Guest Column | August 20, 2013

Mobile POS Hardware: Alternatives To The iPad/iPhone

By Frank Riso, senior director of global lead retail for Motorola Solutions

Retailers are increasing their ability to provide point of sale (POS) alternatives as part of their continued efforts to improve their customers’ shopping experience. The growing trend is mobile point of sale (MPOS), which enables a store associate to use a mobile device to scan the items to be purchased and to accept payment using a bank card for both credit and debit payments.

MPOS usage has significantly increased in recent years. IHL Group reports that MPOS will capture more than 12 percent of the traditional POS market by 2016. By the end of this year, more than 30 percent of retailers are expected to have implemented an MPOS solution, with specialty retailers the largest segment to deploy it in their stores.

Use of Consumer Devices in Retail

Retailers have been looking at devices such as iPad, iTouch, and iPhone because the initial acquisition costs are lower than the price of traditional mobile computers. These devices are very familiar to store associates, as they probably already own a similar device. And to enable them to run applications, retailers have found software developers for these devices as well as peripherals, including for MPOS credit card payments.

Apple’s products are designed, manufactured, and sold for consumer use. They were never intended to be used in a retail store for store-level applications or to bear the burden of a long retail shift. Initially, the acquisition price of the device was the main attraction, and some retailers knew that they could buy two or three devices for the same price as a traditional mobile computer.