Accomplish more on the floor with mobile POS solutions

Technology is no longer just a means to an end – it’s become incredibly personal. Today, people regard their mobile devices less as tools and more as extensions of themselves; they identify with them, express themselves through them, and use them to form deeper relationships. So it stands to reason that new, mobile Point of Sale (POS) technologies hold significant power to make connections – and make sales – on the store floor.  

Is it really necessary for retailers to have more than a Point of Sale device or access to inventory? It is, because many of your competitors have already discovered how emerging in-store technologies, especially a new generation of mobile tools, can improve customer experiences in- and out-of-store. Mobile POS devices are no longer just a tool for micro-merchants to accept card payments. Increasingly, large U.S. and global retailers are equipping associates with smartphones and tablets that let them respond to customer needs from the sales floor.

The 2014 National Retail Federation Big Show validated that the in-store customer experience should be a huge priority for retailers. Specifically, the volume turned up on discussions around technology’s power to help with this, a departure from recent years where the focus has been more on solutions for inventory and supply chain management. Experts at the event said that the current focus on in-store technologies is driven by two major retail realities:

  • Retailers who in recent years have heavily invested in back-end supply chain technologies are now ready to direct resources toward customer-facing operations.
  • Fierce competition from online channels that offer vast product selections and free shipping is compelling brick-and-mortars to ramp up their customer service processes. Offline stores are realizing that they must do everything possible to improve the variables that can make or break the in-store experience, including register wait times, access to product information, and higher-touch personalized service.
  • Line-busting. During busy periods, associates can reduce the average time spent in a checkout line by processing transactions on a mobile POS device, while customers are standing in queue.
  • Flexible sales environments. For special promotional events, such as sidewalk sales or warehouse clearances, as well as “pop-up” stores, mobile POS eliminates the time, cost and complexity of having to set up conventional registers or move bulky merchandise.
  • Incomparable service. Mobility empowers associates to stay with a customer as the individual moves through the store, supporting the entire shopping experience, from merchandise requests through payment.
  • Inventory lookup. Associates on the floor can answer customer queries about pricing and product availability across the enterprise. They can also do physical inventory counts and cycle counts on fast-moving products.

How does mobile POS trump traditional POS?
Historically, POS equipment has provided value to retailers, but this technology has had limits. With traditional POS, retail associates are tied to fixed locations in the store. Associates are equipped to complete transactions but their ability to assist customers with their purchasing decisions is stifled. Today, mobile devices are omni-present and people have become very comfortable using them to find information and communicate on-the-go, so much so, that retailers using them to enable store associates to better service customers on the sales floor should come as no surprise.

With recent advances in wireless technology, portable handheld POS systems are providing smart retailers with improved ways to serve customers, improve the shopping experience, and streamline inventory and back office functions. The key differentiator from legacy POS systems is the ability for associates using a mobile POS device to truly connect with customers at the most pivotal point – before they arrive at the counter to pay.

Mobile POS can be used in ways that contribute to a consistent brand experience across all customer touch points. This allows a retailer to offer an omni-channel experience without having to sacrifice the brand message based on the channel the customer is trying to shop. Prior to mobile POS tools, retail associates weren’t given the tools that empowered them to fully respond to the full range of customer needs, desires and questions, while still on the floor. Now they are with mobile-enabled capabilities and benefits like:

In addition to these customer-facing advantages, mobile POS solutions deliver operational benefits to retailers. For example, a wireless POS can generate additional savings by cutting hardware costs and, without the need for as much landlocked POS space, can open up valuable floor space to make room for more product promotions and smoother traffic flow. And because mobile POS operates on the network like any other POS system and connects directly into back office applications, associates have access to data for business intelligence, supply chain analytics, work flow processes, shipping and receiving, and inventory management, without compromising the time they spend on the floor serving the customers’ needs.

