Magazine Article | June 17, 2014

VARs' Guide To Mobile POS & Cloud POS

By Business Solutions magazine

Hype Or Real Opportunity?

Mobility Is A Win-Win — “On one side, it’s a win for merchants in that they gain new sales opportunities and credibility with a younger audience, while improving customer retention. It’s also a win for consumers because they are able to make a more informed decision at a better price, providing new opportunities for growth for the merchant ensures an enhanced relationship with the reseller.” — Greg Dixon, CTO, ScanSource

mPOS Provides A Revolutionized & Improved Customer Experience — “Certain people may consider mPOS an overhyped technology when they think of it purely in context of it replacing existing models (such as the stationary register), but by doing so they are underestimating mPOS’ supplemental value. By supplementing existing, stationary terminals, mPOS greatly enhances the customer and merchant experience and improves the overall performance of a business. Employees are no longer beholden to a stationary cash register. Rather, they can go to customers on the selling-room floor and address their needs individually. mPOS will allow employees to look up item information, check inventory, and even process payments without leaving the customer’s side.” — Lisa Falzone, CEO & co-founder, Revel Systems

Cloud POS Is Primarily Hype — “Cloud POS is primarily hype. Having no centralized server at the store, and relying on Internet connectivity introduce an additional set of problems that can be avoided by simply having a PC in the office. While this reduces up-front purchase price (you rent the server in the cloud versus buying one outright), it creates an Achilles’ heel that is really unnecessary. You could save a few bucks by buying a car that doesn’t have a spare tire, but when you need a spare tire, was saving $50 really worth it?” — John Giles, president, Future POS

Cloud Is Here To Stay — “There are just too many cost advantages of delivering cloud solutions for the world to go back to distributed computing (cheaper storage and computing, no software updates, single software code base, lower support costs, etc.). The next trend is ‘fog software’ where computing power is split between the cloud and a low-power Internet-connected device (such as a tablet). In fact, many good cloud POS systems do this already by having a part of the POS software reside in the browser or tablet to ring transactions if the Internet fails. Fog computing addresses many of the arguments legacy POS vendors have against the cloud.” — Kevin Kogler, president, MicroBiz

Significant Trends

Traditional POS ISVs Go Mobile — “One of the more pronounced trends is that traditional POS software providers are now offering support for tablets and smartphones to allow them to compete in this market. Many traditional ISVs stood back and watched the initial mobile players to see what worked, what didn’t, and if this was even a viable solution. We’ll see very polished, feature-rich products enter the market from established ISVs in 2014 and beyond.”

“Small, independent retail and restaurants will continue to move towards iOS and Android-based hardware because they have a low cost, and are considered ‘expendable,’ while the more established chain stores will begin to migrate towards more Windows-based products for security, manageability, and a more rugged product. Many users that were early adopters of the iOS platform are now going to start migrating to more commercial products, as they’ve realized the TCO for iOS isn’t as low as originally anticipated. New users entering the market have seen this trend and will also be looking for products that can be integrated with and managed by existing IT infrastructure.” — TJ Trojan, senior VP, product management, SYNNEX Corp.

Traditional Hardware Vendors Embrace Android — “There are several all-in-one POS workstation manufacturers who are starting to produce Android-based equipment. The price point of these is roughly half of what Windows workstations cost, so this will result in considerable cost savings for the consumer and/or better margins for the VAR.” — John Giles, president, Future POS

Mobile Marketing Integration — “Mobile marketing can radically change the way merchants interact with consumers by enhancing and expediting service.” — Bill Clark, CEO, SpindleSubscribe to Business Solutions magazine

POS Is A Service In Itself — “Today’s modern POS makes it possible to have an omnipresence in retail, e-commerce, and mobile networks. Everything is on the same system, and data convergence and business management all run from one application. This is significant because anytime you can converge, you can do analytics for efficiency, effect, and power.” — Rick Jernigan, GM, CoCard/Atlanta

