Mobile POS: Changing The Way Retailers Think About Payment

This is Part III of Retail TouchPoints’ payment update, a three-part report uncovering the latest developments in EMV, mobile payment and mobile POS. Click here to read Part II of the feature. Download a full copy of the report here.

Google Wallet, Isis and other mobile wallet suppliers continue to educate retailers and consumers on the benefits of implementation. At the same time, mobile plug-in and other payment solution providers, such as PayPal, Square and VeriFone, are serving more merchants across verticals.

In March 2012, PayPal unveiled its newest creation, PayPal Here, a smartphone plug-in designed for small businesses, food trucks and tech-savvy consumers. The triangle-shaped, encrypted reader allows merchants to complete credit and debit card transactions with a single swipe. Other features include the ability to photograph a check for payment transmission, and select and add gratuities to transaction totals. To drive increased traffic to local businesses, the app includes a “local” section that shows consumers which nearby merchants accept PayPal. Merchants can track inventory and send invoices through the app. All swipes and transactions are charged a 2.7% fee.


PayPal’s newest addition to the mPOS market may be a significant threat to Square, which charges a 2.75% transaction fee and allows businesses and everyday users to obtain and make payments via smartphone. The company recently released Square Register, which extends beyond payment processing. The new app, designed to replicate standard cash registers, accepts cash and credit payments, and allows merchants to list menu items and track customer purchases made via iPad. An analytics program is provided to help business make more accurate and efficient decisions regarding store hours, sales, merchandise and more. Similar to PayPal Here, the Pay With Square app, another offering from Square, allows users to order items and complete purchases directly through their smartphones.

During April 2012, Square released statistics honing in on the growing frequency of mobile payments. In fact, the company increased payment volume 25% between March and April 2012, and is processing payments totaling approximately $5 billion a year, according to an article from Bloomberg.

In March, VeriFone, a notable leader in POS technology, announced plans to enable Isis NFC mobile commerce capabilities in all of its stationary hardware. Although this development spotlights VeriFone as an advocate for mobile payment, the solution provider also has made inroads in mPOS with its plug-in technology for iPhone and iPad, and its recent acquisition of GlobalBay, a mobile payment platform that features clienteling solutions.

“Every retailer now knows that mobile is a ‘must have,’ not a ‘nice to have,’” said Erik Vlugt, VP of Product Marketing for VeriFone Systems, in a Retail TouchPoints article. “There is tremendous new complexity hitting the POS industry. Retailers want to take advantage of all of these new payment applications, including Google Wallet, Isis, PayPal and mobile devices such as tablets, but need an integrated solution. VeriFone operates on behalf of the retailers to ensure existing payment infrastructures and methods work well while integrating new technologies and applications.”

To date, retailers such as C. Wonder and GUESS are utilizing VeriFone GlobalBay solutions and technology for iPhone and iPad. As a result, these merchants are taking the appropriate steps to creating more educated associates, as well as more loyal and engaged customers.

Boosting Cross Sells and Upsells With In-Store Mobile Tools

The small hardware footprint and seamless capabilities of mPOS solutions from PayPal, Square, VeriFone and others have created an ideal opportunity for retailers to free counter space and improve line-busting strategies.

According to Motorola’s “Mobile POS Study,” which gathered survey results from retailers between Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 regarding their mobile investments, 23% of retailers currently have a mobile POS solution deployed, while 11.3% are piloting options.

Retailers including Macy’s, Pacific Sunwear, Sephora, and Urban Outfitters are trialing and deploying tablet devices in stores to create more memorable and personalized shopping experiences.

By arming store associates with tablets and smartphones, and rolling out stationary self-serve devices, best-in-class retailers can guide shoppers across the buying lifecycle and create more compelling in-store experiences. Features such as clienteling solutions, recommendations, in-depth photos and color options, as well as the ability to purchase out-of-stock items online, make the in-store shopping experience more seamless and enjoyable.

These features and their benefits are among the top goals sought by merchants utilizing or planning to adopt mobile tools in-store, according to the Motorola research. A majority (71%) of retailers cite better customer service as a top tactical goal of mobile POS; 27% hope to increase likelihood of saving sales of out-of-stock items; and 26% anticipate to maximize profit via custom orders and assisted shopping.

“In today’s age of the connected consumer, it’s essential for retailers to equip workforces with the tools that keep consumers engaged,” said Mike Stinson, VP of Marketing for Motion Computing, an mPOS hardware provider. “Retailers are turning to tablets to empower store employees with real-time access to information and transaction processing at the point of sale. Tablets create a rich POS experience that can include high-quality photos, video and sound along with up-to-the-minute information regarding inventory and special offers.”

However, to create successful mobilized retail experiences, store associates must be trained to walk shoppers through every step of the browsing and buying journey, according to Jerry Rightmer, President and CTO of Starmount, also an mPOS software vendor.

“Sales associates and consumers need tools that assist at the point of decision, not just the point of sale,” Rightmer said. “Mobile tools should provide product information such as ratings and reviews; current, location-based pricing and promotions; and suggestions on alternate items, up-sells and complementary products.” These tools also should offer product availability; searches based on product attributes, price ranges, ratings or manufacturers; and information on store locations, hours and directions, he added. All these capabilities require technologies that extend into the enterprise and offer location-relevant services in real time to a variety of touch points both in and out of the store.”

The Future Of Mobile Payment

Consumers are consulting their smartphones more frequently to obtain information, communicate with friends and family, and even make purchases. As these behaviors become more commonplace, retailers must consider the enterprise-wide benefits of utilizing mobile technology in the store, as well as revamping POS hardware to allow contactless payment via credit and debit card, as well as by mobile device.

“Mobile is making the biggest impact on payment and the overall retail experience, is redefining in-store POS, and clearly is the largest catalyst for change,” said Andrew Morris, Director of Market Platform Dynamics. “In fact, mobile technology is changing the entire way we think about payment. This redefinition of in-store POS is happening quickly for retailers: already there are scores of retailers using iPads for in-the-aisle purchasing capabilities and clienteling, or implementing an ‘Apple store model’ for store associates.”

Mobile engagement and technology are an integral part of the omni-channel shopping experience. As a result, more retailers will begin to equip tablets and smartphones with mag stripe readers and barcode scanners to enable payment in the aisles.

By utilizing mobile technology, retailers not only create a more compelling and personalized in-store shopping experience, but can gather and assimilate customer data more easily across channels.

“A major trend for retailers in 2012 is the ability to create a seamless, omni-channel experience that couples brick-and-mortar with television, catalog, online, social media or any other channel of a brand,” Stinson said. “Tablets help create easy access to consumers’ preferences and buying histories, and link that information to in-store specials. This strategy creates a comprehensive retail experience that involves all aspects of the brand, instead of one-off interactions through different channels.”

Click here to download the three-part payment update as a complete PDF document.

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