MPOSOver the past three decades, new technologies have completely changed the way that payments are made and accepted. The global digital payments market (which encompasses all transactions made using the internet, cellphones, and other automated devices) has exploded, and come to dominate the global payments market over the last few years. This is especially true with the rise of COVID-19, where contactless cards and digital wallets have become the safest way for customers to make in-store transactions.
For business owners, understanding the changing world of the payments industry is imperative, to ensure that they are using the most efficient, convenient, and up-to-date software on the market. But it may seem confusing for those of us who want to catch the wave of new digital payment technologies. Where do you start?
We believe there are four Point-Of-Sales (POS) software solutions that you need to know to properly understand where the digital payment market stands today and what direction it may be heading in the future. These four technologies are EPOS, MPOS, SoftPOS, and CloudPOS. All four are important components of the growing global digital payment market and are set to revolutionize how the entire world makes and accepts payment.
The History of POS Terminals
But first, let’s dive into a brief history of modern Point-Of-Sales systems and the payments industry so we have a better idea of how this technology got to where it is today.
POS systems technically began in the late 19th-century, when the manual cash register was first invented. Over the remainder of the century and the beginning of the 1900s, these registers were adopted around the world and improved and adapted to suit different sales environments.
In the 1970s, IBM introduced the first true POS terminal, a computer-based cash register system that was capable of controlling 28 tills at once! In 1974, Mcdonald’s implemented the first POS system which used a microprocessor. This meant they were able to process and complete orders far more quickly.
By 1986 the first touch-screen interface for POS software was developed by restaurateur Gene Moshel, as well as color-coded systems for menus that made POS terminals easier for staff to manage. Throughout the 80s and 90s, many companies developed their own POS systems, with the most popular being the Microsoft Windows POS software developed in 1992. This was the birth of the Electronic Point-Of-Sale system or EPOS.
By the early 2000s, EPOS systems had advanced beyond simply processing transactions and now had added features that made business management far more convenient. The biggest achievement during this period was the introduction of Cloud-based POS in 2002 that made it so that all POS business data could be stored online, and accessed via home computer, laptop, or mobile device.
In 2010, we saw the introduction of MPOS, where portable card readers could convert a smartphone into a POS device. Since then, more and more companies have moved toward using Cloud-based or mobile POS systems.
Over the last decade, there has been continual progress in the world of electronic payments and payment systems. EPOS systems have become increasingly complex and sophisticated, able to meet the needs of merchants and customers even as the retail environment continues to change. More efficient and accessible POS systems will no doubt crop up as new technologies are developed… The only question is, what will these technologies be?
What Is Epos?
EPOS is somewhat similar to an old-fashioned manual till, but updated for adequate operation in modern retail. It’s an “electronic” Point of Sales symptom, and most merchants and businesses around the world will use one. Despite what you might have heard, an EPOS doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to the internet (though they usually are). Literally, any payment system that operates through a computer can be considered EPOS.
Unlike a traditional POS or cash register, an EPOS system does far more than just make and record in-store transactions. It combines both hardware and software in one system that is able to perform a range of tasks for contemporary merchants. In fact, the EPOS system is designed to help business owners manage their payments, customers, inventory, and other aspects of their business. In short – if you own your own business, EPOS is guaranteed to make your life easier.
The main components of an EPOS system are the software that processes and holds all of your information on the cloud or your local server, as well as an interface (such as a monitor tablet) where payments can be made. The services that EPOS provides are entirely software-based, with extra hardware you may or may not need to register and accept payments.
How Can EPOS Help Your Business?
EPOS has a variety of features that help merchants run their business, and you can also add more features based on your needs and preferences. Of course, EPOS records every sale that has been made and stores that information securely. But these systems can also take this sales data and generate reports that give you a better understanding of how your business is operating, and in turn, it can show you where you might need to make changes to improve management and increase revenue.
You can also use the EPOS system to manage things like staff accounts, loyalty schemes, and inventory. It doesn’t just print receipts for a transaction, but it can also be adjusted to print vouchers and discounts. This is particularly handy if you are a small business that has just opened, and you are looking to share promotional offers and content to attract new customers.
All in all, EPOS gives you more than just a payment terminal – it also gives you the tools to manage your own business.
Hardware components of EPOS:
These are some of the main physical components that an EPOS system tends to have.
- Terminal screen – The main screen where payments are processed. Usually touch screen, which precludes the need for a keyboard or mouse. The size of the screen can vary depending on your needs/preference.
- Barcode scanner – Fixed-mount or hand-held scanners are necessary to scan and record items in a transaction, particularly important for grocery stores and retail. Some POS systems allow scanners to be used for stocktakes.
