Business tips

Five exciting trends in smart terminals and how they can better your business

By Jereme Sanborn on
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Any business owner who elects to accept credit card payments must agree to a certain amount of technological sophistication. After all, even the most basic stationary terminal uses hardware and software to communicate with the various players in the payments process. In recent years, terminals have gotten a lot smarter and more multi-functional, making it more important than ever for entrepreneurs to understand what they are, what they do, and what trends are causing them to evolve.

What are smart terminals?

At its most bare-bones level, any terminal is equipped to read the customer-specific payment information contained in their credit or debit card. It then transmits the data to the payment processing company for authentication and is subsequently sent on to the customer’s bank. That institution checks to be sure that there are sufficient funds in the account and, if all goes well, sends the word back down the line that the payment has been accepted.

Today’s smart terminals continue to perform these essential tasks. However, they provide a large selection of additional features that can combine to enhance the customer’s experience while simultaneously streamlining several of your crucial business functions.

What can a current smart terminal offer your retail store?

Whether you conduct your sales online, in-store, or you’re multi-channel, a smart terminal can pave the way for greater buyer satisfaction and business success. Terminals provide the following benefits:

  • Integration with popular applications. Your intelligent terminal does not function in a vacuum. In fact, it is amazingly easy to interface it with popular programs such as time clocks, accounting software like QuickBooks, and applications that can boost your marketing efforts.
  • An affordable alternative to full POS solutions. If yours is a small or mid-sized business, you may not need to pay for all of the bells and whistles found on fancy POS systems. At the same time, you’d enjoy some of the other pluses they offer. A smart terminal is an affordable, more stripped-down solution that enables you to have your cake and eat it too.
  • Evolves with changing technologies. Smart terminals contain cloud-based software that is constantly being updated. As a result, you can rest assured that its developers will upgrade your smart solution as security priorities change, minimizing the need for you to constantly have to purchase new software and equipment.
  • Modern design. Your new terminal contains an attractive, colorful design. Customers and staff will find it easy to use, reducing both training time and employee errors. 
  • Payments are processed faster and more efficiently compared to cash payments.
  • These terminals can accept multiple forms of payments that go well beyond credit and debit cards. You can also set up echeck transactions and recurring subscription payments. If you do business overseas, many models also can be configured to accept foreign currencies.
  • Receipts are stored digitally, making reconciliation much faster and more accurate. Whenever you need to find proof of a particular purchase, you can simply go into your user dashboard.
  • Receipts can be emailed to customers, reducing paper use and making record-keeping easier for everyone.
  • Transparency. Customers always appreciate it when they are given full access to information about their purchase as it is happening. Some models of smart terminals have dual screens that let your buyers follow along while you are scanning their products at the register.
  • Access to peripherals. Your smart terminal plays nicely with numerous types of business software, but that’s not all. You can also purchase devices such as receipt printers, cash registers, and barcode scanners that interface seamlessly with your terminal and work together to enhance your productivity.
  • In-depth reporting. One of the most important advantages a smart terminal can bring to your business is its ability to crunch data. Analytics allow you to assess sales, gauge employee productivity, manage inventory, and ultimately, grow your business. In mere moments, you can gain access to key financial indicators like gross sales, net revenues, top-selling items, total refunds, and tip amounts. Armed with these details, you’ll be in a far better position to make decisions about the future of your business.

Once you consider this wide array of benefits, it’s no wonder that smart terminals are taking the retail world by storm. But what can merchants and customers anticipate as these hardware-software combinations alter with our quickly changing times?

Focus on enhancing the customer experience.

Today’s buyers are not content to simply hand over their money and leave your website or physical store. Instead, they want a full-fledged and tailored customer experience that makes them feel unique, special, and even indispensable to the very survival of your business.

Without a doubt, one of the most important ways to keep your brand at the top of your customers’ minds is via social media. Embracing it means taking the time to understand who your buyers are, which sites they visit, and what types of marketing campaigns would most quickly grab their attention. Then the real work begins.

As a savvy modern retailer, you must make it your business to engage with your patrons on their media locations of choice. Chat with them, encourage them to submit reviews and testimonials, and give them information they can use. Most important of all, update your posts frequently and be sure to address customer concerns in a timely fashion.

As you integrate sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram into your day-to-day operations, your smart terminal is destined to play a vital part. That’s because one of the key drivers to your marketing campaigns should involve offering incentives like discounts and loyalty programs. Your terminal is equipped with everything you need to set up a customer database, track purchases and rewards, and send out promotional emails and newsletters.

Continue to emphasize payment safety.

Even when the pandemic is a thing of the past, many of its effects will remain in place, including customers’ desire to make touchless purchases. Smart terminals make this possible through the use of near-field communication (NFC) technology. Without ever physically touching the reader, a customer’s payment data can be securely transmitted, enabling the entire transaction to be completed safely in just a few seconds.

Cater to Gen Z shoppers.

People who were born between 1997 and 2015 make up what is known as Generation Z. For these younger consumers, Google and Apple are as much a part of life as the air they breathe. They now make up a full 40 percent of U.S. consumers and are very comfortable with innovations such as digital wallets.

Since they are effortlessly acquainted with mobile technology, they are sure to prefer making digital payments. Smart terminals are poised to fill this need and are sure to become even more feature-packed, fast, and easy to use.

Accept payments anywhere.

Although smart terminals can be attached via ethernet cables, more and more retailers are opting for wireless solutions. When associates are not tethered to a physical register, they are set free to accept payments from anywhere in your store or wherever your business takes you.

Furthermore, a wireless terminal can be an excellent accessory for boosting the effectiveness and reach of your sales associates. In addition to being able to facilitate easy purchases from anywhere, they can also use the information stored in the terminal to give product details, assist with customer accounts, and generally heighten that all-important customer experience.

Capable of growing and pivoting.

In today’s tumultuous times, one of the few things you can count on is this: Change is inevitable. That change can take many forms: evolving customer priorities, upgrades in products and services, alterations in the supply chain with accompanying shifts in inventory protocols, and modifications in the hardware and software you use to accept payments. Although it is difficult to specify the exact form these changes will take, one thing is sure: the developers of smart terminal solutions will remain highly motivated to advance their offerings in keeping with the times.

Savvy business owners will jump on the smart terminal bandwagon for several reasons. For one thing, this equipment will, more than any other devices that accept payments, be reliably upgraded in order to remain as secure as possible. 

Entrepreneurs who incorporate these into their businesses can also rest assured that they are doing everything they can to prevent costly data breaches.

In addition, customers are sure to respond positively when you unveil these updated payment systems. They are sleek, modern, and efficient, making for a safe, fast, and personalized shopping experience.

Finally, you can’t overlook the enhancements that these systems can bring to your day-to-day operations. Customer, inventory, and employee management are just some of the tasks the proper smart terminal can provide you. Best of all, its cloud-based platform will ensure that the records it stores remain secure even if some sort of disaster were to befall your worksite. 

Over the next few years, many of the ways you do business are sure to change. Through it all, however, the smart terminal looks to be a dynamic, effective way to provide efficient business management for you and a personalized and memorable shopping experience for your customers.