Businesses large and small never want to miss out on a sale. In 2009, Jim McKelvey was operating a glass-blowing business and lost out on a sale because he was unable to accept credit cards. You may know the story: out of that experience McKelvey and Jack Dorsey founded Square, in many ways launching mobile payments to the mainstream. Seven years later, mobile payments and point-of-sale (mPOS) are popular with millions of businesses of all sizes. Businesses take mPOS seriously, precisely because they never want to miss out on a sale.
While small and large businesses can each relate to that sentiment, how they benefit from mPOS differs. Let’s consider both ends of the business spectrum to understand this more clearly. Historically, many small businesses struggled to accept card payments because the process to do so was too costly and too difficult. With their lengthy contracts, expensive fees and complicated set-ups, point-of-sale (POS) tools were traditionally suited for large businesses.
mPOS like Square appeal to small businesses because they make it easy to accept card payments. With an affordable card reader, quick app download and the smartphone or tablet they already own, businesses can be up and running in five minutes, accepting cards at a low, transparent rate with fast access to funds. Small businesses benefit just by accepting card payments. Sales increase as customers spend more when they are not constrained by cash on hand. Card payments are frequently incremental transactions that would not have taken place without a mPOS. Customers also appreciate a business that allows them the flexibility to pay in the manner they want. Happier customers are more loyal customers.
Small businesses also benefit from access to value-added features, like real-time analytics, available for the first time with mPOS like Square. Analytics give sellers access to sales trends, buyer insights, helpful charts and personalized data to help run operations efficiently and make important business decisions. For example, sellers can surface key insights such as Which items have been selling the best over the last month? or How many of my customers are new versus returning? without requiring spreadsheets or complicated tools. With mPOS, small businesses finally get access to tools that allow them to compete as efficiently and intelligently as their larger counterparts.
Large sellers also use mPOS to transform their customer experience in unique ways. On the sales floor, mPOS improves one-on-one customer interaction: an associate with an mPOS device can focus on helping the customer and then accept payment anywhere the customer happens to be in the store. mPOS also transforms the checkout process by making it easy for stores to line-bust. Having mPOS devices available reduces checking-out queues and cart
abandonment significantly. Speed is key for both the seller and the customer: customers want to pay for their items quickly and get on with their day, while for sellers, line-busting increases the number of customers served, improving operational efficiency and driving revenue

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. This is especially important during peak store hours and seasonal shopping dates that see major spikes in footfall.

Large sellers can also leverage mPOS to great effect to enable innovative retail formats such as pop-up locations. Traditionally, taking card payments outside their brick and mortar stores was a headache for retailers, especially in locations without electricity or a fixed internet connection; the only option was to transport a heavy, cumbersome register or to go cash only. Now mPOS offers a lightweight, easy (but powerful) way to take payments. Smartphones
and tablets using mPOS can be used unplugged and can even accept payments in offline mode as needed to overcome WiFi issues. Pop-up locations provide an exceptional customer experience that mPOS helps to deliver.
mPOS ultimately offers large and small businesses greater flexibility, efficiency and value. Just as mPOS has leveled the playing field for small businesses, the line between mPOS and POS is beginning to blur for large sellers. The ability to make a sale anytime, anywhere with anyone is becoming a reality.

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Cathy Vigrass

Cathy Vigrass is head of Canada at Square.

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