Last year, Arlene Hauben, Director of Scribe Tribe, Inc, did a product review of CellSmart POS for The Prepaid Press. She recently caught up with the CEO, Muhammad Saqib, and COO, Ismail Kolya, of CellSmart POS, to see how things are shaping up for the company and for point-of-sale software for cellular retailers in general. Arlene also spoke with a few of CellSmart POS’s customers to understand how and why they use the point-of-sale software to manage their wireless stores.
AH: What is one unique thing or feature about CellSmart POS?
MS: From the get-go, we made it our mission to make CellSmart POS super user-friendly. The software enables our customers to operate their stores efficiently, meaning that they can easily keep track of inventory and transactions, customer information, and other business functions and activities. At every step of the programming process, we strive to remove extra steps and clicks to speed up the transaction. Often time, my team and I code for days so that our Retailers can save a few precious seconds on the sales floor.
AH: Prepaid wireless retailers have many point-of-sale systems to choose from. How does CellSmart POS stay ahead of the pack?
IK: The biggest differentiation between us and the competition is that we own and operate cell phone stores where we use CellSmart POS. That means, we know our software inside out, and are intimately aware of the needs and pain points of the hundreds of wireless retailers just like us. When there’s a change or emerging need in wireless industry, we are the first ones to realize it and work to address the issue.
AH: What is your biggest challenge?
MS: Our biggest challenge has been keeping up with demand. As you may know, we didn’t set out to make a point-of-sale software with intent to sell. Back in 2006, I was a one-man team and I was really making a small application for our own wireless stores in NYC because nothing available in the market quite fit our needs. Over the course of the first few years, I took input from our store reps to add features and functions. As friends and family in the business found out, the business of POS took off. We went from 100 customers in 2011 to more than 1,200 in 2015, with most of the growth through customer recommendations. However, our systems weren’t designed to handle that kind of load and we suffered a major service interruption in fall of 2015. Hundreds of retailers of ours were affected and that made us examine the entire infrastructure from top to bottom so something like that doesn’t happen again. Now, our data is stored in the cloud with Amazon’s AWS RDS and Elastic Beanstalk, which is trusted by giants such as Netflix and AirBnB. I believe that incident has made us stronger and ready for even bigger growth in the coming years.
AH: Where do you see prepaid going in the future?
IK: I believe prepaid wireless will continue to become more competitive as the carriers work to out-maneuver each other with lower pricing and better data offers for the customers. However, I think wireless retailers will continue to play an important role in this space as they are the main access point for the millions of unbanked consumers.
AH: What is your roadmap for the next five years?
MS: We are going to continue doing what we do best, which is making a crazy user-friendly point-of-sale software for wireless stores. We will keep adding features that are relevant to Retailers in this hyper-competitive industry. For example, we have the most in-depth repairs module in the industry. Our latest feature, to be released shortly, will automatically check at the time of bill payment if a Boost Mobile customer qualifies for upgrade. It will display to the Sales Rep so they can offer the customer an upgrade option. Soon afterwards, we will enhance this feature for customers of other carriers. We also recently did a soft-launch of our budget friendly $30/month plan, which we will be rolling across all markets in the coming months.
AH: Would you agree that prepaid is a growth industry?
IK: Prepaid still has its best days ahead with wireless evolving from voice to data and now to constant connectivity. According to one estimate, the US wireless market will add about 100 million subscribers by 2020, with a hefty chunk of those by prepaid carriers. So yes, prepaid market will see growth as more people get out of contracts as well as cut the cord on their landlines.
Arlene talked with several retailers who use CellSmart POS:
Business Name: Boost Mobile
City, State: New Brunswick, NJ
Number of locations: 4
Customer since: Dec, 2010
AH: How many prepaid stores do you have and how long have you been using CellSmart POS? What do you like about it?
KS: I have been using the program for about six years to run my four stores in New Jersey. What I like is that CellSmart makes it easy to track serial numbers of phones and get rebates from carriers. Customers automatically get text messages when they pay their mobile bill. One feature lets me do reconciliations. I now use two different versions of CellSmart, but like the new version better.
Business Name: Page comp (metroPCS)
City, State: Jersey City, NJ
Number of locations: 8
Customer since: April, 2014
AH to What do you especially like about CellSmart POS? How many stores do you have?
JH: I run eight stores in New Jersey where we sell T Mobile, Boost and Metro PCS, as well as third party companies. The program is easier and more organized. I can find customer information such as PINs when customers forget them. It’s great for tracking sales and improvement of employee sales.
Business Name: Various Names (Burke Wireless, Fordham Wireless, Mini Mall)
City, State: Bronx, NY
Number of locations: 20
Customer since: Dec, 2009
AH: What makes you stay with CellSmart?
ZN: We are one of CellSmart’s first customers. I have 20 stores in New York, all of which operate as One Team. We can’t run the business without CellSmart. Prepaid is a major part of our business. We sell Boost, Simple, Ultra, and T-Mobile. I can tell how the store is doing in the middle of the day. I can access stores any time of the day. Nagi said: “We also do repairs and the POS helps in ordering, marketing, transactions.”
Business Name: Tele-Mundo Communications
City, State: Bay Shore, NY
Number of locations: 4
Customer since: July, 2013
AH: Where are your stores located? How does CellSmart help you?
SR: We own two multi carrier stores and two Boost stores on Long Island. We use CellSmart to help with inventory, tracking, sending reminders to pay bills. It helps clocking in and out. It gives you forecast on sales for the week, and tracks commissions. We sell entirely prepaid brands: Metro PCS, Simple, H20, T-Mobile.