Roadworthy: A Thumb Guide for the Roving Business


Once upon a time, a mobile business was limited to the types of payment that they could accept. Cash. That’s it. That’s all. If you were feeling adventurous, once in a while you’d accept a check from a very trustworthy customer. If you had one of the old impression card machines, you might be able to submit payments that way – and be fortunate to see your money in a week. The game has changed for the better, and all you can do is profit.

Keep It Rolling

It doesn’t matter if you are a craft show booth, a tradeshow booth, a farmer’s market stand, or swap meet table. It doesn’t even matter if your business is based out of an actual vehicle. There are ways to give yourself all the advantages inherent to eCommerce websites and brick-and-mortar retail stores. Back in the day, the mobile merchant was stuck with cash. Sometimes lots of cash, in an amount to make the person carrying it very, very nervous. There were few alternatives such as the old impression machine for credit cards, or accepting a check with the risk of not being able to validate. However, since the proliferation of mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets and other devices that can work in cooperation with them, the playing field has had a mighty leveling.

food truckBringing along an actual cash wrap quality point-of-sale does not mean lugging around a cumbersome, oversized, chunk of machinery that does little more than enrich your chiropractor who must cope with the end result upon your back. The modern, tablet based point-of-sale system is modular, portable, and eminently affordable. With the addition of an inverter to operate from a battery storage device, you can go where no merchant with a card slider has gone before. Modern tablets, such as an iPad, function as the CPU and linchpin of your modern and portable point-of-sale. Taking into account the widespread availability of the technology, the advent of affordable cloud-based storage, and cloud-based software, the modern point-of-sale system can literally fit in a carry-on suitcase. With the proliferation of cloud-based technology Inc. magazine estimates that in just six years, 80 percent of small businesses will be using cloud-based storage and technology for their everyday business operations. The systems are available from an astonishing number of vendors who will offer to lease or sell, from the traditional cash wrap vendors to modern eCommerce platforms such as Shopify. The essential elements of the systems change very little whether the tablet is an iPad, Windows tablet, or Android.



Make a Shopping List

Your ideal portable system should feature:

  • Your tablet of choice. The tablet’s operating system should support your accounting software, such as WaveApps or QuickBooks.
  • You will want to have a stand for the tablet in order to hold it upright so that you and the customer may both see the screen.
  • A cash drawer in a high-impact plastic or classic stainless steel will hold your cash, change, checks, and merchant copy receipts.
  • Adding a credit card reader is often a simple matter of purchasing one, connecting it to your payment gateway, and inserting it in the headphone jack of the tablet.
  • Almost all jurisdictions require that a receipt accompany any commercial transaction, no matter how simple. Your receipt printer can also double as a check scanner should you choose to accept them. These hybrid devices read the magnetic ink on the check, and are able to authorize and endorse checks for deposit. Of course this option is more expensive than a simple receipt printer.
  • Barcode scanners are a highly efficient way of controlling your inventory even when you’re on the road. By tying your sales to your inventory, you will be able to account for all of your stock against all of your sales. Kiss reconciling those hand written receipts goodbye.

Adding in an inverter to operate your POS off your vehicle’s battery or a battery storage device is the crowning touch on your roadworthy operation. The components can also be broken down, and locked up safely either inside a vehicle or in a portable locking device.

All Aboard

According to Dunn and Bradstreet, small business health in a physical sense continues to improve despite an uneven performance going into the second half of 2014. Manufacturing, retail, business services, and construction continue to show solid gains, with jobs spending rebounding. Delinquency and loss are both down across the board as more businesses move out of the red and into the black.

By instituting and using a new point-of-sale system and inventory software that can interface with your accounting back office, you’ll find that you also have a powerful new tool to increase your business’s viability and bottom-line without necessarily needing to increase sales. Small businesses implementing these types of systems, according to the Houston Chronicle, are able to reduce or eliminate losses due to theft, error, and fraud across the board.

About the Author

Financial professional and online entrepreneur, I'm best known as The Financial Blogger. I want to make money because I like enjoying life the way it should be; with a lot of great food and wine! I also love to spend time with my lovely wife and 3 kids!