The New, More Mobile POS Industry: Opportunity or Obstacle?
Over the last few years, we have seen some major shifts in the point of sale industry. Among the most notable developments are the transition from cash to mobile payments and the increasing availability of various technologies to expedite inventory, scheduling, payroll, and business management. Perhaps most notable among the recent developments in the industry is the shift toward a more mobile point of sale environment. With the advent of Square, Flint, Intuit GoPayment, and many more, the capacity for major POS power is now within small mobile devices.
In addition to the small footprints offered by these mobile POS platforms, they are also surprisingly affordable and simple enough to be implemented by even the least tech-savvy businesses. Now that the market is more crowded and consumers are becoming more used to processing transactions on smartphones and tablets, the major players are offering major incentives for businesses to get rid of their old legacy systems and install their more compact and often equally powerful counterparts. However, amidst all the news on the exciting potential offered by mobile POS options, there is an underlying question: is this a good thing for the POS industry?
With all the excitement generated by news like PayPal’s waiving of transaction fees for businesses making the mobile switch and the recent release of the new Square Stand, we may be remiss in failing to examine what will happen to the industry at large if the tide continues to drift toward mobile POS. After all, the transition to this new model eliminates a major player in the current landscape: the value added reseller (VAR). If a business is dealing directly with the POS software provider, there is an important piece of the equation missing. So we ask: is anything really lost?
By removing the VAR from the equation, businesses are left to go it alone when making important decisions like which software to choose, how to install, what additional features to select, and how many terminals and other hardware they will require. In previous articles on this site, we have seen small business owners working through their own questions about their choices in mobile POS providers and dealing with issues with updates, upgrades, and compatibility. Without the VAR working as middleman, merchants need to be armed with the best information, and software providers need to provide the best possible service for their clients.
So we ask: is the current equation working? What does the future hold for this new model? Overall, is the transition from the established industry model (explicated in this article) to the mobile POS model a good thing or a bad thing for small- to medium-sized businesses?
With the recent release of Square Stand, we saw a company that made its name on the tiniest of footprints suddenly seeming to answer to the call for something more tangible in the mobile POS experience. Does this indicate that merchants are expressing a desire for something to “ground” their POS systems in reality rather than having them exist, somewhat metaphorically, in the “cloud?” A recent CNET piece on Square’s hardware designer and vice president Jesse Dorogusker examines the thinking behind the release of the accessory: “When it unveiled Stand last month, Square made a very big deal out of it. Some may have wondered if such a tool merited so much energy, but the company clearly feels that it needed to give its thousands of retail customers something that offered what Dorogusker called a ‘tangible connection, not only to credit cards, but to the countertop, [and] to the physical space.’”
So what do you think, readers? Is the shift toward mobile POS ultimately a good thing for the industry, or do you depend on your legacy system and the VAR that helped you choose, install, and maintain it? What do you think the future holds? Let us know in the comments!
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