How Mobile POS Can Help Your Business

Portable transactions are becoming the wave of the future for many businesses and smartphone applications are following the trend like a dog chasing a hare.  Not all businesses feel they need a mobile POS application. They may assume that with a POS system in-store, it would not be of any benefit to them.  They may assume that only mobile retailers such as farmers markets, flea markets and the occasional street fair vendor would need a mobile POS.  But, in many cases, these assumptions are incorrect. Mobile POS systems can benefit all different types of businesses, whether it is a large department store that has been in business for many years or a small retailer just getting started.  If there’s a way to make customers happier, it’s worth looking into.

I took some time to experiment with some of the more popular apps available and found that some do it all, while others pale in comparison. I’m hesitant to name the apps that I found were difficult to use, slow in processing speed, and without much content. Therefore, I’ll start by focusing on two apps that I feel are more than “worth your time” to look into.

Krugism Development LLC has developed a mobile application for your smartphone called Registroid™  POS, which is free to download and utilize. They have also created an enhanced version, Registroid™ Pro.  The free version incorporates all basic functions of a full blown POS system into a portable convenience, designed to work with the Android OS and most tablets.  Registroid™ is set up to tender cash, checks, and with the free integrated system of Square, credit cards.

Two of the features I found most valuable with the free version are processing speed and usability.  It does not require you to log on to a web page to process a transaction, hence, immediate sale.  And, if you have knowledge of the basic cash register or POS system, you will find that the layout is easy to understand and quick to learn.

The keyboard, which is a touch keyboard assignment, can also be customized to fit your specific needs allowing you to easily add or delete certain buttons. For example, let’s say you run a business that does not allow returns and you want to make sure your employees don’t accidentally accept a return.  You can delete the “return” button from the system so returns are not an option.

Another great feature of the free version is the ability to run X and Z daily sales reports*, including shift totals, daily totals, shift history and daily history.  Furthermore, it offers you the ability to backup your database to your SD card (you never know when your cell phone might call it quits), enter specific tax percentages, use fractional quantities, and add GPS transaction history.

On the other hand, the Registroid™  Pro version, $39.99, turns the few inabilities into capabilities. With the pro version, you have the ability to email, text or print receipts (printing only available along with WiFi receipt printers), run enhanced reports, add unlimited departments, and utilize Google Analytics Ecommerce sales postings.  One last incredibly useful tool is the inventory maintenance button which allows you to not only scan your inventory bar codes, but also type in the product description, upload customized product pictures, and add specific item tax (four tax rate sections available). As a side note, both  the Registroid™  free version and the Registroid™  Pro version are not yet set up with features for large restaurants.

Square is another simple-to-use portable POS application designed to work with your Android, Ipod, Ipad or Itouch.  First introduced to the public in October, 2010, Square has had 250,000 downloads and a user rating of 4 ½ stars, proving that it can be a very beneficial addition to your business.

Square can be used alone or alongside Registroid™.  It is a free credit card/cash terminal application that also comes with a free credit card reader.  The benefits of this app are security, next-day payout, fast set-up and fast transactions, no merchant account required, transparent pricing without any setup or monthly fees, and acceptance of all major credit cards.  Square also features basic sales history reports along with the ability to accept tips. The only downfall that I found was that it does not offer funds verification.

Regardless of your in-store system or the lack thereof, the benefits of a mobile POS app can and will help improve customer satisfaction and overall profitability. This is the future of payment transactions and the days of posting “Cash Only” signs may forever be in our past.

*X and Z Reports: The X report is like running a subtotal, for comparing the amount of sales in the cash drawer to the amount registered on the system, before and after a shift. Running an X report allows you or your employee to recount monies, if necessary, to balance. The Z report closes the current batch and finalizes it, then opens it for the following shift.

