New Research on Mobile POS Software Systems Usage in the Retail Industry

In 2016, Capterra surveyed 158 mPOS users online to compare how they mobile point of sale (mPOS) systems in their stores.

Published by Cara Wood, January 9, 2017

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Over the past decade, mobile device usage has exploded. With the advent of the iPhone in 2007, smartphones and tablets took off. Internet-connected devices now run our lives.

Yet what has the mobile revolution done for retailers? Much has been made of mobile technological advances in the retail space, from mobile point-of-sale to beacon technology, but have retailers actually started to implement these solutions?

After analyzing the results of a survey we ran in 2015, we learned that only 44% of retailers actually make use of the mPOS technology available to them, with 79% of those users being small- or medium-sized businesses. Furthermore, the survey made it clear that, as stores are making new software purchases, they are tending more and more to purchase mobile POS software. These numbers indicate that full mPOS adoption is not too much further down the road.

With that in mind, we decided to ask 158 retail workers how mobile technology is being used at their stores, to discover what effects mPOS will have on the industry at large.

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Key Takeaways

  1. 48% of respondents prefer using mPOS.
  2. 62% of respondents say mPOS has made their jobs easier.
  3. 28% say that mobile POS has increased the number of products a customer buys.
  4. 32% of businesses using mPOS only use mPOS.
  5. 51% of stores using mPOS accept mobile payments.

Who is working with mobile POS systems?

While mobile POS can be used by a wide variety of industries, we focused on retail and learned that retailers are selling all manner of goods using mPOS.

What types of retailers use mPOS?

Retailers that use POS Software.

Of the people we surveyed, you can see that most of our respondents work in the clothing or electronics space. This largely reflects the fact that clothing and electronics retailers employ the vast majority of retail employees in the US. (Walmart and Target, for instance, would fall under either of those categories, the way we asked our question.)

What job positions did we survey?

Job titles we surveyed.

47% of our respondents were sales associates, which is unsurprising, given that sales associates are the biggest population of retail employees and are typically the most hands-on with mPOS units. That number is bumped to 60% if you include the sales assistant positions in there. 38% is made up of various in-store managers, who are working not just hands-on with the unit, but also with the software's backroom capabilities. (It is also possible that some of the sales associates are working with the backroom capabilities.)

Which type of register did the respondents prefer?

A chart of the register type respondents preferred.

48% of our respondents prefer using mobile POS systems, which shows how much easier these systems are to use. Most mobile POS systems these days tend to be more intuitive than traditional registers, especially for a person who is used to using a mobile device on the regular.

What do the stores using mPOS look like?

While many stores using mPOS are still set up as traditional stores, there’s a very clear shift towards embracing a more omnichannel physical look to stores.

Are stores using mPOS in addition to their traditional registers?

Stores are largely using mPOS along with traditional registers.

68% of stores are still using traditional, firmly-rooted-in-the-ground POS systems in addition to their mobile registers. And while that might seem like a lot, the 32% of stores exclusively using mobile POS is quite impressive. 32% of stores using mPOS use exclusively mPOS.Tweet This We are only a few years into the mobile revolution and already 32% of stores have either gotten rid of the stand-alone systems they invested in, or they never even invested in them in the first place!

The average number of mobile registers was 3.89, while the average number of traditional registers is 3.85. This likely reflects the fact that mobile registers hardware is cheaper, and you can physically have more mobile registers in a store because they take up far, far less space.

How does self-checkout figure into the equation?

How does self-checkout figure into the equation?

It’s likely not surprising to anyone that only 30% of stores have self-checkout. Only 30% of stores have self-checkout.Tweet This Life experience teaches us that self-checkout is common enough that we've all used it (or could have if we wanted to), but it's not a fixture at the majority of stores.

Where self-checkout gets interesting, though, is that using exclusively mPOS is not stopping stores from implementing self-checkout. They do it at almost the same rates as stores with traditional registers. The smaller, less stand-alone aspects of a mobile register are not deterring stores from allowing customers to operate them on their own.

Does one type of register produce higher sales?

Does one type of register produce higher sales?

Overall, register type doesn’t seem to have much effect on sale amounts. Traditional registers produce slightly more sales, likely because they’re often the most clearly marked point-of-sale in the store.

So what do cash wraps look like at stores that use mPOS?

