Mobile sales are booming—the total value of mobile payments increased by 41% in 2019 to $98.8 billion from $69.8 billion in 2018. That figure was forecasted to increase an additional 31.8% in 2020, reaching $130.7 billion. But that prediction was made prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has inadvertently caused mobile payment rates to climb even faster.
Retailers hoping to capitalize on the rise of mobile payments face a bewildering array of choices. Dozens of mobile sales systems are available that entail various combinations of payment options, fund transfer speeds, and loyalty and gift card features. Here’s a look at the benefits that mobile sales systems offer retailers, as well as the challenges stores face when implementing the technology.
Standard Payment Methods of Mobile Sales Systems
Mobile POS systems are generally defined as a smartphone, tablet, or dedicated wireless device that replaces a traditional cash register or POS terminal that’s tethered to a wired connection. Retailers require only an internet connection, mobile credit card reader, and downloadable application to implement a mobile sales system. The devices can also be linked wirelessly or via cable to a barcode scanner, receipt printer, or cash register.
These are among the mobile payment types that the systems support:
- Near-field communication (NFC) contactless payments allow mobile-wallet apps installed on smartphones to communicate wirelessly with NFC-enabled card readers. Customers simply place the phone within two inches of the reader to complete the transaction via a short-range wireless signal.
- Magnetic secure transmission contactless payments are similar to NFC, but use a magnetic signal to transfer the transaction data between a credit card and the mobile card reader or POS system.
- Quick response (QR) payments use the camera on a smartphone or tablet to scan digital QR codes to complete a mobile transaction.
- Short message service (SMS) payments use text messages to process payments that are added to the customer’s monthly phone bill, although this technology is used primarily for bill paying and peer-to-peer money transfers.
Features to Look for in Mobile Sales Systems
One of the greatest benefits of mobile sales systems for small retailers is that they even the playing field by delivering high-end functionality while requiring little upfront investment. These are among the must-have features of a mobile sales system:
- Bring the sales “terminal” to the customer without sacrificing security. Secure wireless links to the business’ primary POS network ensure that mobile transactions are as safe as those completed using traditional POS equipment.
- Save on printing costs by delivering sales receipts electronically. Mobile sales systems allow customers to receive their receipts via SMS or email while simultaneously simplifying the store’s recordkeeping.
- Provide customers with online product catalogs and menus. Mobile sales apps make it easy to create catalogs and menus that increase accessibility for customers while providing real-time inventory and sales updates for merchants.
- Accommodate a variety of tax calculations. A business on the move needs to be aware of the tax rates that apply in various jurisdictions. Mobile sales systems automatically calculate three types of taxes: applied tax, inclusive tax, and flat tax.
- Accept a range of credit card types and mobile wallets. Mobile sales apps linked to card readers such as the compact Moby 2500 and 5500 devices can process payments via EMV, magnetic strip, NFC, and other contactless technologies. They also support the increasingly popular Google Pay and Apple Pay services.
Potential Obstacles for Retailers Implementing a Mobile Sales System
As with many new technologies, the biggest impediment to adopting a mobile sales system is dealing with the unknowns. In particular, retailers may struggle to understand their payment processing options. Too often, stores are unaware of some violation or limit imposed by their payment processing service until they are penalized for it. The result is unexpected cost overruns, blown-up budgets, and inaccurate financial forecasts. Retailers need to work with a payment processor that offers flexible terms and support for a range of payment types, including tap-to-pay, mobile wallets, and other contactless options.
To stay informed on all business activity, retailers need to be able to access accounting, inventory, and payroll information from within the mobile sales app. Without this ability, retailers may be locked out of this vital data while operating away from their wired POS network. In addition, the store’s employees need to be able to access their work schedules and other HR-related data—including the ability to request changes to their schedules—via the mobile app.
Can Your Mobile Sales System Adapt to Changing Conditions?
Retailers are accustomed to anticipating and responding quickly to changes in markets and customer preferences. Responding to restrictions implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the ability to pivot, then pivot again, in the blink of an eye a survival necessity.
Mobile sales systems can help retailers do business while keeping their customers and employees safe by supporting the use of customer-facing POS portable kiosks and online ordering. However, integrating online ordering and portable self-service kiosks with existing mobile payment processes can be a challenge.
Stores will also need to combine their customer management system with the mobile apps. This will ensure that customers are provided with a singular shopping experience that communicates the business’ core brand and ambiance in all of the channels in which it operates.
There’s no denying the monkeywrench that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown at the retail industry. Many of the changes occurring in the retail trade predate the pandemic, but have now taken center stage. Mobile sales systems will continue to be increasingly important for retailers as we strive to reach a new normal. The key will be to turn these challenges into opportunities that will propel the business forward now and well into the future.
In a period of change, talech has a number of POS solutions that can help your mobile business adjust operations smoothly. From reaching new audiences to engaging with your existing customers more often, we give you the tools to adapt quickly and with confidence.
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