Old-style cash registers were fixtures in retail settings for more than a century, but now they’re quickly becoming museum relics as electronic POS (ePOS) systems transform the shopping experience. PayPal points out that comparing cash registers to ePOS systems is like comparing “Grandma’s old, black, landline telephone to the smartphone in your pocket.”
One of the first questions retailers need to answer as they prepare to upgrade to a modern ePOS system is what cards are accepted on ePOS tills. The question becomes more critical to retail stores as consumers rely increasingly on credit cards for their purchases.
Retailers Get a Jump on Consumers’ Growing Reliance on Credit Cards
Credit card processing service Finical identifies the top five trends in payment processing in the past year:
- Cash is no longer king with consumers. The U.S. Federal Reserve reports that in 2019 credit cards supplanted cash as the dominant payment method in the U.S. In particular, use of digital payment options continues to soar. The preferred method of payment for a majority of consumers is EVM (Europay, Visa, and Mastercard) credit cards equipped with security-enhancing microchips.
- Contactless payments are riding the mobile boom. Credit cards equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology speed checkouts without sacrificing security or accuracy. Mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay will account for a growing number of retail transactions in 2021 and beyond.
- Credit card security benefits from AI. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the security of their transactions, and credit card companies are responding by applying machine learning and other AI technologies to thwart credit-card fraud.
- Biometric authentication gains in popularity. One consequence of the growing use of digital wallets and other payment methods using smartphones and other mobile devices is increased reliance on face recognition and other biometric techniques to authenticate users when they make purchases.
- Stored card info makes ‘invisible payments’ possible. More and more retailers are taking advantage of customers choosing to store their credit information to make future purchases easier to complete. Automated transactions may eventually “eliminate the need for a checkout counter entirely,” according to Finical.
Know Your Credit Card Options for ePOS Tills
Retail customers expect the stores that they frequent to provide them with a range of payment options. The payment methods that are most popular with consumers are:
- Debit, credit, and prepaid cards make transactions fast, safe, and convenient; modern, cloud-based ePOS systems support many different types of cards without requiring expensive hardware or other upfront costs.
- Mobile payments combine the speed and efficiency of credit cards with contactless, touch-and-go payment technology, and increasingly popular mobile wallets.
- Cash continues to fall out of favor with customers and retailers despite its simplicity, in part because of the need to reduce shared touching, but also because cash is difficult and dangerous to store and account for.
- Checks likewise are now used much less frequently than in the past, in part because of the wait to receive the funds after depositing the checks in the bank and the security risk of forged and bounced checks remains a concern.
- Electronic bank transfers are a popular payment method for businesses making large payments, although many consumers hesitate to transfer funds directly from their bank account to a business.
Know Your Hardware Options for Supporting ePOS Tills
The software at the heart of electronic point of sale tills automates many aspects of payment transactions, yet much of the success of an ePOS system depends on retailers choosing the right combination of POS hardware for their store’s unique needs. Modern POS systems integrate all business processes and serve as a central hub for all tasks performed by employees and managers.
- Minimum training is required for staff to learn how to use the ePOS app installed on smartphones and other mobile devices.
- Staff becomes more efficient because all the features and information they need to complete their tasks can be reached with one or two clicks.
- ePOS hardware takes up much less space than cash registers and traditional hardwired POS terminals, which gives the store a more modern appearance.
- Customers appreciate the speed, efficiency, and security of ePOS systems, as well as the personalization the systems make possible via stored customer histories.
Connecting wireless card readers, barcode scanners, receipt printers, and other devices to the ePOS system benefits retailers and their customers by completing transactions quickly, accurately, and securely. Store employees are able to make a connection with customers by having ready access to the preferences and past purchases made by returning customers.
Putting All the ePOS Pieces Together
The trends in POS are toward smaller, mobile, and customer-facing hardware linked to cloud-based services that even part-time retail operations can afford. ePOS systems make it easy to support the payment methods that are most popular with retail customers:
- Chip and PIN readers, which protect against fraud
- Tap-and-go credit cards that use NFC technology
- QR code scanners that use a form of barcodes to accept touch-free payments
- Mobile wallets, also called digital wallets, that are more convenient and more secure than standard credit cards for online and in-person transactions
- Gift cards, which are available in digital and physical form; the cards can be for a fixed amount or reloadable and can be linked to customer loyalty programs
All forms of card readers for ePOS tills connect to the store’s POS network via USB or Lightning cable, as well as wirelessly using Bluetooth or WiFi. Mobility gives customers a more immediate shopping experience regardless of the mobile payment type they choose.
The goal of any POS system is to make the transaction simple, safe, and convenient for the customer and the retailer. The mobility made possible by ePOS tills allows customers and retailers to connect in whichever ways work best for both of them.
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