Mobile devices are not just for mobile online shoppers as they dart from point to point in busy lives, but also for the small business owner who needs something more versatile and portable than a fifty pound cash register, card scanner, check scanner, and a cash drawer. Mobile POS are becoming the go-to solution of choice for dog groomers, farmer’s market sellers, flea market booth operators, trade show sales, catering trucks, personal trainers, and even brick and mortar small businesses. Economical, portable, and versatile, today’s small business mobile POS systems are scalable and economical one-stop solutions, able to integrate with bookkeeping and inventory software, payment gateways, and with existing online stores.
Demystification: Debunking the Urban Legends of Mobile POS
As many businesses have adopted mobile POS with enthusiasm, there are holdouts who are leery of the whole thing. The traditional “cash wrap” station of bricks and mortar businesses and the online payment gateways of internet businesses were the binary standard in what commerce could do. Mobile solutions were prohibitively expensive, heavy, and hard to deploy, and subject to a slew of unsubstantiated urban legends that are more fit to a financial horror movie than the truth.
Myth: Mobile POS are hard to set up. Take out your mobile device, then download the app for your operating system to your tablet or smartphone. Follow the instructions (that’s the important part!) to set up the hardware and software running on your device. Oh, and if there’s a problem, most mobile payment providers offer Johnny-on-the-spot customer support – because if you don’t make money, they don’t either.
Myth: Transaction information is stored on my device. Mobile developers like Square, Paypal, Intuit, and Swipe wouldn’t be in business for long if a lost phone or stolen iPad meant that the customer’s virtual data could be exposed so easily. Transaction data is stored on the processor’s servers, safely encrypted in the cloud so that a lost or stolen device can’t torpedo your business or your reputation. .
Myth: I already have a POS system, they’re all the same. The traditional “cash wrap” setup is cumbersome, immobile, expensive, and generally requires a visit from a company tech if something goes hideously wrong. Mobile apps are made to be just that – mobile, lightweight, and fixable on the fly. Your mobile POS can also be folded into a modular add-on cash drawer and even a check scanning system for your bricks and mortar location, a farmer’s market booth, or even on your sales floor – closing the deal at the rack instead of the checkout counter.
What’s Out There?
There are new mobile POS systems popping up if not every day, then often enough to keep the tech and retail blogospheres chattering about the latest and greatest such as the WooCommerce POS system. However, in terms of security, the mobile POS with the best track records is the one to bring in the business. Credit card companies like Visa are aggressively courting mobile POS, according to PaymentSource.com, and even investing in mobile POS vendors like square in an effort to bring merchants into the $1 trillion dollars in sales they’re missing out on by not accepting electronic payments. Even a little piece of that pie is a substantial meal to a small merchant.
Some of the best known names in the field are Paypal Here, Square, and Intuit GoPayment, who made their marks with small businesses neglected by traditional checkout options. The “Square Effect” noted by Javelin Strategies has found that the availability of mobile electronic payment solutions to smaller non-traditional merchants has driven down check or cash payments by a full ten percent – a projected $86 billion dollars per year. With credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa acting quickly to accommodate mobile POS vendors, some of the traditional cash wrap vendors have been left burning rubber to catch up. NCR and Verifone offer their pricier branded and boxed proprietary systems that seem to have more to do with protecting their business model than with exploring new markets. Frankly, they should have seen this coming.
Making the Smart Decisions
As noted in a recent IHL Services study, the mobile POS market continues to evolve rapidly, from being back office devices, to the sales floor, to replacing the cash drawer. In future iterations of mobile POS, the customer will be able to initiate and complete the transaction from either their own tablet or smartphone, or the retailer’s revamped checkout system – something similar to the self-checkout available in some grocery stores and mass merchandisers now. The smaller and more flexible the solution to your online and real world sales, the less time you’ll need to spend on back office integration, and the more time you can spend running and growing your small business.