Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by david harnold
While card machines were once confined to countertops so they could be plugged in and hooked up to a dial-up connection, today, the majority of card machines can be moved around at the leisure of the user, so payments can be taken in various places.
However, that isn’t to say that countertop card machines no longer serve a purpose. On the contrary, many shops and other customer-facing establishments still rely on the methods of old so their customer can pay for goods promptly.
So, will all card machines be mobile in the future? Or will countertop card machines continue to stand the test of time? Let’s discuss…
The role of countertop card machines in the customer experience
Despite restriction and lack of versatility still being pet peeves of many, the traditional customer service experience still has plenty to offer the modern consumer.
Specifically, the act of entering a shop, choosing an item, and taking that item to a counter to be served.
These types of customer/employee interactions may prove to stand the test of time. Why? Because even though the customer is essentially forced to bring their item to the same place time and again to be served, there is comfort in familiarity. If a customer knows where they need to go, they’re able to enter the premises, grab their item, pay for it and leave in an almost seamless state of flow because this process is a universal norm.
And, because it is a universal norm, there’s technically no need for the card machine to travel anywhere – making a fixed countertop card machine the ideal choice. Portable card machines may offer more in the way of flexibility, but flexibility isn’t always the answer to crafting the most efficient customer experience.
Does the widespread availability of mobile card machines make them the obvious choice?
It’s true – several decades ago, the thought of being able to pay via credit or debit card on a machine that wasn’t wired down was like something out of a sci-fi movie. But today, the technology is so widespread we don’t even notice it.
The commonality of this wireless technology makes opting for a mobile or portable card machine relatively simple for most, even those that have a fixed point of sale in their business. Sure, chances are the card machine will only ever be needed at one specific point of sale. But considering they’re so widely available and not that much more expensive than their fixed counterparts, having a card machine you can easily move around makes all the sense in the world.
The demand for convenience
Whatever the card payment scenario, it could be said that the freedom and speed offered by portable and mobile card machines have worked in the retail sectors’ favour, as the public’s demand for convenient and rapid-fire shopping has increased.
87% of millennials say convenience is a huge factor in their shopping habits, while 82% of all shoppers surveyed also cited convenience as a primary factor when they shop, according to a report by consumer insights experts Numerator.
In other words, if you’re not able to offer easy and quick service, you’re potentially missing out on a massive percentage of the shopping public – this is the type of convenience mobile and portable card machines can offer.
If figures like the above are anything to go by, and the rapid rate at which people expect to complete their transactions, it’s safe to assume the public’s demand for convenient payment methods will only continue to skyrocket. Which means some businesses that still don’t accept card payments or businesses that restrict where and when customers can pay, could suffer as a result.
It’s possible that, as the demand for this level of convenience continues, even shops with traditional fixed points of sale may also begin to incorporate mobile and portable card machines into their business strategy to boost customer numbers and profits. This could work especially well in larger, warehouse-type stores where customers are expected to gather their items and walk a considerable way back to the nearest checkout. Whereas, by utilising mobile and portable card machines, there could be multiple, mobile points of sale scattered around the store, making the customer payment experience even easier and much faster.
Improvements in payment technology have raised card payment expectations
For all the benefits mobile and portable card machines bring over their countertop counterparts, if all of these machines are connected to the same network, they’ll likely complete the transaction in the same amount of time. And, with the speed of modern broadband connections, these transactions can be insanely quick compared to decades ago.
It takes less than one second to pay with a contactless card, and for that payment to be processed, according to Lloyds Bank. So whatever card machine you’re using, the time the transaction actually takes to go through will be the same – any other time variables will be determined by the level of service available, your own shopping habits, and whether or not you’re still reliant on visiting a single point of sale.
What does the future look like for mobile card machines?
Based on all of the above and the level of speed, convenience and connectivity they offer, it’s likely that mobile card machines and portable card machines will hold the dominant place in the market in future.
Having said that, the traditional point of sale isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This means that even if mobile and portable card machines rule the roost, you may find them sitting atop fixed countertops most of the time in many stores, while still having the option to be moved around the premises if necessary.
If you’re looking to onboard mobile or portable card machines into your business, be sure to partner with a reputable and experienced card machine provider who can guide you on how to use the technology to its fullest.