The best point-of-sale devices do more than just read credit cards. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right POS system.
More and more customers today are choosing to go cashless – in the local grocery or coffee shop, at the gas station and even at the hair dresser. The ability to accept in-person card payments becomes a make-or-break factor for small and medium-sized businesses that cannot afford to miss a customer.
Until recently, point-of-sale (POS) devices and services were largely offered and managed by the banks, but alternative fintech solutions and payment providers are changing the game. Mobile, pocket-size POS devices guarantee a new level of operational and economic efficiency, without the usual binding contracts and cumbersome business requirements. [Read related story: The Best POS Systems]
Here are the key things to look for when choosing a POS device for your business:
Major and local cards acceptance
Acceptance of major global card providers and digital wallets such as VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club, JCB, UPI, Android Pay and Apple Pay, is the first and foremost thing to ask a card reader provider about. In addition, accepting local cards such as Bancontact, iDeal, etc. adds extra convenience to customers if you operate in Europe.
Real-time settlement of funds
Instant settlement is a hot topic in the payment industry, and it makes a world of a difference to small business owners who need to access their funds quickly and cover business expenses. Newer providers offer e-money accounts with their POS solution, and boast that payments are settled in the merchant’s account within seconds. Other providers that use traditional bank accounts still depend on the regular bank settlement time, which can take up to a few days.
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Fees and contract terms
If you are running a seasonal business such as bed and breakfast or a beach restaurant, then a pay-as-you-use model is definitely a better option, rather than a standard contract with monthly or yearly fees. Buying a POS device would be the only one-off investment. After that, you will be charged a small transaction fee every time you accept a card payment.
As new generation POS devices get smaller, more compact and fully mobile, the need for multiple connectivity options increases. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and SIM are the most common options. Most card reader companies do not provide internet connection with their package and this turns out to be an extra cost for the business owner. Some new players in the payments field are solving this problem via a SIM data card, which comes plugged into every new device and ensures internet connectivity.
Should card readers do more than accept card payments? Definitely. Smart functionalities vary across the different providers – from accepting digital tips, pre-authorization and MO/TO payments to sending payment requests. There are all tools that really add value to the service industry such as taxis, restaurants, hotels and travel agencies.
Extra merchant services
When it comes to extra services, merchants are most commonly offered a free merchant account with a payment card. Some more add-ons include risk management tools, automated invoicing or even an app market for Android-based POS devices. There are also sales generation tools such as private label gift cards and mobile top-up services, which make your customers visit your premises again and again.
It’s never been a better time to embrace payment technology and take advantage of the merits it has to offer.