Today’s consumers expect high-quality products that meet their needs, a frictionless checkout process, and stellar customer service. That means more than answering people’s questions and helping them with returns. In fact, one of the most important – and most neglected – parts of running a retail establishment is the payment experience that your buyers receive.

Back in the day.

Not so long ago, cash was the standard method of payment for the majority of purchases. Buyers were limited to spending the amount they happened to have in their pocket and had no choice but to accept their inconvenient change, along with a paper receipt.

Then, along came credit cards, which provided guests the ability to pay for products over time. Security was improved and both customer and merchant had access to a record of the purchase. The equipment that the seller used to read the buyer’s payment data and transmit it to the processing company was simple and effective in performing the single task at hand.

The arrival of the smart terminal.

Innovations in technology soon resulted in revolutionary changes to legacy cash registers and stationary checkout equipment. Modern hardware and software still do the basic job that was accomplished by old-fashioned “dumb” terminals. However, that is just the beginning of what a contemporary smart terminal can do for your business.

In many respects, you can think of a smart terminal as the middle child in the family. The youngest is the simple stationary hardware-software combination of the past whose sole purpose was to take customers’ credit card payments. The oldest child is the full-fledged point of sale (POS) system that is rich with all the features that a booming business needs. As you may have guessed, smart terminals fall somewhere between these two poles, offering not just seamless and secure payments but also some of the most important and sought-after back-office capabilities that can assist you in your day-to-day operations.

The enhanced capabilities of smart terminals.

In addition to facilitating payments, smart terminals can act as your silent partner as you operate and expand your business. These innovative devices can enhance your customers’ payment experiences while simultaneously streamlining many aspects of your operations. Below are just some of the tasks a smart terminal can complete.

• Inventory management, including low stock alerts.

• Accounting and payroll.

• Report generation for financial, sales, and customer data.

• Split payments and recurring billing.

With its ability to perform multiple functions, combined with tools that provide you with analytics and other insights into how your store is functioning, a smart terminal is one of the best assets that any business owner could add to their business.

Mobile readers explained.

Let’s begin by dispelling a misconception. A mobile card reader is not distinct from a POS solution. In fact, it is simply a specific type of POS system that performs additional and increasingly important functions because of its portability.

Instead of working primarily on desktop computers, mobile readers allow you to line bust by checking out customers anywhere on your sales floor, or wherever your business takes you. Even so, they still connect with traditional receipt printing, scanning, cash drawer equipment, and so forth. 

The magic of so-called mobile POS (mPOS) solutions lies in their nimbleness and flexibility. Since they aren’t tethered to a cash register, smart terminals and mobile card readers allow your sales associates to roam the floor and provide expert customer service and product checkout from anywhere. This may even extend off-site to fairs, farmer’s markets, and pop-up stores.

Portability also enhances the benefits of mobile POS software. If you want to check on an employee’s performance, or the success of your current marketing campaign, you don’t need to wait or be sitting at your desk at the office. Simply log into your dashboard from anywhere on any internet-connected device to have access to the full spectrum of valuable information your POS has gathered for you.

The rise of mobile payments.

The devices payments are being processed on are changing. So too are the ways that customers are choosing to purchase products and services. The advent of the smartphone, along with wearable devices such as fitness trackers, means that cash and standard credit cards are quickly being replaced by so-called mobile or digital payments.

The key to this innovative process is the digital wallet that comes built into Android and Apple devices. This wallet allows for the secure storage of a customer’s sensitive payment data, including credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes. The data is then encrypted to prevent criminals from gaining access to it.

When the time comes to pay for an item or service, the customer simply takes out their phone or wearable, activates the wallet feature, and authenticates their identity with a fingerprint, facial ID, or passcode. The device is then placed inches from the merchant’s compatible card reader. Within a matter of seconds, the details are tokenized and transmitted, the customer’s identity is verified, and the payment is either accepted or declined.

What is the best solution for your business?

After considering the information covered above, you may have realized that you need to leave your old-fashioned cash register behind once and for all. However, one question remains: Should you get a smart terminal or a mobile card reader?

The good news is that you don’t need to pick one over the other. Many modern POS solutions come with wifi capabilities. The best way to find out if this is an option for you is to contact your merchant services provider.

Running a business is more than a full-time job. Anything you can do to make it easier is a definite plus. Fortunately, a smart terminal, whether equipped with mobile card readers or not, can streamline many of the tasks that you currently devote hours of manual work to accomplishing. What’s more, their cloud-based environment allows you to have access to the data you need at any time and from anywhere.

If you’re still on the fence about which solution to incorporate into your operations, chat with others in your industry. Also, be sure to sit down with your merchant services provider to get a complete picture of what they offer. It could be one of the most important decisions you make for your business this year!

Contact NAB today and see how easy it is to get the merchant services you deserve.

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