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.

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.

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.

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.

Mobile Chip and Pin – Just $50 from JUSP

mobile-chip-and-pin-juspAn Italian company, JUSP, has released a mobile payment device that supports chip and pin – the technology for credit card processing used in Europe.   JUSP, which is short for JUSt Pay.

Chip and Pin technology works by reading a chip on the credit card (a little harder to duplicate than a magnetic stripe – and therefore considered more secure), and then the customer will enter her pin number for verification.

About the device:

Jusp is a card reader that can connect through the audio jack  to any smart device. Based on European standards concerning electronic money transactions, it works by reading the chips on cards. The application, which can be downloaded free of charge, receives data and manages the transaction process. The device is square in shape, measuring about 5cm per side, and is very light.

Transaction fees:

The JUSP website specifies a 2.5% fee.

Cards accepted:

Jusp accepts all major credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, the relating prepaid cards, the international V-Pay debit circuits, Visa Electron, Maestro/Cirrus, and the Italian Pagobancomat debit circuit.

About JUSP

JUSP is an emerging mPOS company with a proprietary all-in-one chip-and-pin card reader, which connects directly to smartphone and tablet audio jacks. The company is gaining momentum on many fronts. It has secured a $6 million equity round with two Italian venture capitalist firms, making the equity one of the biggest rounds in Italy in 2013. JUSP also has been named a finalist in the 2013 Bully Awards for its demonstrated excellence in innovation and growth potential. The growing start-up already has over 400 beta customers in Italy and is rapidly expanding internationally. JUSP has an international business office in Singapore and has established a commercial division focused on corporate clients.

Mobile Payment System or Full POS? Which is Best?

Mobile Point of Sale (POS) systems have rocked the retail world and the trending topic when it comes to POS is all about the mobile kind. In fact, when one searches the term POS, nearly every article that comes up is all about mobile, and many seem to believe it will change the retail industry as we know it. Is traditional POS on its way out?

According to a recent white paper published by NCR, while mobile POS is indeed a hot topic, it is likely to be an enhancement, rather than a replacement, to traditional POS.

Nonetheless, there is definitely a need, and a place, for both. Not too long ago everyone was certain that dot.coms would eradicate brick-and-mortar stores; they are still alive and well. And, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have, like traditional POS, embraced the Internet and allowed it to serve them in the capacity of extension.

Retailers everywhere have incorporated the Internet into their business model by creating multi-channel sales strategies, such as e-commerce, digital marketing, social media marketing, online product information, specifications, reviews and online customer service.

In addition to their online presence, these same retailers have started to bring the Internet in-house by integrating such services as customer centric promotions at point of sale, introducing loyalty programs and member registration, facilitating digital signage, offering e-receipts via email, and self check out centers; all at the traditional POS kiosk. In fact, 95% of all sales transactions are conducted via traditional POS terminals.

So, why bother with mobile POS anyway?

While it is true that traditional POS systems won’t be going anywhere soon, and with good reason, mobile POS systems have allowed retailers to make great strides when it comes to efficiency and customer service, as well as customer satisfaction.

Since the advent of Mobile POS, companies like Nordstrom, Apple and Home Depot have made big changes in the way they handle customer transactions in-store, thus affording faster checkout, waiting line reduction, consultative selling, and more. For example, in Home Depot, mobile POS has enabled on the spot checkout processing and shipping of large, bulky or heavy items that cannot be lugged up to the checkout counter.  When Nordstrom went mobile in 2011, the Seattle based retail chain saw a significant 15.3% increase in sales.

The list of mobile POS benefits goes on and on:

Storewide Promotion Opportunities: Mobile POS has allowed retailers to drive sales in various sections of the store by holding demonstrations or promotions in different departments to tout products or services. Customers can be marketed, and sold to, on the spot.

Inventory Return Stations: There is always a certain volume of returns, but that volume increases for retailers particularly after the holidays. The implementation of mobile POS allows for retailers to set up additional return stations in order to avoid long lines and customer frustrations.

Email Receipts: Better for the environment, more convenient for customers and faster to process, a digital purchase receipts sent via email tells the customer that you care about the earth and about them.

