A point of sale system is an integral part of any business selling goods or services to customers, whether it is retail, restaurants, healthcare, or any other niche. The popularity and usefulness of a standard POS system is undisputed. Nevertheless, mobile POS systems are gradually becoming popular for their portability.
A mobile POS (mPOS) system offers several benefits in addition to meeting the expectations from a traditional POS, making them a popular choice for businesses. It can help increase sales, checkout efficiency and customer loyalty.
A mPOS system can be used in addition to existing point of sale systems, or in some cases, as a replacement. If you are setting up a new point of sale system for a business, consider the pros and cons of mPOS systems to find out if they are the right fit for you.
What is a Mobile POS?
A mobile point of sale system is a tablet, iPad, smartphone or a dedicated wireless device that performs the same functions of a traditional POS terminal but wirelessly. Depending upon the degree of mobility required, an mPOS can be fitted with additional payment processors and printers. An mPOS system can connect with a wireless or Bluetooth printer and cash drawer.
Based on the POS software used, there are options for dedicated mobile versions that can be downloaded as an app. The mPOS can function as an independent checkout point that can be used anywhere in the store, or it can be a component of a larger POS network.
With a mobile POS, an extra checkout point can be created instantly, anywhere, when there is a heavy flow of customers. Employees can also mingle with customers and help in shopping, while also carrying out sales when required.
Differences Between POS and mPOS
POS typically refers to an entire point of sale solution, including the hardware, software and setup. A traditional POS system is stationary and fixed onto a platform such as a desk or table. There are multiple components, including barcode scanners, printers, payment processors, and cash drawers. The primary focus of a POS system is to provide maximum functionality and features.
In comparison, an mPOS focuses on mobility and transportability. As a result, only the bare minimum components are included to complete transactions so as to avoid transporting a bulky setup. A mobile POS is designed for tablets rather than desktop computers and primarily utilises Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology.
Apart from mobility, another difference between POS and mPOS systems is the number of payment modes supported. An mPOS system can easily accept contactless payment methods, mobile wallets, and money transfers. However, to accept card payments and cash, you would need additional equipment or a payment setup that might not be as mobile as the remainder of the mPOS system.
Hardware Components for mPOS
There is immense flexibility in a mPOS system, and based on your requirements, and pre-existing equipment, you can decide what hardware components you need. For an mPOS setup, you will need the following hardware components:
1. Tablet/Smartphone/Wireless dedicated device
The core component in a mobile POS system is the operating system, for which you can use a tablet, smartphone or wireless dedicated device. These devices also include a display and have camera sensors that can be used for barcode scanning. Many contactless payment methods are directly supported by tablets/smartphones so payments can easily be done by the device itself.
Based on the type of barcodes your business uses, you may need a dedicated barcode scanner. A separate scanner is also much faster than using the camera of a tablet or smartphone. If you expect to scan several items for a single transaction, or carry out multiple transactions throughout the day, it is ideal to buy a separate scanner. There are plenty of sleek and compact scanners available that will not detract from the mobility of the mPOS setup.
3. Payment Processor
To complete a transaction, you need to have payment processors, based on the modes of payment accepted. Most popular payment methods are cash and credit/debit cards. For cash transactions, you would need a cash drawer and for card payments, an eftpos would be required. Additional contactless payment methods, such as mobile wallets, or payment apps, do not require any special equipment, and can be operated directly from the mPOS device.
The final step of a transaction involves printing a receipt. Despite widespread digitalisation, having a printed receipt continues to remain prevalent. A printed receipt helps customers and businesses keep track of purchases and enables customers to easily apply for returns. For an mPOS setup, it is important to have a printer that can be connected to wirelessly, either through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Wireless capabilities are necessary to have a truly mobile POS setup that can be accessed without need of bulky wires.
Selecting Hardware Components
The single largest influencing factor on hardware requirements will be whether you have an existing point of sale setup that the mPOS will be an add on for, or will the mPOS system be functioning independently.
1. Additional mPOS
A traditional POS setup has essential components such as an operating system, display screen, barcode scanner, payment processor, printer and cash drawer. If you are adding an additional mPOS capability, all you need is a capable tablet, smartphone or other dedicated wireless operating device. By downloading an app for the POS software that you are currently using, your mobile device essentially becomes a mobile POS system.
If you want to be truly mobile and move between customers, and increase interaction then a good quality tablet/smartphone can suffice. However, if you want to be able to establish a more comprehensive temporary setup for the mPOS system, additional components would be needed. At the least, you would need a barcode scanner, payment processor and a printer, or a connection to a printer.