So what do cash wraps look like at stores that use mPOS?

Many influencers in the retail space have been encouraging retailers to downgrade their cash wrap from the massive desks that have been a store fixture for decades to something smaller and more appropriate for modern, omnichannel times.

Of the stores currently using mPOS, a full 43% of them are already using downsized cash wrap areas, and 18% of our respondents reported that their stores planned to downsize within the next year, which would bring that number to a majority of 61%.43% of stores using mPOS use small cashwraps. 18% plan on downsizing in 2017.Tweet This

Stores planning on decreasing their cashwrap size.

Those kinds of numbers indicate that downsized cash wraps will be common, even expected, within the next few years. They also indicate that retailers using mPOS are interested in innovating in their spaces. They aren’t just implementing mPOS because it's easier and cheaper. They're using it as a part of a complete strategy of bringing their stores into the digital era.

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What devices are used to run mPOS?

In the survey that we ran in 2015 that focused on POS software more broadly, we learned that iPad is the preferred device to run a mobile register on, but Android smartphones are the preferred phone devices.

The most popular devices to run mPOS on.

At the time, I surmised that this was likely due to two factors. First, that iPad is still the most ubiquitous tablet on the market and often the only tablet that register hardware accessories are sold to fit. Second, Android is still the preferred smartphone, and store owners are likely either using their personal phones or purchasing devices they're already comfortable with. iPad is the preferred mPOS device, but Android is the preferred smartphone POS device.Tweet This

So what’s the deal with mobile payments?

In case you’ve missed the past 3-5 years, mobile payments are the flashy new way of paying for things. Mobile payments are also likely here to stay because they’re incredibly safe.

How many stores accept mobile payments?

How many stores accept mobile payments?

These numbers again show that stores utilizing mobile POS systems are ahead of the innovation curve: 51% of these stores accept mobile payments, with another 28% trying to join the crowd.51% of stores using mPOS already accept mobile payments. W/in a few years, it will be 79%Tweet This That will make for 79% of stores in just a few years. As a note, 33% of these mobile payment accepting stores are also planning to decrease their cash wrap size in the next year.

Which payment providers do they accept?

Which payment providers do they accept?

76% of stores accepting mobile payments accept Apple Wallet.Tweet ThisThe fact that 76% of stores accepting mobile payments are accepting Apple Wallet may have something to do with the previously mentioned fact that the iPad is the most used device to run mPOS on. The iPad can be easily configured to take Apple Pay.

Just for a lark, we asked these stores if they were also accepting Bitcoin – and we were pretty intrigued to discover that 6% already accept Bitcoin, 6% of stores using mPOS accept #Bitcoin - w 11% planning on joining them.Tweet This with a further 11% planning on doing so in the future.

Companies that accept Bitcoin

Stores using mPOS today truly are working to stay on the cutting edge of the industry.

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What impact has mobile POS had, overall, on the stores using it?

We’ve determined that stores using mobile POS tend to be more technologically advanced - but is this having an impact on customer satisfaction yet?

Has mPOS affected customer satisfaction?

Has mPOS affected customer satisfaction?

While 56% of respondents report no discernable impact, an impressive 28% say that their mobile registers have actually increased the number of items customers are buying. 28% say that their mPOS has increased the number of items customers are buying.Tweet This This could reflect the fact that sales associates can bring the registers to their customers, helping to prevent shoppers from abandoning items on the way to the register.

Has mPOS affected the difficulty of employee's jobs?

Has mPOS affected the difficulty of employee's jobs?

Overwhelmingly, mPOS has a positive effect on retail employee’s jobs – 62% are happy with it. Only 10% report it making their job harder. These numbers reflect positively on how well stores are able to adopt and integrate mobile registers into their environments.


While stores that use mobile POS are still in the minority of retailers, they are a fast-growing population.

They are also amongst the more innovative businesses in the retail space. While many experts are calling for the death of brick-and-mortars, it seems like these stores are more than capable of breathing life back into an industry that's been stuck in the ‘90s for the past decade and a half.


Capterra collected the data in this mPOS systems report through a 20 question survey to retail employees who use mobile POS online, conducted over the course of 12 weeks and receiving a total of 158 qualified responses, in spring 2016.

About the Author

Cara Wood

Andrew Marder

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Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading, and just generally having a good time at life. Follow her on Twitter @carodare.