Optional Seasonal Subscription: The great thing about mobile POS is that you needn’t pay for a POS system year round if you’re not using it year around. Seasonal spikes in retail sales warrant the additional cost of extra POS licensing and hardware, but the rest of the year your budget shouldn’t need to encompass more than what is needed. Mobile lets you better manage your overall POS investment.

Expanded Reach: With mobile POS, your sales are no longer confined within the four walls of your brick and mortar store. Sidewalk sales, seasonal mall kiosks, and special sponsorship events are just a few examples of all the places you can take your retail sales to, with a POS in hand.

Mobile POS goes Mobile: Your investment in your company POS system doesn’t need to be one size fits all, regardless of store traffic volume in one location or another. Retailers may opt to have a blow out sale in one location, thus require additional checkout power for that location for a specific period of time. With mobile POS, devises and licensing can be utilized throughout different store locations on an as needed basis.

Inventory and Price Search: When customers can be assisted with finding an item color, size or availability on the spot, rather than having to wait in line to do so, it makes them happier. The same can be said for pricing. POS in the hands of store reps can go a long way toward customer satisfaction.

The growing industry of mobile payments doesn’t stop at in-store mobile POS. Digital wallets like Google Wallet and Apple Passbook, mobile-to-mobile cell phone transfers, Near Field Communication (NFC) payments, mobile device credit card swipe and other emerging technologies are quickly changing our cash and credit card world.

But what about traditional POS?

Mobile payment systems are indeed terrific. So, when should you consider going with traditional POS? The reality is,  in addition to the aforementioned benefits of traditional checkout kiosk functions, there times when mobile POS simply will not suffice.

Mobile POS is great when a customer wants to choose and pay for one item while on the sales room floor, but what about when the customer has a multitude of items? Ringing up and bagging groceries, removing anti-theft mechanisms, neatly folding and bagging clothing items and managing the sales of numerous agents, stations or departments are just a few examples of situations that often require the traditional POS checkout station.

By combining traditional POS strategies with mobile POS flexibility, retailers can leverage the command of a complex, and multi-dimensional, marketing and retail sales management system.

The Cash Register’s Days are Numbered

As consumers, we’ve been spoiled for many years now. We want the latest and greatest technology that will make our lives easier, and we want it now. We’ve become accustomed to getting what we want, as quickly as possible – whether it be the latest version of the iPhone as soon as it’s released, or a Smart TV that can deliver content from multiple sources.

Consumers are now demanding the same type of high-end technology from retailers when it comes to the point-of-sale (POS). According to a recent study commissioned by my company, I Love Velvet, and conducted by third-party research firm OnePoll, more than half of Americans believe the cash register is “outdated” and would be “gone soon.” The rise of mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) solutions is the largest factor in the demise of the cash register, with savvy consumers calling the shots. In today’s world where you can make a purchase online at the speed of a click, consumers want their in-store experience so be just as fast and seamless. Thus the rise of MPOS solutions.

All is not lost for the traditional POS system, however. It’s a known fact that while MPOS use has risen dramatically over the past few years, many of today’s businesses still heavily rely on legacy POS systems. However, we are starting to see organizations integrate MPOS in addition to their existing systems, complementing existing technology.

Where are consumers adapting to emerging MPOS technologies?
Consumers feel most comfortable using MPOS technologies in retail settings (26%), paving the way for large retailers to begin offering these in-store solutions. The food/beverage industry came in second, with 14 percent of consumers feeling most comfortable using MPOS, followed by airlines/car rental companies (10%).

But beyond the high-tech feel of MPOS, there is a real business benefit here. For example, our report found that if consumers could check out quickly, from anywhere on the store floor (a major benefit of MPOS), they would not only shop at the store more often, but that they would also tell a friend or share their experience on social media. Additionally, 56 percent of consumers would appreciate that the store made their experience more convenient. This is a huge bonus for companies looking to drive real differences in both branding efforts and sales.