- Cash drawers – compartment used to store cash, which opens through the POS system but is usually manually locked at the end of the working day.
- Receipt printer – impact or thermal printers that allow you to give out customer receipts per transaction and also print your own copies for manual-store records.
- PDQ/Credit Card Processor – a card reader that takes customer credit card payments.
- Scales – Usually only for grocery stores, where a product needs to be weighed so the cost can be calculated.
- Customer display – a small customer-facing unit that displays the price of purchase.
Check out this guide below on how to set up, install, and process your first transaction through a typical EPOS system: Epos Now™ Setup, App Installation & First Sale | Retail Merchant Services
What is a CloudPOS?
First, let’s define what “cloud” means in this context. The cloud is a global interconnected network of servers that store information remotely, i.e on internet servers. That way you can access and store information on the internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. Think of your email inbox, or Facebook, or GoogleDocs – these apps and services, along with thousands of others, all run in the cloud and store information there.
To put it simply, a CloudPOS is a Point-Of-Sales system where all of your in-store transactions and related data are stored on the cloud rather than your server. It’s entirely cloud-based, and these types of POS systems are becoming incredibly popular across most customer-facing industries, particularly in the world of retail and hospitality.
The data that is stored through CloudPOS systems not only includes transactions but also data related to your inventory management and employees. Think back to the EPOS that we’ve already covered – with a CloudPOS, all of the information that your EPOS processes will then be stored online.
Why Does Your POS System Need Cloud POS?
There’s a reason so many businesses are converting their POS systems to be Cloud-compatible. If you’re considering a move from traditional POS to Cloud-based solutions, you’re on the right track! Here are some of the most compelling reasons to update your system with CloudPOS.
- You Can Access It Anywhere
With traditional POS systems, business owners and merchants have limited access. They have to be present at their place of business in order to go through transactions, reports, and any other business-related data. This is not the case with CloudPOS, which is one of its defining and most attractive features.
With CloudPOS you can access your data from anywhere, including from the comfort of your home. Just as you would with an app, all you need to do is log in to your system and – voila! You can look through store data on your smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc. This gives you the incredibly convenient ability to check up on your business information, and even begin planning and implementing new strategies and changes to the system without having to be in the store.
This is especially helpful considering that many people around the world have been restricted from in-store work during the COVID-19 pandemic. CloudPOS makes it much easier for business owners with location-based businesses to carry on with work.
- It’s Up-To-Date With New Technology
Because traditional POS systems tend to be older and typically use somewhat outdated technology, they can oftentimes be incompatible with new and cutting-edge technology. This is a big issue for merchants who want to make sure they are using the most efficient and innovative technology to run their business. Using CloudPOS means you never have this problem since your service provider automatically updates your software for you.
- More Affordable
With a CloudPOS system, you are paying a monthly fee to use the service, which is usually scaled to how much your business makes per month. You don’t pay a single flat fee like you would with a traditional POS, which is usually quite expensive. And while a flat fee may seem cheaper in the long run, it doesn’t include the routine maintenance checks, updates, extra hardware, and software licenses you have to continue paying with the traditional system.
- Better Data Security
One of the best things about CloudPOS systems is that it is impossible to lose data while using them. Your CloudPOS service providers have a team that is constantly working to maintain and protect your information and ensure that you can always access it. Your data is also encrypted, which means that even if your system is “hacked,” the information within will be unusable.
This is especially important for businesses that maintain sensitive data relating to both company sales and customer payment information.
What is MPOS?
MPOS, otherwise known as Mobile Point of Sales, is exactly what it sounds like! It is a smartphone that can be converted into a Point of Sales terminal, so long as the merchant has a mobile credit card reader that can process the payment. It’s a convenient way for merchants to operate a normal business with customers even if they aren’t in a shop environment, or don’t have access to a more traditional EPOS system.
MPOS is one of the best examples of POS scalability for merchants and vendors, providing a freer and more portable way to accept payments. All you need is access to a wireless LAN and a small clip-on card reader into which the customer’s credit or debit card is inserted.
Why Should You Implement MPOS in your POS System?
You might not be convinced by this new technology, but we believe there are a number of meaningful benefits that make MPOS a worthwhile consideration for your business. These include:
- Shorter wait times
For stores that experience a significant flow of customers, whether regularly or seasonally, long queues can seriously disrupt the customers’ experience. During peak traffic, you may even lose customers if they have to wait too long to get to the checkout. This isn’t an issue with MPOS, since it can be used to set up virtual POS stations in other areas of the store.
This will drastically shorten those queues, which shortens waiting time for customers, which is likely to leave them happier (and hopefully encourage them to return).
