Mobile POS vs. Traditional Systems: The Pros and Cons

Mobile POS

Mobile POS

Mobile POS (point of sale) is the latest retail technology advance to make an appearance on sales floors across the country. While these new systems have significant retail advantages, there are some areas where traditional POS systems still have the advantage. Both options have pros and cons, so it’s vital to take everything into consideration before you decide which is right for your business.

Mobile POS Systems – The Pros

The top advantage of a mobile POS system is its flexibility and, of course, its mobility. Mobile systems can provide many benefits, including:

  • Reducing wait times in checkout lines by allowing additional checkout options when and where customers need them
  • Allowing purchases to be made quickly on the floor, securing a sale before the customer changes his or her mind after further browsing and thought
  • Handling temporary increases in checkout needs, including during high-traffic times such as sales or holidays
  • Allowing POS checkouts to be set up wherever it is needed most, whether across multiple departments or multiple store locations
  • Setting up POS checkouts at off-site locations such as farmer’s markets, expos, bazaars, sidewalk sales, and other locations
  • Quick assistance on the floor for customers seeking a particular product

The other major benefit to mobile POS systems is that they are considerably more affordable than large, traditional systems. They’re lightweight and take up less space, giving a streamlined look and feel to your sales and your brand perception.

Mobile POS Systems – The Cons

While there are a great number of major benefits to mobile systems, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. Things that may create issues include:

  •  The requirement for a solid wireless connection, the loss of which can result in lost sales and customer frustration
  • Their small size means they are easier to steal, creating a security risk
  • Small mobile stations on the floor aren’t designed to handle purchases of a large number of items, which require more of a traditional checkout system
  • Customers may be wary of the security level of mobile systems

Traditional POS Systems – The Pros

Traditional POS systems have been in place stably for a long time, and they have advanced greatly in terms of security and design. Among the positive factors of traditional systems to keep in mind are:

  • They offer a higher level of security and are very difficult to steal, creating greater peace of mind for your business
  • Customers are familiar with these systems and feel comfortable using them to process sensitive data such as their credit card numbers
  • They allow processing of large numbers of items more quickly via fast scanning, and they have a more robust setup to deal with removal of security tags, folding, and bagging of items

Traditional POS Systems – The Cons

There are a few things a traditional POS system simply can’t do, and many of the negatives are a reflection issues that have led to the increased popularity of mobile systems.

  •  Bulky traditional POS systems can’t be moved from location to location to serve customers as needed
  • They can create longer lines for customers and result in wait times that may lead to buyers changing their minds or becoming frustrated
  • They’re expensive and require a lot of space, both of which add up when you need a larger number of checkout stands

The Bottom Line

Both mobile and traditional POS systems have great features, and they each meet the needs of customers in different ways. For many retailers, a combination of these systems is becoming the best solution to providing a comprehensive POS solution.

The decision to go mobile often will depend on how many of the pros of mobile systems apply to your particular business, or whether the benefits provided by a traditional system are more in line with your needs.

The Future of POS Technology

Future Of POS

Future Of POS

The Future of POS Technology

POS technology has been advancing at an amazing pace in recent years. The remarkable success of Apple Pay has drawn a lot of attention to the subject of mobile payment systems. There’s no doubt that this type of integrated payment system will form the basis of the next wave of POS services.

As mobile payment technology rolls out across the nation and picks up speed, it’s important for businesses to stay on top of the trend. The ability to accept this form of payment and process it is likely to be increasingly important as more consumers accept and put the technology to use.

Meanwhile, credit cards are changing rapidly with the spread of EMV chip card technology, and retailers need to get on board with a deadline for the phase-out of magnetic strips in the near future.

Apple Pay and Google Wallet

While Google Wallet has actually offered mobile payment services since 2011, it has not surprisingly been the launch of Apple Pay in 2014 that brought the technology into the spotlight. Google has been quick to catch up, and much like Apple and Android, the two systems are likely to split the market share more evenly in the future. Meanwhile, more companies are looking to get in on the market; Samsung is reported to have their own competitor to Apple Pay in the near future.

This form of contactless payment via mobile phone, known as near field communication (NFC), is one of the most important pieces of POS technology for retailers to jump on; the number of companies accepting contactless mobile payment is growing quickly.

Cards With Chips and EMV

Already in common use in Europe and Canada, EMV technology (which stands for the three credit card companies, Europay, Mastercard, and Visa, that developed it) is growing quickly in popularity in the US. Gone will be the swipe of the magnetic strip, and instead, all the information is stored in a small chip implanted right into the card.

These chips create a much more secure transaction by generating a new code every time they are used. Credit card companies have given US retailers a deadline of October 1, 2015, to start accepting the new chip cards, which means it’s time to upgrade your POS systems to accept them.

Other Technology of the Future

In addition to these two big innovations in payment technology, there are numerous other technologies in use. Mobile credit card processors are becoming more common, thanks to technology like Square, while classic registers are being replaced by tablets and mobile phones on sales floors.

The 2014 Innovator Expo showcased a number of integrated payment systems that are likely to become a reality in the near future. Apps that assist shoppers in both saving and spending money are also on the rise.

Preparing for the Future

There’s no question that staying on top of the new POS technology is going to become more vital in the next few years. While there is a hard deadline for accepting EMV chips, customers are beginning to expect mobile payment processing, so businesses will need to be equipped for it.

It’s important to upgrade systems with an eye to the future, so that multiple upgrades won’t be required as technology changes. As with all POS systems, the more recent the technology, the more secure it will be – certainly not a small point when it comes to investing in technology.