Payments Leader

Line-Busting Technology: The Waiting Is Over

November 7, 2017

Dan Brames, FIS | Head of Retail and Corporate Payments

Consumers in a hurry often avoid restaurants where they’ve experienced a long wait when paying their bill. Consider the number of steps it takes to pay in the traditional manner: a server presents the bill, leaves to perform other tasks while the consumer reviews it, returns after some time to take the payment to a register, settles the transaction, then returns with change or a receipt to be signed. At this point, the consumer still has to calculate a tip. Meanwhile, the table doesn’t turn over and impatient customers wait to be seated.

An alternative that can calm impatient customers is a mobile point of sale (mPOS). Mobile POS allows a server to present the bill, process the payment and offer a customer the opportunity to add a tip right at the table, in one trip.

The convenience of mPOS also can take the place of those long checkout lines at stores, especially during the holiday season. In fact, shoppers routinely cite long lines as one of their top pet peeves, and research shows that one-third of customers who have had to wait in line for more than five minutes have abandoned a checkout line.

It’s not surprising that year-after-year, online sales growth hits double digits. Meanwhile, store-based retailers struggle to drive traffic, especially among millennials who represent an increasing share of retail sales. To staunch the flow of stores closing, the in-store checkout experience must become as frictionless as ordering on Amazon, and the shopping experience must become even more engaging.

Line-busting technology to the rescue

Line-busting technologies, such as mobile POS systems and kiosks enable transactions from wherever customers are located. Specialty retailers – Apple, Nordstrom, Sephora, Urban Outfitters and others, for example – have adopted the technology for their own checkout models. Except for Home Depot, few mass retailers are utilizing the technology yet. And, Home Depot is only using the line-busting features on its FIRST phone sparingly at this point to speed up the line in the garden section at peak times. But, experts expect mPOS usage at mass to increase greatly.

Juniper Research predicts that smartphone and tablet-based mobile POS terminals will handle 20 percent of retail transaction value by 2021 – up significantly from an estimated four percent in 2016. Juniper expects large retailers to account for much of the gain as applications expand beyond line-busting to additional functions such as checking inventory and empowering sales associates with better information.

Benefits of mPOS

mPOS offers multiple benefits:

  • Consumers and merchants save time. For merchants, time savings impacts revenue – e.g., better turnover at restaurants or fewer abandoned carts in stores.
  • Merchants also reap cost savings benefits – Urban Outfitters reports that iPads cost about one-fifth as much as traditional cash registers, for example.
  • Less training is involved for merchants whose staff is largely composed of millennials raised with iPads, not cash registers.
  • The customer experience improves with no break in the transaction between the salesperson and checkout.
  • As applications such as inventory look-up and Internet access are added, upselling is enabled.
    • Home Depot’s FIRST phones’ primary functions include checking inventory, locating products and paging, and Internet connectivity has just been added.
  • Mobile POS is already NFC-ready for easy mobile wallet payment acceptance.

It’s time for merchants who haven’t installed mPOS to invest in this technology. Regardless of who processes merchants’ transactions, all major processors already offer mPOS as an option. If you’re a merchant who hasn’t been informed about the benefits of updated mPOS technology, speak with your processor. Now is the time to ask how they can help you.


Dan Brames

FIS | Head of Retail and Corporate Payments

Dan brings over 20 years of financial and payments industry experience to FIS through senior marketing and management roles. Most recently, he was a management team member at Valutec which was acquired by Metavante in 2007 and FIS in 2009.