VeriFone Releases Revolutionary Portable Payment Terminal VX 690

Bluetooth, 3G and Wi-Fi communications enable merchants to accept all types of payments in any environment with a sleek handheld terminal

VeriFone Systems, Inc. announced the VX 690—its first handheld EMV-capable payment terminal featuring Bluetooth, 3G radio and Wi-Fi connectivity for fast transactions and flexible payment capabilities.  The terminal’s size, design and multiple connection capabilities meets merchants’mobile point of sale (mPOS) demands—especially in North America, Australia and parts of Asia—where 3G connectivity is increasingly required for payment device acceptance.

“It is no secret that merchants increasingly want a user experience that parallels that of a consumer electronics device,” said Bill Nelson, executive vice president of Global Product Management for VeriFone. “The VX 690 achieves this goal while providing 3G connectivity that is critical in many markets where 2G networks are transitioning to 3G. The user experience of the terminal combined with its robustness, flexibility, and technical communication capabilities will not only enable payments today—it will enable commerce tomorrow.”

Enhanced Communication Flexibility

The VX 690’s Bluetooth, 3G radio and Wi-Fi combination provides fast, wireless payment convenience as well as fewer dropped transactions in virtually every type of merchant environment. Dual SIM functionality enables the terminal to quickly connect to different networks to keep transactions moving, while built-in GPS allows merchants to track the location of every transaction, providing greater visibility into operations and inventory across multiple stores.

The terminal is PCI PTS 3.0 compliant and features built-in security protection that includes end-to-end encryption to protect data at every point of the transaction.

Simple, Consumer Electronic Style Design

The VX 690’s simple, handheld design is similar to consumer technologies and easily fits on countertops and in users’ hands. Its built-in functionality includes:

  • 3.5″ capacitive touch display that allows merchants to enable commerce with marketing messages via video streaming and audio capabilities
  • Single micro-USB connector for added convenience and functionality
  • EMV capability for supporting PIN, Signature, and no Cardholder Verification Method (CVM)
  • NFC capability to support contactless and mobile wallet transactions
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support
  • Peripheral capability for potential future expansion, including biometric scanner/barcode reader

“Virtually all consumers use portable technologies providing enormous capabilities in their day-to-day lives. Using these technologies has become second nature, not only because of their practicality, but because they present advanced functionality in a brilliant, yet simple package that is easy to use,” said Nelson. “The VX 690’s purpose-driven design merges advanced, secure mPOS capabilities with the type of sleek and simplistic form factor that is familiar to consumers and can help merchants improve the customer experience.”

The VX 690 from VeriFone is expected to be available in late 2014.

How Can Retailers Provide a Cohesive Brick-and-Mortar and Online Experience?

While cyber sales have started to overshadow window shopping, retailers cannot neglect their brick-and-mortar locations. As the e-commerce boom continues, retailers should focus on their competitive advantage—being able to provide superior customer service—to create a seamless brand to customer experience. By finding that leg-up to co-exist with online sales and mobile shopping, retailers can control the brand image that resonates with customers.

Let’s take a look at the most recent holiday shopping season, where sales account for between 20 and 40 percent of typical retailers’ total annual sales. Although one quarter of Americans surveyed said they never miss or usually visit at least one store on Black Friday, in-store sales were down by 3 percent, or $1.7 billion. However, the season wasn’t a total flop: online shoppers—a record breaking 66 million—were accountable for $1.2 billion in retail sales, up 15 percent over last year (National Retail Foundation).

Taking this consumer behavior into consideration, retailers are working to create a seamless experience when conducting business and serving customers, meaning:  streamlining where inventory can be searched, bought, returned and exchanged; brand planning and merchandising; and sales support and branding all under one roof: enter the omni-channel experience.

Consumers don’t see the walls that retailers are trying to break down as different channels; they only interpret the ease or enhancement retailers are making to benefit their shopping experience—and compare this experience to others that may be lacking these advancements. Retailers who were asked to assess the value of multi- vs. single-channel customers yielded conclusive feedback: consumers that connect with retailers via multiple selling channels are more profitable than ones who don’t.

It’s clear retailers recognize the need for a strong omni-channel offering, however those surveyed identified that not even a single operational process has been fully synchronized. So now that it’s established that merging the digital and physical selling worlds to create enterprise-wide visibility and exude one seamless customer experience is key, the question is: how?

