Smart Terminals can Help Bring Merchants into 2021

Lance Newalu on 01/29/2021
Smart terminals can help small businesses upgrade their point of sale technology faster and provide the payment experiences consumers demand.

The year 2020 was a sea of change for many merchants. Restaurants, retail stores, and Main Street staples like nail salons and florists suddenly felt the ground beneath their feet quake, ushering in a new commerce reality seemingly overnight. Businesses had been slowly but surely moving toward upgrading their technology, but COVID-19 created newfound urgency in the need to digitize to survive.

With shoppers now attuned to the six-foot rule and wary of working a PIN pad, businesses quickly found their legacy ECRs woefully outdated in the age of coronavirus. They needed a solution that could satisfy consumers suddenly savvy to the benefits of waving their phones or cards over a payment terminal instead of pulling out their plastic.

Naturally, smart terminals have sparked interest as one attractive answer to this checkout challenge, and they’re set to surge in 2021. For one, these systems represent a serious upgrade from a workhorse ECR, offering a wealth of features and functionality. Smart terminals are built with mobility in mind, combining a highly portable tablet device (usually 5 or 6 inches across) with a standard magstripe reader, credit card chip, wireless and Wi-Fi connectivity, and a printer to handle receipts.

What Smart Terminals Can Do

Altogether, the features found in a PCI-compliant smart terminal equip merchants to offer customers the payment experience they’re looking for, whether that’s in a coffee shop, getting a manicure, or buying berries and baguettes at the farmer’s market. In addition to secure EMV transactions, smart terminals also allow consumers to ride the touch-free wave with contactless-enabled smartphones and credit or debit cards, thanks to built-in near-field communications technology.

In fact, tap-and-go payments are shaping up to be not just a pandemic fad but also a long-term, industrywide evolution. When the National Retail Federation conducted a payments study last year, it found that contactless drove half of all transactions for retailers that had this feature enabled.

But there’s more to smart terminals than the modern payment experiences they can unlock for your merchant base. Many of your clients will appreciate that smart terminals offer rich, robust features without the costs of a full, enterprise-grade point of sale (POS) system investment. Don’t underestimate the time savings, either. You can get your clients up and running on a smart terminal faster than they can say, “POS.” Time is money, as the saying goes, especially now that merchants must convert every last bit of foot traffic into satisfied paying customers.

If you still aren’t convinced that smart terminals will play a huge role in driving the next era of commerce, consider everything else they can do. Because they’re typically built with developer-friendly Android software, smart terminals can integrate with a merchant’s other critical systems, from employee scheduling to online ordering to inventory tracking. They also might offer new software like loyalty platforms, tools to simplify payroll accounting, and analytics to unearth trends that provide an advantage over competitors. This means businesses can run the lion’s share of their day-to-day operations in one unified location. The right smart terminal is not just a platform for payments but the central hub that keeps the business humming.

Expect the Demand From SMBs to Grow

With their small, sleek profile, modern smart terminals will look as at home on your customers’ countertops as they do for tableside payments. From nail salons to the local gastropub to the mom-and-pop boutique, small businesses will find that smart terminals offer the must-have tools they need to compete for digital-first consumers now and for the long term.

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