After Apple’s smashing success bringing mobile POS payments to their retail brick & mortar stores and more recently with Square’s stunning popularity, everyone knows about mobile payment processing, it seems a new credit card swiping app is coming online almost weekly now.  But, what may not be known is that merchants from small ‘mom-and-pop’ stores to large national chain stores with I.T. departments chomping at the mobile bit can now implement their own mobile payments solution.  Merchants can now utilize robust POS features without having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies and research or millions in developing a custom mobile solution. 

Today’s marketplace offers out of the box mobile POS payment solution designed to quickly and easily integrate into existing front end POS systems and backend accounting systems such as QuickBooks, SAP, SAGE, Oracle, Peachtree etc. without the time and resource expenditures typically associated with such an undertaking. 

Mobile devices offer opportunities for deeper customer relationships. For instance, you can now capture the customer’s email address to send a receipt, the customer can also opt-in to join a loyalty program or receive a newsletter. There are more things you can do right in front of the customer that you couldn’t do before.

The benefits of an integrated mobile POS solution

A recent study found that almost half of all retailers are prioritizing POS integration with enterprise systems such as CRM, marketing and inventory management. At the same time, about two-thirds of retailers have identified the mobile POS device as central to this initiative, extending this integrated experience outside of the traditional shopping lane, and onto the selling floor, decreasing wait time, and increasing employee/consumer interactivity.

A rapid evolution of consumer preferences, and the growing consumer dependence on the mobile device have spurred mobile payment apps for swiping and/or keying in credit card transactions, and you can find many to choose from in the Google or Apple app stores.  If the respective app store of any mobile device is searched, there are many mobile payment acceptance options available. But few are truly integrated with an existing enterprise-capable point-of-sale system. They aren’t point-of-sale (POS) systems; they just accept payments using an iPhone or some sort of mobile device. It’s no different than the old style dialup terminals that used to be offered by banks, they merely process the transaction over a phone line and aren’t integrating with the point of sale.

In fact, lack of integration between mobile and standard POS environments is a top concern for retailers, according to Marc Ellen, ABC Mobile Pay V.P., a seasoned veteran in the payments space and an expert in the mobile arena.  An integrated mobile solution will communicate with the merchant’s point-of-sale system and deliver POS features that merchants are clamoring for.  Ellen says that a non-integrated mobile POS solution is “prehistoric, a thing of the past.”

An integrated mobile solution means a system that communicates with the merchant’s enterprise-wide or location-wide point-of-sale system. That means the mobile POS devices appear to the existing POS systems as just another terminal, if necessary.  Merchants such as service companies, seasonal merchants, small restaurants and so on can now utilize POS features and capture payments on almost any mobile device they might own.

Large and small merchants benefit from an integrated mobile POS solution

Integration of the mobile channel with the POS system may appear in a few different formats. The mobile system may be a stand-alone product capable of being linked with a POS application. Or, the mobile acceptance capability may be a part of the enterprise POS system.

With a non-integrated solution, a merchant may actually create more work by accepting mobile payments. For example, in a restaurant situation that uses a pay-at- the-table mobile device, a non-integrated system forces the server to manually input the payment amount, and then record the payment in the POS system. Then the transactions have to be manually reconciled at the end of the day. 

For smaller merchants and those with a low volume of payments, a non-integrated system may be acceptable. For merchants with an existing POS system and/or large volumes, integration is the next logical step.  The solution integrates with the merchant’s enterprise system, which may be able to handle sales in the store, from a call center and via online sales. As the mobile application shares the inventory database, all sales personnel have access to the same information and the database tracks sales and transactions for inventory control and accounting purposes.