People, processes and technology are all needed to break down these retail barriers and transform store-only models into a new-age brand experience. Agility is a key component to long term success in today’s retail landscape, and implementing new ideas and technology, while training employees to understand it all, can be difficult. Almost every function on the retail floor has some impact or dependency on technology in the data center. By adopting a centralized, command center approach under a single provider’s care, retailers can begin their transition into an omni-channel offering. Cost-effective service desk and support systems for various in-store technologies are able to support thousands of store locations worldwide and manage a wide range of vendors, and exponentially more products.

Employees can assist customers and provide a hands-on experience, while the command center can perform some of the following tasks to keep stores, inventory, planning and merchandising streamlined across all channels.

  • Consolidate in-store technology, such as POS systems and scanners; technology management; incident management and service all under a single provider’s support and care.

  • Proactively monitor in-store technology to keep availability high and mitigate potential breakdowns before they occur

  • Handle all administration, maintenance, system upgrades and patches

  • Available via a hotline for store employees to call if something goes wrong with an in-store system, such as a POS malfunction or a kiosk with a frozen screen

Over the past five years we’ve seen the number of retailers who operate in multiple channels double, so it’s apparent that mastering the omni-channel operation is not a luxury, but a necessity to survive in the retail industry. Upon initial implementation of a command center, we’ve seen the number of technological issues per store per month decrease by 50 percent. From an ongoing, monitoring standpoint, we’ve seen these issues reduced per store by at least an additional 15 percent—across thousands of stores within a chain.

As the adoption of a command center will help move your store forward with immediate fixes like POS malfunctions/upgrades and consolidated technology, a bigger picture solution will need to be applied in the future. By breaking the cycle of comparing online shopping vs. catalogue vs. in-store shopping, the brand’s channels will dissolve into a centralized seamless shopping experience.

Once a store can successfully operate as an omni-channel operation, phase two begins, which includes analyzing the aggregated data from these channels to create a 1:1 relationship with your customer. This means knowing your customers’ preferences, how they like to be communicated with, mobility options, how to promote sales or relevant purchases, payment preferences, and more.

First comes the omni-channel experience, and then comes leveraging big data to create a meaningful customer relationship. Despite technological advances, the bottom line is that brick-and-mortar retailers are here to stay, and now is the time for retailers to act. A command center has many benefits to a retailer as illustrated above, but technology is rapidly changing and retailers need to stay innovative to increase their competitiveness and ensure a smooth transition to omni-channel provider; otherwise they risk being left behind.

Creating Point of Sale Magic – How this POS company does it

There’s no doubt that walking into an Apple store is a magical experience.  And part of that magic is the pleasure of the speedy checkout.   In a conversation with Dax Dasilva, the Founder and CEO of LightSpeed, bringing the Apple magic to small business owners has been his mission for 9 years.

Headquartered in Canada, LightSpeed has offices in New York City, Olympia, WA, Ottawa, Santa Cruz and Sydney.  According to Dasilva, at the present time the company has over 150 employees.
There are two products – one is LightSpeed Pro, which is “Apple-based, on-premise and non-hosted”, and the LightSpeed cloud product, which is hosted. Both versions have an iPad app which puts real-time product and inventory information at the fingertips of employees on the showroom floor.

LightSpeed has installations in thirty countries, is processing over 6 billion dollars a year in transactions, and has been growing exponentially. The business was founded in 2005 when Dasilva, was working at a Apple Mac dealership in Montreal.

Their clients and prospects:
LightSpeed now has about 17,000 clients, up from 7,000 a year ago and some of their larger clients have 40 to 50 stores running on it. About 1,000 of the clients are running on the cloud version.  That’s an outstanding growth rate for a company that’s going on nine years old.  I asked about who the average client was.  Dasilva advised me that typically they upgrade clients from an older system like a Retail Pro or a Quickbooks, although some 40% of their clients are brand new stores.  The average LightSpeed retailer does about $400,000 to $500,000 in annual revenue.  The goal is to double the number of clients again this year. Clients also typically are brick-and-mortar first.

The optimal prospective retailer generally has high value inventory – a niche that contains about 1 million stores, according to their research.    I asked about competitors such as NCR Silver, Shopkeep and Revel and other cloud based companies;  he replied that their typical customers have very different needs and as each of these providers has different capabilities, their customers vary. They do not see them or directly compete with them all that often.

“Typically we have very little churn” said Dasilva,  “people rely on these tools day in and day out to manage and grow their businesses.”  “One of the things we’ve realized is that more is expected of the POS system than ever before.”  “Stores today have to be a destination unto themselves

As to the future,and the need for omni-channel capability; “The younger generation of business owners, the sons and daughters that are taking over, want ecommerce to be a part of their system by default – and they know they need to “Wow” the customer.”

