mPOS systems can expand your services to customers.
Mobile POS systems can turn any smartphone or tablet into a cash register, giving you the ability to accept payments from anywhere. — Getty Images/Spiderstock

A mobile point-of-sale system, also known as an mPOS or point-of-sale app, turns a smartphone or tablet into a cash register. This allows merchants to accept payments virtually anywhere — all you need is a device, the mPOS platform and an internet connection. Analysts predict that mPOS systems will be used to complete nearly 25% of all transactions by 2023. Here’s what you need to know about adding a POS app to your technology stack.

[Read more: 4 Things to Consider Before Accepting Mobile Credit Card Payments]

What to look for in a mobile POS system

A mobile POS system offers the freedom to accept payments beyond your brick-and-mortar location, even if your business has a physical footprint. Mobile POS platforms allow merchants to sell at farmers markets, trade shows and art fairs, and to visit clients’ homes. More and more restaurants are using mobile POS to complete checkout tableside, ultimately providing a better customer experience by condensing the payment process.

The right mPOS system gives your business flexibility without sacrificing security. Look for an mPOS with the following capabilities:

  • Cloud-based: Look for a solution that backs up all information online automatically.
  • Low transaction fees: Do your research, because some mPOS companies charge monthly fees as well as transaction fees and other costs.
  • Accepts any type of payment: The system should be EMV compliant, meaning it can accept chip cards, as well as NFC payments (Google Wallet, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, for instance).
  • User-friendly: The interface is easy to understand and doesn’t require extensive training of your employees.
  • Supports offline mode: In the unfortunate event that you lose the wireless connection, make sure your solution can still process cash transactions, honor coupons and discounts, make changes to open orders and award refunds.
  • Works with your existing technology: An mPOS system can become expensive very quickly if you need to purchase a new phone just to be able to use it. Make sure the mPOS works on your hardware’s operating platform (iOS or Android or both) and is compatible with your other POS and accounting tools.
  • Supports your specific industry: Many mPOS platforms will include inventory management, employee scheduling, order taking, customer tracking and other tools that make it easy to run your business efficiently.

The right mPOS depends on the size of your business, the speed of your operations and your specific industry. Restaurants and retailers have different needs than salons and other service-based ventures.

[Read more: Choosing the Best POS System for Your Company]

How to implement a mobile POS in your restaurant

Mobile POS systems are particularly popular among restaurant owners: 72% of restaurant managers want an mPOS system at their establishment, according to one report.

Features like pay-at-table, the ability to send an order straight to the kitchen and even the capability to quote wait times or accept reservations improve staff morale and increase your restaurant’s profitability. Adding a mobile POS can unite your front-of-house and back-of-house operations for an overall better dining experience. But, like any tool, it takes a few steps to implement an mPOS.

First and foremost, consider how your mPOS can improve the guest experience. From the moment a customer enters the door until they pay their bill, where can your mPOS play a role in making their meal great? For instance, the mPOS should include a floor plan that allows the host or hostess to provide an accurate wait time or to seat the party at the best available table. The server needs to be equipped with an mPOS that seamlessly communicates the order, with any modifications, to the kitchen. When guests are ready to pay, the mPOS must be able to accept any type of payment, add a tip and complete the transaction in one step.

Laying out the customer journey can show you a few things. First, which of your employees needs hardware loaded with your mPOS software? Who needs training on how to use the mPOS tool? What capabilities does your point-of-sale app need in order to make this entire process easy? Provide training to every new staff member to make sure they’re equipped to use every feature. Introduce the mPOS gradually, with plenty of learning time and a backup system (like paper orders) to make sure your lunch shift doesn’t go off the rails.

Mobile POS tools are a way to improve the omnichannel shopping experience and capture more in-store transactions.

How to implement a mobile POS in your brick-and-mortar store

Retailers are increasingly adding mPOS systems to their brick-and-mortar locations. Walgreens, for instance, added a mobile payment platform to thousands of its stores in March 2019. Mobile POS tools are a way to improve the omnichannel shopping experience and capture more in-store transactions.

A mobile POS at your brick-and-mortar store can be an adjustment; capture the most benefit by examining your store layout before deploying the mPOS. How can you change your floorplan to make use of space more effectively? “Using mPOS creates opportunities to supplement stationary or multilane checkouts, or simply reduce the number of them in favor of creating more selling and display space,” wrote one analyst.

Like restaurants, retailers also need to provide training to their staff in order to implement an mPOS without service interruption. You should train your team not only to use the system’s inventory management and checkout tools, but also to upsell and use customer data to increase basket size. Your POS app can provide data and reporting that enables your team to personalize service and prevent cart abandonment.

An mPOS at your retail location must be kept secure, and also requires a strong, consistent Wi-Fi connection or data plan. In preparation for adding an mPOS, make sure you have the right hardware and IT in place to provide consistent service. There should be plenty of charging stations to make sure you never miss a sale due to a low battery.

Risks of using a mobile POS

There are some risks to implementing an mPOS system.

Cybersecurity is a common concern among experts, who view a POS app’s backend system as particularly vulnerable to hacks. “Unlike closed payment processing systems, [mPOS systems] rely on the security of the commercial off-the-shelf device and the downloadable app. This means attackers might be able to access the card processing app if they can penetrate the mobile device’s operating system or app that’s running on it in parallel with the mPOS app,” wrote PaymentsJournal. Make sure to keep your POS app up-to-date and secure your Wi-Fi network to mitigate this risk.

Merchants also take on the risk of losing a sale due to a poor connection or network downtime. As you implement an mPOS, make sure to have a backup plan in case business as usual...doesn’t go as usual.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published February 25, 2020