
Buy 1 now and redeem the other later
Buy 1 item and use the tipping function to round up to £1.

The till could also be used for paying for other bits, E.g. Laser cutter material, Bikespace bits, printer mugs, general donations, laser cutter usage, etc.

Proposed Purchase:
Izettle reader - £34.80 - Card reader - secure payments | Zettle by PayPal (ex iZettle)

Tablet stand - £14.75 - Lockable Secure iPad Samsung Tablet Desk Mount Stand Counter Holder Wall Case | eBay

Zettle terminal charging Dock - £46.80 - Dock to Reader 2 | Zettle

Used tablet - going to buy something on ebay, budget £53 (to stay within small proposal amount) . I welcome suggestions for a good responsive tablet.

Id welcome any thoughts on this before I implement it.

Proposed Installation:
This will be installed on the counter in snackspace. I’ve added it to the hack-the-space day agenda to tidy this area up, so it will probably be installed around then.

Thw payment via the membership system will probably be phased out over the next year or two. Cash will remain for the time being, but i suspect it will become pointless to maintain due to dwindling use.

£149.35 plus ongoing 1.75% per transaction fee ongoing

Funding type:
Fully funded by Hackspace

Edited : added VAT to goods. Added Zettle Terminal. Changed Tablet budget

Small Proposal <£150 - 2 Board Members and 5 Members.

Supporting Board Members:
Joe Christian

Supporting Members:


Should we also get the Izettle dock? It says you can charge the reader via USB C cable, but IMO that’s gonna get lost/repurposed. Would also give the reader a fixed home so members know where to return it after use.

The Zettle Terminal comes with a multi-voltage power adapter. Plug it in with the provided USB-C cable and get it fully charged in 1.5-2 hours. You can also keep a constant charge by docking it to the Printer & Dock for Terminal.

Thanks Mark.

I decided against the zettle terminal, it’s more expensive, can’t be easily changed if broken (screen smash etc.), like a tablet with an app can, and being a wireless unit, is more likely to go missing.

I think it’s more designed for these confusing open plan shops that’s don’t have a specific check out and instead have roaming staff who try to sell you an insurance policy with your can of pop.

The tablet would be firmly fixed in one location only, and would not be a roaming device.


Great suggestion, Joe. I know we’re supposed to be self sufficient, but buying this kind of thing of the peg is such a better solution.

A member must surely have an old tablet we can use?

Ah I think you might have got the two mixed up.

I was meaning this thing: Dock to Reader 2 | Zettle
Just to clip the card reader in keeping it charged etc.

Ah I see. Yeah that looks good.

I had to update the proposal anyway as I’d missed off VAT.

So if you could both give your approval again that’d be great.

Im sure someone does have a tablet lying around. But I’m not sure how easy it will be to find out :smiley: I can try though.


yes, +1

So the membership system is already setup to direct debit members and we can add amounts to it. Is there a POS system that could hook into that? That way we avoid the minimum £1 spend and already take advantage of the existing gocardless system.

I can how the front end would work i.e. tablet mounted with some software that hooks into the member system with an rfid reader, no idea about the backed and how the amounts are segregated, etc.

We kind of had a homebrew system for a while that Rossy built (I think?). It worked really well until it didn’t, basically, because it required maintenance and patching and fixing, and we didn’t have the human resources to do that.

Joe, you’ve said: “Thw payment via the membership system will probably be phased out over the next year or two.”

Why, whats wrong with this system?

I personally think the system we have works great, we just need to educate people about how to use it. And I certainly wouldn’t retire it without good reason.

Every system will require work to maintain, even this new one that’s being suggested. So we could spend some effort learning this new system or spend some effort getting the previous til back up n running. The real question is which is going to be the least work in 5 years time or is this simply going to be yet another system that only 1 person knows how to run?

So far I’ve been the only person to track stock this year, which went out of date when a Booker’s run was done but no one bothered to update the spreadsheet. This task literally couldn’t be more simple! But it required effort - so it didn’t get done. In my mind, this system is no different. Only doing a Booker’s run will not be enough. Someone will still have to log into the system to update any prices that have changed, add any new items, etc. What’s needed is more proactive people and more cross training to keep our existing systems working. Then I think a discussion on upgrading the system to a “better” one should take place. *better in inverted commas because a min spend of £1 is annoying.

