(Guest Post) Mobile Point of Sales Systems – The basics of getting it right.

So you are new retailer and are thinking of investing in POS (Point of Sale) Systems. Your friends in business rave about iPad and it’s versatility. They tell how easy it is to use one as the POS interface. Before you go iPad shopping here’s what you need to consider.

Start Small

Most aspiring entrepreneurs have grand visions, and one of them is the idea that they must have the biggest, shiniest and best equipment on the market. But, seasoned businesspeople, like Jerry Hancock, CEO of SubZero Ice Cream, argue that you only need a modest system to get started.

An iPad 2 can be purchased for as low as $399. It’s inexpensive compared to other terminal options out there right now. But, don’t use this as an excuse to go out and buy out your local Apple retailer. If you have only one cash register, only buy one iPad.

POS software for retail stores is also relatively inexpensive right now, but don’t buy more licenses than you need. For most businesses, one is all you need. Since the software for most systems allows you to sync and integrate data and departments across all stores, there’s just no need to buy additional licenses unless you absolutely have to.

Upgrade Your Infrastructure

With new systems comes new technology. While many iPads have the ability to access 4GLTE now, or at least the 3G network, you shouldn’t rely entirely on this. Why? Because cellular networks are not always reliable. Wi-Fi networks, on the other hand, are incredibly reliable

In fact, if you use a provider that guarantees a minimum amount of download and upload speed, or you’re on a business-class service-level agreement with a company, it’ll be just like having a wired connection.

If you have older hardware, make sure that your current connections accommodate multiple concurrent connections in a reliable fashion. Also make certain your router isn’t prone to interference from other electronic devices, and that it supports WPA or WPA2 encryption. This will help protect your customer’s credit card data. Finally, you’ll also need to obtain PCI compliance, or work with a vendor who provides this service. If you run a website, make sure you have an audit done on it as required.

Hire Help for Deployment and Management

Don’t bother trying to develop everything in-house. Most successful businesses outsource all of their deployment and management. So, for example, Stacy Barnes, co-owner of GoodyTwos, a toffee shop in Scottsdale, Arizona, decided to outsource their POS management to a company specializing in software. Resellers can focus on migrating data and setting up the inventory and all other aspects of the new system. To do this alone would require significant manpower and time – lots and lots of time.

Use More Than Just the iPad for Checking Out

So, the most obvious benefit of having a software-driven POS system is that taking payments is a lot easier. You can email the customer their receipt, you can check out anyone, anywhere, and your system can be upgraded instantly to accept new payment methods, like Google Wallet or PayPal, if you want to.

But, a POS system is good for more than just making the sale. You can get the customer involved in the selling process by using your iPad to show customers designs and product images to help them visualize a complex purchase.

For example, let’s say you work in a clothing store. You could use the iPad to show the customer ideas for a new wardrobe, or show them how to save money by intelligently mixing different pieces of clothing, so they can create multiple outfits from just a few different pieces.

If you own a bike studio, like Garth Schmeck, you can help customers with custom bike builds using the iPad, and then sell them their finished creations.

Need help with building an iPad app for your stores? Ask ContractIQ. They will set you up with reliable app developers, for free and guide you through the process right till you app is launched!

Keep Up With NFC Technology

Nothing is worse than not being able to serve every person that walks through your door, so keep up with the technology, so you’ll be one step ahead of your competition. For example, Apple recently introduced its latest mobile payment process, Apple Pay, a private and secure system that allows consumers to anonymously purchase goods and services with iOS8 devices using a near field communication (NFC) chip.

The anonymity of purchase data for consumers means that retailers will lose a large amount of the customer insights, which they previously could glean from credit card purchase data. Although the lack of transaction data seems like a disadvantage to retailers and their multi-channel efforts, Apple Pay provides the following advantages:

  • •          Instead of having to store a mountain of credit card names and numbers, the security concerns go to consumers, rather than retailers.
  • •          Apple’s “no card present” fees are far lower than what most retailers get from traditional financial institutions, lowing a major hard cost for them.
  • •          Allows retailers to continue to utilize loyalty programs and proximity sensors to respond to their customers.
  • •          Allows for flexible and faster mobile POS adoption for new businesses.

Get on Board with EMV

EMV is a set of standards involving chip-based card payment technologies introduced in 1999 by Europay, MasterCard and Visa. The chip-based cards are more secure than mag strips in terms of fraud prevention due to stolen or lost cards; however, converting is expensive. The cost of conversion for a small business to accept EMV is likely to run between $200 and $600 per terminal, depending on the type of card reader you use. Not only will you need to replace your swiping device, you will also need to train your employees and perform upgrades on your POS system, too.

The fallout from not upgrading to EMV can be serious. The major card networks have set deadlines for converting, and if they aren’t met, retailers will be responsible for fraud-related losses if they haven’t employed EMV technology to prevent them.

MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover all have Oct. 1 2015 deadlines, but each has its own set of rules on the liability shift. So, if you fail to switch to EMV and someone commits credit card fraud using your point-of-sale system, you may end up with a chargeback so large, it could ruin your business. Liability risks make it imperative for retailers to convert to EMV.

Involve the Customer

Customers love to be involved in the selling process, because it makes it feel less like selling and more like a partnership. For example, Schmeck uses the iPad to ring out customers, but then hands them the device, so that they can sign. It feels “intimate,” as far as selling is concerned. Barnes does the same thing. Customers sign and finish the transaction, and then she allows them to hold the device to take photos of the shop to post them on the customer’s own social networking site. Now, that’s customer service.

Frances Meyer  is a small business owner with a passion for business tech. From productive software to innovative devices, she enjoys discovering and blogging about useful technology for today’s small businesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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