Whether businesses are on the road or staff are simply moving about in-store, mobile point of sale systems (mPOS systems) are becoming an increasingly popular POS option for small businesses.
Around since the 2000s, mPOS systems have come a long way from their origin as a glitchy solution used primarily by micro-businesses to process payments. Today, they’re known for their robust services, enhanced security, user-friendly interfaces, and the integration of advanced data analytics. They’re no longer just for SMBs. They’re indispensable for businesses of all sizes.
In fact, mPOS systems are gradually gaining market share from the fixed cash-register-style POS market. Come 2030, mPOS is on track to share the market equally, and it’s clear to see why.
Imagine a restaurant using a mobile POS system to manage sales both at its permanent locations and through its food truck. At various locations where the food truck operates, staff use tablets equipped with a mobile app for transaction processing. When a customer orders food, the staff member enters the order into the app, processes the payment using a portable card reader, and sends a digital receipt directly to the customer’s email. The mPOS system then seamlessly synchronizes the transaction, updating sales and inventory records in real-time across the brick-and-mortar restaurants and the food truck.
mPOS systems enable business owners to transact anywhere on a mobile network or Wi-Fi. They offer customers flexibility. And they come with many powerful business solutions, from real-time data access to invaluable inventory management capabilities.
mPOS solutions are the superpower for small businesses in 2024.
- mPOS systems enable business owners to conduct transactions anywhere there is a mobile network or Wi-Fi.
- More than just a mobile terminal, mobile POS systems today are packed with inventory management features, CRM integration, and analytics tools that supercharge operations and customer satisfaction.
- Businesses using mPOS solutions are better-positioned to adapt to future market changes.
Key Features to Look for in an mPOS System
When selecting a mobile point of sale system, certain key features are essential to ensure that the system meets a business’s specific needs and enhances operational efficiency. Here’s a closer look at these features:
The interface of the mPOS system should be intuitive and easy to navigate. Extensive upskilling training is often out of the budget for small businesses, so the system should be straightforward to learn and use.
Payment processing options
An mPOS system should support various payment options to accommodate customer preferences. Traditional methods like cash and credit cards/debit cards are a must-have, as are digital wallets and contactless payments such as Apple Pay for iOS and Android’s Google Pay. Some may still want to allow magstripe card payments, but near-field communication (NFC) compatibility is non-negotiable for 2024 and beyond.
Inventory management capabilities
Effective inventory management is now standard for most mobile POS systems to help businesses avoid stock shortages or overstock situations. An mPOS system with robust inventory management capabilities can track stock levels in real time, send alerts for low stock, and even automate reordering processes.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) features
CRM functionalities help businesses to better understand and engage with customers. Features like customer data collection (e.g., purchase history, preferences), loyalty programs, and targeted promotions can enhance customer retention, leading to customer loyalty and encouraging repeat business.
Security and compliance standards
Security is paramount in any POS system to protect sensitive customer information. An mPOS system should adhere to industry-standard security protocols, such as PCI DSS compliance, and include encryption and tokenization to safeguard data. Regular POS software updates and security patches are important to protect against new threats.
Integration with other business tools
Want to get the most out of your mPOS? Make sure it plays nice with your other solutions. Systems should be compatible with accounting software, eCommerce platforms, CRMs, and other operational tools that a small business or retail store might use, including loyalty solutions and other marketing tools.
Top Mobile Point-of-Sale Systems of 2024
Square is well-known in the mobile point-of-sale market, offering a particularly popular solution among small to medium-sized businesses.
There are a few Square POS options for mobile, including its Mobile POS Kit for Square Reader ($599) and Restaurant Mobile POS Kit ($259).
Square’s in-person transaction fees are 2.6% of the sale + 10¢ per transaction.
- Accepts various forms of payment
- Users can track inventory, manage items, and receive stock alerts
- Comprehensive reporting features
- Restaurant-specific solutions
- Digital receipts and invoice management
- Employee management tools
- Compatible with various third-party apps and software.
Clover is another prominent mPOS provider, offering a range of solutions that cater to different types of businesses.
Clover Go ($49) is Clover’s main mobile POS hardware tool, pairing with any smart device (Apple iPhone, iPad, Windows, or Android) to take chip, dip, and contactless payments or mobile payments.
Clover’s in-person transaction fees are 2.3% of the sale + 10¢ per transaction.
- Diverse payment options are accepted
- Full suite of POS features
- Customizable interface
- Extensive app marketplace
- Detailed reporting and analytics
- Features for managing employees.
PayPal Zettle is PayPal’s mobile POS solution, known for its simplicity and integration with PayPal’s wider range of payment services.
PayPal Zettle can be used with just their software or a card reader for $29. They also offer add-on hardware like receipt printers, cash drawers, and barcode scanners.
PayPal Zettle charges 2.29% of the sale + 9c per transaction.
- Seamless integration with PayPal accounts
- Accepts a range of payment methods
- Basic inventory management tools
- Provides sales reports and analytics
- The Zettle app is known for its simplicity and ease of use.
Toast is a cloud-based mobile POS provider designed exclusively for the restaurant and food service industries.
Toast hardware solutions include tablets, handheld devices, kitchen display touchscreens, and other peripherals. Costs are rolling into monthly tiered plans depending on the restaurant’s needs.
Toast charges 2.99% of the sale + 15c per transaction.
- Toast is specifically designed for the restaurant industry
- The system integrates seamlessly with online ordering platforms
- Toast offers a kitchen display system
- Offers robust inventory tracking and management capabilities
- Comprehensive reporting tools
- Includes options for customer loyalty programs and gift card management.
