Accepting credit and debit card payments can really boost your businesses revenue, as consumers tend to spend more when using a card as opposed to cash. Also customers now expect to be able to make a card transaction in most establishments.
Card processing terminals are often added to a business after they have purchased their POS equipment or cash registers.
This means that firms have a separate terminal next to their register which requires a whole separate set of steps to process a payment each time a consumer wants to pay by card. A better option for most merchants is to integrate the credit card terminal with the POS system.
Benefits of Integrating Credit Card Terminals
There are a number of benefits for merchants who opt for an integrated payment and POS set up. Firstly, it can be a real time saver as it often takes as many keystrokes to put a transaction through the POS system as it does through the terminal which means your employees are duplicating their work, and creates double the opportunity for errors.
With an integrated system the average transaction time is between 3 and 5 seconds. Additionally, an integrated system can gives you increased counter space.
Also reconciling the day's credit card payments with all the sales that have gone through the POS system is time consuming work, and if there has been an error in one of the entries, the whole process can turn into a real puzzle.
With an integrated system, reconciliation can happen automatically; there are far fewer errors and transaction time is often halved. This can have a real impact on customer waiting times, particularly in businesses with a high customer turnover such as bars.
Learn more: Credit card terminals
Hardware Integration with a POS System
The first integrated POS and card terminal systems were simply terminals which were attached to the POS by a wire through which sales information was transmitted.
These can still be found at some suppliers but are becoming increasingly rare as POS manufacturers move towards fully integrated systems.
The Latest Systems
The latest POS systems often have a virtual terminal inside their software. Most merchant processors can be used with these terminals and the price for the POS includes everything you need to take a sale.
Some POS machines have a terminal which runs alongside your POS software and the two systems can talk to each other. This does of course run the risk that future upgrades could make the two systems incompatible.
Alternatively, there are virtual terminals whereby the POS system accesses a payment gateway and processes payments on the merchant processor's servers.
This will only work if you have an internet connection of some kind so is not best suited to areas that suffer from lost connectivity.
However, the key decision for most merchants is not whether to integrate their POS system with their card terminal but what approach they will take when doing so.
Who Provides Integrated POS Systems?
One of the market leaders with this type of integration is Mercury Pay, whose processing platform can be found inside hundreds of different POS systems used by supermarkets, restaurants and retailers across the USA and Canada.
It allows for merchants to process credit and debit cards as well as check payments, loyalty and gift cards. Another popular provider of this integrated software is RBSLynk, who are one of the largest banks in the world and operate in over 40 countries.
Their software is specifically designed to be used by small and medium sized businesses and is used to process many millions of transactions in the US each day.