POS Peace of Mind? Priceless

Security is a rising concern for the average consumer. While it used to be that you would hand your credit card over at a restaurant without batting an eyelash, nowadays a seed of doubt is germinating in the back of the consumer’s mind; is my credit card information safe? A security breach can be detrimental not only to the card owner, but to the establishment responsible — restaurants are responsible for almost half of all security breaches. Business owners are addressing this issue by beefing up technology at the point of sale.
One such company enhancing security for its patrons is the Copper Cellar Corporation, which owns and operates 19 Copper Cellar, Calhoun’s, Smoky Mountain Brewery, Cherokee Grill and Chesapeake’s restaurants. Soon they will be serving more than quality dining and memorable experiences to guests; it will also provide peace of mind with a robust payment protection solution.The recent installation of TransactionVault, Merchant Link’s tokenization solution, and the Merchant Link Payment Gateway across all of their locations in Knoxville, Nashville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Maryville and Lenoir City provides this peace of mind.

“It’s comforting to not have to worry about the security of our guests’ credit card information,” said Mike Gaston, vice president of information services for Copper Cellar Corporation. “The fact that it is not stored anywhere on our network is a huge relief.”

The company chose to utilize these solutions to safeguard customer’s sensitive payment data and remove it from the premise to ensure that it is transmitted safely and effectively while reducing their PCI DSS compliance footprint.

The Merchant Link Payment Gateway sends payments quickly, simultaneously detecting and correcting errors along the way. It ensures funds are delivered accurately and consistently, prevents expensive charge back fees and reduces clerk or system errors, preventing them from showing up on customer credit statements.

TransactionVault removes customer credit card data at the point of sale where it would be at risk from hackers. The data is instead stored in Merchant Link’s hosted “vault,” effectively securing “data at rest” and reducing the cost and effort of attaining and maintaining PCI compliance. Through TransactionVault, Merchant Link processed 1 billion transactions at more than 15,000 merchant locations in 2010.

The Copper Cellar Corporation utilizes a Squirrel point-of-sale (POS) system for customer payments. Their previous payment processor and data security solution created problems for them by posting batches twice. Merchant Link’s full suite of reporting and error detection tools help to eliminate failed batch attempts, duplicate batches or no settlement attempts.

“Our old processor had double posted batches before,” said Gaston. “Despite not being directly responsible for the error, it made us look bad in the eyes of our guests. Merchant Link monitors for potential batch issues and ensures that problems such as these are a thing of the past for Copper Cellar, its restaurants and its customers.”

The wide-scale implementation was completed shortly after a pilot site went live successfully with Merchant Link’s solutions.

While there may be cost involved in the implementation of a more secure system, business owners and consumers will agree that peace of mind is priceless.

Investments in POS: How to Ensure a Great ROI

In today’s climate, merchants are faced with migrating from a cash register to a computerized point of sale (POS) system, or upgrading from an antiquated POS system to a current state-of-the-art POS system.  Does the decision represent a significant cost or a wise investment?

It really depends on two issues. One is the perception of the merchant making the decision. The second is the performance of the vendor whom the merchant decides to engage for a POS system. Those two issues can be debated from many angles. So, let’s break it down to simplest form by definition.

The definition of COST is an amount that has to be paid or given up in order to get something.

The definition of INVESTMENT is the investing of money or capital to gain profitable returns or appreciation in value.

POS systems and POS vendors come in every shape and size. It is typically top priority for the merchant to find the system that provides the best operational fit at a price they can afford from a vendor they can trust. Those three items add up to the merchant’s perceived value in the POS investment. However, with those three criteria, is the merchant viewing the POS system as a “cost” or as an “investment?” More importantly, is the vendor providing the POS solution viewing the newly acquired merchant as a “new win” or as a “new Partner?”

It is a two-way street and should be treated as such by both parties. Specifically, the merchant should consider how much risk is involved, just like he or she would do with an investment in inventory, marketing or human capital. The POS vendor should allow for the merchant to make this decision without a significant risk, while at the same time providing all the evidence necessary to make sure the new partnership is a good fit and a “win” for everyone involved.

