Cloud-based point-of-sale systems are an easy sell for vendors working with small businesses without existing mechanisms in place for handling transactions, but getting an established merchant who has already invested thousands of dollars in a legacy POS system to consider making the switch to mobile is a trickier proposition. Unimpressed by the low upfront costs and easy setup involved with most mPOS platforms—after all, these merchants have already spent anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 to get their hardware systems up and running—vendors have to dig deep to find the trigger points most likely to garner a positive reaction from businesses.
So what is the secret to onboarding more merchants, including those who already have hardware POS systems in place? To find out, we spoke with several experts from the mPOS industry.
1. Research the features that legacy systems lack. “If a retailer has purchased an expensive POS in the past couple years, they are unlikely to consider a switch, despite the potential for ongoing cost savings. Call it buyer’s remorse, but psychologically it is difficult to walk away from such a large investment, even if the go-forward savings are meaningful. Merchants need to either be a.) really unhappy with their POS, or b.) eager to add functionality like mobility or gift cards that their legacy vendor cannot support.” (Matt Niehaus, Instore)
2. Highlight your support features. “Some retailers moving from complicated legacy systems want to have certainty that the changeover will be smooth, so we offer premium support, which means that there is a dedicated person that will help with the transition. For customers who prefer to do it themselves, we offer extensive and easy to follow documentation and how-to resources. We also have specialist partners who can help make sure that Vend works in with other best-of-breed cloud software.” (Simon Pound, Vend)
3. Offer an accurate view of current costs. “It’s important to get an accurate view of the ongoing costs of the legacy system, including subscription fees, support, software maintenance, hardware break/fix, and custom programming. Many owners don’t have an accurate view of this number, and they’re shocked at how much they really pay annually to use a traditional system. During the sales process, we emphasize that our costs are simple and easy to understand, and we don’t require a contract. If an owner faces a software refresh on their legacy system, the cost advantages of an mPOS become glaringly obvious.” (Matt Niehaus, Instore)
4. Stress the benefits of data security. “The biggest seller is that there’s no back office server to maintain, which significantly decreases cost, lifts the IT burden off the store and allows for real-time reporting that is accessible from any ‘smart’ device. The latter part — accessibility of data from anywhere — really frees these business owners and is changing the way they conduct business. Peace of mind for data security is also a top priority, so it’s important to stress that business owners should be working with a POS provider that holds security as a top priority and includes features like MDM to back it up.” (Lisa Falzone, Revel Systems)
5. Provide hardware resale comps. “The hardware cost of the mPOS system can often equal or be less than the resale value of the legacy system, so we encourage merchants to price out their old systems through our hardware partners with the goal of making the switch cost neutral. If an owner is facing new hardware requirements for their legacy system (i.e. replacing a broken terminal), that’s a great time to migrate to an mPOS platform.” (Matt Niehaus, Instore)
6. Sell merchants on the automation features. “Merchants will realize immediate benefits from a cloud-based POS system beyond initial cost savings. Upgrades are much less intrusive compared to traditional POS. Small business owners can take off their IT hats, because the solutions provider takes on responsibility for all cloud-level upgrade activities. The merchant will receive an automatic notification when an updated is required and can easily download it from the app store. In addition, merchants are leveraging and getting the benefits of a multi-purpose device, unlike older POS systems. Data access is immediate, batch uploads are no longer required, nor does remote access need to be granted and managed.” (Jack O’Malley, NCR Small Business)
7. Emphasize the ease-of-use. “One headache for merchants is training their staff to use a POS system properly. It takes time and effort, and it can be easy for new staff to get sales wrong — which frustrates customers — if they haven’t used a similar system before. Luckily, most people have used an iPad. Mobile systems take away the pain of training and speed up the sales process, which merchants like. For example, we just completed the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, where all payments ran on ShopKeep. One hundred volunteer cashiers rang up 12,000 sales in four days, with 30 minutes of training.” (Jason Richelson, ShopKeep)
8. Destroy a merchant’s current registers. (Seriously.) “One thing we really like to do is help businesses move on by destroying their now-hated registers. So far we’ve dropped, shot and broken registers, ceremoniously and unceremoniously, generally smashing, battering, and beating them. And watch this space, there are more plans in the works. Retailers seem to like to help, it is somewhat cathartic.” (Simon Pound, Vend)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.