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Smart terminals and mobile card readers explained.

Consumers today expect quality products that meet their needs, an easy, fast checkout process, and exceptional customer service. Which means more than answering questions and helping with returns. In fact, one of the most important – and most neglected – parts of running a retail establishment is the payment experience that your buyers receive.

Back in the day.

Not so long ago, cash was the standard method of payment for most purchases. Buyers were limited to spending the amount they had in their pocket with no other choice.

Then, with the advent of credit cards, which provided customers to pay for products over time. Improvements in security gave access to a record of the purchase to both customers and merchants. The equipment used to read the buyer’s payment data and transmit it to the processing company was simple and effective in performing the single task of making a payment.

The arrival of the smart terminal.

Innovations in technology soon resulted in revolutionary changes to legacy cash registers and stationary checkout equipment. Modern hardware and software still do the basic job that was accomplished by older “dumb” terminals. However, that is just the start of what a contemporary smart terminal can do for your business.

In many respects, you can think of a smart terminal as the middle child in the family. The youngest is the simple stationary hardware-software combination of the past whose sole purpose was to take customers’ credit card payments. The oldest is the full-fledged point of sale (POS) system with rich features that businesses with larger inventories require. As you may have guessed, smart terminals fall between these two, offering not only seamless and secure payments but also the most important and sought-after back-office capabilities that can assist you in your day-to-day operations.

Enhanced capabilities of smart terminals.

In addition to facilitating payments, smart terminals act as your silent partner as you operate and expand your business. These innovative devices can enhance your customers’ payment experiences while simultaneously streamlining many aspects of your operations. These are some of the tasks a smart terminal can complete.

• Inventory management, including low stock alerts.

• Accounting and payroll.

• Report generation for financial, sales, and customer data.

• Split payments and recurring billing.

With the ability to perform multiple functions, along with tools that provide analytics and more insights into how your store is functioning, a smart terminal is a great asset that most business owners could add to their business.

Mobile readers explained.

Let’s begin by dispelling a misconception. A mobile card reader is not distinct from a POS solution. In fact, it is simply a specific type of POS system that performs additional and increasingly important functions because of its portability.

Instead of working primarily on desktop computers, mobile readers allow you to line bust by checking out customers anywhere on your sales floor, or wherever your business takes you. While quickly checking out customers, they still connect with traditional receipt printing, scanning, cash drawer equipment, and more.

The magic of so-called mobile POS (mPOS) solutions lies in their nimbleness and flexibility. Since they are not tethered to a cash register, smart terminals and mobile card readers allow your sales associates to roam the floor and provide expert customer service and product checkout from anywhere. This may even extend off-site to fairs, farmer’s markets, and pop-up stores.

Portability also enhances the benefits of mobile POS software. When checking on an employee’s performance, or the success of your current marketing campaign, you no longer must wait to be at your desk in the office. Simply log into your dashboard from anywhere on any internet-connected device to have access to the full spectrum of valuable information your POS has gathered for you.

The rise of mobile payments.

Payment processing devices are rapidly changing. As are the options customers use to choose to purchase products and services. The smartphone, along with smart watches and fitness trackers, quickens the move away from cash and plastic credit cards to mobile or digital payments.

The key to this innovative process is the digital wallet that is built into Android and Apple devices. The digital wallet allows for secure storage of customer’s payment data, including credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes. Encryption keeps the data is secure preventing unauthorized access.

When paying for an item or service, the customer activates the wallet feature in their phone or wearable, authenticates their identity with a fingerprint, facial ID, or passcode. The device is then placed inches from the merchant’s compatible card reader. In seconds, the details are tokenized and transmitted, the customer’s identity is verified, and the payment is either accepted or declined.

What is the best solution for your business?

By now you may have realized that you need to explore smart payment technology before replacing your cash register with a smart payment device. However, one question remains: Should you get a smart terminal or a mobile card reader?

The good news is that you do not need to pick one over the other. Many modern POS solutions come with Wi-Fi capabilities. The best way to find out if this is an option for you is to contact your merchant services provider.

Running a business is more than a full-time job. Anything that make it easier and more efficient is a definite plus. Fortunately, a smart terminal, whether equipped with mobile card readers or not, can streamline many of the tasks that can take hours of manual work to finish. Smart’s cloud-based environment allows you to access data you at any time and from anywhere.

If still unsure about which solution is best for your operation, talk with others in your industry. Also, be sure to meet with your merchant services provider to get a complete picture of what they offer. It could be one of the most important decisions you make for your business this year!

Contact CPS today and see how easy it is to get the merchant services you deserve.

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