TouchBistro is another mobile POS system specifically tailored for the restaurant industry, offering a range of features unique to the operational needs of food service establishments.
TouchBistro requires the purchase of iPads as the primary hardware, along with optional additional hardware such as printers, cash drawers, and kitchen display systems. Hardware is rolled into monthly plan fees, starting at $69/month.
TouchBistro does not process the payments. Merchants can work with their preferred credit card processing provider, giving them flexibility to find the best rates based on their transaction volumes and needs.
- Servers can take orders directly at the table using iPads
- Flexibility to customize and update menus used online and for QR codes, including item modifiers
- Easy management of restaurant floor plans and table assignments
- Provides detailed inventory tracking features
- Includes tools for staff scheduling, time tracking, and managing staff roles and permissions
- Captures customer data for personalized service and targeted marketing efforts
- Offers comprehensive reporting and analytics tools
- Supports integration with various payment processors and third-party applications.
Revel Systems is an advanced mPOS solution for a diverse range of businesses, including retail, restaurants, and quick-service venues.
Revel Systems’ hardware setup includes iPads as terminals, barcode scanners, receipt printers, and card readers. There is no pricing information available on their website.
Revel does not process payments themselves. Merchants are free to select their preferred payment processing partner, and both providers can integrate together.
- Supports both in-store and online sales
- Advanced inventory tracking and management features
- Offers detailed insights into sales, customer behavior, and business performance
- Includes tools for managing customer data, loyalty programs, and personalized marketing
- Robust tools for staff scheduling, payroll, and performance tracking
- User interface can be customized to meet specific operational needs and preferences.
Shopify’s mPOS solution is an extension of their existing services, ideal for retail businesses, enabling sales management both online and in physical locations.
Shopify’s Tap & Chip Card Reader ($49) connects to smart devices through Bluetooth and can be used with other peripheral hardware like iPad stands and receipt printers.
Shopify’s payment processing fees depend on the plan. Retailers that do more than casual sales will have to start at the Retail Plan for $89/month with processing rates of 2.7% + 0c for in-person transactions.
- Seamless integration with Shopify’s online store platform
- Supports various payment methods
- Advanced inventory management capabilities across all sales channels
- Detailed reporting and analytics tools
- Options to tailor both the online store and physical storefront, including custom receipts, branding, and promotional tools
- Access to the Shopify App Store.
Cost-Benefit Analysis for Small vs. Large Businesses
When conducting a cost-benefit analysis of mPOS systems, businesses should consider the following:
- Transaction volume and value
- Business growth trajectory
- Additional features and services
- Hardware costs
- Integration needs
- Payment processing options.
- Security and compliance
- Support and training
Small businesses will often want low upfront costs and simplicity, while large businesses may prioritize lower transaction fees at higher volumes, comprehensive features, and scalability. In either case, businesses should consider the long-term. What additional features and services might be necessary in the future? Transactions may be low now, but will that be the case in the future? Which mPOS provider gives the flexibility to get the best rates with the needed services?
Choosing the right mobile point-of-sale system is vital for businesses, impacting everything from customer satisfaction to operational efficiency. The ideal solution must align with a business’s specific needs, including transaction volume, industry type, and scalability, ensuring efficient checkouts, accurate data analytics, and seamless integration with other business tools. The right tool can significantly enhance customer experiences and streamline operations, regardless of the business sector.
mPOS systems are increasingly shaping the landscape of business transactions. They are evolving to include advanced technologies like AI for predictive analytics and personalized customer interactions. As contactless and digital payments continue gaining prominence, mPOS systems adapt to these trends. Businesses on board with this technological progression are positioned to adapt to future market changes, securing their relevance and success in a digitally driven marketplace.Request a Quote
FAQs about mobile POS systems
Q: What is a mobile point system?
A mobile point system—aka mobile POS or mPOS—is a portable point of sale system that operates on a smartphone, tablet, or dedicated wireless device. It typically includes software for processing sales transactions, managing inventory, and conducting various types of payments (like credit cards, cash, or mobile payments). These systems are designed for flexibility and mobility, often used in retail, hospitality, and on-site services.
Q: What does a mobile POS do?
Specific functionalities will depend on your provider, but generally speaking mobile POS systems enable you to facilitate sales transactions, take payments, manage inventory, and more.
Q: How much does a POS system cost for a small business?
Basic mobile POS systems can be relatively inexpensive, often with a monthly subscription fee ranging from $10 to $100. More advanced systems with additional hardware (like receipt printers, cash drawers, and barcode scanners) can cost more, potentially several hundred to a few thousand dollars, plus the subscription fees.
Q: Can you turn your phone into a POS?
Yes, you can turn a smartphone into a POS system using mobile POS apps. These apps can be downloaded onto the phone, and with the addition of a card reader (often plugged in or connected via Bluetooth), your phone can process payments and perform other POS functions.
Q: What is the difference between POS and mobile POS?
The key difference is mobility and hardware. Traditional POS systems are stationary, consisting of a computer, monitor, cash drawer, receipt printer, and barcode scanner. Mobile POS systems, on the other hand, are portable and run on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets, often with fewer hardware components, making them more flexible and suitable for on-the-go transactions or businesses without a fixed location.
Q: Can you run a mobile POS system without the internet?
Some mobile POS systems can operate offline, allowing basic functions like processing sales and recording transaction details. However, for processing credit card transactions and syncing data with cloud-based services (like inventory management), an internet connection is usually required. Once the device reconnects to the internet, the transactions made offline are often synced and updated.