The transaction is almost complete. After half an hour of assisting the customer in front of you, final decisions have been made and the only step left to close the sale is a swipe of the credit card. But then, the unthinkable happens. After the card is swiped, the view of your screen, instead of flashing “approved”, instead goes blank and turns into a spinning circle. Two reboots later, and you discover that your internet is down. The customer apologizes that they don’t have any cash with them, leaves the items on your counter, and walks out the door. Could a point of sale offline mode have made a difference?
Knowing the Limits of a Point of Sale Offline Mode
It’s important to determine the limits of a point of sale offline mode. These facts will not just aid in selecting the appropriate POS system for your business; they will also help you determine whether or not you need offline functionality. Understanding the limitations that any particular POS system has while in offline mode will arm you with the facts you need to make the best decision for your business.
Let’s start with the basics. At a minimum, you need to process transactions, including card reader-based transactions and be able to accurately reconcile these with inventory to keep the books balanced and determine any losses. Basic inventory tracking will be needed as well, even if you need to revert to an “eyes on the shelf” approach for a few hours. Lastly, this all needs to be accomplished without sacrificing the customer experience.
We will address the biggest offline challenges businesses face, transactions and inventory controls, a bit later on, but for now let’s dive into the world of maintaining customer expectations. Once offline, things that you and the customer may take for granted, such as customer rewards and loyalty programs, are difficult to address in an offline scenario. The importance of this is going to depend on the services you provide and your customer relationship strategy.
The Tricks of Offline Payment Processing
Processing credit card or e-wallet payments are an important feature of a point of sale offline mode. If you are not equipped to take any form of payment that requires online payment processing, you may as well shut your doors until the internet comes back online. The trick of offline payment processing comes in the form of data caching. What does this mean in layman’s terms?
Any time you process a payment, key data points, such as cardholder name and card number, are stored briefly on the scanning device or register before being sent over the internet to a payment processor. Once sent and confirmed on the other end, the data is removed from the local device and, depending on the POS solution, is stored in a cloud-based transaction log for later data mining by the owner.
Offline processing is allowed when the POS solution caches, or stores, the customer’s payment information in the system until connectivity is restored. The transactions are then sent, approved, and all is right in the world. This gives you the ability to reconcile your transactions once all have been approved and keeps the customer moving without any delays. The ability to process payments offline must be a transparent process for the customer and your staff, and your POS system should be able to easily switch between online and offline modes seamlessly and without the risk of data loss.
Can You Access Inventory Data While Offline?
Since the vast majority of offline scenarios are fairly short in length, inventory control may not be that big of a concern for you. Depending on the POS solution, offline storage capacity may be limited and as such you will need to determine if having inventory data available in an offline scenario is a requirement or just a nice to have. In most cases, once the POS solution is back online and all queued transactions have been processed, resolving inventory as is simple as running reconciliation tasks.
A Point of Sale Offline Mode Requires Technical Expertise
Whether or not you need a point of sale offline mode depends on the kind of business you run. Food truck operators, farmers markets, craft show vendors, and other mobile businesses will find that leveraging modern POS technology to maximize offline capabilities is mandatory for success. Others, such as smaller retailers and restaurant owners, may find that they only need to be able to process payments offline for later reconciliation. If you’re not sure about the best fit, it’s time to reach out to a professional.
Operating at an optimal level at all times requires a point of sale offline mode. That’s what talech is here to help you accomplish. We offer a wide range of hardware and software solutions to choose from, and we take the time to address all of your business contingency questions to deliver a concise solution. Contact us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your expert POS partner.