Amazon to Offer Kindle Checkout System to Physical Retailers was the headline in an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. I have long thought that POS and other similar integrated services delivered via a combination of hardware, software and web was the key to cracking the holy grail of SMB marketing services.
In The Future of SMB POS Defined by GoPago’s Free POS System from October, 2012 I wrote:
Sometimes the lights go on and the realization strikes that a new metaphor has taken hold and will change the market going forward. That realization struck when I recently read about GoPago’s Free POS system for SMBs…..
The early creator of metaphor changing products sometimes reaps the benefits and other times the benefits go to better capitalized late comers. Certainly GoPago has no lock on this market. Square, Paypal, Bing and Google could all step in and have both distribution efficiencies and marketing clout that could give them an advantage in this space. Imagine Google offering up a free Moto/Android based POS system that also guides SMBs through a business center experience as the SMB gains familiarity with the many marketing options that Google offers. If I were Bing,in an effort to kick start their Local Business Portal, I would walk over to GoPago and hand them a check even if it meant the POS had to continue to use an Android based product.
I still believe that. More so now than ever. The market in the 15 months since I have written this has not stood still. Apple, Intuit, Square and Paypal have all made moves in this direction. Each with their own spin.
It is interesting that Amazon might be the first of the big players to offer up such an integrated solution. And of all the players they will have the hardest time overcoming the extreme distrust that the bricks and mortar world has of them. And that alone may prevent them from moving quickly enough to consolidate their position in this market.
But SMBs are a prickly and unpredictable lot (I know I was one for 20 years in a family business… and if you think I am prickly you should have met my father). But if the value is compelling enough, if the cost of the credit transactions is low enough and if the support is high enough it could happen.
Clearly POS is but one of the entrees into the world of captive solutions… But it is a very compelling metaphor for the integrated SMB solutions that are rapidly moving into the marketplace. Scheduling, billing and other services via PC are equally compelling in the service arena and in a broad sense can be viewed the same way.
Regardless whoever gets their first at scale will have a huge advantage in the future of retail and local search marketing. And payments, loyalty and and and…..