If the person who set the till system up originally (possibly Rossy?) was earning 1.75% of all sales, then I’m certain that till would be operational today and receiving all the necessary love to keep it that way.

Hey guys, thanks for the comments thus far.

@Harvinder_Atwal It’s a good idea, but i don’t think gocardless (who run our direct debits) are able to integrate with card transactions. As I understand it, direct debits and transactions are fundementally different systems. But i’m not expert in our members system, and unfortunately the person who was, no longer has time for the space.

@Fnhalluk The membership system extra payments don’t have to be phased out if it is still used, that was more a suggestion from me, as I think we’ll find that most of our ‘in the space’ payments will go through this card reader, as it will be the easiest option for the average member. If that does end up the case, i’d suggest we phased it out, to streamline how many systems we have running. If it does still get a fair amount of use, then it is no effort to keep it there. It’s a decision to be made it the future.

Part of the reason for me suggesting we move over to a physical kiosk is that it is very intuitive to use the system for the everyday member as well as those using the back end system. You click what you’re buying, and scan your card. Done. No training needed. Educating our growing membership in how our system currently works, would be adding another thing to teach people how to use to our growing list of things people need teaching. The more we can make things in the space intuitive the better.

The new system being externally managed means we have a 24/7 support team, lots of documentation and ‘how-to’ videos should they be needed. From what I gather, getting the previous till system back up and running, might require starting from scratch all over again, if we found the volunteers to do this. Zettle is ready to go out of the box. I’d say this is the system that will be the least work in 5 years time, and will be easier to hand over than a custom built system.

On stock tracking, whether we used this feature or not, having it there, on the counter next to the fridge will make it easier to do, than trying to navigate a spreadsheet on a small screen.

Granted prices will need to be updated in the app (unless we moved to 1 or 2 universal prices across cans), but one benefit would be that we could negate the need for using the label maker to make price stickers. Using the app you can change the price of many same-price items at once though. No matter what system you were paying by, you could still check the price via the app on the kiosk tablet. This would also make it easier to restock the fridge, it wouldn’t matter so much what was stacked where, if there were no prices on the shelf.

Can’t deny the £1 minimum spend is a bummer and that we do need more proactive members.

Hope that answers your concerns, but feel free to ask if you have anymore.



Just to be clear I wasn’t talk about card transactions. I was just saying is there a POS system that could hook into gocardless or the member portal itself, which is already enabled to make transactions with gocardless?

Also as a side how is payment collected currently (as I use the member portal)? Do people still deposit coins?

Ah my apologies. I haven’t found anything that would do that in my search, it would have to be a system by which users log in to the app so go cardless can link them up would be my guess.

Part of the benefit of the card system though is that guests to the space, and anyone visiting for an event can pay without needing to be a member.

People do still use coins, I just took £300 to the bank and it took 3 hours of my time in total to deposit it (coin counting, travelling, the bank being closed due to a leak, going back another day, queuing) . I reckon we get about £25 a week in coins as a very rough guess.

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Yes it would need some authentication (which I assume would be either login to the member portal or use their fobID?).

I agree with the idea of outsourcing to reduce maintenance costs, I guess is that something we are willing to pay for? The problem in a hackspace is we are more inclined to build it ourselves.

Also using cash these days for lots small transaction is just w**k, really sad you had to had spend that much time to deposit money, so yes anything that moves us away from cash is a good thing in my book. Just not sure if we should move to an off the shelf (paid) solution yet.

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Yes I know the feeling of wanting to do everything ourselves quite well :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Worth noting gocardless charges 1% fees (+30p) on all direct debits. We can ignore the 30p here as it would take the money at the same time as membership anyway. But this means for a 60p can of pop, we are spending 0.6p already vs 1.05p with zettle.

A bit of quick approximate maths:
If we take the pay off of the system over 3 years, and assume we take about £3k a year through snackspace (£200/month1225% profit), the cost of the system is another 1.6%, so about 2p a can goes to the system. If we get the tablet donated, even cheaper. If the system lasts longer than 3 years, which I’d hope it would, it’d be even less.

I’m on board. I can see this definitely reducing the admin burden of cash and make payments to the space generally easier.

The till could also be used for paying for other bits, E.g. Laser cutter material, Bikespace bits, printer mugs, general donations, laser cutter usage, etc.

