Payment terminals aplenty: what's available to power your business
Running a successful business today is as much about the hardware and software you use to manage payments as it is about the types of payments you accept. Keeping up with consumers' payment preferences, driven by continuously evolving technology, is essential to attracting and retaining customers. Read on for some of the ways that various credit card readers and terminals can help you sell on demand to your customers.
Traditional countertop POS systems
If you are accepting card payments from a brick-and-mortar location, chances are good that you are using some type of countertop point of sale (POS) system. Traditional POS systems are designed for single locations and typically include a display screen, cash drawer, card reader, and perhaps a customer-facing touchscreen/PIN pad. Some also come with a barcode scanner attachment, depending on the business needs. Newer POS systems are integrated with an EMV-enabled reader to accommodate the chip cards that are becoming more commonplace since the fraud chargeback EMV liability shift that occurred October 2015.
One main benefit of point of sale systems is that they are familiar to sales associates who have experience in the retail, restaurant and service industries, as these systems have been standard for years. However, countertop POS systems have been changing with technology and have become increasingly complex over the years. Today’s newest models mimic the interface and processing power of slick computers and tablets. A major drawback of traditional countertop POS systems is that they are basically immovable. They are meant to stay in a single location, so they cannot be used to accept payments in other locations.
Tablet-based POS systems for in-store sales
Enter the tablet-based POS system, including those that run on iPads, feature helpful applications for a variety of verticals from retail to quick-service restaurant operations. In the restaurant industry, more and more eateries are discovering the benefits of installing at-table, tablet point of sale systems that allow customers to order an appetizer at their leisure, call for the next round of drinks, or even pay their check. Providing self-service options on a tablet POS at a restaurant frees up wait staff to improve customer service, more quickly deliver orders, and keep diners satisfied that they can take their meal or drinks at their own desired pace.
Point of sale tablets also have in-store application for the retail sector. Armed with a tablet, sales associates are free to move about the sales floor and meet customers right where they are. Sales associates can answer product questions, check inventory, and even close sales away from the designated checkout area, with a simple touch of the tablet screen. Since customers won’t have a chance to change their mind before heading to the checkout line, or be turned off by having to wait in a long line to make a purchase, tablet POS solutions are an effective way to help retailers increase sales.
Smartphone-based POS systems for business on the go
Today's smartphone and tablets can be turned into point of sale solutions with a simple app download and a plug-in reader. These mobile payment systems enable merchants to accept credit and debit card payments wherever business takes them. Accepting credit card payments via iPhones is an ideal method for closing deals at trade shows, festivals, food trucks, and anywhere else outside of a business’s four walls. This type of system allows business to process payments on the go with ease.
Partly due to their simplicity and the fact that they take up so little counter space, stand-alone terminals have remained a primary means of credit and debit card acceptance for many types of merchants. The introduction of EMV chip cards has created a demand for EMV terminals that not only support this payment type, but also include advanced security technologies such as tokenization and encryption.
If you are already using a payment terminal for your credit card processing, it's likely that it is a model from either VeriFone Systems or Ingenico S.A., since these are the top two terminal manufacturers. These companies and others are beginning to introduce new, "smart" terminals, which are being met with much enthusiasm from merchants. In addition to card swipe and dip capability, smart payment terminals can also accept contactless payments via NFC, capture signatures electronically, email receipts, and communicate with other systems the merchant has in place.
Now that you have an idea of the types of payment devices available, the next step is to research the options you are most interested in. Ask your colleagues for their recommendations, inquire with your industry associations, and consult with Vantiv to help you find the solution that makes the most sense for your business.