Lack of trust comes with level of security
On the other hand, MPOS adoption doesn’t come without challenges. We’ve heard loud and clear for years that MPOS has been plagued by security concerns, with 57 percent of consumers stating that it’s their top concern. Furthermore, 62 percent of consumers said it would affect their decision to use services like Square or LevelUp if they did not provide the same levels of security as the traditional cash register.

Nonetheless, the payments industry is moving in unison with the evolution of technology, which in turn, presents another challenge to keep up with the security requirements and standards of mobile payments. Considering the hacks and security breaches in the past year on traditional POS systems and financial organizations, retailers need to pay attention, now more than ever, of the threats these new solutions could have if not correctly addressed. As such, true enterprise-grade solutions need to be both PCI-PTS and PCI-PDS certified.

The Learning Curve
While MPOS solutions are gaining traction across the board, consumers still feel uneducated about how they work.Even though 1 in 5 consumers polled had allowed a retailer to check them out using a MPOS solution, just as many still avoid using MPOS. The overall understanding of MPOS technology remains a barrier for consumers, with 1 in 10 consumers saying they would be more likely to use MPOS solutions if they had more information about them.

This presents a key opportunity for retailers to proactively educate their customers on MPOS. Customers will feel not only more comfortable in using MPOS, but will continue to support these retailers with their business. Providing customers with a wealth of information via dedicated emails, on the retailer’s website as well as at check-out will help raise consumer confidence – ultimately helping retailers more efficiently and cost effectively check out customers.

Looking Ahead
The results of our survey were loud and clear: consumers are done with the traditional cash register. They not only want to use MPOS, they expect to use MPOS. With the implicit benefits of cutting down lines, improving CRM efforts and increasing use of retail floor space, it will be interesting to see which organizations adapt with the times and meet consumer demand for MPOS – and which organizations are left behind.

Best Practices For Mobile Point of Sale

MasterCard recently introduced their global Mobile Point of Sale (MPOS) Program which outlines the best practices for mobile point of sale transactions. The guidelines should be of particular interest to small businesses that have traditionally been slow to enter the mobile POS arena, and to larger companies that felt there were security issues and other barriers to entry for mobile technology.

Mobile payment processing is not restricted to brick-and-mortar businesses, but is also compatible with sales transactions conducted door-to-door and by street vendors, allowing them to easily accept MasterCard payments via their mobile devices. In fact, MasterCard WorldWide selected the El Ñaqui gourmet food truck in Puerto Rico as the Caribbean region’s sole participant in its “Cashless Pioneers” international series. It was chosen because of its owner’s willingness to challenge the perception that street food is a cash-only business, company officials said.

Simply stated, with MPOS, the mobile device is used as a merchant point of sale terminal when consumers use their debit, credit and prepaid cards to pay for goods and services.

The company developed the best practices guidelines based on the rapid proliferation of mobile commerce. James Anderson, Group Head, Mobile, MasterCard Worldwide, noted, “With nearly 6 billion mobile subscriptions around the world, there is tremendous potential to grow merchant acceptance – it’s imperative that manufacturers, vendors and merchants maintain the highest standards to enable a seamless and secure purchasing experience.”

MasterCard estimates that of the 1.2 million mobile POS solutions shipped in 2011, approximately 75 percent went to merchants who had no previous experience accepting credit or debit cards.

As noted on the company’s website, the MasterCard MPOS Best Practices document outlines best practices regarding:

1. Securing MPOS Payment Applications

2. Securing Transaction Data Captured by an MPOS Card Reader Accessory

3. Securing Personal Account Numbers (PAN)

4. EMV Chip Transactions

5. Display of the MasterCard Acceptance Mark

6. Merchant Confirmation

7. Cardholder Verification Methods (CVM)

8. Receipts

To illustrate the rapid growth of mobile POS technology acceptance, MasterCard estimates that at the end 2011 approximately 1.2 million MPOS solutions were shipped to MasterCard merchants globally, and approximately 75 percent of those merchants had previously not accepted payment card transactions.

Providers of mobile POS solutions will be able to assess their products against the MasterCard MPOS best practices and apply to be listed on MasterCard’s website. Registration for the program is expected to open in summer 2012.

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.