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Mobile POS systems, which employ a credit card reader that communicates with a smartphone or tablet app, are clearly taking over how business is conducted. Shipments of new mobile POS devices in general are projected to increase more than 95 percent worldwide this year. Analysts expect mobile POS usage to proliferate in department stores, restaurants, and other businesses both large and small.
Is a mobile POS system right for your small business? Take a look at the pros, cons, and main options you should consider.
The Benefits of Mobile POS Systems
- Make it easier for customers to pay. Instead of having to stand in a check-out line or wait for the check, a sales clerk or restaurant server can swipe the customer’s credit card on the spot. It’s a time saving convenience many customers will appreciate.
- Sell more products. Not long ago, airline flight attendants would only accept cash for food and drink purchases or had to deal with cumbersome credit card transactions. Now, all they have to do is swipe your card on mobile POS systems—this lets airlines sell more food and beverages in flight. Nordstrom reported a 15.3 percent increase in sales after implementing mobile POS systems in some of its stores. If it works for them, it may work for your small business.
- Give employees more flexibility. There are lots of ways mobile POS systems can give sales-floor staff, restaurant servers, and others more flexibility. For example, a local retailer could set up an impromptu sidewalk sale. Sales-floor staff, stationed outside, could accept credit cards on the mobile POS system.
- Stay close to customers. A mobile POS lets your workers stay with customers from the moment they arrive until they pay for their items or meals. This can help enhance the customer experience and build a rapport between customers and employees.
- Simplify fees and expenses. Most traditional POS systems use a dedicated computer running POS software. The computer links to a cash drawer and a receipt printer. Typical costs for such systems run $1,500 or higher, along with fees charged by credit card companies. The bankcard fees usually include interchange fees (which is the largest chunk of the fee charged) plus assessments. By comparison, mobile POS systems that leverage smartphone and tablet apps simplify things by offering a single-rate. The combination of simplicity plus the mobility is why you often see mobile POS systems used by food truck vendors, home contractors, and many solo entrepreneurs.
- No long-term commitments. Unlike some traditional POS system vendors, mobile POS systems don’t require contracts.
- Easy to set up and use. Mobile POS hardware and software is usually a breeze to set up and use, especially for people experienced with mobile devices.
Things to Consider:
- Security can be a concern. How safe is the mobile POS service, and will your customers trust it? For any mobile POS system you choose, make sure you understand its security policies and procedures, and make sure your processor is fully compliant with security standards. Also, convey the security information to all customer-facing employees, so they can reassure concerned customers.
- Customer service. Make sure the mobile POS service you sign up with offers the kind of customer support you’ll need.
- Will you get your money right away? Another complaint about some mobile POS services is that they may hold onto your funds for longer periods of time, compared to more traditional POS systems.
- You need a reliable Internet connection. If your business’s Internet connection is slow, unreliable, or it goes down, you may be unable to successfully or easily process transactions.
You Can Start Small
If you already have a POS system in place, you don’t have to ditch it to test a mobile POS service. Then, when you decide which one to go with, roll it out slowly, starting with your younger, tech-savvy customers.