By Steven Feldshuh
Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions East
For those of you who may not be technically gifted regarding programming, installing and training on POS systems, the solutions appear to have arrived. Many ISOs have tended not to engage in full-fledged POS systems unless they have developed relationships with various software vendors. But they have been largely at the mercy of those software dealers.
Most such dealers have been inclined to include their ISO partners' processing in their deals, but the tide has been changing: they are now offering little or no money on the sale, and they are looking for a cut in the diminishing residuals.
If you have strong relationships with software dealers, they will continue to work with you. But if your deal is a one-off, the dealer might move the account to a processor with which it has an ongoing relationship, leaving you out of the mix. This is a real phenomenon; I have seen it happen. So, short of working for a software company that has transformed into a POS dealer, the options have been limiting at best.
The good news is that new POS solutions for ISOs have been coming, and coming fast. If you have attended any recent regional acquirers meetings, you have likely seen several of these systems.
The best news is that they are getting better and easier to use, and it appears that the companies producing these systems are listening. Since space is limited for this article, let me give a review of three of the most popular units, all of which are Android-based. Merchant level salespeople (MLSs) I work with are already selling two of these systems, and the third is expected to become available shortly. I am reporting on these solutions based on feedback from our sales offices and individuals out in the field.
First Data Corp.'s Clover POS system is extremely attractive, comes with numerous applications, and has both mobile and mini versions – all good things. But the system also comes with expensive setup costs and a sizable monthly service fee.
Also, the fact that First Data operates the Clover program is a problem. Like First Data terminals, Clover systems only work on the First Data platform. For my sales group, this is limiting. Additionally, according to First Data, if a merchant buys a merchant location that is already set up with the Clover system, the system cannot be reprogrammed. This renders it useless. To me, this is a huge mistake, but who am I to criticize First Data?
My team has had mixed results with customer service issues, as well. Training is mostly a YouTube endeavor, and for some merchants, the software isn't as intuitive as they would like. Nevertheless, we are selling the system, and we are advising our group to be sure to inform their clients that the system must remain on the First Data platform, and if they are planning to change ownership, First Data does not currently permit reprogramming. Poynt by Poynt Co.
Poynt Co.'s Poynt Smart Terminal is an excellent choice for MLSs to cut their teeth on. The Poynt system isn't much bigger than a countertop system and is very easy to use. Poynt has combined hardware, software and third-party applications in an attractive, functional package. The price on the Poynt system currently falls under $400, so compared with a wireless terminal it is a bargain. Poynt can be used as a mobile terminal or can be hooked into an Ethernet.
A customer-facing screen allows the merchant to offer printed or email receipts, which I think is a better way of storing data for a shopping or dining experience. Poynt can come through your processor, but if you are a serious player, contact a company called Boomtown and speak with Joey. His company can set up systems anywhere in the United States. The company also has a reasonable phone service plan that merchants will jump at setting up. Poynt, like most POS systems, does charge a reasonable monthly fee.
But why my team likes the system so much is because of its applications. Probably the coolest app I have seen work with this system is eThor. eThor connects Poynt to several major POS software options to make EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) and pay-at-the-table a reality. Homebase, another standout Poynt app, is for employee management. Poynt can also do gift and loyalty programs, and it can be used for hospitality, lodging and retail.
So, think about the potential in offering this to merchants who still don't do pay-at-the-table or who have not upgraded their POS software because NCR Aloha POS and others require too much money.
I first saw the prototype for Carbon, which uses Verifone's Engage platform, last year at the ETA Transact conference in Las Vegas. Impressive would be the best word to describe the new Carbon system. As I have learned, however, new POS systems take a long time to hit the streets due to certification and testing requirements.
I saw Carbon demonstrated again at our processor's national meeting, and I liked it right away. It was simple to understand and lightning fast. The system comes in various flavors. The fact that options can be substantial enough to sit on a counter or light enough to be used as a pay-at-the-table solution is impressive.
All the choices are there: Ethernet, Wi-Fi and mobile. The unit comes with dual screens, built-in printer like the Poynt system has, touch screen, and an attachable strap. But why Verifone? Well, most reps throughout our company are Verifone resellers, so they are familiar with the quality of Verifone's products. MLSs also do not like to be limited to a specific processing platform. They also know that Verifone has always placed huge emphasis on support.
In addition, Verifone made a commitment to our processor to be the best possible POS system partner; this is similar to the company's longstanding commitment to be the best possible hardware partner. At our company's national meeting, I spoke with Tim McWeeney, Senior Account Executive, Enterprise Channel at Verifone. He expressed confidence that Verifone's Engage platform coupled with its new Carbon series is the best thing Verifone has ever done. Verifone also expects to have a comprehensive listing of third-party applications to engage merchants by offering numerous ways to enhance their business functions.
I plan to interview representatives from First Data, Poynt and Verifone for a future article. For now, though, the feedback I have is directly from MLSs in the field, as well as from our processing partner.
Steven Feldshuh, President of Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions East, has 18 years' experience in sales and ISO development. Directly prior to joining MCPSE in 2012, he was President of Payment Partners. In his current position, Steven devotes the bulk of his time to assisting agents in building their portfolios. Contact him by email at email@example.com or by phone at 212-392-9202.
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