Independent retailers planning to launch mobile payment systems may want to keep their eyes on NCR's new retail solution, NCR Silver. For the past two months, NCR has been testing the platform that allows merchants to process credit cards on touchscreen point-of-sale terminals, phones and tablets. Silver, however, is not only a mobile payment solution, said NCR's Christian Nahas. The cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) software platform also allows retailers to manage transactions, track sales and inventory and market to customers.
"This new solution makes big-box retail technology accessible for all and enables merchants to focus on their business, not on managing technology," said Nahas, the vice president of specialty retail, NCR Retail.
Ten merchants in Atlanta are currently testing Silver, which will launch "softly" June 1 and will be widely available by July.
How it works
Retailers download the application directly from Apple iTunes to an iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, or leverage a pre-configured NCR POS terminal, using a self-configured, registration and implementation process, Nahasa said. An optional integrated barcode scanner and a magnetic stripe reader that enables secure, integrated credit card processing with end-to-end encryption can also be added to the Apple device. This enables merchants to manage customer transactions and data in their stores, near their store and at any other location where their customers might interact.
Connecting with customers
The platform, which costs $79 a month plus the upfront cost of the hardware, allows businesses to access their data and configure their system in the cloud, while also providing the ability to track customer history and "For example," Nahas said, "the first time you shop with a retailer who has Silver, you get an emailed receipt. Then, tomorrow you may get a message thanking you for coming in and a special offer, a welcome message," Nahasa said. "It reminds people to come back in an automated fashion." run email marketing campaigns from anywhere.
Another benefit that nearly every retailer in the pilot study has mentioned to Nahas is how Silver's analytics have taken time-consuming tasks off their hands. Tiffany Hodson, owner of Mac Bakeshop and Eatery in Atlanta, said the reporting in Back Office allows her to stay on top of what's going on at the store even when she's not there. The reporting tools
also have freed up her Sundays; before using Silver, Hodson spent at least three or four hours manually entering reports on her days off.
"NCR Silver has given us back family time on Sunday's," Hodson said. "It's any easy touch of a button."
Silver's $79 monthly price makes it ideal for small business owners, Nahas said, and the ROI is "unbelievable." Most of its retailers are seeing the system pay for itself 10 fold each month.
"Our goal is to add as much value to retailers as quickly as possible," he said. "There's a ton of value, and in month two you will see a return that far exceeds the payout."
What about the competition?
Although several companies, such as Square, Intuit, Revel Systems and Pay-Pal, offer similar payment solutions, NCR believes Silver is superior because of all the "extra features" it has. Besides conducting transactions and providing inventory and marketing support, Silver also comes with an iPad registration platform, retail SMB target, scanning, smart alerts, profitability analytics, encrypted card security, multi- location support and accounting integration.
"We don't believe any other offering provides this comprehensive suite of tools," Nahas said.
"If NCR is going to compete and win in this space, it's because its NCR, as in "National Cash Register," said James Wester, editor of Mobile Payments Today.
"POS is in their DNA, so to speak. They've been doing this longer than anyone, and they know what merchants want, what tools they really need, and how to make it all work," he said. "Plus, they can provide scale that small businesses may need as they grow. The corner coffee shop that goes with a trendier solution now may find it doesn't give them many options when they want to put coffee shops on two or three corners."
NCR Silver has a strong distribution channel already lined up, Nahas said, and expects to have several thousand retailers on board by the end of the year and at least a million in the next three or five years.
"The value proposition is unbelievable when you think about what we are doing; we are putting time and money back into a retailer's pocket, so we expect a a very quick adoption rate," Nahas said.
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