As with any buy/sell situation, the onus is primarily on the buyer. It’s all about risk and reward. So, merchants should ask themselves the following questions prior to making the decision to purchase their first POS system or upgrade their existing POS system:

  • What is the risk involved? Could I possibly spend a bunch of money and gain very little?
  • What is the reward involved? If I spend $x, what is my opportunity to gain $x as a direct result of the initial spend?
  • Will my investment continue to grow over time? Is the vendor committed to research and development?
  • Am I losing money because I have not made a decision?

The bottom line is still the bottom line. That is why we all do what we do. So, deciding on a POS solution is just like any other business decision. The result of the decision needs to increase the bottom line through:

  1. Gained Efficiencies (speed of service)
  2. Reduced Losses (inventory and pricing controls)
  3. Increased Repeat Revenues (targeted marketing based on POS data)
  4. Low Risk (little-to-no upfront investment or commitment by merchant)
  5. Shared Goals (partnership between merchant and POS vendor focused on growth)

If a merchant can find these five attributes in a POS solution, I feel it is safe to say the merchant has found a wise investment in place of what is often misconstrued as a significant cost.

Time to Get Rid of the Register?

Cash registers at point of sale (POS) are certainly not all in the recycling bin yet, but many major companies are quickly moving to iPod POS cash drawers as their POS checkout and payment solution.

With an estimated 550 million people paying with mobile devises by 2016, shop keepers may want to start planning now for a switch from ka-ching to swipe. Of course, there will always be those consumers who pay in cash, who don’t have a credit or debit card, who want the personal interaction at the point of sale, or who simply don’t have a smart device (gasp!), so the register is far from , mobsolete.

Some stores have already made the switch. Barney’s New York, Urban Outfitters, JC Penney, Starbucks, Seattle Seahawks, Finish Line, the Apple store, even Wal-Mart have introduced people-less checkouts to their businesses. For some, it’s a cost-saving strategy; for others, a way to tap into the technological mindset of their younger patrons. It’s time-saving for customers; no more standing in line. At one Finish Line’s store, for example, a young jogger paid for her shoes as soon as she had tried them on, still sitting in the chair.

Freeing valuable counter space is another benefit, as well as cost of the equipment. Apple’s iPads with credit-card readers cost around $1,500, compared to $4,000 for a cash register. Additionally, this payment method is akin to shopping on line, which has a comfort level for many consumers. Of course there are pros and cons, but for businesses considering an iPod or iTouch checkout system, here are some to consider.

Square, for example, arguably the largest mobile POS option, chose an iPad stand designed by Heckler Design. Heckler’s full-fledged cash drawer is called the Windfall, and is sold as part of its Modern Shop Hardware line. With a clean, low profile design available in multiple colors including stainless steel, it’s a modern and aesthetic addition to a store’s functional décor.

ShopKeep.com offers a full POS solution as an alternative to Square for Windfall. Their Star Micronics DK-AirCash wireless cash drawer control and receipt printers will be part of a Heckler bundled solution.

The Vasario 1313 cash drawer by APG integrates with tablet, thin or Mobile POS applications. According to a recent company media release, it is ideally suited in retail operations that are looking for a compact solution to integrate into new or existing mobile POS environments. Features include US and Euro compatible till options, black and beige color options, a standard two year warranty, and APG’s 320 (24v) and 420 (12v) interface options.

Merchant Warehouse has partnered with e-Nabler’s eMobilePOS to bring its Genius platform to mobile POS systems and devices. With Genius, eMobilePOS turns the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a consumer-facing POS system that accepts any payment type and enhances customer interaction. The software integrates with existing popular accounting, ERP, POS or proprietary systems, including inventory control and access to real-time sales analytics, and is customizable. Genius also offer loyalty-building incentives and offers.