Ever since the liability shift, Smart Terminals have flooded the U.S. market. With the major selling point being EMV acceptance, many providers benefit as businesses continue to upgrade their merchant credit card processing equipment. However, a truly “smart” terminal goes above and beyond just accepting EMV.
Here are seven attributes that make a Smart Terminal, well, smart.
A Smart Terminal should not only accept EMV but should also recognize when a chip card is swiped. The smartest terminals have the ability to read magstripe data, which indicates whether the card supports EMV. When present, the credit card terminal will then reject the swipe and prompt the customer to dip or insert the card instead.
This benefits your business in a few ways. Cashiers will no longer have to micromanage every transaction and instruct customers with an EMV chip card to insert it, which reduces your business’s instances of EMV fallback. On top of that, it protects your business from bank-initiated chargebacks.
A standard POS machine cannot communicate with other software or devices, limiting your reporting capabilities by making you rely on paper printouts (more on that later). Ideally, Smart Terminals communicate with a corresponding Virtual Terminal to log all transaction history. What does that mean for you? Customers’ information is securely captured and stored along with every transaction detail for future reference.
Smart equipment should accept all payment types, including magstripe cards, EMV chip cards and NFC mobile payments. According to NFCWorld, Strategy Analytics projected that NFC transactions will grow to $160 billion in 2020. As payment technology and consumer habits continue to advance and center around mobile devices, NFC payments will increase in popularity. Failing to use a terminal that accepts mobile payments will likely set your business back in the long run.
It’s typical for a standard POS machine (and even some Smart Terminals) to require paper to collect signatures. Top-of-the-line Smart Terminals capture signatures electronically directly on the device. This allows businesses to avoid using receipt paper that is prone to fading and is easily damaged. Additionally, they can save money and time spent storing paper receipts.
Ideally, Smart Terminals communicate with Virtual Terminals to produce batch reports that are stored online as opposed to being printed on long paper receipts that have to be organized and stored away.
Because the Virtual Terminal captures all transaction information, including the date and department the transaction is associated with, you can produce custom, online reports across different time periods and locations.
Advanced terminals should be able to collect customers’ email addresses and allow them to choose how and whether they’d like a copy of their receipt. This gives customers power at checkout while simultaneously growing your email list for marketing purposes.
If a customer wants a paper receipt, you can still print one. An ideal Smart Terminal will still retain an electronic copy for your records. If a customer loses the paper receipt for a past transaction, you can email her a new copy with a single click.
Despite their advanced technology, the majority of Smart Terminals on the market require one-to-one connection to a computer. Some, however, can be shared across multiple computers. Larger businesses benefit by cutting back on the number of POS machines needed to accommodate multiple checkout points. For smaller businesses with just one or two registers, this eliminates bottleneck at checkout at busier sale times.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.
Have you upgraded your POS machine yet? Does it have all the attributes listed above? Tell us below!