How Customers Are Driving Mobile POS

By John Kenney, Senior Vice President/Business Development

Retail stores are in a push for customers to drive their shopping experience—from selection to checkout. At the same time, customers are looking for a cross-channel shopping experience that can encompass the digital shopping cart, combining all channels from in-store to at-home to mobile that can be saved, comparison shopped, recommended, stock-checked and purchased/delivered as and when desired. Keeping pace with consumer technology is also a big drive. Despite these drivers, disconnects still exist between the retail mobile point-of-sale (POS) planners, and the reality of the customer’s world.

In our experience, we’ve heard Tier 1 retailers stating that the Apple and Android operating system (OS) are not “retail hardened”; yet, survey after survey of consumers indicates that these mobile devices and their associated OS will continue to dominate the smartphone market for the foreseeable future. One of the biggest oversights a retailer could make is to believe they know what’s best for the customer, and not the other way around. The mobile POS solution therefore needs to allow application build out on any mobile device OS no matter what hardware and OS have been selected for store associates. In addition, we strongly advise that for every associate-facing application, a customer-facing application also be developed.

Getting in the holiday spirit

The customer-driven POS is infiltrating every aspect of retail. New seasonal trends such as pop-up retail with temporary locations, holiday stores, special events, etc. can be very costly to set up and enable transactions using a traditional POS model. With a mobile POS system, all transactions can be completed over 3G using the retailer’s or the customer’s hardware, reading and writing to the enterprise database. Not only are the cost-savings a good retail driver, it is also true that with the proliferation of smartphones, customers are demanding mobile transactions for the convenience and time savings offered—especially around the upcoming holidays. Retailers who don’t empower their customers and their associates via mobile devices risk facing a slow erosion of sales to savvy customers, as well as the hurdle of battling competitors already rolling out their mobile POS solution.

Depending on store size and configuration, a mobile POS solution can eliminate one or more checkout positions and, at the same time, increase customer satisfaction with POS (line busters, self-checkout, etc.). Additionally, the ability to assist the customer at the point-of-decision and to enable suggestions of associated items and potential upsell products makes each associate more productive. Empowering associates with the same data search options as those enjoyed by the customer will also assist to keep associates close to the customer, rather than force them to access a remote workstation in order to answer a price or in-stock question. With customers driving mobile POS, it’s a win-win.