Integration Levels

Integration levels correlate to deployment options and the data source and quality of the POS till-point(s).

The three levels are:

  • Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data

  • Network sub-net

  • Software/API/Component

Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data

A few Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data topologies are available depending on the merchant site layout and the cost defrayment, pertaining to hardware.

Zebra performs in a broker role between the merchant’s customer and the POS till-point for Zapper payments. In this deployment model the processing roles alternate between the QSR tablets and the Zebra device.

The pure Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data is the base-line for Zapper integration on POS data.

This option provides the most simplistic integration level, but is subject to the quality of the data and access to the POS computer.

The following variations are possible:

  • Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data

  • Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data with Zebra Facilitating Confirmations

  • Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data with Zebra Facilitating Confirmations Distributed

1. Over-The-Top On POS To (Pole) Customer Display Data

This integration option is a pure over-the-top implementation where the external tablet screens (Zapper Enabled Displays, i.e. ZEDs) are purposed for processing all Zapper related payment functions. The payment presentation (by QRCode) is facilitated on payment tender and displayed on screen for customer payment. Upon customer payment, the same tablets interact with Zapper back-office, via GSM mobile connection (or via Wi-Fi through a merchant connection), to affect payment and to receive the payment confirmation. The tablet receives a payment confirmation SMS and an acknowledgement via Signal R and the effect is printed on the paired Bluetooth printer. This receipt is used by the till-point cashier to couple to their POS-printed invoice, for accounting reconciliation purposes. A copy of the POS till-slip is handed to the customer as proof of payment that is substantiated from Zapper side by a mobile phone confirmation message and an accounting entry on the Zapper mobile application’s history.

2. Over-The-Top On POS To (Pole) Customer Display Data With Zebra Facilitating Confirmations

The Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data can be diversified to manage payment confirmations centrally by a Zebra node. Zebra assumes the role of confirmations coordinator and communicates to the tablet array over Wi-Fi. The tablets (ZEDs) switch to Wi-Fi mode and rely on the GSM connection of the Zebra node over which to receive payment notifications. The ZEDs continue to process the POS pole display data and processes the QRCode on total tender. A customer engages the payment processing in the same manner as with the pure Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data integration. The variation with this integration option lies in the ability to deploy confirmation printers that are connected to the Zebra node over Ethernet. The printers can be arrayed per till-point, or one per Zebra (located at any position within the merchant’s premise) to cater towards customer needs and cost, almost in any location with local area network access. The payment confirmation on-screen display, as well as any media display changes (to whatever media, including advertisements and payment screens, are displayed on the tablet), are run via the Zebra node over Wi-Fi, to the tablets. The Wi-Fi network (between Zebra and the tablet array) is a private virtual network, facilitated by a hot-spot, executing on the Zebra node. The individual tablets in the tablet array are joined to the Wi-Fi hot-spot. Therefore, the Zebra node should be within good signal strength proximity to the tablets (with their corresponding till-points) being serviced. The Zebra node receives payment confirmation over Ethernet (where the merchant network allows Internet break-out) or over GSM mobile connection from signal R and SMS. The payment confirmations received from the Zapper back-office are processed and communicated to the relevant till-point tablet and printer for display and printout, respectively.

3. Over-The-Top On POS To (Pole) Customer Display Data With Zebra Facilitating Confirmations Distributed

Zebra integration (particularly with the Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data integration option) allows for the distributed deployment of Ethernet connected printers. Where a merchant has the requirement for payment confirmations to be printed in diverse locations, be these with or separate from the actual till-points, the network allows for this. The constraint in this topology vests with the tablet display of payment confirmation in that the Zebra node communicates this over Wi-Fi. Therefore, the Zebra node should be within good signal strength proximity to the tablets (with their corresponding till-points) being serviced. The Wi-Fi hot-spot is discussed above, as well as the payment confirmation connectivity of the Zebra node.

Network Sub-Net

The Network sub-net level 2 Integration provides the ability for Zebra to be configured on the same network subnet as the point-of-sales (POS) till points.

This network integration may, or may not provide internet break-out over the merchant’s network. The data available may vary in quality and is subject to what the POS vendor exposes.

However, this data is generally richer than that of the Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data integration and would consequently leverage a richer integration pertaining to Zapper functionality. The ability to facilitate payment confirmations, displayed on the Zapper Enabled Display and printed on a printer.

Similar to the options available as discussed in sub section 1 of Levels Of Integration section. Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data above.

Printing on the Bluetooth confirmation printers as well as the other configurations are possible over Ethernet.

Network communication is variable/configurable, but allows for Ethernet between the Zebra node and the POS till-points.

Communication with the ZEDs are over Wi-Fi hot-spot from the Zebra node, where ZED applications (requiring Internet break-out) utilize either the Ethernet or GSM capability of the Zebra node, according to how this has been configured.

The same applies to the printer configuration and can copy network configurations in accordance with the typologies under Over-the-top on POS to (Pole) Customer Display data integration options above.

1. Simple Network Subnet Integration

An integration of this nature is one-way, i.e. does not enable communication back to the POS machine. The POS computer does not expose any end-point other than a data transmission on a specified port that may be subscribed to. Thus, payment confirmations received by Zebra cannot be routed to the POS machine for transaction closure, i.e. closing the waiting tender type of the system to finalize the payment of the bill.

