In today’s competitive markets, businesses need to consider the advantages mobile payment processing solutions offer. Whether you need to accept payments while on the road, over the phone, or from other remote locations, portable POS systems and virtual terminals help deliver an enhanced customer experience and boost sales. In this article we’ll explore types of mobile payment systems and learn what benefits they offer.
For many companies, the business climate has only become more and more competitive in recent years. A combination of consumer behaviour shifts and technological advancements have required many businesses to rethink how they serve customers, and in particular, WHERE they serve their customers. With dramatic increases in demand for ecommerce sales, click-and-collect ordering, on-site customer service, and remote technical assistance, flexible remote and portable payment processing technology has become more important than ever.
Businesses have multiple options to choose from when evaluating portable and remote payment processing systems, and each has their own set of advantages. In most cases, businesses will opt for either a portable POS system or an online virtual terminal solution to accept payments remotely. The specific needs of the business, along with the preferences of their customer base, will determine which option is ultimately the best choice between the two. The first step in evaluating whether your business would be best served by a virtual terminal or a portable POS system is understanding how each system works, and learning about the applications where each provides the greatest benefits.
What is a Portable POS System?
For businesses who need an on-the-go payment solution, a mobile POS terminal may be the ideal choice. These devices are compact and portable point-of-sale systems that are able to process a wide variety of payment types as well as perform multiple different business tasks. Portable POS terminals, such as the Clover Flex POS system from MONEXgroup, offer a great deal of flexibility. They can easily be carried anywhere and connect wirelessly to an available Wi-Fi signal or cellular data network.
These devices are very popular for businesses who need to accept payments at a diverse range of locations, such as restaurants and bars who wish to take payments directly at customer tables or outside on patios. Retailers are also taking advantage of the convenience of the Clover Flex by checking customers out from anywhere in the store, helping them to avoid long lines and increasing customer satisfaction. Food trucks, pop-up retail kiosks, home improvement contractors, and other on-site service providers are all examples of the types of businesses who can serve customers better with the flexibility and convenience of the Clover Flex mobile POS system.
Clover Flex terminals can also be equipped with value-added business apps to enhance their functionality. These mobile POS devices can be configured with apps to perform tasks such as inventory control, staff scheduling, business reporting, customer loyalty program management, and more. For businesses who need a powerful POS system that can go anywhere, portable payment terminals like the Clover Flex are an excellent choice.
What is a Virtual Terminal?
It’s not always feasible to serve customers effectively with a physical payment terminal, even if it’s small enough to be taken anywhere. Some examples of this include taking orders over the phone, mail-order transactions, remote customer service calls, and online technical support services. To handle instances like this, businesses are turning to a virtual payment terminal solution to process transactions securely. Virtual terminals are online payment portals that can be accessed from smartphones, connected tablets, laptops, and PCs using a standard web browser.
Rather than a physical POS terminal where you swipe or tap cards, customers enter their payment details remotely using their connected device and web browser. The transaction is then processed online using secure encryption technology, allowing businesses to accept payments from customers from any location in the world, instantly. Customers can use credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallet apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay, making virtual terminals an easy and secure solution for accepting payments with no physical limitations.
Virtual terminals are also popular for businesses who need to accept payments on-the-go, but don’t want to carry a second device with which to do so. Any connected device (smartphone or tablet) can access the virtual terminal, making it very flexible and convenient for taking payments on-site. Very handy for technical service personnel, delivery crews, special event teams, seasonal businesses, and more.
As you can see, there are many advantages to offering mobile and remote payments using payment processing tools like portable POS devices and virtual terminals. Now, let’s consider the various factors that can help you determine which solution is best suited for the unique needs of your business.
Deciding Between Virtual Terminals and Portable POS Systems
Virtual terminals and portable POS systems are both able to perform the same core function, namely processing credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallets from locations other than your main place of business. However, there are other aspects to each system that make them more effective in certain types of business applications.
For example, the location of your business and location of your customers play major parts in deciding which type of system to go with. Answering some simple questions can help you determine the best choice. Is your business operating out of a central storefront where staff moves around your location to assist customers with purchases? A portable POS would offer the best combination of functionality and utility. Does your business travel to the homes of customers to provide services? A virtual terminal can allow customers to conveniently make payments remotely from their smartphone or PC before you arrive, while you are on-site, or afterwards when the service has been completed.
Another element to evaluate is whether or not your business needs dedicated devices to accept payments, or would prefer to use existing smartphones, connected tablets, and PCs instead. Having a separate dedicated device means that transactions must be processed through that particular device, but it does have the advantage that any authorized employee can utilize it. Choosing virtual terminal solutions means that transactions can be processed through any web browser, but it also means that access to a web-enabled device must be available in order to complete the purchase.
Additionally, the payment processing fee structure for virtual terminals may be slightly different from those applied to transactions made through portable POS systems. This isn’t always the case, and while it may only be a small variance, (ex: the difference may be just 0.5% per transaction) the extra costs can certainly add up after many transactions. Portable POS terminals may also come with maintenance or rental fees, which is generally not the case with virtual terminal solutions. It’s best to always find out what the associated fees are for both in full detail from your merchant services provider before you commit to one option over the other.
On that note, it’s essential to understand that the payment processing technology you choose is just one half of the equation. The other half is the merchant services provider that you select to deliver the implementation and ongoing support for your mobile or virtual payment processing solution.