Point of sale (POS) systems have long stood at the heart of every retail business and remain one of the largest technical investments a retailer will make during the initial development of its company. With new technologies emerging on a seemingly daily basis, new ways of accepting payment are fast arriving on the market. To some VARs, the new mobile point of sale technologies have begun to transform the services available to brick-and-mortar retail — but in light of this transformation, many retailers (and consumers) are reluctant to move away from the reliability offered by fixed POS.
Different Options For Point Of Sale
Today, there are two ways in which businesses can accept payments through point of sale. The recent introduction of mobile POS systems has allowed retailers to process payments using credit card readers attached to tablets and smartphones, digital wallets which process online payments (such as PayPal), mobile apps, and mobile wallets. On the other hand, traditional point of sale systems use technology such as:
- credit card terminals
- cash registers
- bar code scanners
- receipt printers
- touch screens
VARs are likely more familiar with the capabilities of traditional point of sale systems due to their dominant usage for nearly three decades. These fixed POS methods are the most commonly accepted and recognized way to process credit card, check, and cash payments. In today’s digitally-empowered world, however, fixed POS lacks many of the conveniences offered by mobile payment, which can be processed anytime, anywhere, and do not have the requirement of being attached to a brick-and-mortar store. Regardless of the instant and modern day conveniences that mobile payments offer, there are several areas of friction that are causing retailers and consumers alike to hesitate adopting these new technologies that VARs should be aware of.
Common Problems Of Mobile POS
The introduction of new technology, no matter how innovative, usually comes with never-before-seen problems as well. Though mobile point of sale systems are continually being improved upon, the fact remains that, especially for small businesses, mPOS costs can tally quickly for installations and upgrades. Updates to hardware and the cost of improving current systems can have significant impacts on retailers’ budgets that VARs can either address or be aware of as they generate their services lists.
Another issue is the time and money it often takes to train employees on how to use mobile POS. Even though we live in a technical age, it’s worth remembering that not every person has a smartphone or tablet, and few may understand how to use one for serving customers. There have been reports of issues with mobile POS systems holding back payments without any explanation, which can cause problems for banking and cashing records, as well as the customer being served. PayPal and other services have been known to freeze accounts and withhold funds from time to time, so store employees are often faced with taking action in light of such situations.
Unlike with traditional point of sale systems, everything in a store, restaurant or event hinges on the fact that a good Internet connection can be maintained. If a retailer is using an mPOS to take a payment, then a reliable internet connection is essential to running that business at full potential. If the connection drops or becomes temperamental, the retailer can lose business and experience immediate effects through lost revenue, damaged customer loyalty, and a bruised brand image.
Finally, not every retailer or customer is comfortable with the advent of web-based technology. It’s important for VARs to recognize that even the most tech-minded client can be overwhelmed by new developments, particularly when it comes to security. If a client decides to begin using a mobile POS system, they may experience skeptical customers who feel more comfortable having payments taken via traditional methods; after all, studies have suggested that using an mPOS system may make consumers more vulnerable than any other payment method.
Fixed Point Of Sale Isn’t Going Anywhere
Though some businesses will struggle with choosing between traditional POS systems and mobile payments, it’s fair to say that fixed POS will always have a place in the market. VARs will continue to receive requests for traditional POS services as 95 percent of all payments are still being processed through traditional POS terminals in brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, most retailers believe that while mobile options offer a potential enhancement, they do not serve as a replacement to fixed POS.
Even experts continue to suggest that traditional POS systems are the best choice for retailers because of the familiarity and sense of security they provide for the consumer. Advancements in today’s POS technology may continue to impact merchants and the marketplace, but VARs can have full confidence in their continuing to service traditional POS systems as the fixed POS market is not going anywhere anytime soon.