With a myriad of POS and payment solutions out there, how do small businesses choose the right one? Tech journalist, Trevor Long discusses.
It wasn’t all that long ago that if your business wanted to accept card payments from customers, there was a lengthy and complicated process you needed to follow.
This included sitting down with your bank, showing them your accounts, and proving how accepting card payments was going to benefit your business. You also had to agree to some hefty terms and conditions, pay upfront transaction fees, and then continue to fork out monthly fees.
Fast forward to today, where a babysitter can accept tap-and-go payments from a credit or debit card using a small device and their mobile phone. In terms of technology, this is one area where the advances have been swift, disruptive to traditional market holders, and extremely beneficial to customers and small business owners.
Combine this payment mechanism with a new wave of point of sale (POS) systems, and the traditional cash register and cash drawer can literally be replaced with an iPad and simple payment device.
Benefits for your business
For new business owners, these new systems eliminate a ton of paperwork, costs, and waiting time as you establish your business and will ensure you can have the same payment functionality as the big guys.
Meanwhile, those of you in existing businesses should consider whether these new systems are better suited to your needs, as they may cut down on monthly and transaction fees, and streamline integration between the register and the payment terminal.
The new wave of payment systems
A modern POS system runs on almost any smart device, with iPads the typical choice. These systems contain all your product and pricing information, and can also track your stock levels.
While you might think all the fancy features of a register, scanner, and payment system can’t be replicated so simply, think again. There are POS software solutions which use an iPad camera for barcode scanning, with a touch screen interface for entering customer or commercial information. We’re also seeing a huge rise in mobile-equipped payment systems such as Square, which operate using the same platform.
Many businesses are looking to go mobile, and move away from counter-based checkouts. Newer mobile systems make it possible for your team to carry smartphones which can scan items, record customer details and take payments in any area of your business or store, eliminating the need for a central counter.
These systems also allow customers to provide their email address to receive their receipt, which allows for two simple but powerful exchanges of information- paperless receipts for your business, and capturing customer data for future engagement and marketing.
Point of sale innovations
Across the sector, the Commonwealth Bank is making strides with their Leo and Albert payment terminals. However, the two leaders in this space are not banks, but disruptors. PayPal and Square are creating platforms and devices for retailers and businesses that offer the utmost in simplicity.
PayPal’s ‘Here’ device pairs with a mobile phone, allowing small businesses to accept card payments.
While Square have a portable solution for that same market, their new Square Stand is intended for retailers. The stand sits on the checkout counter and replaces all POS technology, including the cash register, scanner, and payment terminal. The software is easy to use and the process is simple, from the initial registration of your business to the everyday use of the system.
Storing your data in the Cloud
Cloud-based payment and POS systems give you access to your retail information anytime, anywhere. For businesses in multiple locations, this offers a better overview for your management team, and enables you to access your transaction and stock information wherever you are.
It also means your business management processes are streamlined. Both your PC and your smartphone can interact with your business systems, so you’re no longer tied to the office desk – you can work anywhere.
As with any new technology, it’s imperative to assess how adopting a new payment system will impact your business, both in the short and long term. In particular:
• Security – Ensure that your chosen POS or payment provider has an encrypted communication service, so that your data can’t be intercepted by any form of cyber threat. This means operating your system on a separate secure Wi-Fi network to the one your customers use, as well as using the strongest form of password and two factor authentication (SMS password codes) whenever available.
• Reviews – If you’re considering making the move, take into account similar business applications and the experiences of those users. Read up on the reviews of these companies and their experiences implementing software platforms.
• Costs – What are the monthly charges for these systems, and will these increase as your business grows? Also consider the transaction costs involved in cloud-based payment solutions, and whether you’ll be charged a flat fee or a percentage for each transaction.
• Time – Investing in a modern payment system could mean you no longer need to collate your stock data and transaction history each quarter, for example, which could equal radical time savings Think about how else these systems could introduce time efficiencies into your business and weigh this up against the costs.
Making a decision that affects your entire business is never easy. However, the innovations we’ve seen in POS and payment systems over the last 12-18 months are highly impressive and certainly worthy of consideration for any business.
B2BEXPO Naming Sponsor: Officeworks