Mobile POS, so much more than a cash register

Mobile point of sale (POS) devices can help retailers reduce queues, improve customer service and update old back-office IT. But how can retailers pick the right product and financial model? Chris Labrey, MD of digital transformation company, Econocom UK & IRL talks us through the options.

You’re in a long queue at a store. A couple of stressed staff are on the checkout. Do you wait five or 10 minutes, or abandon your basket and come back another time − or go to a rival retailer?

Faced with growing competition from online e-commerce, high-street retailers are keen to use technology to make shopping in-store as easy and enjoyable as purchasing goods online from the comfort of your own home.

You’re in a long queue at a store. A couple of stressed staff are on the checkout. Do you wait five or 10 minutes, or abandon your basket and come back another time − or go to a rival retailer?

Experts believe that technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and automation are among the technologies expected to change how we buy products. But perhaps the biggest change in retail technology now is happening to something that has been around for more than 100 years − the cash register.

An increasing number of retailers, from small start-ups to giants such as Apple, are using tablets such as an Apple iPad or a Microsoft Surface Pro, for their POS, which have several advantages. They give staff the ability to move around the store, take payment from customers and answer their questions about products and whether items are in stock and orders.

As well as cutting queues, POS technology can make staff more accessible and help retailers gain better information on customers − for example, by letting them easily sign-up for offers and loyalty programmes in exchange for providing their address and other details. These technologies also have an aesthetic appeal. They often look nicer and more modern than traditional POS systems.

And because some mobile POS systems have analytics capabilities built in, they can provide more accurate information on customers’ shopping habits and needs than a traditional and older system. They also link to back-office IT systems such as accounts and inventory, and can also help track employee attendance and decide which back-office IT systems they can access.

Before you buy

When shopping for a mobile POS system, it’s wise to check whether it can easily integrate with existing inventory, accounting and payment software. What product support is there if it breaks during a busy Saturday?

Also, it’s important to check what percentage of each sale a mobile POS provider will charge (some providers give their POS service for free if you process payments with them). Does the provider process sales themselves, or use another company to process sales?

Finally, work out the best option for paying for the service. For some retailers, purchasing mobile POS systems may not be financially viable.

However, there is a way that businesses of all sizes can take advantage of these technologies without breaking the bank, and that’s by using a subscription model to spread the cost evenly over a period of several years. These rolling contracts, which work much in the same way as many of us pay for our personal mobile phones and/or cars, can quickly ease some of the financial burden that many businesses suffer from when undergoing digital transformation. This allows them to focus on implementing the technology in-store and reaping the awards.

The emergence of mobile POS devices already looks as if it is set to change the world of high street retail for good.

A rolling subscription model can also help retailers to ensure their systems and equipment remain regularly updated, which allows them to continue delivering the best possible experience to all customers.

The emergence of mobile POS devices already looks as if it is set to change the world of high street retail for good. Unlike the traditional cash register, these POS systems are not just about taking payments; they can enhance the entire customer experience, making it more immersive and interactive. They are a win-win for shoppers and consumers alike.

Although it can be a considerable cost to make the most of these benefits, using a subscription model to purchase the technology is by far the best solution for those with less available budget. Not only does this way allow retailers to preserve cash flow and manage the cost more effectively over a long period of time, but it means they can stay at the forefront of digital transformation – a sure-fire way to keep consumers coming back for more.


Chris Labrey MD Econocom UK & IRL

 

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