When it comes to opening a business, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. What’s a good location? What should I sell? Who should I get my supplies from? The questions go on and on. With the way technology is developing and with the advent of mobile Point of Sale (POS) systems, one of the big questions that must be answered when opening a business now is whether to use a traditional or mobile POS system. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses and both can be useful depending upon the situation or business – there’s no real reason both couldn’t be utilized within the same business either. The increasing ubiquity of smart-phones and tablets is beginning to drive the usefulness and demand for mobile POS systems higher. According to Entrepreneur, mobile sales reached $5.3 billion in 2011, and many people don’t carry much cash or checks with them anymore as they prefer to simply use a credit or debit card instead; this reliance on paying by plastic can be detrimental to a business that is ill-equipped to accept payments solely from credit and debit cards.
While this shouldn’t ever really be an issue in a fixed location business, for a vendor cart or mobile business, or even a stall at some festival or event, being able to only accept cash is a huge loss of potential business, regardless of how much the customer wishes to buy.
Cost of POS
One of the biggest strengths of a mobile POS system is the cost in acquiring one. A traditional POS system with all the hardware can be incredibly pricy, upwards of thousands of dollars. Purchasing just a computer to run traditional POS systems on a site can cost from $500 to $2000; add in the cost of a cash drawer, card reader, receipt printer, and whatever else might be needed, and the price just continues to go up – and that’s without adding in the software.
A mobile POS system, on the other hand, can be very inexpensive if all you require is a card reader. Even if the cost of additional hardware offered by ecommerce solution providers like Shopifyor the device the POS is run off of – whether it’s a tablet or a smart-phone – is added into the total, the system is still going to be less expensive than a full blown traditional system. An additional bonus is how a tablet or smart-phone is not solely confined to the role of a POS system. Once business is done for the day or the event is over, it can be used for whatever else the owner so desires.
Levels of Hardware
A traditional POS system can have more or less hardware depending upon the owner’s desires and needs, but more often than not, a traditional system has everything that someone would expect in a POS: a card reader, receipt printer, check reader and so on. A mobile system can be a bit more disparate in where the pieces come from. If all that is needed is a card reader for those periodic events or weekly farmer’s markets, then it’s perfectly possible to purchase a $20 card reader for those credit and debit purchases while using a simple box for cash and check transactions. But the beauty of a mobile POS is that it’s possible to use just that card reader or purchase a full blown system, but without the need to invest in an expensive computer and software suite. Along with the card reader, it’s possible to pick up just a receipt printer or cash drawer or iPad stand without needing to go out of the way to get a full blown traditional system. Plus, as the term mobile should imply, these sorts of tablet or smart-phone POS systems can be easily packed up and transported elsewhere for that Christmas event or farmer’s market.
Beyond simple cost differences, there are other reasons why choosing to go with a mobile POS system might be more effective. According to How Stuff Works, a mobile POS system is wonderful for lowering the labor required from employees. A restaurant server normally has to travel back and forth between the traditional POS station and the tables they are serving, but if they were to use a mobile system, there would be no need for the constant walking back and forth, they could easily finalize customer’s orders and check them out right at the table, saving both parties time. Plus, with Technology will only develop more and get better over time, wireless communication and business is still a relatively new. Just seventy years ago, a “mobile phone” was a 25 pound behemoth (it was more like a radio than a phone) that had a pitiful five mile range. Yet now a mobile phone is more powerful than most home computers from 10 years ago. Wireless technology will continue to advance and wireless business and POS systems will advance with it.