By Cara Wood

eCommerce changed the retail game. In two decades, eCommerce stores have established themselves as not only equals to brick and mortar stores but have threatened their very existence. After a few years, it’s become clear that brick and mortar stores will never go away – physical experiences can still often be a very important part of purchasing decisions. However, brick and mortar stores are having to figure out creative new ways to make that physical experience worth a customer’s time.

A new report by Capterra shows that stores most interested in innovating and coming up with creative methods to delight their customers are those stores using mobile POS (mPOS) systems. These stores also tend to be small to medium sized – 79% of mPOS using stores are SMBs.

mPOS systems are a relatively new way to run the traditional point-of-sale software that’s been around for decades. It allows retailers to run the full software system (from sales to inventory) on a tablet or smartphone. Freeing the software from the confines of a stationary desktop computer has given retailers a lot of freedom in what else they can do in store – even to how they design their stores. As a result, stores using mPOS are heavily embracing modern trends retail experts are suggesting.


  1. Stores using mPOS are accepting mobile payments.

Currently, 51% of stores using mPOS are accepting mobile payments. 28% more stores using mPOS are trying to get on board. That will make for a full 79% of stores using mPOS accepting mobile payments within the next few years.

                                                 The percentage of stores that accept mobile payments.

Number of Stores that Accept Mobile Payments

Despite these numbers, mobile payments have had a fairly slow adoption rate in general. One difficulty has simply been that older POS software isn’t setup to accept mobile payments (something that Samsung is attempting to render irrelevant).

In this case, stores using mPOS have an edge. mPOS systems have all been developed within recent years, and run on devices that are compatible with accepting mobile payments. The device used matters a lot, as it can be seen by the fact that Apple Pay is far and away the most accepting form of mobile payment. 76% of stores accepting mobile payments accept Apple Pay, as compared to the next nearest form, Paypal, at 56%. This directly corresponds to something an earlier study brought to light: iPad is the most popular device to run mPOS on.

These stores are not just accepting mobile payments because their devices are enabled to. These stores are forward thinking, trying to provide the very best customer experience they can. The fact that accepting mobile payments is a conscious decision is probably best illustrated by the fact that 6% of stores accepting mobile payments even accept Bitcoin, and 11% more of these stores are actively planning on adding Bitcoin to the currencies they accept! And while Bitcoin may not be a very popular way to pay right now, stores are certainly preparing for a time when it could be.


  1. Stores using mPOS are getting rid of their older systems.

While 68% of stores using mPOS are still using a traditional, standalone register in addition to their mobile registers, 32% of stores have switched exclusively to mPOS. We are only a few years into the mobile revolution, and yet so many stores have already opted to either get rid of their old systems completely or to never purchase one in the first place.

Stores using only mPOS

This full adoption highlights the interest these companies are placing in the capabilities of mobile POS technology, especially considering that stores are reporting that about 5% more sales are still made at traditional registers (34% vs. 29%). Stores are willing to not only get one or two mobile registers for use sometimes but rather are willing to completely forge ahead and use mPOS all of the time.


  1. Stores using mPOS are working with downsized cash wraps.

In the past, cash wraps were classically large desks or even huge swathes of the store devoted to customer checkout. Walmart, for instance, always has about the front eighth of their store set aside for just check-out. That’s a lot of lost space. Space that could potentially be better used as fitting rooms, or merchandising displays. And in a smaller store, even a large desk can take up too much room that needs to be used for displays.

As the need to create more incredible in-person experiences grows, experts are encouraging stores to make more physical room for those experiences by downsizing their cash wraps. mPOS stores are wholeheartedly jumping on board this trend. 43% of stores using mPOS already have downsized cash-wraps, with another 24% planning to downsize by the end of the year, meaning by the end of 2017, 61% of stores using mPOS will have downsized cash wraps.

Stores using downsized cashwraps

These numbers do not just reflect the fact that it is easier to have a small cash wrap with mPOS, or that since largely smaller stores are using it they need a smaller cash wrap. With only 32% of stores using mPOS exclusively using mPOS, many of these stores with downsized cash wraps are doing so despite still having a large standing system. Having a downsized cash wrap is a very conscious choice to help provide a better experience to their customers.


Final Thoughts

It’s no mistake that the stores that are working hard to be on the cutting edge of the retail industry are mPOS adopters, because such a large portion of them are SMBs. Despite the smaller budgets, SMBs have less bureaucracy holding them back, and less information to migrate when they need to change systems up. Additionally, while a mammoth retailer can coast on brand awareness and sheer size for a while, smaller retailers have to continually prove themselves to their customers or risk losing their patronage to a store like Amazon. Purchasing an mPOS is often just the beginning of a much larger strategy of innovation for these businesses because so much of retail technology and experience rests on the retail management capabilities of their POS system.


About the Author: Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra, where she studies retail tech, and the broader retail industry. When she’s not discussing mPOS and beacon technology, she can be found napping or horseback riding.