Their regional resellers:
LightSpeed has 300+ trained and certified resellers.   These resellers offer a variety of services including workflow analysis, training, configuration, networking, support, upgrades, web customization and POS hardware.

Investors:
LightSpeed has received over $30 million dollars in funding, most notably in June 2012 from Accel Partners ($30 million)  and later received additional funding from  from local venture capital firm iNovia Capital.

The Apple platform – benefits

The Mac platform offers a number of advantages to retailers including a classy design and interface, something that Lightspeed has invested heavily in.  Many businesses are purchasing Macs because there are security advantages.     Virus written for the Windows PC out number viruses written for the Mac by an enormous factor and the recent hackings at Target and other retailers are raising awareness of the need for more security at the point of sale.

Other notable features of LightSpeed POS

Ecommerce:

Today’s retailers have the need to sell not only with a physical retail location, but also a web presence:    “Even the smaller retailers  have e-commerce on their minds.  They want to open their store AND their website on day one.”  said Dasilva.   To that end LS has built a strong e-commerce platform that makes it very easy to get products up and onto the website – the retailer only has to add photos.   “All sales, whether online or in-store, come back to the same system and inventory is being deducted in real-time, so business owners can do purchasing with confidence.”

Integration with other products:

The product integrates with Perkville  – a customer loyalty program that integrates with LightSpeed Cloud.  Perkville motivates customers to come back as well as tell their friends about your business. It automates retention, referrals and social media.

DirectMailManager.com –  this integration provides the ability to easily produce highly effective, targeted direct mail postcards, that are directly linked to LightSpeed Cloud customer data. Businesses can send 1 or 1000s of thank you and promotional postcards with a click of the mouse.  The add-on increases customer relationships with high quality, tangible postcards and tracks the results.

Pricing:
Both products are sold on a subscription basis, the entry level price is $79 for either product for one station, $134 for 2 stations and $229 for 4 stations.   E-commerce is an additional $49 per month.

How LightSpeed sees the future of point of sale:   
* A store where the front cash register is optional, where all the employees are empowered with mobile devices that allow them to easily manage selling, inventory lookups, and ringing up sales).
• Information on items, consumers, and other analytics are at hand.
• A fully informed consumer has a seamless online to in store transition.
• And a powerful cloud system for business intelligence and management help optimize the business.

According to Dasilva, LightSpeed will continue to evolve with the needs of retailers, but its mission remains the same: to provide the easiest way for serious retailers to build, manage and grow their business.

Best Practices For Today’s Retailer through Secure Mobile Technology

The retail industry has seen a dramatic increase in the use of mobile devices. In order to embrace the rapid evolution of mobility, retailers need to provide secure apps that allow store associates instant access to information and inventory. Retailers using mobile devices for check out and customer needs can process sales more quickly and decrease wait times, while remaining Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. Retailers can implement the below best practices to create a seamless customer experience and a pleasant work environment for all store associates.

Protect customer data
Retailers must meet the requirements of the PCI Data Security Standard, which ensures consumer data is kept secure. The standard includes requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures. Though PCI has not yet released formal requirements for accepting payments with consumer-grade mobile devices, mobile device management (MDM) providers, such as AirWatch, partner with leading sled hardware providers to ensure all mobile transactions are secure and meet PCI’s most recent mobile payment security recommendations. In May 2012, the PCI council released an “At a Glance” document called “Accepting Mobile Payments with a Smartphone or Tablet.” It is likely that the guidelines within this document lay the framework for future requirements.

“PCI requirements can be very specific,” says Karl Ma, director of IT Security for a major fashion company and an AirWatch customer. “For example, requiring a seven character password to log into a device – things like that are not natively supported by most devices, so AirWatch was a must for us. AirWatch provides the security to meet PCI compliance and a lot of other state regulated laws. AirWatch has basically come to our rescue and helped us overcome these barriers, that by default, we couldn’t do on our own. We wouldn’t know how to achieve these compliance requirements without AirWatch.”

Lock down unauthorized browsing on store devices
With a comprehensive enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution, retailers can combat mobile browsing threats by using a secure browser on devices, by whitelisting or blacklisting specific websites, or by setting devices to kiosk mode. With kiosk mode, retailers have the ability to display store websites, self-checkout, inventory management or customer shopping apps for an interactive customer shopping experience. The possibilities to personally interact with customers on in-store devices are endless, but so are risks associated with handing a device to a customer. Secure browsing applications allow retailers to configure customized settings to define and enforce secure browsing policies. Implementing kiosk mode capabilities for customer-facing devices allows each user to pick up a device, enter their own login credentials and upon leaving that device, have that secure information wiped and no longer available to the next user.

