Retail TouchPoints: Retailers Focus On Testing In-Store Mobile POS and POP Solutions

Jun 11, 2012

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

According to a recent study from Motorola Solutions, 23 percent of retailers have mobile POS or POP solutions deployed. However, results point to more rigorous pilots of smartphone and tablet solutions (11.3 percent of respondents), and retailers’ plans to begin testing each within the next six to 12 months (13.5 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively).

Although 74.8 percent of retailers said they currently use desktop computers for customer facing applications, overall investment in these devices will drop to 53.9 percent in the next year. This dramatic shift in usage is due largely to the growing prevalence of mobile devices in enterprise environments, and to retailers wanting to create an interactive, cross-channel environment in brick-and-mortar locations, according to Scott Drobner, director of business and market intelligence for Motorola Solutions.

"More savvy retailers are looking at mobile POS in a holistic way to reach consumers in the store effectively," Mr. Drobner told Retail TouchPoints. "Shoppers are looking for technology to simplify and enhance the customer experience. A lot of the solutions we’re seeing in the mobile commerce and payment space are really focused on improving that experience."

As reported by Motorola’s Mobile POS Study, future mobile technology implementations versus current investment rates are as follows:

  • Smartphones (49.6 percent vs. 46.5 percent);
  • Tablet computers (51.3 percent vs. 26.5 percent); and
  • Rugged hand-held computers and other mobile devices, not including smartphones and tablets (42.2 percent vs. 26.5 percent)

There also is increased interest in "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) strategies, in which consumers utilize their own smartphones and tablets to access corporate applications in stores. Among retail respondents, only 16.5 percent said they would be extremely likely to use this strategy, while 36.5 percent said it was "somewhat likely."

Tactical goals and benefits of mobile POS solutions cited by retailers currently using or planning to use mobile POS solutions in the study included:

  • Better customer service (71.3 percent);
  • Deploying smartphones and tablets to complete coverage on the floor (31.3 percent);
  • Special ordering capabilities for out-of-stock items (27.0 percent);
  • Custom orders or assisted shopping (26.1 percent);
  • Aid in line-busting (23.5 percent);
  • Provide mobile device-based loyalty programs (18.7 percent).


Discussion Questions: What should and shouldn’t be driving in-store mobile POS and POP rollouts? What do you see as the greatest near-term and long-term benefits of smartphones and tablets in particular?

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17 Comments on "Retail TouchPoints: Retailers Focus On Testing In-Store Mobile POS and POP Solutions"

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Mark Heckman

Speaking strictly about POP solutions, they should be increasing targeted and interactive. In order for that to occur, their must be a transfer of a tremendous amount of content and intellectual property to these new consumer touch points. If content remains meager and not built within the context of a loyalty scheme or learning relationship, smartphones and tablets will struggle as an in-store customer engagement tool.

Ryan Mathews

The problem is that the platforms are evolving faster than retailers and customers can establish ways to interact and, more importantly, to transact.

The world is full of people who have the 2012 version of the, “Betamax vs. VHS crisis.”

Look no farther than your own computer bag. How many of you are carrying a mobile phone AND a laptop AND an iPad AND an iPod AND maybe a Kindle?

On a serious note, while I’m certain RetailWirers are too savvy to be carrying all that gear, odds are you have at least one platform that’s redundant with you at all times. And that’s the issue.

I’m sure Motorola would love everyone to leap onto mobile before they look at the alternatives, but a prudent retailer will keep his or her eyes glued on the entire field to see which platform the market finally favors.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.

Determining customer usage needs to be at the top of the list. Which consumers use which device for what activity when and where? Do consumers use devices (which ones) in store during quick trips or stock up trips? Which consumers are switching from using desktop computers to smartphones or tablets for what purpose, and is that switch something that is done consistently or intermittently? The number of options for consumers is huge, creating a complicated research challenge. It may well turn out that retailers and manufacturers need to consider using all technology vehicles to reach different consumers at different times.

Gene Detroyer

The overriding objective driving in-store mobile POS and POP rollouts should be a customer-centric focus.

Several weeks ago I mentioned Macy’s Santa in “Miracle on 34th Street.” That character defines everything in-store mobile should be. Help the shopper find just the right product, make it available, if not in store, just a day away, if not a day away from this retailer, tell them where they can get it.

What do you end up with? Happy (and loyal) customers. And, mounds of data to help refine the product offering.

While the execution of such a service is complicated, let’s stop making the strategy more complicated than it has to be.

David Slavick
David Slavick
5 years 5 months ago

It’s all about 3 things: Price, comparison and savings, and Convenience/Checkout. And identification to get more/save more/earn more — using the device. I agree that technology and APPS are moving faster than retailers can keep up with.

What we’ve observed is a trend to establish a mobile/social team dedicated to this emerging channel/customer interface. They need to build a roadmap informed by customer insight, the evolution of the in-store and online experience and be prepared to pilot innovative solutions in partnership with service providers.

What cannot be emphasized enough is having well-defined measurable objectives to assess return on investment. If customers are converting to a profitable sale more often and engaging with the store brand through social through leveraging of technology — then the enterprise is gaining a competitive advantage which will only grow stronger over time.

Joe Nassour
Joe Nassour
5 years 5 months ago

The technology is a secondary issue. The primary issue is the consumer’s shopping experience. Technology is cheap and it will change over time. Whether it is a tablet, smart phone or a dedicated device, you have to ask which technology gives the consumer the best shopping experience and go with that.

Lee Kent

We all know that retailers like to wait and see when it comes to technology. This need not be the case anymore with the low cost of using today’s devices. I would strongly urge retailers to reassess their brands with these new technologies and determine what their customers want from them to deliver the brand experience. This is not a one size fits all.

