Portable POS: Why Small-Scale Businesses Benefit from Staying Light on Their Feet
So you’ve managed to carve out your own little slice of the retail business pie. Well done! Modern tech has helped small-scale retail to stake a lasting claim on the economic frontier, and you’ve gotten in on the ground floor (well, if not the ground floor, certainly one of the lower levels). But if you’re starting from the ground up, you probably have questions about how to make the move from “person with a dynamite product” to “person with a dynamite product who sells that product for a living with ease and confidence.” No worries, small-scale newbies. We’re going to help you get started. First and foremost? You’ll need a point of sale (POS) solution.
Think about it. No retail business exists without some method for tracking purchase interactions. And, while you could go the pen-and-paper or cumbersome cash register route, may we suggest something a little more…21st century? Allow us to introduce you to mobile POS system.
What is mobile POS? It’s a portable solution, easily downloadable right onto your phone or tablet, that lets you process and record all manner of purchases wherever you may be. Picture a highly sophisticated register/credit card-swiping/contactless NFC device in your back pocket. Got the image in your head? Good. Because that’s what portable POS is like. Want some more evidence as to why a lightweight, portable POS on a mobile device might be the best choice for your small-scale enterprise? Sure thing. A mobile POS system can enable you to…
Let mobility take you upward
At the risk of stating the obvious, a portable POS lets you and your business operations remain, well, portable. Some small businesses thrive on being able to relocate at a moment’s notice and go where the action is, operating out of trade show kiosks, craft fair booths or even the trunks of cars. Others find that clunky registers aren’t the best fit for their streamlined stores and feel a mobile checkout service is both more personal (think Apple’s friendly staff members and their iPhone credit card processors) and more practical (think Christmas time crunch, when an extra tablet can mean an extra checkout and shorter wait times for customers on the go). Either way, a mobile POS system can provide welcome assistance, allowing small-scale operations to stay pleasantly portable while projecting a professional polish.
Capitalize on the cloud
One advantage to using a mobile POS system that may not spring instantly to mind (but nonetheless counts as a major benefit for the little guy) is that most, if not all mobile POS run on cloud-based tech. As such, a mobile system essentially cuts out the need for onsite servers, backup hard drives and the inevitable army of IT workers that come with them. In short: mobile POS saves you money.
If diving into the world of IT, servers, and tech maintenance is a concern, you’ll want to consider looking at Erply. Rather than hiring an IT person (or team), Erply’s dedicated support team will help you with any hardware or software issues you come across, and at minimal operating costs. Whether you need to import customer data from an old POS system or integrate a new piece of hardware with your system, Erply is there to help you along the way.
If you’re a small-scale setup that needs to keep things lightweight, you may not have the time or the funds necessary to maintain an intricate top-to-bottom infrastructure. A cloud-based solution may be the answer to your business prayers. With all customer data, inventory info and transactional records uploaded and stored directly to the cloud, you’ll be able to run alongside the big boys without being tethered to burdensome hardware and without having to hire your own personal tech squad to ensure continuity of operations. If you’re looking to cut back on costs and/or if your business requires you to pack up and move shop on a regular basis, mobile POS is the way to go.
Imagine being able to check stock levels while simultaneously staring at your existing inventory to see if the numbers jive. Imagine being afforded the capability to check what products you’ll have available next month and in what color — all while casually conversing with a customer or ringing up a preliminary order. That’s exactly the kind of easy accessibility a tablet POS solution can provide: inventory overview from any location at any time. Need a quick check on how much yarn you have left to knit your world-famous cardigans but can’t get to your storerooms just now? Simple. Have to order new shipments of flour and eggs because your locally-sourced muffins are selling out faster than you expected? No problem. Mobile POS applications have your back.
That’s not all. As with regular onsite POS systems, a portable POS can offer tools for customer analytics, allowing you to track and synthesize demographic buyer information such as home address or individual purchase history. This kind of record keeping may help you stay on top of trends (as in: “Wow…our jewelry is really appealing to female tourists from upstate at the moment—let’s debut our new bracelets soon!”) and enable you to cater your marketing style or pop-up shop schedule to the best possible audience (as in, “Our jewelry is selling to upstate tourists…let’s book that tradeshow up north for next month!”).
Erply lets you easily add customers right from the POS and group them by common purchase type, location, or any other demographic. That way you can quickly identify how often those female tourists visit your shop and create promotions accordingly.
Keep on the right side of history
If none of the perks of a portable POS mentioned above appeals to you, consider this: The mobile POS solution is here to stay whether you like it or not. An investment in this technology today may save you the headache of having to overhaul your systems and implement a tablet-friendly POS at a later date. In fact, consulting and reporting resource Tech.Co cites mobile POS systems as a surefire way to futureproof your business, indicating that a portable solution may help prevent your operation from falling behind as new POS software hits the market and cash registers become a thing of the past.
An added bonus? Rollout, particularly when you’re working with an iPad, is foolproof. “Almost all iPad POS systems are set up and run through a mobile app,” Tech.Co notes, adding that such easy implementation “makes initial setup and ongoing maintenance incredibly simple and fast, and gets rid of any risk of lengthy downtime.”
Bear in mind that most portable POS rely solely on online capabilities. If you make the choice to invest in a mobile POS system, be sure you investigate options for those moments when your network is down or your tablet refuses to function properly. Erply POS is capable of running offline to ensure your business is always running as smoothly as possible. When running offline, you’ll be able to complete local POS functions as normal, such as completing sales or switching POS users. When your connection returns, all of the data that was processed while offline will sync up with your back office. Though a portable mobile POS system may be an elegant business solution, it’s equally as important to ensure your data has at least one form of backup; know that your purchasing data will remain secure with Erply, even when your business is running offline.
If you do decide to give mobile POS a chance, enjoy the freedom it provides. We think staying light on your POS feet can be a smart and efficient way to run a business. Check out how Erply can be used to run your business on the go.