Minimize time customers spend in lines
Retailers can ensure faster checkout for customers by providing an omni-channel shopping experience. With an omni-channel shopping experience, customers can interact and engage across several channels and platforms (mobile, online, catalog) simultaneously. An example of providing an omni-channel shopping experience includes enabling the customer to purchase an item using the retailer’s app, providing in-store pick up and the ability to process a return via the retailer’s website. This convenience and flexibility enhances the customer experience, increases sales and decreases wait times. In order to truly provide an omni-channel shopping experience, all channels must be fused together to give the customer a seamless experience.

Maintain up-to-date inventory and product information
With mobile devices, store associates have the ability to securely access documents, product information and current store inventory. In order to securely access these documents, retailers must implement a content repository solution within their mobile deployment. Mobile devices enable store associates to access real-time information, such as multi-media files, planograms, training manuals, HR systems and more. The integration with content repositories also enables retailers to introduce marketing campaigns and promotions to ensure visual consistency and proper brand representation. Retailers using a content repository have fulfilled the store associates’ need for easy access to corporate content and the ability to collaborate with others while in the store. A content repository such as AirWatch Secure Content Locker, delivers anytime, anywhere access for end users with two-way synchronization across devices, along with sharing and editing capabilities. These features ensure the right content is to the right people, anytime and anywhere.

When it comes to adopting any new technology, the less time retailers spend worrying about the security on devices, the more they can focus on driving core business strategies and enhancing customer experience. Therefore, understanding the best mobile practices empowering today’s retailer becomes vital to the mobility strategy. With the right mobility tools and secure real-time access to data, store associates can become very effective and persuasive extensions of an organization’s multi-channel initiation when it matters most, assisting a browsing customer. The retailers who do this well are converting browsing customers into loyal brand ambassadors.

Five Ways to Protect Point of Sale Stations and Networks From Cybercrime

It’s easy to use the latest POS security breach as a reason for business owners to ensure their POS systems are protected from cyber-criminals, but the fact is that these kinds of breaches have been occurring for a long time – even as far back as the incredible T.J. Maxx data theft of 2005.

As these kinds of breaches are still occurring, it’s always a good time to remind merchants who rely on POS systems to conduct business that protecting hardware and software from hackers and other cyber-criminals is vital in the effort to protect their business and customers’ data from falling into the wrong hands.

Two Areas of Vulnerability: Hardware and Software

There are two main ways that criminals steal consumer and business data – one is by affixing a physical device or “skimmer” to POS hardware devices in order to capture card data. The other way is by using malware to gain access to POS networks and get credit and debit card data as it passes through.

Cybercrime Prevention for Your Networks and POS Stations

While there is no “perfect solution” to your POS security, there are plenty of best practices that can be used to increase the security of your networks and the data that flows through them. These best practices include:

Maintaining the Most Up-to-date POS Software:

POS software updates often include important security patches that, if not installed, can leave your POS system vulnerable to malware and other attacks that could put your data at risk. Downloading and installing updates in a timely manner will keep POS networks and hardware far more protected than choosing to do updates quarterly or on some other schedule.

Installing a Firewalls and Anti-virus Software to Protect POS Networks:

POS systems are at constant risk of compromise at the hands of hackers, viruses, spyware and other malware that’s been designed to infiltrate and compromise POS systems. Using a firewall and anti-virus software does not guarantee complete protection, but should nonetheless be used as part of an overall protection system that keeps your POS hardware and network secure.

Creating strong passwords and changing them often:

Unfortunately, POS system installers are prone to using default passwords upon initial setup of online payment processing systems for merchants and not changing the passwords to something more secure. Using the default password makes life easy for the installers, but these passwords are fairly easy for criminals to obtain. Using complex, computer-generated passwords and unique account names are highly recommended. It’s also advisable to change passwords on a regular basis.

Denying Internet Access from POS Stations and Terminals:

When you restrict POS computers and terminals from accessing the Internet, you protect them from exposure and potential security threats such as viruses and other malware. POS systems should be connected only for necessary POS activities and should not be used for any general Internet usage. One click on a malware- infected site by an employee on a POS device could be disastrous for a business.