With the integrated system, sales staff can use a device that accepts payments at the table in a restaurant or at the door in a retail or delivery environment. Or, a customer could place an order online and then come into the store for pickup. That’s a common multi- channel scenario for retail and restaurants. The payment will seamlessly integrate with the order the consumer has placed either online or in the restaurant or in the retailer’s four-wall environment.  Ellen cited an example of a footwear retailer, Sketchers, in which a mobile POS system connects employees with up-to-the-minute inventory for better customer service. They can quickly determine what style and sizes are in stock.  Integrated mobile POS improves store operations by providing retailers with mobile solutions that drive in-store traffic, streamline operations, increase sales and enhance the customer experience.

An integrated mobile payment acceptance solution is a proven technology available for merchants now

Retailers have seen the phenomenal success of the mobile POS deployment in the Apple stores and want to figure out how they can replicate the Apple experience in their stores and it looks like there’s finally an answer.  The solution is enabling retailers to offer a compelling and differentiated service experience in their stores. Mobile POS supports a variety of sales floor functionality, including inventory look-up and transfer, customer data acquisition and line busting.

Freed up by the mobile devices, associates can roam the store for line busting inside or outside and offer parking lot or drive-through checkout. With integration into the POS, mobile POS can also serve as a mobile returns desk as well as a mobile point-of-sale and for that reason there should never be another line at a point-of-sale in your store(s) again.

Retail sales staff can connect to a database and process sales from anywhere in the store with an iPod Touch and a Linea Pro “sled”, the same mobile hardware employed by Apple in its retail stores. The sled adds the ability to scan barcodes and swipe credit cards. Once the payment is approved, customers simply sign on-screen and receive their receipt instantly by email.  Now store staff can capture the moment when interest in the purchase is at its peak with one-to-one service that builds customer rapport and loyalty.

To be a true mobile payment acceptance system, the integrated solution should connect to a point-of- sale system based in the cloud. Then the mobile device is simply an extension of the POS, communicating with the central database regarding transactions and inventories. That way the payment will seamlessly integrate with the order the customer has placed, whether it’s online, in the restaurant or in the retailer’s four-wall environment.

You can accept payments any place, you don’t have to be tied to the four walls of a store. The mobile device talks to the cloud to process the payment, and also inventories and orders are in the cloud and all information you need to integrate with is in the cloud so you can access it and attach payments from anywhere that you’re located.  Using a cloud-based database simplifies management of information and ensures all POS locations have the same data. The data can be managed from any location with Internet access. Once the inventory is in the cloud, every store that sells from the inventory has only the single up-to-the-minute list. When you’re looking at reporting or rolling up the store’s data to look at profitability, it’s automatic, there’s nothing else to integrate or copy data from.

Mobile acceptance takes advantage of the consumer habit to use credit and debit cards for payment, but makes it easier for merchants to use and increases consumer convenience.  It can reduce merchant fees on transactions, help restaurants turn tables, help retailers complete more sales, increase security and provide better customer service, Mobile POS is something that’s practical and affordable today.

Quoting Chetan Sharma’s ‘How Mobile Will Change The Way We Spend’,

“It is very clear that mobile will be at the center of human evolution for years to come. Mobile collapses time and distance and as such impacts every facet of our lives. While we have come to know the mobile phone as a communications device, their role in our daily lives has been expanding. From checking emails, paying for tickets, sending money transfers, taking pictures of your kids, watching soccer World Cup live, checking commodity pricing, to emergency response to mHealth (mobile health), mobile devices have become an essential tool to help us navigate our day. As we alluded to earlier; it is not just the traditional phones that have cellular connections these days; we are slowly but surely moving into an era where a majority of electronic devices from small tags to giant billboards will have a communication channel that both machines and humans can interact with.

Mobile also plays a key role in how we go about the most basic transaction in a given day that keeps the economy humming – spend.

About the Author:  Rick Berry is President/CEO of ABC Mobile Pay, a registered ISO/MSP, a merchant account provider founded in 2006 and headquartered in Valencia, CA. ABC Mobile Pay specializes in providing mobile payment technology designed to bring more profits, convenience and an overall improved and interactive buying experience. - - 877-258-5223 

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