By David J. Gosman, CEO, pcAmerica
At first glance, it seems like the requirements for mobile POS installations are easy: a wireless network, a few mobile devices and a point of sale package are all that’s needed to start ringing sales. This may be true, but the best VARs know that there’s a lot more planning that goes into these installs than just those two elements. There are five major issues that can sabotage a mobile POS installation, but planning ahead can mean the difference between a rocky start and frustrated client and a smooth, successful changeover to the new solution. Here are some things to keep an eye on:
Unreasonable expectations: It sounds great to tell a customer they will be able to ring up sales anywhere on the floor. But it’s also important to work through the logistics of a sale before installing the system to make sure all of the bases are covered. For example, where will employees fold and bag items? How will shoppers locate associates who can ring them up without going through a wild goose chase throughout the store? Pointing out these issues before the system goes live is critical, because installing the solution and then leaving the customer holding the bag—literally—makes the entire install a failure.
Cutting corners on the router: A wireless router can be the determining factor in whether the system runs smoothly or makes clients want to pull their hair out. VARs who try to save money on low-end, weak or consumer-grade routers are setting themselves up for a problem. The main differences between a consumer and commercial grade routers are security, reliability (less packet loss), the amount of data a router can handle and how quickly that data can be transferred. A commercial grade router will handle large amounts of data faster and more reliably, so a router that cannot handle the workload means the end-user will experience disconnects and slow transfer rates.
Lack of asset management planning: One of the most important pieces of equipment will be the mobile device that staff will use to ring up sales or take orders in a restaurant. End users love the idea of an Apple® iPod touch® or iPad®, or even one of the sleek new Windows tablet, because they look sleek and have the cool factor that many businesses desire. However, an unattended mobile device or tablet is a tempting target for light-fingered customers or employees, so it’s important to have a way to account for all of the devices. It doesn’t need to be complicated -- even a simple sign-out sheet, held by a manager, can help a business manage their mobile units. A lack of a tracking system is tantamount to an open invitation for theft and loss.
Is it tough enough: It’s exciting to be hip and have low-profile technology, but it’s not always the most practical choice. Those slick-looking tablets are appealing, but what will happen if it gets dropped? Or when it gets wet? It’s inevitable that over the life of a device it will need some attention, especially if it sees heavy use or risks getting wet in food service settings. Have a plan in place for repair, otherwise clients will end up paying for last-minute replacements, resulting in hardware that is no longer cost effective. It’s also important to investigate and invest in good cases for the devices, which adds cost but enhances longevity. Point of sale is mission critical - it’s ideal to find a choose hardware that has a warranty and rapid placement service options.
Short battery life: A lack of battery power is the best way to kill a mobile POS system. If a store is going to be open 12 hours a day, make sure the client either purchases a device that has enough life to handle 12 hours of usage or buys several spare devices they can have hand when the others are charging. A mobile POS is useless if the batteries are always dead.