Disabling all Remote Access:

While it’s convenient to allows users such as IT personnel and administrators to remotely access a system without being physically in front of the terminal, cyber-criminals have ways of exploiting remote-access connections on POS systems to access data on these networks. To prevent access to these networks and data, disable remote access to your POS networks.

Doing these five things doesn’t ensure absolute security. However, these five steps will ensure that you are far less likely to suffer an attack at the hands of a cyber-criminal. Aside from these technical precautions, merchants should also be educating their employees about proper use of POS systems and signs that security has been breached.

Solutions Provider Introduces First mPOS App for Windows Phone

The transition from mag stripe to chip & pin cards is scheduled to take place in the US by the end of 2015. With credit and debit card fraud on the rise, chip & pin cards offer more security. Accommodating the new technology will require new mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices. Europe is leading the way with chip & pin cards already in widespread use, and JUSP has met the need for continuously improving mPOS devices.

At the upcoming MWC (Mobile World Congress), JUSP will demo the first chip & pin, all-in-one mPOS solution for a Windows phone. The app is also compatible with a PC. According to JUSP CEO Stefano Calderano, PC integration is important because “we want to give our merchants even more flexibility.” Calderano says that flexibility and maximizing opportunities are the most important aspects in a mPOS solution. They have already had some success, recently signing a large insurance company, who will use the app to sell insurance directly to clients in their homes. This is an example of an untraditional use of mPOS, and the potential for opportunities like this continue to increase. Nokia also chose the JUSP app, from a worldwide selection, for their financial services, which they will demonstrate at the MWC.

About 20 percent of mPOS solutions in Europe are advanced, while 80 percent still use traditional methods. The market changes quickly, from month to month even, and it falls on solutions providers to meet the challenge. According to Calderano, JUSP is talking to several players about expanding. Their main focus is on the merchant market, targeting micro-merchants, but large corporations are also being sought. They are looking at Africa and Southeast Asia, with less competition and a greater range of opportunities. For example, Nigeria and Italy have approximately the same number of cards in use, but Italy has approximately 1.5 million POS machines, whereas Nigeria has about 30,000. They are also “looking closely at what is happening in the US market.” According to Calderano, this is a rare example of where Europe is more technologically advanced than the US, and the emerging opportunities should be taken advantage of. “Even if the switch from mag stripe to chip & pin takes money, it’s a good thing in general,” Calderano claims. The switch to chip & pin “will change the rules of the game.”

What to Expect

The JUSP app for Windows is in the finishing stages of certification and will launch first in Italy in a few weeks. Here’s what you can expect to see in the app:

  • The first screen shows the most popular products, which the merchant can download from the app or from the desktop.JUSP3
  • The second screen provides a space to enter in custom prices, for example, for a taxi, which always has variable prices.
  • The third screen shows the whole catalog with prices, better for small shops or other sellers with fixed prices and inventory.
  • Another interesting option with JUSP is that you can also provide an online shop, with the same prices or different, customized to meet your needs.
  • There will be an opportunity to integrate with existing software.

About JUSP

JUSP (an abbreviation of JUSt Pay), was founded in November 2011 and is a mPOS solutions provider that markets directly to merchants, but also to private contractors. Jusp is a card reader with a chip that can be connected to any smart device through an audio jack or USB. An application, which can be downloaded for free, receives the data and manages the processes. This square device measures around 7cm per side and is very light. At present, applications have been developed for Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

Hospitals Integrate iPad Kiosks for Streamlined Operations

Hospitals are increasingly looking for ways to reduce labor costs, improve staff efficiency, and provide personal attention to patients without the distractions of data entry and paperwork. A solution embraced by many hospitals across the country is the iPad, loaded with system-specific apps and able to produce information at the touch of a finger.

The most appropriate “accessory” for this great tool is the iPad kiosk, a versatile frame that securely and conveniently holds the iPad in the most appropriate location for hospital staff use. In many instances, it is attached directly to a hospital’s diagnostic computer, where patient data can be integrated into an existing database for a more comprehensive picture of patient status. A floor-mounted stand might hold the iPad for quick patient check-in, while a counter-mounted stand might offer best access for hospital personnel.

One interesting use of the kiosk can be found in the Changi General Hospital in Singapore. The touch-screen kiosk there helps visitors and patients (and possibly new hospital staff) find their way through the facility.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston gathers basic patient information via computer prior to a visit to the physician. The doctor can then access the patient’s most current information with an iPad before and during the patient’s visit. This saves time for the doctor, but also for the patient, thus increasing customer satisfaction for the facility and its attending physicians.

