The wireless POS business is finally coming of age. New network technologies are becoming available every day, and more merchants are taking their payment terminals with them when they do business outside of their traditional brick and mortar storefronts. In addition, more merchants are replacing dial terminals with wireless versions in their stores, resulting in savings in communication costs and faster transaction speeds. Consumers demand the convenience of electronic payments regardless of the merchant location, and the merchants who are able to offer this service enjoy higher sales volumes and higher average tickets.
The satisfaction level of wireless merchants and their customers ranges from complete satisfaction to complete frustration and aggravation. The key to satisfaction is the salesperson who makes the wireless equipment sale. Salespeople who take the time to do their homework and understand the dynamics of the wireless industry, and then explain to their merchants what wireless can do for them, help to ensure a satisfied merchant experience with wireless transactions. Proper expectation management and merchant training results in satisfied merchants.
The simple truth is, wireless technology is not perfect. Telling a merchant otherwise will only lead to disappointment for all parties involved in the transaction. On the other hand, explaining how to test the device when at a remote location, offering advice on how to lookup coverage information on the Web, addressing how to test a device in a location and what to do if there is no coverage, all enables merchants to help themselves. The well-educated and well-trained merchant is the key to success with wireless, and a well-educated salesperson is the key to educating the merchant. So, if we are going to be successful selling wireless POS, we have to go "back to school".
Now, school, of course, entails a bit of homework. There are a number of resources on the Internet to assist you in understanding the many wireless technologies and options that are available.
Apriva - www.apriva.com
AT&T; Wireless - www.attws.com/bus/sm_biz/ps/wireless_data_net.jhtml
Cingular Wireless - www.cingular.com/wireless/wireless_data
Lipman - www.lipmanusa.com
Motient - www.motient.com
Motorola - www.motorola.com/MIMS/WDG
Novatel Wireless - www.novatelwireless.com/welcome.html
Sierra Wireless - www.sierrawireless.com
Sprint Wireless - www.sprintpcs.com/wireless/index.html
US Wireless Data - www.uswirelessdata.com
Verizon Wireless - www.verizonwireless.com/internet_data/index.html
VoiceStream Wireless - www.voicestream.com
CDMA Development Group - www.cdg.org
CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) www.wow-com.com/internet/
GSM Association - www.gsmworld.com/index.shtml
InfraRed Data Association - www.irda.org
Mobile Data Association - www.mda-mobiledata.org
Today, the three prevalent wireless technologies in operation in the US are CDPD, Mobitex, and DataTAC. CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) is offered by AT&T; Wireless and Verizon Wireless. Cingular Wireless offers Mobitex. Motient offers DataTAC. Additional technologies such as CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) are currently being implemented. CDMA is offered by Sprint and Horizon Wireless, and GPRS is offered by VoiceStream.
There are a few key questions salespeople must ask themselves when selling wireless:
- What network(s) can provide coverage where the merchant is located?
- What network(s) can provide coverage where the merchant may travel (if the merchant is mobile)?
- Does your preferred host processor support the network technology that has coverage where the merchant needs it?
- Does the equipment I sell work with the network technology that is available in the location(s) and with the processor(s) needed for the merchant?
In the US, there are several wireless gateways in operation. Apriva and US Wireless Data are two major players, and there are others. A wireless gateway plays two primary roles: aggregator and translator.
As an aggregator, the gateway provides a single connection from a processing host to support many merchants and multiple wireless data networks. Without this aggregation role, a merchant processor would have to connect to each wireless data network individually. The gateway may also provide additional services, such as real-time reporting on transactions being performed by wireless devices.
As a translator, the gateway can also provide the wireless device manufacturer the ability to develop a single connection method (from the device to the gateway), and the gateway can translate the transaction message into the appropriate format for the processor. This function can speed the implementation of new processors and networks, and save both the processor and the device manufacturer time and money in bringing new products to market faster.
Merchant service providers should be able to rely on their vendors to help educate them about wireless technologies and how they can leverage new business opportunities as a result of the application of wireless to point-of-sale. Take advantage of the opportunity to call on new businesses and provide new solutions. Show your existing customers how they can leverage wireless to grow their businesses before one of your competitors shows them first. This is how to create an excellent wireless transaction processing experience ‹ which, of course, is key to customer satisfaction.