I’d definitely take the opportunity to do this, and make this proposal more a replacement of how the space takes payments overall. Rather than it just being snack space or a secondary option.

The membership system does have an idea of “balance” that handles this type of payment right now, but I do think it is quite poor:

  • You must top up your balance separately, which comes through as separate direct debits (possible different to your understanding of how this is working @Josephxtian? Going by the info above, each top up will incur separate 30p charges?)
  • You must log your purchases against generic categories, and work out the price to pay yourself
  • There are different prices listed for consumables in the membership system versus signs in the space (heat press paper as an example, if I remember rightly)
  • It’s possible to have a negative balance, and I don’t know what happens if that remains unpaid?

Whilst this does work there is definitely an opportunity to make this easier for members and possibly phase “balance” out?

Re: the tablet / product listing approach: If feasible, I’d particularly like to see everything that is considered a paid-for consumable at the Space. When I’m leaving at the end of the day that can help remind me what I might have used, and I can easily track my usage (4x mugs, 1x 200x300 laser plywood, 1x 10 minutes of laser time) and tap to pay for it all, without having to track down and juggle all the numbers in my head.

I do wonder how much of an admin burden this would introduce? Perhaps not a lot if we don’t need to explicitly enter stock counts. Just a one off job to set it all up? It would be very convenient to have one centralised place for all our prices to review and/or make adjustments.

If this is all too drastic a change, I wouldn’t dismiss a DIY approach. I don’t think it’ll be difficult to put together a more convenient in-space interface for the membership systems payments via “balance”.

All we’d need for a DIY approach, in my mind, is:

  • A new page on the membership system to
    • Enter a cost
    • Or, present a list of products (consumable, snacks, machine time) and have customers choose what’s what
    • A “pay via fob” button (under the hood this just looks up your member record via fob id, and adjusts your balance accordingly)
  • A (donated) device to present that page
  • A fob scanner masquerading as a keyboard input (like we have on the computer by the door? Small arduino job?)

This wouldn’t solve the guest situation, but if they’re guests of a member then the member can just pay up?

If they’re guests from an open evening or a particular event, their potential snack costs wouldn’t be too much to just to take as a loss?

I’m actually ‘for’ this new system but the over egging of how much “training” is required to use the current system and how amazing the new system will be, is really off-putting.

To quote about the new system: “You click what you’re buying, and scan your card. Done. No training needed.”

I’m sorry, how hard is it to type in the price of something and click “Buy now” on the current system?

People need to be shown how to get to this screen but please, there is no" training" required. Topping up your account couldn’t be easier and whether a person pays for all their items individually or calculates the total makes no difference and is up to them. The current system is fit for purpose so what we need to understand is where the previous restocking burden came from.

To give a bit of history of 2022 and general background info. At the start of 2022, the fridges were mostly empty and there didn’t seem to be any ownership of SnackSpace. I tried asking around but didn’t seem to get too many answers. So I stepped up and took charge of things. From walking around Booker’s, I quickly noticed there were 2 variants for most items. 24 cokes over here costing say £11 and what looked to be 24 identical cokes over there costing £15. The difference was the first lot were price marked and typically came with a profit margin of 35%. My understanding at the time was that SnackSpace was not there to make big profits, it was there to offer better value and convenience to our members. The existing pricing for most items had us making around 20% profit which seemed reasonable to cover any wastage, running costs of the fridges, etc. Our members could see they were getting a great deal because the price we were charging was that much lower than what was written on the item.

The issue came when the more expensive non-price marked goods were bought, because it meant we could end up making a loss on those sales. In Oct, news came of the increasing electricity prices and so to remove the burden of having to check the costs of goods and adjust our prices accordingly, having to print off new labels, while at the same time increasing our profit margins, the decision was made to only buy price-marked goods and simply to sell them using the prices on the items.

At this point, it doesn’t matter where goods go in the fridges, making restocking a trivial task. Thankless, but trivial. Joe, this is a change that I had understood you were fully aware of, yet you wrote “but one benefit would be that we could negate the need for using the label maker to make price stickers.”

If someone brings a guest into the space who wants some snacks or to use some laser materials, they can either bank transfer or give cash to the member they’re with, who will in turn pay for those items using the current system. With everything above said, this makes most of the reasons given so far getting the new system null and void IMHO.