New York Methodist Hospital has iPads mounted on kiosks next to EKG and other diagnostic machines. The new system has been embraced by nurses and technicians as a great time-saver; and has proven a convenient tool for doctors, as an access point to all patient data for analysis and diagnosis.

Hospitals across the country, and in many instances, the world, are using the iPad and kiosk to reduce labor costs, improve staff productivity, and allow staff to provide more personal service. Studies, including one produced by Summit Research Associates, have also found that this method would “reduce paperwork and eliminate many human input errors.”

As noted by Medtronic, the iPad offers three primary benefits for use in hospitals: economic, with greater sales productivity, overall cost savings and reduction in waste; clinical outcomes, to help patients better manage their health; and societal impact, to help patients better understand their health conditions and seek the therapies they need. By partnering the iPadwith a secure, convenient and attractive mounting kiosk, the tool becomes an integrated component of a hospital’s operational direction.

Mobile Shopping Solution Streamlines Sales for Event Crowds

Retail stores rarely rely on just one sales channel to succeed. In fact, due to fierce competition from big box retailers and e-commerce giants, survival can depend on creating more sales channels. Whether it’s pop-up shops, a shop on wheels, or selling at events, these additional avenues can be crucial to a retailer’s revenue, but not without some hurdles. Out-of-store sales activities force a retailer to devise a plan when it comes to inventory, payments, and if they’re lucky, dealing with long lines.

Isha is an organization that hosts fifteen major events during the year, showcasing their unique yoga programs and selling yoga-related products during session breaks. With each event attracting nearly 1000 attendees, Isha Shoppe processes hundreds of orders in just minutes. That’s a good problem to have, but the sudden rush of shoppers can create long lines and frustrated customers. So Isha needed a solution to help streamline event sales and ensure their shoppers walk away happy.

Goals

Give shoppers an easier way to shop at events
Most of Isha Shoppe’s annual product sales come from selling at large scale events throughout the year. Isha ships products to the events, creating an on-site “warehouse” to fulfill orders, and sets up a showroom displaying one of every item available for attendees to purchase. During thirty-minute breaks between sessions, shoppers browse the display items and write down the product codes of items they’d like purchase on order forms. Isha staff use these forms to prepare orders for pick-up at the conclusion of the event.ShoppinPal Receipt

Isha Shoppe wanted a faster and easier way for shoppers to submit and staff to fulfill the orders.

Offer fast and secure checkout that decreases wait time
When the day’s events are winding down, attendees who have purchased items from Isha Shoppe stand in line to pay for and pick up their items. Even with multiple registers, long lines form. Isha must process hundreds of credit card transactions and give shoppers their merchandise.

Since session breaks and the windows to shop are brief, some customers want to take more time to shop at the end of the event. But because of the long wait times for picking up items ordered during session breaks earlier in the day, shoppers must get in line to pick up their items before leaving the event, with Isha Shoppe losing these end-of-day sales.

Isha wanted a solution to streamline the checkout process in order to cut down waiting time and capture lost sales.

Solution

Isha uses Vend POS for both its brick & mortar locations and its event sales, and it was important that the solution they chose worked with its existing POS setup.

Isha Shoppe chose ShoppinPal to help streamline both the ordering and checkout processes. ShoppinPal is a mobile commerce app that’s integrated with various POS systems and is designed to enhance the shopping experience inside brick & mortar stores, but can also be used for selling merchandise at events with in-app purchasing and e-receipt functionalities.

Results

Ordering made easy
The display items in Isha Shoppe’s showroom do not have barcodes, but instead have tags with unique product codes. Although ShoppinPal supports barcode scanning, Isha shoppers typed in a product code from an item’s tag to instantly display the product information for easy ordering.

This was important for Isha for a couple reasons: 1) Shoppers didn’t have to manually write down each product code and give it to the staff, which cut down the risk of shopper and staff errors. And 2) instead of processing credit card transactions at the end of the event, shoppers could instantly complete their purchase inside ShoppinPal by taking a picture of their credit card or paying with PayPal. All that was left to do was for the staff to hand over the items at the end of the day.

A streamlined pickup process
Before using ShoppinPal, Isha event attendees ended the day by standing in a long line waiting their turn to pay and pick up their items ordered during session breaks throughout the event. Customers that used ShoppinPal to order their items and pay by phone entered a fast-moving “Express Lane” to simply pick up their bag. Since the shoppers paid as they shopped, the Isha Shoppe staff was relieved of taking credit card payments at the counter, and instead just looked up the customer by name, order number, or event registration number in the point-of-sale system and gave the customer their items.

