This invention is opening a whole new universe of opportunities for retailers. In this new world where tablets tablets, and other mobile devices have come to dominate the hospitality and retail businesses, cellular POS systems and mobile payments are just two areas that are commonly talked about, but not clearly defined.

While the terms”payment” and”point of sale” offer some level of distinction between the two, the options that can be found in the market for each are so diverse, and sometimes, so nuanced, that lots of business owners can’t quite explain the difference. Without a clear understanding of the options available to you, you might end up making the same costly mistakes as many other small business owners. We don’t only mean in terms of dollars and cents.

Choosing the wrong point of sale technology means that you won’t have the best possible tools for running and growing your business. That could include anything from subpar analytics and reporting into ineffective inventory management tools and a lack of critical integrations. It can also mean less flexibility choosing a processor, which can lead to paying higher rates or the inability to take new cutting-edge mobile payments technology such as Apple Pay and other NFC payments.

Having said that, it is important to understand the differences between both of these technologies, or else risk setting your business back for years to come. So, how can you differentiate between the two and make certain that you are making the right choice?

Mobile point of sale — also frequently referred to as mPOS — is an iPad, Android tablet, or smartphone which serves the function of the traditional cash registers or POS terminals used in physical businesses like retail stores and restaurants. Often this device is paired with added POS hardware like a credit card reader, barcode scanner, and cash drawer.

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Traditionally, cash rendered for goods and services was accepted and accounted for at the cash register and then monitored and reported on manually by bookkeepers. This tracking could have been carried out using a paper ledger, recorder software, or by inputting data into an accounting tool such as QuickBooks.

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Nearly all mobile POS companies run their applications on tablets such as the iPad, or the Android equivalent, because of the design and reliability. They are less bulky than the traditional PC-based point of sale systems but big enough to capture sales and customer data easily. They also tend to look nicer than a standard electronic cash register and may add to the aesthetic of your store.

IPad POS systems such as ShopKeep have become the preferred choice for accepting payments for growing small businesses. They supply the flexibility to take payments on a sophisticated system from a stationary position, on the counter, or around the store (mobile). Additionally, a POS solution like this almost always includes a set of simple but powerful analytics tools which any business owner can use to market retail success.

Like mPOS, Mobile payments is an umbrella term that refers to the many payment options which are now available to consumers via mobile devices, including cellular point of sale. This may include each from mobile wallets or cellular money to cellular money transfer and peer-to-peer payments.

Mobile wallets are precisely what the name implies: applications on mobile devices that allows consumers to store their credit and debit cards digitally to cover things at retailers. These transactions can occur both online and offline. Some companies have even expanded this technology to permit customers to pay with it through desktop web browsers such as Apple’s Safari.

Having a mobile wallet, rather than physically carrying cards and swiping them at point of sale and credit card terminals, customers enter their cards of choice in their wallet app and pay with their telephone, using technology like near-field communication (NFC) or by”`checking in” to the shop and authorizing the payment. Some popular mobile wallets on the market now are Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.

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Mobile money transfer is a solution that allows you to earn a person-to-person transfer. So essentially, you can send someone money almost, without physical cash ever changing hands. Though this is a person-to-person transfer, home-based companies that don’t need robust business management attributes often use this option to get payments from their clients, as it’s easy to set up, requiring no additional hardware.

Peer-to-peer payments is a form of mobile money transfer but is not targeted to merchants. Even though some businesses use this kind of service to charge their customers, it’s more common for sending small dollar amounts to friends for routine transactions such as splitting a cab or paying a buddy back for giving you some cash. They’re instant transfers that are extremely easy to make. A popular example of this type of service is Venmo.

These services function with an app and plug-in credit card reader that is inserted into the charging port or headphone jack of a smartphone. They function as a credit card terminal, with the extra ability to move away from the counter, but lacking the sophistication or sales insights that a real mobile POS provides.

That Is Right For Your Company?

Now you know the difference between mPOS versus mobile payments, the question is which is ideal for your company. That depends on your specific goals and needs. If you’re like most ambitious what your specific needs and goals are, but this should help: If you are like most serious merchants that aspire to run a profitable and growing business, you’re going to need the correct tools to build on and continue that success.

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Mobile POS, particularly mPOS applications, was designed for this purpose. It has been installed in thousands of businesses, where it helps retailers and other business owners serve their clients through fast and secure transactions. Furthermore, mPOS software also includes rich functionality that enables retailers and other business owners understand their earnings performance and better manage critical operational tasks such as employee and inventory management. In fact, technology plays such an essential role in business, that if you are trying to run a real, full-time business, it can be tough to compete without the tools that mobile POS software and hardware give to your company.

These solutions typically work from using the phone you already own, so there’s no need to buy a tablet or other device, along with a software subscription. There is also very little time required to get your app or alternative solution set up. However, keep in mind that these solutions don’t provide much in the way of resources that will help you run your company. Mobile payments tools are really only a means to take a few payments per month or week and nothing much else. The main point is that mobile payment tools are best leveraged by companies with inconsistent transaction volumes that only occasionally sell products. If you need more than that, look at an mPOS solution.

Hopefully, this post reduced any confusion you might be feeling and helps to set you on the path to making the ideal choice for your small business. Choosing the right mobile POS or payments technology is a significant decision that could make or break your ability to succeed and grow for years to come.

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