Payments in the Mobile World – Mobile Point of Sale is Growing Up

By: Ryan Stewart

The payments world continues to reinvent itself almost daily – and what were once predictions and novel buzz words have now become reality. In particular, mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) products have done some growing up, and the value that this channel can provide to small and seasonal businesses during the holiday rush is very powerful. Yes, many of us have heard that you can now download a free app for your Smartphone or tablet, pickup a card reader, and start accepting credit card payments on the spot. No surprises here. However it’s the evolution of the capability that inspires me. In speaking to merchants and providers around the country in recent weeks, it is clear that there are a number of mPOS realities you need to address to get the most out of your payments strategy during the holidays – or during any time of the year for that matter.

Reality #1: Merchants swipe customers’ cards multiple times on mobile devices
The first reality is that merchants and customers do not like having to swipe their credit cards over and over to get a good read or ‘swipe.’ It’s a clunky (and oh so awkward) user experience that scares your customers into rushing away to check their credit card statements to ensure that you didn’t charge them multiple times for all those swipes. With this in mind, merchants looking to leverage mPOS for the holiday season should choose a mPOS provider that offers quality hardware in the mobile card reader. Even if you pay a nominal amount for the device, it will pay you back over and over every time you get the card to swipe on the first try. You’ll literally be able to make more sales in a shorter period of time, cut through that customer line up in front of you much faster, and you’ll wow your customers with a smooth mobile payment experience, which after all is still part of the fun. Oh and while on the topic of quality hardware, it almost goes without saying but encryption is a must. The card reader and app absolutely need to be supporting encryption to ensure no sensitive card data is stored on your device. Full stop.

Reality #2: Need to get more data from device usage
Another mobile reality: we all care about the data. Not just using market-speak buzz words of big data or benchmarking your sales against industry peers that were born in the same month and have the first name and favourite color, but more importantly getting the data from your mPOS sales integrated to other payments channels. This includes traditional POS, card not present and e-commerce. This is often referred to as omni-channel reporting and is incredibly valuable. I was recently speaking with a merchant who made a quick choice for an mPOS product to get them up and running in accepting card present payments over a seasonal rush last November. What they didn’t plan ahead for, however, was that the reporting for all of that mobile processing was sitting off in a separate online application that couldn’t be integrated to their existing e-commerce payment platform. As a result, their poor accounting team is still trying to retrieve and reconcile the data almost one year later. The key point here is that all merchants should look for a provider that can offer mPOS capabilities that are or can be integrated into your other sales channels. The best providers will combine reporting from all channels into a single source, accessible in real time via the mobile app, online dashboard, and even a reporting API for custom data needs.

Finally, your mPOS solution should fit your sales needs, not the needs that the provider assumes all small or seasonal business should have. You’ll know best what payment details you need to capture during the mobile sale, and your mPOS app should be easily customizable for this. The problem is that in early days, many providers were putting what I call ‘flank’ mobile payments products into market to see what stuck or how mobile payments would affect their traditional pin-pad sales. Given how far the industry has evolved to today, merchants shouldn’t have to be victims of these weaker mPOS products. The best solutions are built for the mobile sale experience. From within the app itself, you should be able to quickly and easily customize what fields are and are not required. Furthermore, you should be able to customize settings per user in case you have multiple individuals accepting payments. This includes being able to add users on your account and having them take card payments in real time with custom settings per app in a matter of seconds. From within the app, you should be able to create and manage inventory, enable multiple taxes, gratuity calculators, receipts, and even sell in multiple currencies if it suits your business. The key here is that an efficient and elegant mPOS workflow is a must for you and your customer; this is what balances a speedy mobile sale with a user experience that assures security and peace of mind. This also increases the chances considerably that the customer you’ve just wowed will come back to see you.

Without a doubt the mPOS market is growing up – and since it is not showing any signs of slowing down, there will certainly be more noise for merchants to sort through on mobile payments. However, if thoughtfully navigated, small or seasonal businesses now have many new options when it comes to integrating mobile into their payments strategy – options that are certain to drive more sales and overall value far beyond the holiday rush.

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