A retail revolution
Stores that have reduced their traditional POS systems in favor of mobile POS are already realizing greater customer satisfaction, something that makes perfect sense considering our increasingly mobile way of life. Customers are empowered by the information they have access to through their mobile devices and are accustomed to being communicated with in a near real-time manner. Missing out on mobile POS could mean missing out on significant opportunities: to streamline the shopping experience, make the sale, and most importantly, engage with customers in the relevant and convenient manner they’ve come to expect. It is important to remember, however, that the increase in use of mobile POS does not mean that we will see traditional POS systems entirely phased out. There are other aspects to consider, some of them social, and many people are still most comfortable when they have a counter to go pay at. There also needs to be a station to store bags and other items, so wrap desks will never disappear completely. This is an opportunity for retailers to reduce the number of service desks and increase mobility using mPOS, while ensuring that it integrates seamlessly with your traditional POS system.

Mobile POS/Scanner is now Visa Ready

Infinite Peripherals, Inc. (IPC), the leading developer of mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) devices, has been approved by the Visa Ready  Program, which indicates that the company’s popular Linea Pro 5 and Infinea Tab 4 mobile peripherals meet Visa’s requirements for a reliable, convenient and secure mPOS experience.

The Linea Pro 5 and Infinea Tab 4 equip the Apple® iPhone, iPod touch® or iPad with
an encrypted MSR, barcode scanner and Bluetooth® chip for use with custom software for mPOS and other merchant operations. The first mobile Secure Card Read (SCR) iOS solutions to have earned PCI PTS 3.1 SRED approval, the Linea Pro 5 and Infinea Tab 4 can be valuable parts of a merchant’s compliance with the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

“Infinite Peripherals is aligned with Visa’s rigorous security requirements, and our mPOS devices are fully tested and approved with PCI PTS 3.1 SRED,” said Jennifer Brown, strategic relationship and program manager at IPC. “Security is a primary focus for IPC, and the Visa Ready Program is an important way to differentiate our hardware solutions.”

Payment security is paramount, and merchants using IPC’s Linea Pro5 and Infinea Tab 4 can be assured that transactions are reliable and compliant with Visa’s security requirements.

Promoting Electronic Payments

Introduced in 2013, the Visa Ready Program enables hardware manufacturers and mobile application software developers to ensure that their devices or applications are compatible with Visa’s requirements to initiate or accept Visa payments. Furthermore, the program is a framework for collaboration with Visa, along with guidance and best practices to access the power of the Visa network.

About Infinite Peripherals

Since 1993, Infinite Peripherals, Inc. (IPC) has been fueling mobility with cutting-edge mobile peripheral devices, receipt printers, mechanisms and receipt printer-related components. Numerous major retailers in the United States are moving to mobile POS with IPC’s Linea Pro and Infinea Tab, helping to transform shopping, drive traffic and increase customer conversion rates. Anticipating trends and pre-empting solutions for a constantly evolving business landscape, IPC enhances operations in retail and other industries, including healthcare, hospitality, transportation, warehouse and logistics, entertainment and security.

An Instant Loyalty Program For Small Merchants

What if you’re a small merchant, maybe a single store operation or a small chain, and you want to offer a loyalty program because, well, loyalty programs really work.   However, the challenges of a loyalty program for smaller companies are well documented, numerous and not so easy to overcome.

To execute a loyalty program effectively, a business owner has to design one and stick with it.  It has to last for years, because it may take customers that long to earn a reward, and they will be angry and disappointed if you abandon the program before they’ve had a chance to get a reward.

Second, a business owner has to invest in cards or building an app (very costly and time consuming).   Also, customers are already loaded with apps, and key tags, and membership cards. The last thing they want is yet another card to remember.

A third problem is training employees on the program and even when you give out cards (like a frequent buyer card), the business has to take an extra step of asking for and then logging customer information.   It can cause employee frustration and management headaches.

Well, this is where AppCard comes in to make life simple.  AppCard is a program that any merchant can implement without tears.

I tried AppCard a few months ago.  I didn’t quite get it at first.  It took a while to get my arms around the idea, but once I read through their website, watched the video and played with the app, it totally clicked.

It boils down to this: AppCard is perfect for small chains and solo merchants who want the power of a real loyalty program without all the hassle.