- Reduced Cost
Think of all the additional costs of a traditional POS system – you need units that the POS register can be kept on, as well as pay for wiring and installation. These things aren’t an issue if you have MPOS, since the “equipment” only needs to be kept in one small storage space and retrieved when needed. The initial purchase is going to save you hundreds of dollars per terminal, at least.
- Makes Floor Design and Layout Easier
As mentioned above, choosing MPOS over traditional POS means you can do away with the fixed payment counters that most stores have. Instead, you can have staff carry their work phone, tablet, or another device with them. This free s up a lot of room in your store, meaning you have extra merchandise and display space.
Even if you do choose to have POS stations or counters, it’s still more convenient than traditional POS – stations can be made to be much smaller or can be moved at a moment’s notice if you want to redesign the store layout.
- Faster Turnover Means More Customers
Because you’re able to process more customer transactions more quickly in a restaurant environment, customers are able to come and go more quickly, freeing up time over the day or night for more customers to enter and make purchases. In retail, the ability to move freely around the store means staff can approach customers who are still deciding whether or not to buy something – the convenience of paying on the spot rather than approaching the register or waiting in a queue will encourage some to make an immediate purchase.
What is Softpos?
SoftPOS stands for Software Point of Sales, and it is a new payment technology that also takes your smartphone or tablet and turns it into a payment terminal, similar to MPOS. However, unlike MPOS which requires an external card reader to be paired with your device, SoftPOS systems are entirely contactless and utilize embedded NFC technology to process payments.
This means that your business can process payments through your smartphone only, without any unnecessary hardware involved. In some respects, it is considered the next step beyond the MPOS system.
The process is surprisingly quick and simple and can be summed up in three steps:
- Download a SoftPOS service app
- Register your business
- Begin accepting payments through your smartphone
This software-based solution is what is known as a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) device, meaning it is a device that enables contactless interactions between a user and computer. It does this using Near-Field Communication (NFC), the same RFID-based technology that is the backbone of Tap-to-Pay contactless payments that are currently being used by merchants around the world.
SoftPOS is one of the latest technologies that is revolutionizing the digital payments industry, making the payment process faster and more convenient for both merchants and customers. All merchants and staff need is a mobile phone, smartphone, tablet, or alternate compatible device and they can accept customer payments no matter where they are. Some examples of notable companies that have implemented SoftPOS include Venmo, Paypal, and Stripe.
Why Should You Use SoftPOS?
There are some major benefits to using SoftPOS in your business. Keep in mind that many of the benefits of Mobile Point-Of-Sale, mentioned above, will also apply to SoftPOS. Here is why we think you should be incorporating SoftPOS in the near future if you haven’t already.
- Use It Anywhere
All you need is Wi-Fi or mobile phone service to process transactions since SoftPOS is kept entirely on your mobile phone or tablet. This means you are never tied to one location, and you can conduct business virtually anywhere.
- Contactless Payment
Because SoftPOS uses Near-Field Communication (NFC) to process payments between the smartphone terminal and a user’s credit or debit card, the entire process requires zero contact from the customer. During a global pandemic, a feature like this adds an extra element of safety as well as boosts your customer’s confidence in your service.
- No Extra Hardware
Unlike traditional POS systems or even MPOS, its predecessor, SoftPOS needs no additional hardware to process a transaction. No card reader, Bluetooth receipt printer, or anything else of the sort! All you need is a registered NFC-enabled phone, and your customer’s card or mobile phone to make payments.
The other benefit of using only one device to process payments is that you don’t have to pay extra fees for hardware. This is compared to MPOS, where service providers also charge extra for the external card reader and any other hardware you might be using.
- Bank-Agnostic and Android-Compatible
SoftPOS tends to be compatible with any bank or Android phone, assuming it is NFC-enabled.
- Multiple Payment Options
Some SoftPOS providers can accept payment from a range of digital wallets using QR codes, such as VivaPay, WeChat, and AliPay.
Scalability with SoftPOS happens quickly, since there is little need for staff training to use SoftPOS, and it can be used on multiple devices. During sales drives and seasonal surges in business, you can scale up with many devices to make sure you can process sales as quickly as possible. Once business returns to normal, you can easily revert back to a few smartphones with little effort.
EPOS, MPOS, CloudPOS, and SoftPOS are four of the most significant POS solutions in the digital payments market, and each system has its own unique set of features and benefits that make them worth a look for any discerning merchant or a business owner.
The digital payments market is expected to be worth as much as USD11.29 trillion by 2026, partially due to the global pandemic that has accelerated the popularity of e-commerce and the need for contactless electronic payments. For those looking to keep their business ahead of the curb and give their customers the best and most efficient payment methods, staying familiar with these evolving systems and software solutions is essential.