Avoid Common Mistakes

Don’t Overlook ROI — “VARs need to have products that they can really change a customer’s business in a significant way with. It is not enough to have a mobile or cloud software package as at the end of the day it is still about ROI and the way the software helps a business operate.” — Andre Nataf, sr. business development manager, Digital Dining

Become A Wi-Fi Expert — “Resellers have to be sure they are considering all of the moving pieces involved in the solution. For example, an insufficient wireless infrastructure can turn a cool solution into one that is abandoned. Leaving the wireless network to other parties is a mistake. Managing all components of the solution provides resellers with an opportunity to ingrain themselves with the customer and not give other companies the opportunity to provide services they should be offering.” — Greg Dixon, CTO, ScanSource

Integration Can Be Tricky — “Many VARs underestimate the data integration complexities involved in implementing an mPOS solution. In particular, mobile payments can be very complex, both from a security and compliance perspective.” — Nick D’Alessio, global retail practice leader, Zebra Technologies

Don’t Be Short-Sighted — “One common mistake VARs make is looking at mobile as only a way to increase sales. Products need to be looked at beyond being strictly point of sale, and when offering a product/service, integration into existing systems needs to be a crucial part of this evaluation. A mobile system is great, but if you can’t upload sales, update inventory, and integrate into existing accounting packages, the work created offsets any gains obtained by having the mobile system.”

“Developers tend to make a few mistakes when approaching this market. Some only develop for a particular OS, while others develop for all three, but the user experience isn’t consistent across all platforms and certain features are only available, or reliable, on one OS. To deliver a truly useful platform, the experience needs to be the same across all platforms, which means investing in the talent for Windows, Android, and iOS to create a fully functioning, usable product.” — TJ Trojan, senior VP, product management, SYNNEX Corp.

Sales Tips & Advice

Get References Quickly — “The toughest sell is when they ask who else is using this? It is always the same with any newer technology, prospects will be interested by the concept, but will only buy the proof.” — Andre Nataf, sr. business development manager, Digital Dining

Take Advantage Of Cloud’s Flexibility — “Some cloud POS systems are hardware- and OS-agnostic. So, retailers can have Macs or PCs at the cash wrap stations while arming employees with iPads for mobile and remote sales. Make sure to highlight how cloud POS can make the owner’s/manager’s life easier [ability to access the store system from home or on the road, fewer IT headaches, etc.]. It’s much easier to sell a POS system for a high margin when you can show how you can improve their [retailers’] quality of life and make them more efficient.” — Kevin Kogler, president, MicroBiz

Offer Mobile SaaS — “Not Software-as-a-Service, but Solutionas- a-Service. This will entice more accretive business, provide an easy-to-market message, and serve as a conversation starter. Provide support on the product, and charge for it. This sets you apart from the majority of the competition and increases the amount of interaction you will have with the customer, building trust and future opportunities. It will also lead to positive word of mouth and recommendations to other businesses. VARs should also approach their hardware vendors of choice and engage them to provide MDF funds, as every hardware manufacturer has been given steep goals regarding their tablet sales. This holds true of the people who make the components, like Intel, AMD, etc.; there’s money to be found there as well, so make sure to explore all these avenues with your marketing team, your distributor, and manufacturer.” — TJ Trojan, senior VP, product management, SYNNEX Corp.

Focus On Your Customer’s Customer — “Highlight the fact that the ‘customer is king.’ All industries should be able to recognize this truism, and a VAR can point out how mPOS will vastly improve the customer experience. Furthermore, he or she can also highlight the fact that cloud-based point of sale makes checking crucial business information — such as sales data and inventory — easier and more accessible than traditional models.” — Lisa Falzone, CEO & co-founder, Revel Systems

It’s OK To Sell The Sizzle, But Don’t Forget About The Steak — “The sizzle is the cool factor to a younger audience, but the real meat is a strong, secure wireless network, with a device that is rugged enough for the environment, and having a solid software application that is easy to use. Resellers need to be prepared to handle every aspect of the cloud — mobile device management, secured network, etc. They need to be the experts and understand all aspects of the solution, including after-market services.” — Greg Dixon, CTO, ScanSource