Once a merchant signs up with AppCard, his customers can join by downloading the app, which works on Apple, Android and the web.   By using AppCard, the merchant avoids the pain of hiring  programming to build his own app and maintain it or support it.

A merchant doesn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to print up and give away key tags or membership cards – which many of us take home and quickly forget about.    No, it is very simple.  Once customers put the app on their phone, they can use their phone number to check in at the store.

AppCard can work in conjunction with Epson’s OmniLink printer and automatically capture points earned/dollars spent by a customer.  No other interaction is needed.

Other benefits I saw: small merchant associations – like a “downtown” merchant association, (here in Sarasota we have St. Armands Circle – a collection of high end small stores) can band together to help promote the same loyalty program, thereby encouraging the user to participate even more frequently.

Rewards are easy to set and end-users can be targeted for promotion.   The company offers 90+ reports for analyzing consumer behavior.

A Digital receipts feature allows customers to have a receipt emailed directly to them instead getting eight or ten inches of thermal paper.   This is surely the next big thing in retail.  I find myself getting about 100 feet of receipts a month and it’s truly absurd.  A solution like AppCard can save vendors money and earn customer respect by being progressive and “green”.

A few other features I found attractive:
– Merchants can reward customers whether they pay by cash, credit or debit card
– The app can display a digital storefront for each merchant.
– It’s a source of leads because customers who carry the app can find other businesses who participate right in the app.
– Can be set up in less than 20 minutes.

AppCard has an impressive group of lead investors including:  Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, Jerry Yang (co founder of Yahoo), Peter Thiel (cofounder and former CEO of PayPal and Yair Goldfinger of ICQ.

QikServe integrates with MICROS ordering and payment app ready for mass adoption

Mobile technology company QikServe today announced that its mobile ordering app is now available through the hosted MICROS Commerce Platform™ (MCP) from MICROS, a leading provider of information technology solutions for the hospitality and retail industries.

Customers using MICROS for point-of-sale can now extend their system to include QikServe’s mobile ordering and payment service, providing an end-to-end mobile solution from customer order through to fulfillment and back-end systems. This means that hospitality businesses can now provide customers with the choice to order and pay for food and drink through their smartphones seamlessly through their existing POS system.

Integration with POS systems has been identified as a key hurdle to widespread adoption of mobile ordering solutions, which typically require businesses to use additional hardware, such as tablets or wireless printers.

“We are pleased to be able to provide our customers with QikServe mobile ordering functionality. With QikServe, hospitality operators can offer their customers more choice in how they order and pay for their purchases,” said Tim Brown, SVP eCommerce at MICROS.

“The integration between QikServe and MICROS is another step forward in bringing mobile ordering and payment technology to the masses,” said Ronnie Forbes, CEO, QikServe.

About MICROS Systems, Inc.
MICROS Systems, Inc. provides leading enterprise-wide applications, services and hardware for the hospitality and retail industries. Serving an extensive portfolio of clients worldwide, MICROS solutions are utilized in hotels, casinos, table and quick service restaurants, retail, leisure and entertainment, fuel and convenience, cruise, and travel operations in more than 180 countries, and on all seven continents. MICROS combines its industry knowledge and expertise to provide cloud-based, mobile and on premise solutions that allow its clients to streamline operations and successfully engage their customers.

MICROS applications include point of sale, property management, central systems, business intelligence, eCommerce, loyalty, CRM, loss prevention, distributed order management, labor management, inventory management, and merchandise planning solutions. MICROS services include hosting and SaaS, platform implementation and integration, strategic business consulting, interactive marketing, design services including creative and user experience, and managed services.

About QikServe
Mobile technology specialist, QikServe was founded in 2011 by a team of mobile self-service experts. The company’s goal is to radically change and improve the ordering experience for customers by providing a mass adoption self-serve system. As a business QikServe is dedicated to providing integrated solutions and driving engagement and loyalty through the consumer device. The QikServe system has been deployed across the UK and United States in restaurants, bars, hotels, sports stadiums, airports and tradeshows.