2. Full Network Subnet Integration

Payment closure can be performed where a POS system has a natural end-point, capable of receiving notifications of this nature by which to close the open transaction. Such a facility would have to be informed about by the POS vendor.

Software/API/Component Integration

The Software/API/Component Level 3 Integration type provides the highest level of integration between Zapper and a point-of-sales system.

The merchant’s Ethernet connection can (on which Zebra integration communicate with the merchant’s POS till-points) allows for Internet break-out.

This is the best level on of integration as most of the data transmission is done over a local area network and the merchant’s Internet service provider, either being DSL or fibre.

Such an integration avoids having to rely on variable Wi-Fi and/or mobile GSM services for the payment transmission and payment response detection. It improves the speed, cost, general effectiveness, and user-experience of the system. It also allows for a versatile topology for payment confirmation printers either over Bluetooth or Ethernet.

The point of differentiation over the previous integration levels is that the POS system either exposes an integration point or allows a Zapper integration component to be installed. This, primarily to facilitate either printing interception and/or payment transaction closure on the POS system upon payment confirmation.

A payment confirmation is delivered to the POS system in a variety of methods:

  • Polling mechanism by POS machine from a queue on the Zebra node (least desirable)

  • Web Hook Plugin (as source of payment confirmation) on which the notification is listened for to receive posts from Zapper pertaining to payments

  • A REST service on the POS machine to which the Zebra node posts the payment confirmation via Signal R in real-time via an open Signal R connection

  • A designated stored procedure signature that can be implemented by a POS vendor/merchant to be called to receive the payment details

The Channel (refer below to Serengeti) conforms to the carrier protocol of the POS till-point’s data provision and facilitates how the payment confirmation is moved.

The integration component that accommodates the delivery of the payment confirmation should implement the Channel’s protocol, or conversely inform the Zebra node configuration of the required protocol for the Channel.

The data contract, i.e. the structure of the payment confirmation datagram is a requirement to be fulfilled by the component, e.g. JSON message type. Refer to the Zebra Integration End-points (below) for the end-point message contracts that should be complied with.

A POS machine closes the open bill by applying the confirmation to the bill amount to reach zero.

Example of total calculation:

paid amount + Zapper discount + total voucher amount

Zebra Software

Zebra is installed either on a single-board computer, e.g. a Raspberry PI or on a personal computer (PC). Depending on the chosen deployment platform, types of indicators might be available and some check need to be performed.

Zebra can be installed on a computer running Linux or Windows.

The following is a generic check-list:

  • Power to computer, e.g. any power LED illuminated

  • Network operational, e.g. mobile connectivity, Ethernet, Wi-Fi

  • SIM card inserted and operational for GSM option

  • Wi-Fi hotspot started over which to communicate to QSR tablets

  • On-board storage operational, e.g. SD Card (Raspberry PI) or the hard disk on a PC

  • IP address obtained by device

  • Software installed

The software is comprised of an application (installed and configured) with a reciprocal component running on the Zapper QSR tablet.

The first tandem version of these components is Zebra 1.0.0 and QSR 2.3.0 released on 15 March 2017.

Depending on the operating system. Linux (Ubuntu 16.04 server) or Windows 10 the access to the computer is:

  • Directly on the PC, logging onto the user-interface

  • Remotely via SSH (for Linux) onto the PC or Single Board Computer e.g. Raspberry PI

  • Remotely via TeamViewer/Remote Desktop onto a Windows machine

Where the software is installed on a single board computer, the initial access to the device is as follows:

  • Access the computer via inserted peripherals and configure operating system and device name

  • Retain these details, for the successive installation of the Zebra software, to easily identify the device

Serengeti Management User Interface

The Serengeti Management User Interface is used for the managing a Zebra herd, i.e. the deployed eco system. The Serengeti Management User Interface (Zapper, 2017) lists registered devices.

The overview bar summarizes the estate with metrics on the number of nodes, POS till-points, Line items processed, and the number of QR Codes generated.

Managing a Zebra Node can be performed. Serengeti also displays any zebra's current activity status’, i.e. when last any activity had been reported.

The management of a node is comprised of two sections:

  • Software Update

  • Pipelines

1. SOFTWARE UPDATE

Software update is an image up/down grade facility. The entire version of software is affected by this action. The Update to drop-down list provides a selection of available versions of the Zebra software (with the present version indicated) to which the unit could be changed.

2. PIPELINES

Pipelines are integration configuration options by which to attach a POS till-point to a Zebra node, for the purpose of converting data into Zapper functionality. The pipeline comprises a Transformer and a Channel and represents a particular direction of data movement. For example, a given Zebra node, where payment confirmations for the purpose of till transaction closure is required, has two Pipelines denoting the directions data out and confirmation back into the POS till-point.

Transformer

The Transformer is a data conversion contract and honor’s the POS till-point’s data domain model. In order for Zebra to use the data, it requires to convert the data to the Zapper canonical model. The Transformer performs this action and it is specifically designed to interpret the nuance of POS till-point data of the designated type.

Channel

A Pipeline Channel facilitates the protocol connection type over which the Transformer receives its data. These protocols are specifically designed for, e.g. HTTP(S), TCP, or Signal R. Secure sockets and data encryption types are variations that must be provisioned for by the Channel.