Is Your Cash Register Obsolete?

With an estimated 448 million people making mobile payments in 2016, it might be time for your small business to make the switch to a mobile payment system.
Faith in Focus Columnist, The News & Observer Publishing Company
April 16, 2013

Apple stores have gotten rid of them, 6,000 Nordstrom employees don't use them anymore and JC Penney is working to replace them completely by next year. Should your small business follow the lead of these giant retailers and get rid of cash registers?

In place of the traditional register, these three chains have embraced all-mobile payment systems that allow salespeople to process transactions through smartphones, tablets or other handheld devices. Mobile payment systems can replace cash register stands and lines of customers waiting to be checked out, by allowing employees to process sales anywhere on the retail floor. 

Jackie Spigener, owner of Silver Sycamore, a coffeehouse, tea room, bed and breakfast and rentable event venue in Pasadena, Texas, gave up the cash register a month ago and switched to a mobile system using a tablet.

"I have absolutely no regrets," Spigener says. "It makes the whole paperwork process so much easier. "

Spigener says she has become a big fan of her new system and how it helps her to organize. "It's fabulous because at the end of the day I can see the inventory and know what I need for the morning shift in my coffeehouse," she says. "You can pull up the inventory from anywhere; you don't have to be on site all the time."

Making the Change

"We don't even know what a cash register is," says Daniele Graziani, co-founder of Marcopoloni Gifts.

From the company's beginnings in 2003, Marcopoloni, a retailer of handmade artisanal goods, had both an online presence and a brick-and-mortar storefront with one point-of-sale system. 

RELATED: The Beginner's Guide to Mobile Payments

"When a customer would buy from us, we would go on our website, add the products they wished to buy to the shopping cart on the website, get their information through the checkout process and enter their card by typing the numbers," Graziani says.

A few years ago, the process evolved from processing all sales through the website to using a payment system in the store that allows employees to swipe and process credit cards through mobile devices.

"Using Square is far faster for the customer, as they get to leave quickly," Graziani says. "And we don't have to print a paper receipt."

Spigener agrees that electronic receipts are the way to go. "A lot of my customers like that they don't have a paper receipt and that they have it emailed or texted to them," she says. "It really saves paper."

RELATED: 5 Major Benefits of Mobile Payments

While mobile POS technology makes it easy to swipe, input and process cards on everything from a smartphone to an iPod Touch to an iPad, merchants going mobile have to rethink how to accept cash. Some of the mobile payment platforms come with a cash drawer or can be used with one that opens on command from the payment software or app.

Explosive Growth

Gartner, an IT research and advisory company, is predicting explosive growth for the mobile payment market. Gartner's experts believe that by 2016, 448 million people worldwide will be using mobile payments for transactions valued at $617 billion dollars.

Business owners getting rid of their cash registers and adopting mobile payment plans cite many reasons, including decreased transaction time, streamlined organization and costs. Instead of buying a cash register, today's retailer is free to order a dongle, plug it into a smartphone and let the customers shop.

Read more about small-business finance.

Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who likes to break a topic down and keep her copy tight. That's why this bio is so brief! Carla blogs via

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