There’s no denying that the world has gone mobile, especially when it comes to the way consumers make purchases. It is forecasted that U.S. mobile POS purchases will total $357 billion in 2020, which is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 21.4% through 2024 to a total of nearly $778 billion.
Retailers understand the need to conduct business in ways that address their customers’ expectations. Now that retail customers increasingly expect to be able to make purchases using only mobile devices, merchants of all sizes are migrating their POS operations away from traditional standalone POS terminals.
In the mPOS vs. POS debate, full-service POS stations will continue to play an important role for many retailers since they offer business-critical features like sales reports, inventory management, employee scheduling, and integration with backend accounting systems. The best option is to find a POS vendor who can craft a custom solution that combines the best features of mobile POS and standard POS systems.
Best Features of a Mobile POS System
Virtually any smartphone or tablet can be transformed into a mobile POS system by downloading and installing a POS application and connecting a credit/debit card reader, usually via the device’s audio jack. The mPOS may include a connection to a scanner or receipt printer, whether via wireless connection or use of a “sled” or docking station for the phone or tablet. However, most merchants will prefer the option to send customers their receipt electronically via SMS text message or email.
In some instances, the mPOS app links to the vendor’s bank account directly, while other retailers connect the mobile app to their full-function POS system. For security purposes, all sensitive customer data is encrypted and stored securely in the cloud rather than on the mobile device.
Some other useful benefits provided by mPOS systems include:
- Improving the customer experience by speeding up transactions and allowing sales to be completed wherever the customer is, rather than having the customer wait in a checkout line.
- Freeing up retail store space that can be used to display merchandise and marketing materials, or simply to declutter the sales floor.
- Meeting the needs of food trucks, home and repair services, flea market and popup vendors, and others who take their businesses on the road.
- Supporting contactless payments and mobile wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay, which enhances the health and safety of both customers and vendors, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Enabling quick and inexpensive implementation. The apps themselves are often free and they allow one-person operations and part-time merchants to use POS features without requiring huge upfront hardware and software costs.
Mobile POS System Considerations
For many retailers, the limitations of mPOS systems require that they be used as adjuncts to a full-feature POS network. In this role, mPOS helps retailers accommodate busy times by allowing staff to serve customers directly and reduce long lines at sales registers. Another consideration for merchants is the need to monitor the battery life of mobile devices through a full workday to prevent them from failing just when they’re needed most.
While encryption and cloud storage protect the private data stored in the POS system, mPOS introduces the risk of the devices themselves being lost or stolen. Mobile devices must also be protected against damage from being dropped or exposed to moisture.
And while tablets and smartphones are less expensive than most computers and standalone POS terminals, they aren’t cheap, particularly Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Generally speaking, a phone or tablet can be expected to have a shorter lifetime than traditional POS hardware.
Who Benefits Most from mPOS?
The smaller the business, the more useful a mobile POS approach becomes. A typical scenario for mPOS is a vendor or service professional who: conducts anywhere from a handful to a few dozen transactions per day, moves frequently from location to location, and offers a limited range of products and services. A mobile POS system has the ability to integrate smoothly with the business’ other systems and grow alongside the business.
Before deciding on a mobile POS system, vendors need to be sure the solution has all the POS features their business needs. The mPOS application should let merchants keep track of inventory, automatically calculate differing sales tax rates, and access all features with just a few taps. One of the most important aspects for many mobile businesses is the ability to ensure a steady cash flow in the face of bad weather, local permit policies and regulations, and other unpredictable variables that can potentially impact the business from day to day.
How Mobile POS Supports Online Ordering
Even before the arrival of COVID-19, online ordering was becoming increasingly popular among merchants and their customers. Now more than ever, the ability to take orders and payments online has become a public-safety necessity for retailers of all types and sizes. This has become an Achilles heel for traditional POS terminals, which lack the features required to seamlessly combine online and real-world retail operations.
More importantly, standalone POS terminals aren’t able to meet many of the needs of today’s retailers, and lack the capabilities of modern POS systems:
- mPOS apps can be customized to promote the business’ brand and allow customers to make appointments and perform other interactions with the business quickly and simply.
- The analytics features built into mobile, cloud-based POS systems are accessible to vendors of all sizes, providing them with insight into their customers’ buying patterns.
- The ability to bring POS terminals to the customer or anywhere the business operates gives vendors a level of flexibility that’s not possible with hardwired POS terminals.
- Connections via WiFi or a cellular network deliver access to critical business data at any time from nearly any location.
Which Side of the mPOS vs. POS Debate Are You on?
The answer will depend on your needs, and if your needs change, your answer may change. The distinctions between online, mobile, and brick-and-mortar retail operations continue to blur. The increase in omnichannel shopping gives retailers all the more reason to further consider the mPOS vs. POS debate and which option best suits their business’ needs. Mobile POS technology bridges the various channels by offering a simple, effective interface that all venues can share. Most businesses start small, but they don’t all stay small. A simple mobile POS app may meet all your needs today, but make sure it’s one that offers the flexibility and features you may need tomorrow.
If you’re still comparing mPOS vs. POS and unsure which option is best for you, partner with talech for your mobile retail needs. We devote our time to identifying your business challenges and use this information to work with you to create an innovative POS solution. Reach out to us today to sign up for a demo and learn more about how talech can be your valued POS partner.