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How to choose the best mobile payment platform for in-person sales

Written by Spencer Durrant on February 2, 2016 in Strategies & Tips

18047512418_58ca80e155_z.jpgBuying products with the simple tap of your smartphone is becoming an increasingly larger, and popular, part of the retail landscape. According to a Bloomberg Business article,

"The total value of transactions made by tapping a phone on an in-store terminal will reach $210 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2015."

So what does this mean for SMB retailers in 2016? It means that you need to be using the best mobile payment platform available for SMBs in 2016. 

Make sure you can accept Apple and Google

The number-one thing you should look at before buying any kind of mobile purchasing processing platform is to make sure it can process payment from both Apple and Google. 

Both Android and Apple Pay use NFC (Near Field Communication) technology to process transactions. Samsung Pay does as well, but Samsung Pay is currently only available on the Galaxy S6 or Note 5 (and, of course, later iterations of those devices). While Apple Pay still hasn't caught on as much as Apple hoped it would — according to Time, adoption of Apple Pay has been declining since August 2015 — Android Pay has the edge in the market. Many more stores accept Android Pay versus Apple, and it has the ability to be used on almost every Android device, whereas Apple and Samsung Pay are limited to those brands' devices. 

The Time article pointed out something noteworthy: due to the fact that there are three major mobile-based payment solutions out there, consumers have given mobile-based payments a "tepid" reaction. However, these types of sales will rise, and if you can get your store ready to accept Apple and Android Pay in 2016, you'll be ahead of the curve. Time will tell if you need to worry about accepting Samsung Pay.

How to determine which system is best for you

Not all mobile payment processing solutions are created equal. Sure, there's similarities and features that overlap, but each mobile payment processing solution will give you different flexibility, options, and rates for processing transactions. 

The best way to determine what payment solution will best suit your store's needs is to be honest with yourself about your store's size and sales volume. A full-fledged option that integrates with QuickBooks is going to cost more than a simple credit card reader and free app. Do you really need all the bells and whistles of a more expensive mobile payment processing system, or would a simple solution work best for your store? Those are the questions you need to answer before looking at any products. 

Once you've answered those questions, it's time to start researching the different solutions that are out there. This article from Nerd Wallet provides a detailed list of POS mobile processing systems that are great for small businesses. 

My personal favorite was Square, a system that you've probably heard of before. I liked Square because: 

  • You get a free mobile card reader at signup (think something you plug in to a tablet or smartphone) 
  • It's EMV-compliant, meaning it can accept the chips now present in most major credit cards in order to help avoid fraudulent transactions. 
  • You can still accept offline payments, like checks, cash, and gift cards. 
  • Apple and Android Pay compliant

If you're a larger retailer, you can buy a Square Stand, which essentially becomes a checkout register when you connect it to a tablet. According to the Nerd Wallet article, you can even connect physical hardware like a cash register, receipt printer, and barcode scanner directly to your Square Stand. It costs $99. 

However, as with all mobile payment processing solutions, there are caveats to using Square. You'll pay a flat 2.75% processing fee on every purchase. But keep in mind that Square also offers you the ability to create a custom catalog within their free app that'll speed up the checkout process. You can organize products by category within the Square app, and add photos and pricing as well. 

Square is an example of a POS system that offers tons of versatility and customization. But some retailers may not want, or need, that level of detail in their mobile payment processing system. 

If you're looking for a less complex, slightly cheaper POS option, consider the Amazon Register. 

Amazon Register has several nice features, including: 

  • Syncs with any products that you may sell on Amazon (so if you run a brick-and-mortar but also sell product on Amazon, amazon Register will sync all your sales in one location) 
  • A free mobile app
  • 2.5% processing fee per swipe, one of the lowest in the industry
  • $10 card reader 

The card reader for Amazon Register plugs into the headphone jack of your smartphone or tablet, whichever device you choose to run your mobile register from. Amazon Register does offer some of the same customization as Square, but the base product you receive with Amazon Register is cheaper and simpler. 

If neither of these options sound particularly appealing to you, look through the rest of the linked list from Nerd Wallet. They listed nine different systems, and one of those can probably suit your store's needs. 

As technology advances, you won't be able to run your brick-and-mortar store without some kind of mobile payment processing software. It might seem costly and unnecessary at this point, but investing now puts your store ahead of the curve and gives you an edge over competitors who haven't caught on to the fact that mobile payments are going to be a big part of the future retail world.

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Photo courtesy Vodafone Medein.

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