What Retailers Need to Know About Mobile POS Systems

Mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems, which allow retailers to process credit cards on tablets and smartphones, among other things, have been around for years. But since technology in mobile commerce moves at speeds rivaling those of a teenage cheetah, many early mobile POS systems—which had limited accounting capabilities or not-quite-harmonious synching capabilities—have gone the way of the buffalo. PayPal looms large over the market with its new PayPal Here, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Run into a technical glitch, and you’ll likely be connected to a representative living three time zones away.

PayAnywhere, which syncs with Quickbooks, ratchets up loads of inventory reports, and offers a user-friendly online interface, is a mobile POS that’s gained some ground among small business owners and living room entrepreneurs since launching last April. The Troy, Mich.–based company recently partnered with direct-sales jeweler Origami Owl, doling out credit card readers that attach to tablets and smartphones in a case study that resulted in positive cash flow for the company.

We caught up with Jeff Alderman, PayAnywhere’s director of marketing, to discuss the current state of mobile POS systems, along with some finer points of his brand’s product.

JCK: What’s the best part about having a mobile POS system?

Jeff Alderman: It allows business owners to make sales directly from their mobile devices. It also tracks their cash business and provides robust reporting for them. In the end, it frees them up to make sales.

JCK: How does PayAnywhere work?

JA: We send the credit card reader and it plugs into audio jack of your mobile device. Then you would download the app from the app store and get going making sales.

JCK: How would you describe the mobile POS market from a business perspective?

JA:It’s a fragmented market. PayPal has their fans, as well as people who can’t stand to use PayPal. At the end of the day it’s about doing business with someone you trust. We have 600 employees servicing businesses, so if a user has a question when signing up for an account, they can call us and we provide assistance all the way through. We don’t believe in Silicon Valley customer service. We handle it all here with white gloves.

JCK: What did your case study with Origami Owl reveal?

JA: It’s a new relationship for us, but the company is very excited about bringing a richer at-home shopping experience to their customers. It’s all about style for them and having something that’s cool and trendy. They have so many more intelligent tools at their fingertips now. Now they’re able to track their inventory as well as provide really robust transaction reports. They can do things like send email receipts out to their customers [bearing] he company’s picture and logo. It’s pretty cool.

JCK: Walk me through the user experience of signing up for a PayAnywhere account.

JA: The user would go online and fill out their information, then know instantly if they’re approved. Then we would overnight them a credit card reader. They would plug that into their mobile device and they would download app. Setting up their own inventory takes less than five seconds for each item. Then there’s a menu that’s set with their information. You can add a little loyalty message or anything else on their receipt. At that point they can go through a transaction. The hit “new charge” and they’re selling. The system prompts them to swipe the card, and the customer would sign with her finger and get an emailed copy of the receipt.