North American Bancard recently launched a program to compete head-to-head with other cloud-based POS contenders. The NAB Phone Swipe Free Tablet Placement Program offers the total package - iPad, POS stand, card reader and software - free of charge to merchants, who pay a 1.69 percent flat fee per card swipe and $12.95 monthly support fee. In contrast, Square Inc. charges 2.75 percent per transaction, merchants pay for all hardware beyond its free dongle and support is available only online.
"It's the next evolution of technology that will empower our distribution channels, our agents and our ISOs to win more prospects, more merchants with a far better solution," said Marc Gardner, President and Chief Executive Officer of NAB. He added that this program will be phased in and replace the company's free terminal program that's been in place for nearly a decade.
Gardner believes mobile POS solutions will eventually overtake traditional countertop terminals and cash registers in most retail environments. "I don't see why anybody would move forward with a credit card terminal or a cash register when they could have a full-blown, tablet-based solution that's cloud-based and provides enriched data and business intelligence to help them run their business more effectively and efficiently without having to spend a dollar more," he said.
NAB's tablet platform offers other advantages over traditional POS systems, too. "On a credit card terminal, you have a 1.5-inch monochromatic, single-color display, and on a cash register you get a zillion buttons," Gardner said. When you start utilizing the tablet as your 10-inch touch-screen solution and you think about all the other things that you can do with the data, merchants can exert greater control over day-to-day business functions, including customer engagement, he noted.
According to NAB, Phone Swipe's digital receipts capture information about purchase location embedded in a Google map with itemized images of individual purchases. Emailed receipts feature a Facebook icon, which allows customers to click to "like" a merchant. Data filters in the customer engagement interface permit merchants to create and send email offers based on customer criteria such as shopping frequency or time-of-day shopping preferences.
The built-in business intelligence tools enable merchants to adjust to fluctuations in the retail environment. "For instance, if we're showing merchants their bestselling items over a fixed period of time; their worst selling items; who their best customers are, and which of their best customers hasn't been in the store in 'y' number of days, weeks or months; all of the graphs, data and metrics that you need to better manage a business [are readily available]," Gardner said.
To help monitor sales over a fixed period, particularly for merchants with multiple locations, a variant threshold can be set. "Let's just say 20 percent," Gardner said. "Then my sales exceed my last five trending Thursdays or my sales decreased by 20 percent for my five-Thursday-night average. So then you get an email alert." A store owner could then call the store manager and determine what factors impacted sales if sales totals fell outside the established threshold.
With NAB's Phone Swipe program, the same 1.69 percent flat fee per transaction applies regardless of card type, including American Express Co.-branded cards, for which the rate is typically higher, Gardner noted. For keyed-in card entries, NAB charges a flat fee of 3.69 percent, plus 19 cents per transaction.
"I would say that's been really remarkable for our agents to be able to open with that," Gardner said. "I can get you a differentiated solution, a free tablet placement program with a simplified rate structure where all the rates are the same." Advanced funding for all card types is deposited via a single aggregated deposit, which means a Thursday settlement would be deposited Friday.
Gardner said that to help agents and ISOs get started with the new program, NAB will offer the same upfront bonus for its tablet program as it does for its free POS terminal placement program: up to $1,000 per merchant per installation. And if a merchant has a contract with another third-party provider, NAB will pay the merchant's exit fee to switch to the Phone Swipe program.
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