Three Ways You Can Prepare Your Retail Business For mPOS

Ben Wagner of Ingenico Group provides insight into three ways that retailers can prepare their business for mPOS success

If you’ve decided to invest in a mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solution for your retail stores, you’re already aware of the array of benefits it offers your business. However, many retailers face challenges in implementing their new mPOS technologies. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place to address these obstacles.

Here are the three ways that retailers can prepare their business for mPOS success.

1. Alter your store layout

Modifying your store layout while adopting mPOS creates several opportunities to alter the customer journey and improve efficiency and space usage.

Convert checkouts to selling space. Using mPOS creates opportunities to supplement stationary or multilane checkouts, or simply reduce the number of them in favor of creating more selling and display space. Stationary checkouts can handle the typical levels of business, while mPOS can handle the occasional peaks without permanently dedicating that space to additional lanes.

Strategically place receipt printers. If your associates will be providing mobile checkouts, strategically place receipt printers around your store. This way, if a customer prefers a paper receipt, a mobile associate can print and retrieve one quickly, without straying far from the point of service.

2. Train your staff

One of the mPOS challenges identified by retailers in a recent IHL Group survey is the need to train store associates properly. This is crucial. Make sure to train your associates thoroughly and validate their understanding in several key areas:

mPOS device and application. mPOS  devices come in different form factors, depending on your business needs. Some are paired with smart phones, others with tablets, and some with fixed POS systems. Whatever devices you choose, your associates should be trained to use them and any related mobile apps and tools.

Upselling. The POS apps on your mPOS solution may enable your associates to access product and inventory information. They need to be trained to use these features to upsell and cross sell. As an example, they can use a tablet POS solution to show the customer related accessories or items when they’re providing mobile customer service or checkouts.

Customer engagement. Your associates should be trained for optimal customer engagement. Make sure they understand how to use all the features of their mPOS solution to enhance customer interactions and provide outstanding, personalized service.

Preventing cart abandonment. Your associates need to know how and when to use your mPOS solution for line busting and to quickly recognize and help a confused or frustrated customer. By offering preemptive customer service and alternative purchasing options, including accepting payments anywhere in the aisle, they can rescue a sale that might otherwise be lost. For example, they can help customers find their desired product at another store and pay for it now, or order it online from your warehouse, with same- or next-day delivery.

3. Maintain your mPOS payments infrastructure

Your IT staff should also know how to maintain the new infrastructure for your mPOS deployment. Here are several points to keep in mind:

Better, secure Wi-Fi. It’s critical to consider upgrading to better Wi-Fi connectivity and maintaining an optimized network. This will help ensure that transactions and service interactions are smooth, secure, and seamless.

Remote updates. According to IHL Group’s report, 45% of retailers point out that mobile security is complicated and demanding. A mobile-device management solution is a perfect way to address this. It allows you to install regular software updates, monitor security, and track your devices remotely, while saving considerable time and cost.

Charging and securing devices. Your store staff needs to be in the habit of charging devices regularly. With many mPOS solutions, such as mobile smart terminals and tablet POS, charging stations are available to dock and charge your devices.

Though common in Europe, chip cards with PIN numbers still haven’t caught on in the U.S. But a mobile chip-and-PIN terminal could nudge more retailers to get on board.

Payments company Ingenico rolled out mobile card reading technology Wednesday that turns merchants’ mobile phones into point of sale terminals. Similar to Square card readers, merchants connect an external device to their phones, only by Bluetooth. Customers are then prompted to enter their PIN numbers on the screen. It’s currently being beta-tested in Europe.

Chip-and-signature cards have become ubiquitous across the U.S.; as of December 2017, 96 percent of U.S. payment volume took place on chip cards, according to Visa. But chip-and-PIN cards are catching on much more slowly. Next month, however, major credit card brands are getting rid of signatures making room for PIN numbers to replace them. A mobile solution would makes it easier on retailers to roll it out cheaply.

“This is a major win for retail merchants,” said Michael Moeser, director of payments at Javelin Strategy and Research. “It drastically lowers the cost threshold for card acceptance; merchants will no longer be forced to buy expensive, dedicated point-of-sale terminals and PIN pads to accept cards.”

Over a dozen retailers contacted by Tearsheet declined to comment for this story, though some are testing mobile point-of-sale terminals. For example, more than 900 North American Gap stores are equipped with them, which the company said has resulted in more purchases made and higher customer satisfaction rates in those locations.

While most large retailers have already invested in chip and pin technology, the cost may be prohibitive for smaller merchants. But large retailers could use the technology to roll out payment kiosks in areas of a store that may be far away from physical point-of-sale terminals. Mastercard, which worked with Ingenico on security principles and evaluation criteria for the PIN on Glass product, said it’s applicable to a range of retail payment use cases.

“Smaller merchants benefit from being able to start accepting electronic payments using their existing mobile device, and there are certainly benefits to other merchants involved with mobile point of sale solutions who may find the entry of PIN on the application as a compelling user experience,” said Bruce Rutherford, senior vice president of security standards and solutions at Mastercard, in an email.

The interaction of a physical card with a mobile phone that’s become a point-of-sale system can be seen as a transitional step from card to mobile payments, especially when mobile payment adoption is still low in the U.S. market.

Despite the advantages of a mobile point-of-sale with chip-and-PIN, there are hurdles to wide adoption. Larger retailers may still be reluctant to offer it, since it may affect loyalty schemes, offers and promotions, advertising and data analytics, Margaret Weichert, a principal in EY’s banking practice and the Americas lead for payments, recently told Tearsheet. Smaller merchants may also have to update their point-of-sale systems to do this.

“In many cases the micro merchant may not have the risk of fraud that EMV Chip and PIN prevents in the first place,” said Brendan Miller, principal analyst at Forrester. “Micro merchants may know their customers personally, or are selling items that are not very enticing to a fraudster such as cup of coffee or sandwich out of a food truck.”

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