5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With An mPOS
Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) systems make it possible for virtually any business to set up shop and start taking payments almost right away. They’re flexible. They’re affordable. And these days, they’re also feature-rich, delivering capabilities that can, at times, rival a traditional or iPad-based POS system.
Are you getting the most out of your smartphone and card reader? Let’s look at five very useful mPOS capabilities you might not be aware of:
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1. Run an eCommerce Store
Anyone using Square (see our review) and PayPal Here (see our review) probably isn’t shocked to learn that you can run an eCommerce store with an mPOS. PayPal is probably the biggest name in eCommerce out there. Square made waves in the payment space with its offer of a free online store. It wasn’t much to start with, but Square’s done a lot lately to expand its eCommerce support.
If this is news to you, you should definitely take note. It’s good timing because, in general, the industry is shifting toward omnichannel solutions — products and services that let you sell seamlessly online, in store, in the field, and even on social media.
PayPal Here doesn’t seamlessly work with your online store, but everything will be centralized in your PayPal account. Square does offer a seamless interface between online and mobile sales. SumUp (see our review), a relative newcomer to the US mobile processing scene, also supports an eCommerce API so you can sell online.
If you’re using Clover Go (see our review), you should also know that Clover has an eCommerce integration. It doesn’t sync up directly with the Go platform, but if you’re using the rest of the Clover suite (let’s be real; if you’reusing Go, you almost certainly are), it’s an option.
And finally, don’t forget that if you sell online, your eCommerce suite might already support mPOS. Shopify, for example, offers a POS system that works on tablets as well as smartphones and is quite feature-rich.
2. Manage Your Inventory
Square has the most feature-rich inventory feature of any mPOS system. It stands out in part because it’s the only mPOS that currently supports inventory counts. But it also syncs across in-person and online sales and even supports multi-location inventory.
However, that’s not to say you can’t manage your inventory with any other mPOS. Most mPOS options allow you to keep a record of particular items, add photos, descriptions, and even list item variants at different prices, usually in the app itself. PayPal Here and SumUp both support these features, as does Spark Pay (see our review). (Clover Go requires you to create your inventory list in the online dashboard.)
If you use Shopify’s POS/mPOS in addition to the eCommerce features, you’ll get automatic inventory syncing across online and in-person sales as well, no effort required.
If you need something more robust or hate Square and Shopify’s inventory solutions, there’s an add-on called Shopventory. It integrates with PayPal Here, Square, and Clover, among others, and can handle your inventory for you.
It’ll cost you more per month, but if you use your mPOS system fairly often (or daily), this could be a crucial tool.
3. Offer Special Deals and Discounts
A good POS will support special offers and promotions because it’s a great way to stir up sales. That feature is less common in the mPOS space — but still available, if you know where to look.
Spark Pay, for example, supports special offers for users who rely on the mobile reader. (If you use the terminals, this isn’t supported.) You’ll also find that Square and PayPal Here both support discounts, so you can mark down whole orders by percentage or a dollar amount. Square will let you also discount individual items. Shopify’s POS also lets you apply discounts to transactions.
The biggest advantages here are that you won’t need to bust out a calculator to calculate the order total. And if you are using some sort of inventory or sales tracking, you won’t mess that up by entering a quick-sale or custom amount without logging the products.
4. Run a Virtual Terminal
Odd as this may sound, sometimes payments on a smartphone (or tablet) aren’t actually the most convenient solution. Your standard POS system can be complicated and expensive, and cash and check require a trip to the bank….and that’s where virtual terminals come in.
Virtual terminals allow you to take payments from any internet-connected computer. Just log in through your browser and plug in the card information. (Note: Some allow you to connect a card swiper rather than keying in the transaction.)
Not everyone needs a virtual terminal, but it’s ideal for office and some service-focused environments. Plus, it gives you a backup option to accept payments (depending on how you think of it).
Square only rolled out its virtual terminal fairly recently. However, it’s an unsurprising move from a company that is actively trying to become the end-all, be-all suite for small businesses. It doesn’t support a card reader, but its rates for keyed transactions are identical to its eCommerce rates (2.9% + $0.30). That’s lower than PayPal’s rate (3.1% + $0.15).
Second, PayPal‘s virtual terminal doesn’t come free. You need to upgrade to PayPal Payments Pro for $30/month to get access. You’ll also get a hosted payments page if you sell online, but that increases your PCI compliance burden as well.
Technically, Authorize.net (see our review) is a payment gateway for eCommerce businesses. However, it ‘s expanded its offerings to include a very basic mPOS as well as a virtual terminal for a $25 monthly fee. If you process directly through Auth.net, you’ll pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. If you just use the gateway and process through someone else, you’ll pay the monthly fee, $0.10 per transaction, plus a $49 setup fee and a $0.10 daily batch fee.
Merchants who have a QuickBooks Payments (see our review) account get use of not just the mPOS GoPayment app but a virtual terminal, as well as ACH processing and some other interesting features. And if you’re using Payline Mobile, you also get a virtual terminal at no extra charge (and interchange-plus pricing to boot).
Another option here we haven’t talked about is Converge, from Elavon. We haven’t personally reviewed Converge at Merchant Maverick, though I’ll profess a lot of curiosity about the system. This omnichannel commerce solution includes an mPOS as well as a virtual terminal.
Related thought: Some mPOS providers also store cards on file and allow recurring billing. Square supports this feature at no extra charge, and PayPal will enable it for Payments Pro account holders for an additional $10/month. However, you won’t find many other mPOS systems that support this.
5. Create Employee Accounts and Set Permissions
Multiple people using one mPOS login is a great way to make sure you can’t identify the source of any accounting mistakes. It also means anyone with your login information can access sales data and other reports, as well as issue refunds.
If you’re the only one ever running credit cards, it’s not a big deal. But if anyone else is going to be running sales, you might want to consider creating an employee or sub-user account.
Capabilities vary depending on the mPOS. But generally speaking, a sub-user or employee account will have different login credentials and allow you the user to manage basic functions such as completing transactions. At the same time, they limit access to more sensitive features (sales reports, the ability to issue voids or refunds).
PayPal, SparkPay, Clover Go, and SumUp allow you to create employee/sub-user accounts at no extra charge. For Square, this feature will cost you $5/employee/month. However, it’s worth noting that Square’s employee management features are a LOT more advanced than just creating a separate login.
Go Explore the Possibilities of Your mPOS
Mobile credit card readers have come a long, long way in the past few years, and they’re becoming an important foundation for many businesses because of their versatility. Don’t underestimate an mPOS system. If you poke around a bit, you will find interesting features stored away that you can use to make your business run even better.
Which mPOS features do you find most useful beyond your mPOS app’s payment processing? Leave a comment and let us know — we’d love to hear from you!