The last thing attendees want after relaxing sessions offered by Isha is a frustrating checkout experience to end their day. Skipping a long line to simply pick up their items helped mitigate the chance of unhappy customers.

“We use ShoppinPal to speed up the checkout process at events and it works great. It’s like providing our customers a self-checkout register as they are browsing,” said Raajiv Ravi of Isha Shoppe.

Point of Sale System for Farm & Feed Supply

Red Barn Feed & Supply Inc. serves Palm Beach County, located at the heart of a large equestrian area in Florida. Jerry and Betty Case established Red Barn in 1989, originally specializing in horse feed, hay and shavings. Now, as with many farm and feed stores across the nation, Red Barn has grown to provide anything a farmer or his animals might need. Red Barn sells feed, grooming, housing, and bedding products for practically any animal, including house pets, livestock, and exotic pets. They market a wide range of apparel for animal owners, including boots, jeans, shirts and accessories. Red Barn also provides fencing and lawn care products in their now 20,000 square foot retail space.

It is common for farming communities to rely heavily upon their local farm and feed store. For such a business, keeping up with the needs of the animal population and their owners is no easy task. A robust point of sale system suited to the needs of this niche business is central to success. When it comes to the day to day challenges that farm and feed stores face, there are some issues that any retailer must confront: controlling inventory, cash management, customer service, and payment processing. In addition to these common challenges, farm and feed stores like Red Barn have unique needs that require a special breed of POS.

Red Barn Feed & Supply recently upgraded their point of sale to POSexpress by POS Prophet Systems, a fully integrated suite that manages their POS, inventory control, customer management, gift and loyalty, accounts receivable and financial reporting. This case study will demonstrate the ways that POSexpress meets the common demands of retail, as well as the specialized demands of a farm and feed store.

There are five general ways that a farm and feed store such as Red Barn benefits from a well-designed POS system.

      1. Inventory Control

        For businesses such as Red Barn, tracking the thousands of unique products sold, without a POS system, would be time-consuming and tedious. The ability to bar code and scan bar coded items at the POS terminal streamlines the processes of checkout, shipment arrival, and physical inventory time. The reduction in error gives the store owner full control over those processes at all times.

      2. Speed of Service

        Attentive and efficient customer service is key. Especially during peak periods, getting customers through the checkout line quickly helps maintain the existing customer base and makes a good impression on new visitors. A POS system should provide enough speed and accuracy to produce transaction times of one to three seconds.

      3. Customer Accounts Receivable

        Many Farm and Feed stores like Red Barn extend special charging privileges to loyal customers and large farms. The ability to provide internal accounts receivable and invoicing allows for fast and efficient management of all accounts.

      4. Cash Controls

        A good POS system makes daily reconciliation a breeze. Integrated payment processing makes electronic payments error-free, and provides tools to reduce the risk of error for cash transactions. Security features are built in that promote the accountability of every operator and every transaction. Robust reports also help store owners quickly reconcile every till.

      5. Accuracy/Efficiency

        A well-designed point of sale system completely eliminates pricing errors. It also offers real time information so that purchasing and staffing decisions can be based on accurate POS data and intelligent analysis.

In addition to these benefits, farm and feed supply stores such as Red Barn also require their POS to include several unique capabilities.

      1. Integrate a hybrid merchant concept, that would support a mixture of scanned merchandise and services or weighed bulk material. The easy to use touch screen buttons and scale integration provided by POSexpress fulfilled this need.

      2. Include customer tracking for tax exemptions, accounts receivable, transaction retrieval, and tiered pricing based on volume, frequency of visit, etc.

      3. Sophisticated automation in the ordering process. As mentioned above, Red Barn’s inventory includes equipment, supplies, feed, seed, apparel, pet supplies, décor, etc. The ability to monitor and re-stock such a massive array of inventory is necessary for maximizing the ROI on that inventory.

      4. Provide internal communication capabilities. Similar to the way restaurants need to send orders to the back kitchen, a farm and feed store will often process orders at the front of the store (checkout station), while needing to fulfill that order from the back of the store (or the warehouse). POSexpress solves this problem by allowing remote printing to the warehouse, so Mr. Smith’s order of horse feed can be ready to load on his truck by the time he finishes paying.

      5. Strengthen external communication capabilities with email/SMS components, based on POS purchase history, to keep the client base informed and coming back to the store at the right time. Automated POS systems let feed store owners communicate with customers based on the topics and items in which they have already shown interest.