NCR Silver Combines Functionality, Ease of Use, to Simplify Mobile POS Experience

From retail shops to chocolatiers, cafés, restaurants, food trucks and even farms, NCR Silver is proving to be the right fit for a myriad of small businesses looking to use an integrated mobile POS for more than just payments.

In fact, NCR Silver is doing for small businesses what NCR has done for large retailers for more than 100 years – providing the necessary tools and capabilities to manage and grow a successful business. Silver keeps these tools simple, allowing small business owners to focus on servicing customers and growing their businesses rather than managing technology.

This ease of use, combined with solid retail experience is especially important to customers like John Masek, co-founder of Oregon-based Bricks & Minifigs, the largest aftermarket Lego store in the country.

“When I was looking for a point of sale for Bricks & Minifigs, I wanted a name I could trust,” Masek said. “With 130 years of experience behind them, I knew the NCR brand could deliver.”

Accepting many forms of payment including credit cards, checks, cash and mobile payments, NCR Silver is an iPad solution that gives small merchants the ability to track sales and profitability, customize automated email marketing programs and sell anywhere. The mobile POS also includes essential back office reports and dashboards to provide small businesses with a 24/7 view of their locations.

Customers like Masek rely on integrated customer marketing capabilities, like bulk emails and reports, because they are easy to set up and provide valuable insights into how marketing campaigns impact sales. The built-in loyalty program makes it easy for all types of businesses to reward customers at checkout, by eliminating the need for paper punch cards.

In addition, redeeming points is effortless for because the information all shows up on the POS at checkout.

For many family-owned businesses, a user-friendly, cloud-based POS also ensures they don’t have to spend extra hours in their stores reviewing and analyzing sales reports.

For example, the owners of Aly’s Applesin Texas wanted to start a business that centered on traditions, quality products and a flexible, family-centric lifestyle.

Taking a homemade caramel recipe and combining it with apples and chocolate turned out to be a great place to start for the Deason family, which started its business following the birth of their daughter, Aly, in 2009.

Fast forward to 2014, and now Aly’s Apples has four retail locations throughout Texas, all using NCR Silver POS with multi-store capabilities.

“We’re one of the largest resellers in Houston and are building our own customer and email database,” Shane Deason, owner of Aly’s Apples, said. “Silver was able to put everything together, from raw data to marketing magic. We would like to franchise in the future and would certainly recommend NCR for its functionality, but equally important is its ease of use.”

Multi-store capabilities give the Deasons flexibility to manage sales across their four locations by viewing a consolidated report or drill down to the individual store for details.

Additionally, NCR Silver lets small businesses like Aly’s Apples take advantage of the move to digital receipts – a trend that is growing in popularity among consumers.

Email receipts protect us at tax time,” says Deason, adding that email receipts also provide a level of convenience for his customers. “Today email receipts are as much a way to connect and nurture customer relationships as they are proof of purchase,” he adds. “NCR Silver makes it easy to leverage integrated tools like loyalty and email marketing that are built into its system.”

Patten Seed Company in Georgia dates back to 1893 when a former school teacher opened a general store that sold seed, fertilizer and everything a small town needed from a farming supply store.

“We started with NCR Silver just a few months ago, but saw an immediate and positive change in our business across all of our 14 locations,” said Chris Burns, controller at Patten Seed. “As a landscape company, we’re seasonal, and when spring hits, we get blasted. NCR Silver POS is superior to any of the systems we have used. It’s so user-friendly. I can spend only a few minutes on the phone with one of my retailers and they will have it installed and ready to go.”

And at Roba Family Farms, with seven terminals, NCR Silver is used to ring up tickets for seasonal (harvest and Christmas tree) sales, They also have NCR Silver set up in the café to sell cafeteria items for guests who are visiting the farm for festivals and events. The business makes most of its revenue in the seven weeks between the Halloween and Christmas seasons. During that time they run daily reports, and have used NCR Silver to see what items they should grow, based on volume. They started using NCR Silver about a year ago, and Sue Roba says the introduction of NCR has been great. “We hope to expand our reach, and NCR Silver will help us.”

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.

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.