For example, if you want to setup an extra checkout point during rush hours, you can have the additional components already setup and link the tablet when needed.
2. Independent mPOS
An independent mPOS system, without connection to a wider point of sale network, can be suitable for a variety of reasons. For example, if you have limited space available, are starting out your business or have limited staff, then an mPOS is a smart option.
To set up an independent mPOS system, you will need to invest in at least all the basic hardware components, such as an operating system, barcode scanner, payment processor, cash drawer, and printer. Based on your needs, you can consider investing in additional components. For example, if you expand the number of checkout points, you would need more hardware components.
If you are planning on buying your first point of sale system, then a mobile POS system is an excellent way to start. They provide you with all the required features, boost your operational efficiency and are also mobile enough to take anywhere the need arises.
Advantages of mPOS
There are several advantages of an mPOS that have led to its popularity. These include:
- Improved flexibility
A significant benefit of a mobile POS system is the enhanced flexibility it offers. Especially if there are a limited number of employees, with a mPOS, staff can move around and go wherever they are required, without worrying about leaving a checkout point unattended. All the data regarding purchases, customer history, inventory, and more, is available wherever the mPOS is.
- Greater customer support
With a mPOS, staff can have more interactions with customers, understand their needs and help guide them. Often, customers will enter a store but when not able to find what they are looking for, they will walk out instead of approaching a front desk or checkout counter. When customers see employees available and with tablets, the customers are more likely to approach, seek help, and make a purchase.
- Better upselling and cross-selling
As mPOS setups make employees more approachable, the employees can utilise this connection to recommend upselling and cross-selling. Based on the products the customer is interested in, the employee can quickly pull up related items on their tablet and make suggestions for upselling and cross-selling. By building a rapport based on useful recommendations, the customers are more likely to increase their purchase volume.
- Reduces lines
Crowded stores with long lines and rush are unappealing and cumbersome for customers, and tiresome for employees. Many customers might even leave at the sight of long checkout lines. With a mPOS, additional checkout points be opened instantly, wherever required. This reduces pressure on existing checkout points and results in faster transactions, less rush, and happier customers.
- Boosts customer confidence
Transparency plays a big role in enhancing customer confidence. An mPOS is more personable and can be shown to the customer to confirm personal details for loyalty or other programs. These details can also be used in the future for upselling and cross-selling. To gain the same level of transparency with a traditional POS setup, a large and moveable display would be required, and the information would still not be accessible for employees during customer interactions.
- Supports sales at pop-up stores
There are a variety of pop-up store options that you can conveniently explore with a mobile POS system. Consider setting up a stall at popular trade shows, niche specific events, even flea markets. An mPOS can be taken anywhere, allowing you to expand sales options beyond the walls of your store.
After the initial purchase of the mPOS device, it will generally be more affordable than a complete traditional POS setup. There are also fewer hardware components required and even the mPOS technology used is less expensive in comparison. As payment transactions through the mPOS device are encrypted, there is greater privacy and security without having to pay large payment processing fees.
An mPOS uses cloud-based POS software which offers multiple benefits over traditional software modes. There is greater mobility, flexibility, and safety with cloud-based POS software. All the data is automatically saved and synced on the cloud, reducing the need to take backups, and the data can be accessed from anywhere. Even if the mPOS hardware is damaged, there is no harm to the saveddata. Cloud POS software can integrate multiple sales channels, increasing flexibility.
Disadvantages of mPOS
Apart from the benefits, there are a few disadvantages of using mPOS solutions.
- Battery life
As a mobile device used wirelessly, the mPOS will require regular battery charging to continue functioning. This is an added task that can be a hassle.
- Need for connectivity
An mPOS setup is dependent on wireless connectivity. Since the mPOS has a cloud-based operation system, without internet connectivity, there can be problems in smooth functioning.
A mobile point of sale system is a great variation of a traditional POS setup, and offers multiple benefits. Whether you are a small business just starting out, or have a large business dealing with many customers, an mPOS can help boost operational efficiency, give employees more time, and improve customer relations.
The immense flexibility of mPOS solutions make them an ideal supplement to an existing traditional POS system, and can also be effective when used independently. Based on the particular requirements of your business, you can add on required hardware components, and expand as needed.
At POS Plaza, we have years of experience in helping businesses find suitable POS solutions. Reach out to us today to discuss your POS needs, so we can help you find the best possible POS hardware and software.