Hand-held Registers Take a Swipe at Long Lines
By Rick Moss
Portable technology that allows for acceptance of credit cards on the sales floor, rental car lot or, as portrayed in a NY Times article, on the golf range, is not new. However, recent improvements in wireless networks and the lower cost of hand-held devices is beginning to inspire increased usage.
The potential for improved customer service and increased efficiency in running a small business is highlighted in Jennifer Kingson’s article for the Times. Michelle Dubé, a golf instructor doing business in California, carries a Blackberry device equipped with a card swiping attachment to accept payments, as well as for scheduling next week’s appointment.
According to the article, the idea has also taken hold with some plumbers, limo drivers, flea market vendors and restaurant wait staff. The technology is even being tested on parking meters in Coral Gables, Florida.
For retailers, the opportunity to “bring the checkout to the customer” is tempting.
“If you’re buying a couple of dresses, a retail store wants the ability to walk up to you at that time, read the tags on the clothing items and create a sale right there,” said O. B. Rawls IV, president of the North America region for Hypercom, a company that sells payment card terminals and technology. “In a wireless mode, you can take advantage of impulse buying and line-busting, and I think that’s pretty slick.”
For example, Apple, never known to be slow on adoption, is trying out the “line-busting” technique at its retail locations to reduce chances of lost revenue from customers who abandon purchases on long holiday lines.
Although, for many retailers, use of portable checkouts will require a costly upgrade from outdated dial-up systems to wireless networks and hand-held devices, it could often be factored into an overall technology upgrade for overall systems that involve everything from inventory tracking to loyalty programs.
Moderator’s Comment: What are the relative merits of wireless credit card acceptance for small businesses and retail chains?
Domino’s reportedly tested wireless terminals, but decided to hold off on implementation because devices failed to meet durability requirements. It’s easy
to imagine that, in the hands of delivery drivers, hand-held equipment is subject to considerable wear and tear.
However, for small entrepreneurs who would carry their own equipment — think dog groomers, masseuses, appliance service people — the convenience offered
to clients could help encourage spending. And if it becomes the norm, maybe freelance designers, writers and consultants will actually get paid at the end of a day’s work, instead
of enduring a 45 to 60 day payment cycle. (Yeah, right.) –
Rick Moss – Moderator