In addition to this, setting up of the new system is going to be a lot of work. I should know because I’ve downloaded the app and started adding items. It will be exactly the same amount of effort as adding all the items to Rossy’s previous POS till system.

Onto my final point, and the reason I’d be ‘for’ the new system - tracking stock & reducing theft (if any). At the point where someone gets to the checkout, the quantity in stock is displayed. If this doesn’t match the quantity in the fridges, then it should start alarm bells ringing in people’s minds. I don’t know if Rossy’s till tracked stock, if it did, then it already had this benefit. It’s easy to forget to pay and having a till present will undoubtedly mitigate that, whether it’s Rossy’s or the proposed one.

If we’re going to put purchase proposals in like this, then we need to “be real” as the Americans say, and be honest, up front and matter of fact about the pros and cons.

I don’t use cash as a payment option but as a director, I need to be mindful of those that do. Notes don’t cause us any burden at all but the small change is a PITA, so maybe there’s a halfway house to be had?

The app has an interface that is more like a shop till than a self-service checkout, as that’s what its designed for and for anyone that’s worked on tills before, they’ll know you usually receive a bit of training before being let loose on them. That is to say, the interface is a bit ugly and will require some familiarisation. Adding photos for each item really helps ease this at the top level but can be quite a time sync setting up the shots, snapping and then cropping each one, and a downside of this is only the first 11 characters of the name are displayed at the category level.

Top level: Left catagory, with photos. Right cat, no photos.

Category level: With photos - only first 11 characters are displayed:

And without photos:

Its worth noting that the app has some damning reviews. From the sounds of things, they went through a phase of slap dash programming, pushed some updates and f’ed things up. And the all singing all dancing 24/7 support might not be what it seems to be on paper judging by these reviews. That said, our throughput of ‘customers’ is very small so of course we’ll manage but my point is that we all find it frustrating when the door system goes down or the DNH printer stops working but off-the-shelf systems are by no means immune to this.

@rjackson, the proposed system cannot be used as you’ve suggested, adding items over the course of a visit and paying at the end. Its a till at the end of the day. If someone else goes to use it before you’ve paid, then all your items will still be there.

Lastly, all of this can be done on a cheap phone that has NFC. This could work well for a 2nd POS elsewhere in the space but I’m on board with, and prefer having an official card reader in SnackSpace.

I hate to be confrontational, but I don’t see this happening in this discussion? I’m seeing people share their perspectives, through which we can build a better collective understanding of the situation and ascertain whether there are any opportunities for improvements or not.

For those familiar with the current balance system, I’d be careful not to let the “curse of knowledge” skew the discussion; whilst some of the mentioned issues may seem trivial to those familiar, the fact they’re being mentioned at means somebody is struggling with them.

On the other side, I agree – we need to be aware that another system will not magically solve all issues. It’ll likely solve some, but will certainly introduce others. For example, what will be the refund process if somebody mistypes a quantity and overcharges themselves?

This is something that I want to expand on, in the context of the Space overall. I’m going to labour the point somewhat, but I think it’s very important to understand the potential difficulties people might have with this and to be very careful not to dismiss those difficulties.

In order to do this, somebody needs to know

  1. That they can make payments via the membership system

  2. Where to do so in the membership system

    Click “Balance £0.00” after logging in, which isn’t clear if you don’t already know that’s where it goes. The log-in landing page could be improved here with call-to-action buttons for the actions people are likely coming to the membership system to accomplish (manage subscription, seek training, pay for things, …)

  3. That their account needs topping up separately, in order to clear their “balance”.

    There are currently 71 accounts on the current system with a negative balance (mostly small amounts). It may be assumed that direct debits will already clear these? But that is not the case.

  4. How much the item(s) they’re purchasing are

    Some consumables in the Space are free. Some are paid-for. We have prices listed in the membership system for some, on signage for others, on a whiteboard in Snackspace, or on items themselves (price-marked snacks). In some cases, these prices are inconsistent. Speaking from personal experience alone, I don’t always know how much I’m supposed to be paying for something.

  5. Be able to add all of that up.

    Without explicitly naming anybody, we have members with dyscalculia (difficulty understanding and working with numbers; affecting 1 in 20 of the UK population). Having to keep track of prices and add everything up is very difficult for those people.

These are all things that I’ve got on a personal to-do list as potential improvements to explore with the membership system, which I’ll put time into whether we introduce card payments or not.