- Mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems are mobile applications designed to function as traditional POS systems without stationary hardware.
- A tablet, smartphone or other mobile device owned by the business can serve as a mobile POS device with membership software and card reader attachments.
- Businesses that require travel — such as stylists, food truck owners, busy chain stores, crafters, artists and event hosts — can benefit the most from mobile POS systems.
- This article is for business owners who need to make transactions on the go and would like to know how mobile POS systems can improve their business.
More businesses are using mobile POS systems, and it’s no mystery why these solutions are so popular. Mobile POS systems offer business owners tremendous flexibility and autonomy so their businesses can operate from anywhere.
According to Grand View Research, the mobile POS terminals market is expected to grow to $181.47 billion by 2030. These systems’ many benefits make it clear why entrepreneurs across all industries have adopted this technology. Read on for a guide to mobile POS systems, including examples of business owners who have found success with these streamlined transactional tools.
Mobile POS systems explained
A traditional POS system is typically a stand-alone terminal with a cash register, credit card reader, and receipt printer. If a business owner wants to process a sale with conventional transactional tools, they’re typically required to use one specific device. Mobile POS systems allow you to process transactions directly from a mobile device, so you can make sales from just about anywhere.
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These systems connect to your smartphone or tablet in a variety of ways. Some are physical card readers that plug into mobile devices. Others, such as QR codes that customers can scan to access a checkout page, allow you to make contactless transactions. While your traditional POS system may be the most familiar, replacing it with a mobile system can make all the difference for sales and growth.
Mobile POS systems have benefits beyond speeding up sales transactions. Their integrations can also help with automating financial reporting and managing inventory.
What you should know about mobile POS systems
If you’re ready to add a mobile POS system to your business, there are some basics you should cover in your research before you decide which system is the best fit for your business. [Read related article: 5 Ways POS Systems Are Changing (and Why It Matters)]
Almost any business can use mobile POS systems, but they come in handy especially for companies that travel or need to process transactions quickly. Mobile POS systems can expedite the checkout process for small businesses such as restaurants and retail stores. In particular, food trucks and street vendors without permanent brick-and-mortar locations can benefit from mobile POS systems.
Hardware and software needed
Generally, all you need to get started with a mobile POS system is internet access and a mobile device that’s compatible with your selected POS software. If you opt for a contactless system, all you’ll need to do is download your chosen mobile POS app or software platform to your device. If you do require additional hardware, such as a card reader, you can have it sent to you directly when you subscribe to a platform.
Costs vary for each option, but because you connect to your mobile device, you usually avoid excessive hardware costs. Mobile POS software can be bought as a monthly subscription in most cases. Sometimes, software is even free, with optional paid add-ons.
Credit card payment processing fees also vary, but they apply to every transaction. In-person and online transactions can have different payment processing costs. Mobile POS systems also may have quote-based pricing or contractual agreements, depending on the company you choose.
Buying a POS system
Before you start your research, make a list of everything you’re looking for in a POS system. Ask yourself these questions: Will your POS system options be user-friendly and easy for your staff to learn quickly? Do you need additional features, such as inventory management? You can read our guide to choosing a POS system to help you answer these key questions.
It doesn’t take much to get started with a mobile POS system. Once you’ve found the platform that is best for your business, all you’ll need is a mobile device and an internet connection.
Mobile POS success stories
Some success stories from different types of businesses show that any owner can put their business at an advantage with a mobile POS system. Here’s a look at how entrepreneurs are using mobile POS systems successfully.
Success story: Niche shop has taken control of inventory.
Company: City Beer Store, beer shop and tasting bar
Mobile POS solution: Revel Systems, an iPad POS station provider
Unlike traditional POS systems, mobile POS systems go beyond merely completing transactions. They can also integrate front- and back-end processes, resulting in an efficient, streamlined reporting system. For businesses like City Beer Store, this means being able to take the reins of their operations. A case study by Revel Systems reveals how its mobile POS station helped City Beer Store take control of its inventory.
“Instead of coming into the office and taking hours to count inventory, items purchased are automatically withdrawn and the inventory is updated in real time,” said Patrick Donnelly, former director of marketing at Revel Systems. Automating inventory control also resulted in lower labor costs, the case study revealed.
“Revel has saved me five to 10 hours a week on inventory and planning, giving me more time to run my business and make better decisions,” said Craig Wathen, owner of City Beer Store.
[See our picks for the best POS systems to find the right solution for your business.]
Success story: Hardware store can now remotely manage sales and operations.
Company: Ace Hardware, hardware and garden products retailer
Mobile POS solution: Epicor Mobile Manager, a smartphone app that lets businesses remotely manage orders and sales
A mobile POS system can eliminate the need to be physically at the office to keep an eye on sales. Epicor Mobile Manager enables stores to remotely manage sales and gauge performance with a smartphone.
“At any time and anywhere, I can check the sales of the store and see whether sales are spiking or declining,” said Ryan Lindner, store manager at Lindner Ace Hardware. “I can keep tabs on what items I am selling throughout the day. During the weekends, I can look at my phone to see whether the store needs me to come in or whether they’re managing fine on their own.”
Epicor’s mobile POS solution also enables Lindner to manage orders remotely. He uses his smartphone at home to review and finalize orders, and to add top-selling items to orders. “Now I can ensure the orders are more accurate and better reflect what we are selling,” Lindner said. “Mobile Manager has made it easier for me to be more involved in the ordering process.”
Keep business moving with a mobile POS system
The benefits of a mobile POS system are numerous. From increasing the types of transactions you can accept to providing a seamless sales experience for customers and cashiers, mobile POS systems make life easier.
The positive changes that come from adding a mobile POS system can improve your sales. If you want your business to grow, it might be time for a mobile POS system.
Sara Angeles contributed to this article.