The smartphone is the point of presence!
With smartphones, people can now find just about anything they want anytime they want anywhere they want.
This reality is shifting retail, payments, marketing, customer service and any institution that regularly interacts with individuals.
Consider some of the changes we are witnessing in only the past few months:
From the New York Times:
“Mobile PoS systems built around smartphones and tablets are changing the way people shop, and offer retailers a number of benefits, including higher volume, an improved customer experience and more usable floor space at their locations,” said Sahir Anand, vice president and research group director for retail and banking at Aberdeen Research. “In the not-too-distant future, shoppers and retailers will both see smartphone- and tablet-based PoS as the working standard and long checkout lines and crowded aisles will be a distant memory.”
“Apple revolutionized the retail industry with the introduction of smartphone-based point-of-sale systems in its stores,” said Manish Rai, head of industry and solutions marketing at Aruba. “Having tested the waters there, consumers are increasingly demanding the same experience from other stores where they shop. This solution is designed to ensure that retailers of all types can provide that high level of customer experience and the associated sales uplift.”
Point of Sale News examined some of the top smartphone-based payments/card solutions. Yes, there are many!
Since the top three mobile devices in the United States include Apple’s iPhone or iPad, phones running Google’s Android operating system, and Research in Motion’s Blackberry, this overview covers several options for each platform.
1. Square. One of the best known credit card processing apps, Square includes a proprietary dongle that plugs directly into your Android, iPad, iPhone, or iTouch headphone jack, but gives you the option of swiping or typing in credit card info. The only catch is that manual entries carry a higher processing fee than do swipes. Swipe a customer’s credit card and it’ll cost you a flat 2.75%, while typing in the card number runs 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction.
2. Intuit GoPayment. Created by the maker of the well-known accounting software, GoPayment is also available for the top three smartphone platforms. The pricing plan has two options, pay-as-you-go for businesses with fewer transactions or a high-volume option requiring a monthly service fee offset by lower transaction costs. Both plans include a free app and card reader plus no setup fees or monthly minimums.
3. BlackCharge. Formerly known as BlackCard, this mobile credit card processing service for the Blackberry offers the option of setting up a merchant account through NoblePay. The app costs $4.99 and requires a supported phone running software of 4.6.0 or higher. Payment gateway options are limited to Authorize.Net, NMI, and Pay Pal Pro. There are no additional fees or transaction percentages charged for using the app, but the standard credit card payment processing fees still apply.
4. iPay POS. A versatile mobile processing solution for Apple mobile devices including the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, iPay POS offers access to multiple payment gateways. You’ll need a merchant account to get started, but iPay POS does not lock you into one of their merchant account providers. The mobile app is free but you’ll need to buy a mag stripe reader, selecting from a growing list of compatible card readers such as iMag, uniMag, Daily Systems, and the P25 Mi combination reader and printer.
Smartphones offer always-on connectivity and continuous and real-time interaction. Users demand that of those businesses and organizations they interact with. The best price, the best item. Their stored account credentials available to make purchases happen instantly, seamlessly.
This is a good thing. It creates an improved shopping experience. Customers can make a purchase right in front of the item they are looking at. No more waiting in line, no more second thoughts.
Apple is leading the way here. Apple Store staff offer customer support, product information and, with their iPhones, can ‘check out’ a customer using their iPhone as the proverbial cash register.