Which mobile POS system is right for you?


With over 1.5 billion smartphones and 200 million tablets being sold per year, the explosion of mobile devices has revolutionized numerous industries that serve businesses and consumers. Today, most consumers expect to pay for their purchases from wherever they are in the store. This has created a demand for merchants to provide fast, easy, and innovative payment technologies to cater to changing consumer behaviors. 451 Research projects noted that the number of mobile point of sale solutions deployed will grow 4x from 2015 to 2019, reaching 54 million units in 2019. Merchants are demanding mobile point of sale (mPOS) technology, leading merchant acquirers and financial institutions to add mPOS solutions to their product lines. As we’ll discuss below, all businesses have different needs and a “one size fits all” approach to mPOS won’t work across all the businesses that utilize mobile POS solutions.

What is a ‘mobile point of sale’? A quick Google search will return the following result: “An mPOS (mobile point of sale) is a smartphone, tablet or dedicated wireless device that performs the functions of a cash register or electronic point of sale terminal (Point-of-sale terminal)”. But this really doesn’t tell you much.

While hundreds of different mPOS products exist in the market, most merchants often deploy one of two solutions. The first, often referred to as “countertop mPOS” is usually an iPad or Android tablet, or other hardware bundle, offered to a business as an alternative to an electronic cash register or purpose-built POS system. Countertop mPOS solutions may be running on a “mobile” operating system like iOS or Android, but they are typically installed at a single point of sale or used within the four walls of a business. Businesses with a stationary point of checkout may leverage a countertop mPOS, over a legacy POS, to manage their businesses more cost effectively.

The other category, which we’ve dubbed “BYOD mPOS” involves leveraging an existing smartphone or tablet that can be used by the employee/business to take payments, rather than requiring a new/separate payment acceptance device. BYOD mPOS solutions can be used in the field, for example by a plumber to take payment in their customer’s home at time of service.

The chart below summarizes the key differences in these solutions and how they’re deployed:

The main difference in hardware and support for countertop mPOS vs. BYOD mPOS is that a BYOD mPOS requires only a smartphone or tablet, which you might already own, with a low-cost card reader provided by your merchant acquirer, or Vantiv. As any given merchant may utilize an iOS or Android device, the SwipeSimple solution offered by Vantiv supports both operating systems. For a countertop mPOS, you will receive a hardware bundle that includes a tablet and peripherals usually supplied at the time of sign-up. Because all of the components are being supplied, a solution provider only needs to support either iOS or Android operating systems. The upfront hardware investment is very different across these two solutions and businesses.

A countertop mPOS is usually used by independent retailers and boutiques, quick service restaurants and coffee shops, offering multiple employees access to use one single device that is installed at the checkout counter. While BYOD mPOS is often used by in-home services, such as plumbers, landscapers, HVAC repair and more. Other type of merchants who use BYOD mPOS are special events organizers/hosts, parking lots, seasonal merchants, independent hair stylists, and catering departments of hospitality businesses. BYOD mPOS are also handy for merchants who participate in fairs, fundraisers, trade shows, farmer’s markets, craft shows and other types of community events.

Vantiv offers best-in-class solutions for both countertop mPOS and BYOD mPOS, serving all types of businesses in the market. As both solutions offer similar business operations and inventory management functionalities, consider your spatial needs when deciding which mPOS system to choose. Should you prefer to accept payments on the go, or utilize your existing devices, BYOD mPOS is your best choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for a stationary POS or an alternative to a legacy POS, there might be great value in a countertop mPOS. Leveraging the right solution makes your business mighty powerful.



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