To be at the forefront of the retail or service industry, merchants need to be nimble enough to adapt to changes coming down the pike, whether they be technological, regulatory or simply shifting user preference. This is especially relevant when it comes to POS systems: What was useful 10 years ago might not be very current today — and totally outdated tomorrow.
As customers' demands to use various methods of payments (cash, checks, credit cards, debit cards) have increased, so too has the need for more adaptive POS solutions. Mobile payments are among the latest crop of payment methods that have popped up on merchants' radars as something to keep an eye on. Essentially this involves a customer using a mobile device to pay for a transaction with apps such as Google Pay and Apple Pay. According to industry intelligence from Business Insider, mobile payment adoption is expected to rise in popularity to such an extent that by 2020, the United States will see 150 million users of mobile payments.
What does this mean for POS developers? They need quick and easy ways to make existing POS solutions compatible with these new payment options, as well as an avenue to connect to various payment processors and associated payment hardware. Integrated payments solutions offer just such capabilities. An integrated payment solution lets retailers take care of all the backend work accompanying a transaction in one fell swoop.
So what can merchants do with integrated payment solutions? The following is a guide to some of the most exciting and essential capabilities of integrated payments:
Accommodate mobile payments more easily
Given that mobile wallets, with their ability to aggregate valuable data for custom loyalty programs, have advantages to both retailers and customers, expect increasing demand for related POS solutions in the near future. Many integrated payment solutions are built on a platform that is essentially future-proof and can easily accommodate these newer kinds of payments. Merchants can use integrated payment solutions to accept NFC payments more easily.
Smooth the EMV transition
Following the shift of liability from the issuer to the merchant for chargebacks at locations that don't yet accept EMV, integrated payment solutions offer a way out by efficiently accommodating these chip-card readers. This is an especially important advantage when it comes to mPOS, which works by conducting transactions using mobile devices such as smartphones and wearables. Retailers using mPOS systems that accommodate EMV cards must acquire related certifications for each handheld unit that they deploy - a process that can take years. This can be expensive and time-consuming, and something integrated payments using the right middleware can circumvent.
Increase security of transactions
With the recent rash of large data breaches targeting major retailers, integrated payments solutions with security-centric features are more important than ever. Look for integrated payment solutions that support a full EMV suite (various processors and hardware options) with point to point encryption and tokenization, so that the merchant, cardholder and systems installer are fully protected.
Embrace the omnichannel
Omnichannel typically stands for marketing methods to reach the consumer — whether they be through cellphones, online or other avenues that can get eyeballs — it's important for all transactions to be seamless, regardless of where they occur. Merchants can use integrated payments to get an informative overview of all transactions no matter which channel they are conducted in: brick-and-mortar or online.
Craft better loyalty programs
It is common knowledge in retail that the best business is repeat business and that the most efficient way to nurture and reward loyalty is through custom programs. Whereas in the past, loyalty programs were a cumbersome afterthought created by scanning transaction data, integrated payment methods let retailers incorporate the loyalty component into the mix. In essence, one vehicle does all the driving: it conducts the transaction, records the corresponding numbers in accounting, fills in marketing data and adds to information required in CRM systems to set up loyalty programs. These programs can be tailored to varying degrees of specificity for maximum bang for the buck: it's not just about 10 visits getting a customer a 10 percent off coupon, but alerting customers to the products they like and will likely purchase based on previous buying history. Integrated payment solutions can handle all this seamlessly.
With the growing presence of mobile POS and technologies that will likely require easy and cost-conscious solutions, integrated payments present an affordable, comprehensive and ever-evolving solution that can accomodate the payment requirements of virtually any merchant.