Monkey Do

PayPal and POS: Whither the solutions?

Some scattered and slightly ranty thoughts about PayPal and Point of Sale in general.

We’ve been doing a lot of thinking about small businesses lately, and it seems obvious that an area ripe for simple innovations is the customer checkout or payment experience (not just on the web — in the real world too).

Apple (and surely others) has already stepped it up by giving their in-store staff wireless POS devices that swipe credit cards right on the floor, allowing customers to bypass the queue.

This could be a very broad discussion, but our question is this: Where are PayPal’s POS solutions? Why can’t I use PayPal at my local bar/restaurant/pet store?

The perception of PayPal seems to be that as soon as it was purchased by eBay (misguidedly or not), all the wind seemed to go out of its sails. (A thousand words could be written very quickly about that, but this isn’t the place.) PayPal’s customer service has always seemed to have obstructionism and opacity as its core tenets, and PayPal’s main service offerings seem little-changed from even 10 years ago.

The main message on PayPal’s home page today? Use their shopping cart. The shopping cart they have offered, in my humble recollection, for at least 5 years. I went over to their “Business” page, which has three main stories to tell, none of them for POS services.

A faster, cash- and credit card-less POS experience is in everyone’s interest; the benefits to both parties are fairly self-evident.

One benefit to businesses is that PayPal transactions comes with a lot more data about your customer than a cash or credit card transaction (i.e. email addresses) which can be used for future communications. (That having been said, how businesses handle those communications determines whether or not they lead to a positive experience for their customers.)

The kicker in all this? The technology for this already exists. Monkey Do could set up a PayPal-enabled POS system for a local business tomorrow. We’ve already heard of one restaurant that uses iPads for their menus — do they also use them for the checkout process? Man, they sure should.

A big part of PayPal’s sales pitch is how easy it is to use their systems without investing in expensive credit card machines for your business. But does PayPal not realize these businesses are already investing in laptops and smart phones to help run the other parts of their business? These same devices could be used to add a seamless PayPal checkout experience in real-world situations.

PayPal had better get moving or Square is going to eat their lunch.