POS systems and mobile card readers FAQ
What is a POS system?
POS stands for Point of Sale. The point of sale is the moment at which the merchant calculates what you owe and it’s time for you to pay. A POS system is a digital system, like a till-based system or card reader system, that allows card payments to be taken and information to be stored online. POS systems have become popular in the digital era in particular, as they allow owners to get an instant overview of their business across single and multiple locations. Furthermore, you can access real-time reports on products, sales, employee performance and tax obligations, which can either be called on demand or scheduled regularly. And with customisable dashboards that keep key information on the front screen, POS systems are geared towards convenience and flexibility.
I have a simple cash register - why do I need a POS system?
If you want to take card payments, you’ll need a card reader that is linked to some kind of recording software. This is a POS system. Without this, you won’t be able to accept cards and with this being a growing market which already represents half the UK’s daily transactions, you would be isolating your business from a large part of the payments industry. Consider also that the days of manually counting cash are long gone. A POS system is now an all-in-one financial solution for businesses, designed to save time, effort and money while improving accuracy and compliance. And with Making Tax Digital regulations going live in October 2019, there has never been a better time to get online.
Do all iPad POS systems need Internet access?
Eventually, yes. Now, you can run a card reader to its software using a wired connection or Bluetooth, but POS systems eventually need WiFi to store transaction data. Quite a few iPad POS systems can be run offline, but at the end of a day’s trading, you’re going to need to use the Internet if you want to store what’s happened during that day. Of course, this means that you’re free to trade in a field without problems, as long as you’re back in relative technological civilisation soon afterwards.
Is a PC with a cash register programme sufficient?
Along with a card reader, this is certainly enough to run an efficient system. However, a lot of businesses are moving away from PCs and towards tablets and smartphones, because of portability, cost and customer familiarity.
What are the regulations and taxes for POS systems?
In terms of regulations, the main focus is on GDPR compliance. Companies must now seek consent to store customer data, and have facilities in place to delete it if this consent is withdrawn. There is also the consideration of Making Tax Digital, for which most of the card reader/POS systems are already compliant.
Mobile card readers
What are mobile card readers?
A mobile card reader is a device that connects to payment software on your phone, tablet or terminal to allow you to accept card payments. Connections can be made by Bluetooth, WiFi or by wires and if you’re using your smartphone, for example, this makes you and your business completely mobile.
Are mobile card readers compatible with all POS systems?
No. Mobile card readers tend to be compatible with their own systems – take Zettle, for example. If you want to use it, you have to have their software. Of course, there are some readers out there that are designed to be cross-compatible, but this is not common.
How expensive is mobile payment?
For customers, mobile payment doesn’t cost anything. For merchants, most of the main card reader and POS companies in the UK charge transparent flat rates or simple sliding scale, with no contract tie-ins or monthly commitments. Zettle costs £29 for the card reader, followed by 1.75% flat rate on each transaction. SumUP, meanwhile, charges £19 and 1.69%. For most businesses, this is affordable and is becoming an increasingly popular market.
What is NFC?
NFC stands for Near-Field Communication. It is a type of technology that works using a specific frequency to allow two devices to connect with each other and share specific information when in close proximity to one another. In the case of the payments industry, the two devices are the card reader and your phone, card, tablet or smartwatch.