The great promise of modern technology is how it saves time, builds efficiencies, and frees us up to focus on all the things that really matter in business and life. The drawback of technology is frequently complexity, and the many apparently similar choices out there.
If you’re a retail store owner, restaurateur, or frankly anyone in the service industry who deals with the handing over of credit cards or cash on a daily basis, mobile point-of-sale terminals have become an essential tool on your radar. As I cited recently, Nasdaq stated earlier this year that “since consumers now expect merchants to accept credit cards or debit cards, having mPOS terminals is a necessity.” You’re likely being emailed on a daily basis by companies trying to sell you one. So where do you start in choosing the right mPOS?
Here are four key questions to use as your divining rod:
Is it user-friendly?
There’s no point spending money on a POS if it ends up taking hours to train your team on how to use—and you’re tripping over snags in the your workflow downstream. Ever since Steve Jobs boldly launched the iPhone ten years ago, ease of use has become the golden rule for all tech tools. Your mPOS needs to be slick, fast, and intuitive. So ask these questions as you make the rounds of software companies: Is it easy to use? Is it intuitive—both on a tablet and online? Does it look good? It helps if a product is aesthetically pleasing, considering the time your teams (and customers) will be spending staring at it. Most mPOS systems offer free trials, so take a company up on this and test-drive it for ease-of-use. If it hits a roadblock or throws you into a ditch, cast it away and explore further.
Will it improve the customer experience?
Know that when you invest in a mobile point-of-sale system, you’re investing in way more than the mere ability to swipe a credit card easily. The tremendous value proposition of an mPOS lies in its many software features that ramp up your ability to unleash personalized marketing. An mPOS software platform like Instore, for example, allows you to do promotions and marketing, sell gift cards, build a customer database, offer customer rewards, and more. The benefit to the customer experience is significant, as suddenly here is an intelligent system recognizing them, communicating with them after they leave, and knowing the perfect way to reward them for their loyalty. But beyond that are all the daily working benefits of an mPOS, such as your ability to use it to monitor employee actions, track staff hours, and keep up-to-speed on inventory. Even if you’re not interested in these tools just yet, as your business scales you’ll want to have the option of using them. So look for systems that include all the customer-pleasing add-ons.
What’s the security like?
Because it may be one of the most important questions you’ll ever ask. Ask the prospective cloud-based point of sale provider what efforts they are taking to safeguard your customer’s information. Also do your own research: inspect their service level agreement to see the sorts of security protocols they have in place; go online to make sure they haven’t been involved in security breaches. And finally, know that when you purchase an mPOS, it’s not only the device that you’ll need to be vigilant about. Many security breaches occur with credit cards when tiny “skimmer” devices are planted into the back of point-of-sale cash registers. So monitor your devices frequently to ensure that no unauthorized equipment has been placed there. At Instore, we’ve avoided this problem by using a secure MagTek card reader.
How much does it really cost?
The good news is that iPad-based systems like Instore are typically far less expensive than traditional POS equipment. So you can step into this new world of seamless customer service fairly effortlessly. Most mPOS plans will front-load the costs, while others minimize the upfront costs and tie you into contracts instead. As you compare products, work from a realistic picture of how many terminals you will be using, and how this may change over time. Be wary of anyone promising virtually no costs and high performance—the best systems require an initial investment, but then offer excellent ROI over time. Be wary of companies who are trying to sell you a lot of hardware that is tied heavily to their system. You’ll want to be agile—and switch to another software application if need be. This is the benefit of working with iPad-based systems like Instore.
Once you test-ride a few systems, do the necessary research online, and ask a lot of second-level questions to providers, you can nail down a system that will work for your business long-term. And then you can set about enjoying all those benefits of technology: increased efficiencies, heightened customer service, rising profits, and the ability to have a day off a lot more often.
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