How to choose an enterprise-ready mPOS solution
Mobile point of sale systems are becoming popular for obvious reasons: they add efficiency and speed to the sales process, create easy connections between devices and allow for secure transactions and operational support. This leads to a better on-site customer experience and ultimately, a boost in sales and conversion rates. But before shifting to a mPOS, it is important to understand the benefits and examine how customers are best deploying these enterprise mobile point of sale systems.
So what’s a mobile point of sale system anyway? Simply put, an mPOS turns a smartphone or tablet into a cash register that allows merchants to accept payments wherever they are — in a retail space or tableside at a restaurant, at trade shows, while visiting a customer, or anywhere they might conduct business. Mobile point of sale systems allow you to carry your store in your hand and conduct transactions anywhere.
As we move closer to a cashless society, mobile point of sale systems are rapidly gaining traction as they become faster, more secure, and easier to charge and maintain. A study from Juniper Research found that the adoption of mPOS devices connecting wirelessly or via mobile devices will drive annual mPOS transactions to over 87 billion by 2023, a threefold increase over an estimated 28 billion transactions over mPOS devices in 2018.
That’s not surprising since mPOS systems improve customer experiences and can have a profoundly positive impact on revenue. Still, not all systems are created equal and it is important to choose a system that is tech agnostic, safe and secure, and adaptable to the changing needs of the business. Here are some things to consider when picking the right mPOS:
Is this mPOS system truly mobile?
Many mPOS systems offer either handheld or fixed solutions for tablets. Look instead for systems that truly allow for mobile sales by offering both. Mobility is key because it gives merchants the ability to quickly scale up or down checkouts when the store gets busy or the restaurant slows down, supplementing fixed lanes or checkout stands.
A great mPOS system is versatile and allows for both an integrated installation to a centralized hub and an option for countertop installation. The merchant should be able to lock down the system if desired, both physically and digitally. While many are familiar with using tablets for mPOS systems, smaller handhelds such as mobile phones are becoming more popular. As you plan for program expansion, invest in a system that not only allows for tablet mobility and docking, but also a system that provides the flexibility of smaller mobile devices to be used with mobile payment terminals. Size, weight, and ease of use play a large part in successful mPOS systems, so plan for a mixed environment of handhelds and tablets.
Most importantly, find a mPOS system that will make your patrons happy. Mobile point of sale systems are popular among customers who appreciate personal connection, speed, accuracy, and safety. Happy customers become loyal customers, which improves the bottom line.
How often will I need to switch hardware devices?
Most mPOS systems are tablet or small handheld manufacturer and operating system specific. Look for a system that allows a high level of choice between hardware and applications. Why should you be forced to change hardware simply because of the mPOS you choose?
A mPOS system that can support front-end applications should have a universal tablet mount that will support devices from any maker. The mount should allow the device to be quickly and easily removed for mobility. The best front-end mPOS systems will provide superior accessibility and should include a base that can rotate 270 degrees or be locked down and a tablet holder that can tilt. Options on top systems allow for the integration of accessories like cash drawers, scanning guns, and receipt printers for a clean display that’s easy to use and maintain. For smaller mPOS handhelds, make sure when not in use the devices can readily and easily be docked for charging in a universal charging station that is adaptable as you expand your program or shift devices.
Does this work with my preferred hardware and software providers?
The best mPOS systems are good at hardware integration, charging, and allowing hardware peripherals to connect. These products support the idea of “one-to-many” — allowing merchants to create a single system with many nodes that all work seamlessly together. Look for a system with a low cost of ownership and those that provide system modularity, seamless payment device integration, and network connectivity to provide flexibility for future store growth.
A good mPOS system should support myriad combinations of handhelds and tablets with payment devices along with a promise to add devices to the portfolio as they become available. It is important to pick a provider that is willing to customize. For example, look for a company that will create a case for a specific device even if it isn’t a standard offering.
An agnostic approach to technology helps with charging and storage as well. The best mPOS systems monitor charge levels for all integrated devices, only giving a full charge indication when the devices are fully charged, which makes it easy to know when the mPOS devices are ready for a shift. A proper charging solution will provide devices with the correct voltage and current according to the device specification and battery requirements. Top charging solutions will also allow devices to fast charge if the device supports those standards. Some systems that integrate tablets or handhelds with payment devices connect the device batteries together “brute force” and do not monitor charge levels. These systems are not able to fast charge devices. More concerning is that these “brute force” solutions lead to potential problems with overheating, battery swelling, and product degradation.
How robust and rugged does my equipment need to be?
If a point of sale system is mobile, it has to be rugged. Devices are often handled by multiple people in environments where they could be dropped or roughly used. Charging systems must be robust. Standard connectors such as USB-C can easily be damaged either by debris or rough, heavy use. Additional wired chargers suffer failures from broken and lost cables or power bricks. When devices are not plugged in, mPOS systems are not usable. It pays to have a system that can handle heavy use and has a simple and robust charging solution.
Mobile point of sale systems should allow tablets and handhelds to be attached to payment devices so they are physically secure from easily falling off. Systems that can also be locked to a handheld or tablet for added security are best. To avoid connector damage, cases and systems that employ wireless charging or contact charging are best. Ideally, connectors on your mPOS devices should not be accessible to avoid damage altogether.
If the device is dropped, merchants who specify robust systems have peace of mind since the hardware is designed to take a beating. Look for systems that specify drop protection. If the supplier does not list drop specifications, such as mil-spec 810, ask what standards they have tested to. Accidents happen, but a mPOS system should be forgiving and protect the merchant’s investment.
Has this mPOS system been proven to work in the same context?
Experience counts and that’s especially true when it comes to mobile point of sale systems. Providers who have mPOS systems deployed in multiple high-traffic locations can show how their mPOS operate in the field.
Merchants should take the time to visit a location with mPOS systems in operation to get a feel for how they are used and feedback from both customers and the workers using the system. Visit customers who are of similar size and scale and in a similar industry, if possible, and seek out feedback from them on important features and functionality.
With a little research and understanding, merchants can find the right mPOS systems to fit their needs. Your customers will thank you for it.