Mobile, Mobile, Mobile … and Point-of-Sale

Mobile is the hottest topic in payments and its one of the most popular technology topics as well. From statistics relative to consumer smartphone purchases, which are reportedly up 47 percent year-over-year, to predictions around mobile device purchases, which IDC forecasts will exceed $1 trillion by 2017, the vast majority of tech-based conversations are centered around mobile.

Regardless of the statistic, prediction, forecast or conversation, there is no arguing that mobile technologies are changing the way we do business and how we engage as customers. As new payment technologies enter the marketplace offering agnostic payment acceptance, including contactless payments via QR/2D barcodes and near-field communication (NFC) as well as integrated loyalty and gift programs, increased pressure rests with both developers and retailers alike to research these new offerings and leverage mobile-based technologies to grow their respective business. Two technologies that are gaining traction fast are tablet-based POS systems and mobile point-of-sale (POS).

Development platforms such as Apple’s iOS an Android are offering up new opportunities to innovate for tablet-based POS developers like LightSpeed, Clover, Combase, and Gopago. While some tablet-based solutions offer slightly less features and functionality versus historical predecessors, for many merchants tablet based POS solutions offer what they need including inventory management, employee tracking, receipting and refunding, mobile payment acceptance, and integrated gift and loyalty, and for a fraction of the cost. Tablet-based POS systems expand the developers’ reach in terms of prospective merchants due to a lower cost, and they deliver incremental value through data and operational management to the businesses using them.

On the other side of the spectrum, but still in the mobile conversation is mobile-POS, which to some, is signaling the ‘End of POS as We Know It.’ Mobile POS is a technology gaining popularity, especially with Tier I and Tier II retailers, to combat showrooming and drive more sales through a more flexible checkout process that brings the transaction to the customer rather than force them to visit a specific counter and check-out via a traditional cash register. According to a recent RIS Survey, “The Mobile POS Effect”, 21.4 percent of retailers plan to remove five or more traditional fixed station POS units per store and replace them with mobile POS and 55.2 percent of retailers have plans to deploy one or two mobile POS devices per store immediately. 

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s clear that the shopping experience is changing, whether through shopping local and having a better customer experience via a tablet-based POS or buying at a big-chain retailer and enjoying the convenience of checking out via mobile POS. Technology and mobile continue to drive change in the payments space, leading to a true evolution of the customer engagement experience and new opportunities for merchants, regardless of their size.