Red Barn’s owner, Beck Hyslop, is pleased with the new POS system. He says, “One thing I’ve noticed is that it is easier to find information, like if I need to find a specific sale, then the new system makes that a lot easier.”

When asked what the most significant difference was for him, he replied, “To me, the most important thing is customer service. With a POS System there is always someone there to help you out. You can call, and someone always answers. They will go in and look at the system with you and help you solve the problem.”

Mobile Wallet Not Going To Displace EMV

Innovations in mobile technology have made smartphones our go-to source for nearly all activities from search, to location pinning and sharing, and most recently, payments. According to Forrester Research Inc., mobile payments reached $12.84 billion in 2012 and will grow 601% to $90.05 billion in 2017. Meanwhile analyst firm Gartner reports that mobile payment transaction values will reach $235.4 billion in 2013, a 44 percent increase from 2012 values of $163.1 billion. Assuming that the finals figure for the whole of 2013 will be accurate, this certainly puts mobile payment usage into context.

The explosion of smartphone ownership in the United States continues, reaching nearly 65 percent in 2013 according to Nielson research, and leading many industry experts to predict ‘the death of the card.’ This prediction often brings skepticism as to the value of migration to the EMV chip card standard. Supporting the notion that the card will not yet die, comScore reported that there were one billion credit and debit cards in circulation in the United States in 2012 – approximately three cards for every person. However, hype around digital wallet usage and uptake belies the reality – mobile payments are very much an emerging and fragmented technology, which is not evolving at anywhere near the rate required to invalidate EMV.

With the digital wallet skepticism and consumer attachment to cards lies the fact that credit cards are a somewhat trusted and familiar method of payment, and despite truncated adoption times for new technology, consumers are generally change averse. This reluctance is compounded by the fragmented and confusing mobile payment landscape. With underlying network operators, financial institutions, new generation payment providers such as PayPal and Square, and now big players such as Apple, all competing for a piece of the ‘mobile payments pie’, we are facing a huge ecosystem of divorced, incompatible, media-hyped technologies. In addition, network operators and handset manufacturers have been fighting for a larger percentage of the transaction.

The benefits of NFC for the card issuers are clear – reduced costs in both distributing physical cards, and customer support, particularly around ‘lost or stolen’ issues due to the capacity for immediate revocation. For the consumer, it’s not so clear where the efficiencies and appeal lie over a conventional wallet or cards as it’s typically security and ease of use as top concerns when thinking about payments. As with many innovations, it could be argued that we are looking at a technology in search of a use case.

Retailers cannot afford to delay their migration to EMV for fear that the technology will be redundant in the face of mobile payment uptake. As mPOS becomes much more mature, retailers need to take a serious look into solutions that provide a practical way forward rather than a theoretical one. For most retailers, cost is often a consideration which the average being around 2.7% per transaction, according to Ovum.  However, some of the short-term solutions aren’t the best ones and might not be able to scale or provide the secure infrastructure for larger big box retailers.

Another argument is that the SIM or a Secure Element within the phone will bring equal security benefits to the EMV Chip in the physical card. Although this is true, the mobile wallet trend is in its extreme infancy. Card usage is certainly changing, with the advent of mPOS (mobile-point-of sale) technology leading to card acceptance possible in a diverse range of new environments. However, rather than being a battle between mobile and EMV, the likelihood is that we are moving towards a future where they will sit alongside each other. Consumer choice is a powerful master, and will lead to the development of point-of-sale terminals that will accept contact and contactless EMV cards as well as NFC mobile payments.

Consumer trust is a major driver when it comes to innovation in payments, which in turn hinges on security. As the United States continues its move to EMV, it is not only taking a crucial step towards reducing payment fraud, but laying the foundations for a new era in payment technology.

We’re heading for perpetual change in the mobile payments landscape that we’ll see throughout our lifetimes. Technology is moving at such a rapid pace that there’ll always be innovation and that trend will continue upward. At the moment, it’s important to keep in mind that, although the technology is moving rapidly, many solutions fundamentally rely on a credit and debit card transactions. What we’ll continue to see are more efficient ways of moving money from an individual account into a merchant’s account. At the end of day, it’s about simplicity and cost.

Nowadays, when you think about a rapid transaction, cash is still probably the fastest way to pay unless you’re in a transportation environment. When you’re paying for a newspaper, coffee or dinner, cash is simple and easy. The industry as a whole will continue to look for ways to make other payment methods much faster and it’s exciting to see what’s next to challenge the technology landscape and ensure the solutions that are implemented can stand the test of time and adjust to our constantly changing landscape.