The tablet-based point of sale market is becoming crowded, pressuring providers to get creative to stand out.
This week Bindo, a New York City-based iPad point of sale provider, launched a quoting and invoicing feature that allows merchants to bill a specific customer for different purchasing options, such as partial payments, advanced orders, account charges or options to create and send quotes to consumers that can later convert to an invoice.
The merchant can set net payable due dates and email that information to the customer.
The company allowed a subset of merchants from 20 different verticals to beta test the feature and about one-third of those merchants adopted the functionality within a couple days, said David Bozin, vice president of business development at Bindo. Hardware stores, liquor and wine sellers and apparel shops were the verticals that found the invoicing feature particularly attractive during the beta test. These businesses usually provide lay away or have house accounts that allow regular customers to pay at a later date.
The merchant is able to keep a full audit trail of the payment received and what is due, plus can tag certain payables with statuses of paid, unpaid, running late and soon to be paid.
While Bozin said invoicing itself isnt so awe-inspiring, Bindo has bigger plans for the feature.
The company plans on adding recurring billing functionality on top of the invoicing feature, "allowing each store to create clubs and a cult-like following by fostering their neighborhood customers," Bozin said.
Bindo is "creating in essence a Birchbox-like experience," Bozin said. Birchbox is a subscription-based beauty sample business that has been extremely successful. In April, the company was valued at $485 million.
With the future recurring billing feature, these merchants will have a way to grow their business, by incentivizing customers to come back. For example, a wine store could offer to hold bottles every month for customers that pay a monthly fee.
And Bindo's long-term goal is to create local marketplaces that consumers can access via Web or mobile app. The company incents merchants to keep track of their inventory so consumers can shop locally 24/7.
Bindo, which launched its cloud-based point of sale about a year ago, has several thousand merchants using the system.
In that industry, Bindo has company. Groupon Gnome, ShopKeep, Square, Revel, Shopify, GoPago, Clover, Lightspeed and Leaf is the short list of tablet-based point of sale providers.
Recently mPOS providers have put significant effort into developing invoicing features to help merchants streamline sales. In June, Square released an invoicing service that allows sellers to send bills to customers via email. The service allows customers to pay the bill online.
"MPOS is gradually becoming less about payment acceptance; we're seeing it evolve into a business management and customer engagement tool," said Jordan McKee, a senior analyst at 451 Research. "In 2015, look for vendors to enhance their solutions with [customer relationship management] tools and more advanced analytics."
The industry is in the first stages of building a platform-centric approach to the point of sale, a trend which will manifest itself further next year, said McKee. Point of sale "providers will look to extend their APIs to third-party developers and built out app-driven ecosystems," he said.
For example, Poynt Co., headed by payments industry veteran, Osama Bedier has developed an app-based payment terminal to take market share from VeriFone and Ingenico as merchants upgrade hardware to support EMV.
"The hope among vendors is that by inviting outside participation, their solutions will have broader market appeal and increased functionality," McKee said.