Guest Column | November 26, 2013

Selling Smart Devices in the POS Space: 5 Things to Know

By Stacey Finley Tappin, Senior Vice President, North American Sales and Marketing Communications, Apriva

One of the greatest inventions of modern day technology is the smart device. Sleek, powerful and efficient, smartphones and tablets have become the tool of choice for consumers who enjoy the ease in which they can find information, communicate via the web, and make purchases of goods and services.

While they’ve become ubiquitous in the consumer space, these devices are now being used increasingly in the business world. It’s no surprise mobility is a real game changer. Through these products, employees have the ability to become much more productive and functional out in the field. The “anytime, anywhere” aspect of mobile communications certainly gives businesses the unique ability to better serve customers and deliver services when their employees are not tethered to a specific location or work station.

In addition, the architecture of the device is perfect for business needs. Though the apps can be quite different from those many of us know and rely on in our personal lives, the smart device can host a variety of business- and company-specific applications that can have a tangible effect on productivity and operations. From an IT perspective, these apps are easy to update, easy to customize, and easy to manage remotely.

In The World of POS

As point of sale devices, smartphones and tablets are ideal for merchant services providers and retailers as efficient and low-cost alternatives to integrated POS systems and expensive made-for-purpose terminals that have long dominated the industry. The device’s reliance on low bandwidth Wi-Fi and cellular connections eliminates the need for merchants to maintain phone lines for the sole purpose of running transactions. In addition, the intuitive interfaces of these tools have become almost universal in nature. Most people, particularly young adults that comprise a large majority of the retail workforce, are intimately familiar with the operation of smart devices. This comfort level greatly reduces the time necessary to train employees on the operation of the phone or tablet.  

Things To Consider

While the benefits of these devices are compelling, merchant services providers should not assume that their merchants will immediately agree to migrate their operations to smartphones and tablets. There are several points that merchant services providers should consider discussing with their customers in order to determine if these products make sense.

  1. Checkout operations: If a store or business continually sees long lines at registers, the smart device could be an easy option for alleviating some of the congestion at checkout. This strategy, commonly known as ‘line busting’, not only improves operations, it also delivers a heightened level of service and attention that customers will always appreciate.
  2. Multi-location sales: Many businesses, such as home service professionals, work from both brick and mortar establishments, as well as out in the field. Think plumbers, dog groomers, heating and repair professionals, landscapers, and so on. While accepting cards in the storefront is usually never an issue by a small business, the ability to take payment at remote sites has historically been problematic. Merchants that accepted cards usually had their employees write down credit card numbers and phone them into the shop—a cumbersome process with many security risks and higher processing fees. Oftentimes, these businesses won’t even accept cards, limiting their customers’ ability to pay in the manner most convenient for them. The smart device eliminates all these obstacles. Through this technology, payments can be accepted as easily and reliably out on location as they are in the shop, and consumers have the convenience and peace of mind they demand.
  3. New capabilities: The continuous innovation of smart devices offers merchants a number of features and applications that help small businesses manage operations. A wide range of industry specific applications, like those used for retail, food and beverage, or hospitality, can reside on the device. In addition, many of these tools have deep reporting capabilities, which allow retailers to record transactions—cash included— and monitor inventory, immediately retrieve transactions, track inventory and view cash flow.
  4. IT management: The simplicity of smart devices means that businesses don’t have to learn or manage technology; everything is done for them on behalf of the provider. Software updates are delivered transparently, security and compliance requirements are managed remotely, and merchants can do what they do best—run their business. These tools offer the latest in mobile commerce technology without requiring any investment in terms of IT - a very compelling proposition for the merchant.
  5. Upselling capabilities: The emergence of the smartphone and tablet changes the landscape by giving the provider a whole new range of recurring revenue services and solutions to offer merchants. Among these are mobile marketing like couponing and offers, loyalty programs, and location based services. All of these technologies can be delivered to the mobile POS and consumer devices, enabling providers to become a conduit between merchant and consumer.

Conducting business on smartphones and tablets may not be suitable for every business, but for those small- and medium-sized merchants that rely on limited staff, multiple locations and mobile workforces, these tools can certainly be a viable, low-cost solution for maintaining an efficient and profitable operation.