The mobile point of sale (mPOS) market is growing quickly—ABI Research says about 46% of the overall point of sale market will be mobile in four years.

But the technology is complex, requiring a careful strategy. For best results in adopting an mPOS system, retailers should take the time to plan pre-implementation, deployment and measurement. Doing so will result in more productive and engaged associates, satisfied customers and greater profitability.

There are several important steps in pre-implementation.

Strategy. Retailers should create one, three and five-year strategies outlining the goals of mPOS, including line-busting, e-commerce integration, inventory management, price changes, CRM, loyalty/marketing programs and reporting. Merchants then can better evaluate hardware, including form factor, the size of the memory on the device, processing speed and interface, as well as software demands.  The technology should be scalable to meet future needs.

Budget. This should factor in software licensing or development, hardware, handheld devices (smartphones, tablets or ruggedized), printers, infrastructure and access points, networking equipment, mobile device management (MDM) costs, training and software updates.

Research. Resources include trade shows, the National Retail Federation (NRF), Forrester Research and Gartner, Inc. Retailers also may seek recommendations from non-competitive stores, shop the competition or use an IT consultant.

Software. Software is the lifeblood of mPOS systems. Apps may be purchased off the shelf or may need to be custom-designed. Hiring a user interface designer can ensure that the software is optimized for mobile, minimizes required steps and expedites processes.

Security.  Partnering with mPOS vendors that offer Secure Reading and Exchange of Data (SRED) certification, tokenization and point-to-point encryption (P2PE) helps merchants comply with PCI-DSS. Software should be certified via the Payment Application Certification (PA-DSS), and EMV and chip-and-PIN capabilities can limit liability. Capabilities such as Apple® Pay also can help future-proof the mPOS system.

Mobile point of sale deployment is the next stage, and it also includes several steps.

Pilot testing. A portion of associates should conduct a pilot test to evaluate mPOS performance and debug as necessary.

Roll-out.  Once the system is operating according to expectations, the mPOS system can be rolled out to each store, on a regional scale or sales-ranking basis, to ensure that any other unforeseen issues are uncovered. Administrative stations housing receipt printers, merchandise bags and supplies should be conveniently located on the sales floor.

Training. With a well-developed app and familiar smartphones and tablets, operation of the mPOS system can be fairly intuitive. If necessary, retailers can implement training sessions and in-store simulations, or tutorials and self-study options.

Device usage.  Retailers also must determine how associates will carry the mPOS devices, using a holster, grip, case or stand. It’s important to create a convenient mobile device charging area, along with a device checkout procedure. Merchants should communicate a policy on device loss so that associates understand liability if a device goes missing.  And in stores that also use legacy equipment, retailers can incentivize associates to use mobile to reduce the tendency to stay behind a familiar cash wrap counter.

To assess ROI of mPOS, stores should measure metrics before and after mPOS deployment.

Sales measurement. Areas tabulated typically include customer wait times in line, transaction amounts and duration, sales per hour and per associate, add-on sales, average transactions per day/per store and revenue generated per square foot.

Operations analysis. For inventory management and price changes, retailers should compare productivity levels per associate using traditional equipment and with mPOS devices, identifying efficiencies that may drive a staffing adjustment and a corresponding payroll decrease.

Qualitative feedback.  Associates should be encouraged to raise questions or issues with the mPOS system, and merchants are smart to request input from customers on the mPOS experience. Ideally, the mPOS system indicates greater sales and expedited operations over 30, 60, 90 and 180 days. If mPOS results are not favorable, retailers should troubleshoot and re-assess software design, hardware functionality, infrastructure issues, operational processes and associate experience.

Andrew Graham is the president and CEO of Infinite Peripherals (IPC), and has written extensively on mPOS.