30-Second Summary:

  • Inefficient point of sale processes can annoy and alienate your customers.

  • A wise golden rule is to always offer as many methods of payment as possible.

  • It’s worth spending time carefully studying transaction fees – small savings add up.

  • Mobile point of sale gives you innovative ways to make money from customers.

  • Staff training is crucial where money is involved.

  • Only use modern features IF they truly enhance the customer experience.

Well-implemented POS solutions can do so much more than act as a shiny, modern way to accept money from customers.

Many retail and food-service companies place their POS devices right at the center of their infrastructure. Aside from using them as a way to accept payments from their customers, they make the most of advanced features and integrations to help manage and monitor the business.

But the payment part is crucially important too. After all – no income means no business. Removing every bit of friction for customers who wish to spend money with you can build loyalty and increase revenue.

With that in mind, this article considers seven ways to optimize your POS payments for more sales and more profit.

1. Offer as Many Payment Methods as Possible

Almost everybody has experienced the frustration of being unable to buy an item they want because the retailer doesn’t have the right setup in place.

“We don’t take American Express,” “Sorry, we’re cash only,” and “The card machine’s not working” are all sentences that annoy customers. Worst of all, they’re sentences that can see those customers turning on their heels, not spending the money, and never returning.

Every POS terminal in your business should be set up to accept as many payment methods as possible. It’s true that, in some cases, certain payment methods may incur higher transaction fees than others. However, blocking off any specific way for customers to hand you their money is a rather drastic step. Is it truly worth alienating a potentially loyal customer to save a small amount?

It’s not just about ensuring that customers aren’t placed in a position where they have to leave rather than spend. “Cart abandonment” is the worst scenario, but it’s also good to give customers the freedom to use the payment method they prefer for each specific transaction.

Customers don’t necessarily remember when things are frictionless and straightforward, but they do remember when things are inconvenient and sub-optimal.

2. Look Carefully at Transaction Fees

Card transaction fees are an unavoidable part of doing business – and they do add up. Studying these fees in detail is something everybody should do when choosing a POS system.

Choosing the right POS device or payment terminal can have a positive impact on profits – and vice versa. The decision sometimes goes beyond the POS system itself, and into the third-party provider(s) you choose to use for payments and merchant services.

A Dollar here and a Dollar there soon add up. Not only is it important to compare providers’ prices when buying a POS system, but it’s also wise to regularly check you’re still getting the best deal on transaction charges. The market continually evolves, and the upheaval of switching providers could prove worthwhile if it results in ongoing savings. 

3. Integrate with your Online Store

Loyal customers who like what you have to offer may wish to buy from you both online and “in the flesh.” Some POS systems, such as Oracle NetSuite, are created with this in mind, offering a refined integration of customers’ online and in-store activity.

There are various ways to capitalize on this. You can allow customers to pay online and collect in-store. You can ensure they’re “recognized” when they visit, and perhaps offered items you know they’ve been looking at on their laptop at home.

With the right POS system, you can go way beyond just simplifying payments. Collecting and utilizing customer data can do a huge amount to build loyalty – which usually results in people spending more.

4. Take Payments to the Customer

Another way to make it easier for customers to spend money is to take mobile payment devices to them.

Male hand holds a bank terminal in hands at the cash desk, enters a password from a credit card. The check goes out and the cash register

The Covid pandemic saw a huge 190% rise in curbside pickups in North America. Home delivery services also flourished, facilitated by the ease with which businesses can take a point of sale card reader to a customer’s door. POS systems like Square make it easy to use a portable device to take card payments, everywhere from a food festival to an outdoor sales area at a DIY store.

People have become used to these convenient ways to pay. The more straightforward it all is, the more likely they are to spend.

1. Ensure Your POS Payment Devices have Adequate Bandwidth

Waving the card reader in the air trying to get a cellular signal is not a good look for a business. But it goes beyond that.

Slow payment processing makes queues move more slowly. It may even tempt the people at the back of the queue to abandon their purchases and go elsewhere. It creates a bad impression and is frustrating for the staff having to process the payments.

As such, it’s wise to ensure that there’s sufficient signal and bandwidth to process payments quickly and reliably. This can be as simple as being selective about which network to use for card authorizations. You certainly don’t want to be stuck on the network where there happens to be a signal blackspot in your location.

An alternative, “failover” connection to use in the event of an outage is also a sensible thing to have. No business wants to have to close its doors and turn away business because the card machine isn’t working.

2. Consider Self-Service Options

Consumers are becoming increasingly used to serving themselves in stores, and even in takeaways and restaurants.

“Kiosk” style self-service options are no longer the preserve of big chains like McDonald’s. Many POS providers offer them as an option, giving you a way to completely revisualize the way customers spend money and interact with your business.

An increasing number of businesses, from shops to food pop-ups, choose to implement self-service purchases and payments. Some use customer-facing touchscreens, while others go one step further and can offer pre-ordering and pre-payment with apps.

There is, however, one golden rule: These modern solutions should be used to reduce friction, not to create it. You’ve probably experienced systems like this that are poorly implemented. If it’s not making things more efficient and easier for the customer, it’s essential to question the point. Is it making things better, faster and more convenient? If not, improve it, fix it, or get rid of it.  

3. Ensure Staff are Well Trained

Customers get (rightly) irritated by inefficient and incompetent staff.

It’s even worse when it comes to payments. A staff member who doesn’t properly understand how to use a POS system could accidentally overcharge, put payments through twice, or simply hold up a customer who wishes to pay up and leave.

Effective training isn’t just for the customer’s benefit. A quicker throughput of business means more profit, and strong knowledge can mean staff makes better decisions. For example, while you should give customers multiple payment options, there’s nothing wrong with “steering” somebody towards the one with the lowest transaction fees!

Two male office workers sitting together at table using Internet on digital tablet, horizontal shot

Staff handling payments have a considerable responsibility and should be trained appropriately.

Optimizing POS payments is something where small tweaks can add up to big changes. Following the steps above can give you faster customer throughput and lower transaction fees, and eliminate common errors that drive people to your competitors, instead of back to you.

There’s probably something you can improve about the way your business handles POS payments. Work out what it is and take action straight away.