Frank Wagman
Frank Wagman
5 years 5 months ago

I think from the retailer point of view, it’s a question of real estate and manpower. How much floor space can be freed up by converting register lines to merchandise display? And obviously, reduction in workforce or redeployment of cashiers on to the selling floor.

Ken Lonyai

There’s only one reason to ever consider customer facing technology: user experience. If stores can leverage mobile technology to enhance the consumer experience it makes sense. If they are doing it as an IT cost saving measure or to seem contemporary or anything else, it will fail.

Shoppers are looking to b&m retailers to meet needs that can’t be fulfilled online, namely: touching/feeling products, insights/information unavailable anywhere else, experience/entertainment, instant gratification by leaving with the product in hand, painless returns, etc. If a merchandiser is insightful and clever as to how they leverage mobile to execute on these points really well, consumers will embrace it. And my bet is that most shoppers in most store categories will prefer their own device over one managed/retained by the store. If not, there’s a real likelihood to have the issues I outlined in my recent BrainTrust Query.

Ralph Jacobson

Sure there are multiple formats and devices fighting for shoppers’ attention. However, it may be helpful to look overseas. Japan, South Korea, Finland, etc., all overwhelmingly favor the mobile phone as the primary with tablets quickly rising. And that is the case for both POP and POS. Although I have worked with many business partners and their devices, I believe the future will literally be in the hands of the shoppers… with their own devices. That doesn’t preclude the use of store-owned or manufacturer-owned devices in stores, however. The merchandising/sales opportunities can be far more compelling if retailers and CPGs maximize the impact with devices in-store.

Most likely, a blend of shopper-owned and store-owned devices will emerge.

Martin Mehalchin

I see line busting and “endless aisle” ordering as killer apps that will drive in-store mobile deployments. Both offer a win/win; improving the customer experience while driving increased sales (and potentially lower expenses) for the retailer.

Ed Dunn
5 years 5 months ago

As someone earlier pointed out, go take a “business” trip to Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore and observe how mobile is implemented. It is a good learning experience versus trial and error.

At the POP, I hope the merchants realize they should probably work with just a few 70″ screens instead of a lot of 3.5″ or 10″ screens. No mobile/tablet devices should be around the POP and I’ve seen this puny screen implementation at a few retailers (Walmart) and it shouldn’t be done.

For POS rollouts, the customer mobile device is definitely the target to prevent showrooming. The only reason showrooming exists is because the retailer has not captured real-estate of the customer mobile device in their store and allowed another entity like to take over.

James Tenser

Better look fast if you want to witness the next “killer app” in this retail POS/POP sector. Equipping store employees with mobile tools for customer service and checkout will have a very rapid life-cycle in my opinion.

Enabling shoppers to use their own devices for enhanced self-service may enjoy a longer duration. This will require that retailers steel themselves to cheerfully hand over control. Shoppers will take it anyway, so let’s just get used to the idea.

The “endless aisle” concept has some merit — especially when paired with tighter assortment and inventory controls. Interactive displays, using QR codes and/or NFC, can let retailers guide shoppers to recommended mobile information sources instead of to online competitors.

Self-checkout using smartphones is mostly a gimmick, I think, but it may become a required option or an element of NFC digital wallet apps depending upon shopper response (and not upon retailer preference!).

Number one benefit to retailers who cooperate with these changes in shopper behavior is the chance to play another day. My general advice is not to invest too heavily in tech infrastructure, as it will obsolesce with stomach-churning speed. Focus on engineering the shopping experience to be as responsive as possible.

Tim Morris
Tim Morris
5 years 5 months ago

Indoor tracking will be the most critical near-term platform deployment. Without refined indoor tracking, it is very difficult to create pertinent incentives for information submission by clients, or benefit from refined tracking/POS integrated systems. Also, entertainment value will soon become much more critical as we start deploying in-store digital marketing at the display level.

gordon arnold

There are a whole series of sales and marketing developments focused on the Wi-Fi devices being used today and newer revolutionary devices becoming available in the near future. Look for the integration of credit and banking services to be the next big step in creating and sustaining the totally electronic shopping cart. Drive troughs may even come totally indoors for loading purposes. The next 25 years in the land of information technologies promises to be amazing.

Jason Goldberg

There hasn’t been a compelling new feature in POS systems for 10 years (which explains why most retailers still use 15 year old systems).

Replacing $5K-$10K terminals, with $500 – $750 devices, that get the sales staff out from behind the counter and shoulder to shoulder with customers is a huge improvement.

The modern empowered consumer walks in the store with a much higher expectation for information and social proof to enable their purchase decision, and only by equipping sales associate and self-service customers with mobile tools can we meet those expectations.

Kiosks and Digital Signage have been the “Next Big Thing” in retail for the past 20 years, but they never have lit the world on fire, larger because they are expensive solutions that can only serve a handful of customers at a time. Mobile POS for sales associates, and mobile experiences for bring-your-own-device shoppers is a far more compelling way to get digital content to shoppers in a retail store.

We’ve only scratched the surface of the personalization and clientelling features we’ll see on these devices.

S.C. Hicks
S.C. Hicks
4 years 2 months ago

It would be extremely beneficial in the near and distant futures. Everywhere you look, people in general are multitasking with their mobile devices. Why not incorporate that into mainstream supply? It would help alleviate overhead supply spending. The units most companies use are fairly costly, no matter how profitable the company.

Also, some may raise the issue of cost to the owner level employees . Although their financial state is an appropriate subject to be discussed in business, the topic would undoubtedly be a concern for some. Companies could implement some type of donation program for such associates to attain compatible devices at a discounted rate, or however the program would dictate, on the upgrades most get on a pretty regular basis. The donors would have the benefits of both a charitable tax deduction, as well as the device being classified as now a business expense on their taxes annually.


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