Is mobile POS largely about line-busting?

Discussion
Photo: RetailWire
Mar 31, 2017
Tom Ryan

Much has been made about the potential of mobile POS to break up long lines to speed checkouts. But mobile POS is promising much more.

A study last year from Juniper Research predicted that smartphone and tablet-based mobile POS terminals would handle 20 percent of all retail transaction value by 2021, up from an estimated four percent in 2016. The gains are expected to be driven by larger retailers not only looking to “queue bust,” but to develop more targeted and situational campaigns.

“We are seeing several vendors tailor their software to the needs of specific industries, integrating mPOS capabilities as part of broader cloud-based business software,” said James Moar, a Juniper analyst in a statement. “These additional services can then make use of the sales data directly to manage inventory, monitor staff performance and other functions, which can all add more value to a business and justify a higher margin.”

In its report, “Future Of Point Of Sale,” Enspire, a provider of cloud-based online solutions, argued that the problem with the checkout process is the “break in the sale” that occurs when a sales associate hands the customer over to the casher. The use of tablet or mobile can support a “one-step path to purchase” by which the sales associate can work with the customer all the way through checkout.

Advanced POS capabilities can also enable associates to offer information on products not available in the store or soon to be introduced. “Sales associates should feel empowered with greater information in order to interact with customers like never before,” said Enspire’s report.

IHL Group’s 2015 report, “mPOS: Houston, Do We Have a Problem?,” found some retailers were realizing as much as a 25 percent increase in sales with a mPOS solution. But most weren’t leveraging mPOS to provide shoppers with product or promotion information. The study also found that stationary terminals had some advantages. Greg Buzek, CEO of IHL Group, told Fierce Retail at the time, “Most of retail is still about putting things in bags at the end of the transaction. That requires a counter to do it well.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: To what extent do you see mobile POS complementing stationary terminals? Which of the promised benefits of mobile POS do you see as having the most and least impact on retail operations?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The ability for an associate to walk around with the customer, mPOS in hand, and make suggestions, can increase the size of the transaction."
"This is huge and it’s making a tangible impact at innovative retailers as we speak around the world."
"If mPOS is being used as a pay point then retailers will have to determine how they want to handle this final step."

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9 Comments on "Is mobile POS largely about line-busting?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Long checkout lines and slow transaction processing are conversion rate killers. While not appropriate for every transaction, mPOS can have a profoundly positive impact on conversion rates and ultimately store performance.

Max Goldberg
Guest

Mobile POS can benefit consumers and retailers, but it is not a panacea that will suddenly unlock hidden profits. What it can do is potentially bust checkout lines and allow sales associates to complete a transaction. These two reasons alone justify its implementation.

Frank Riso
BrainTrust
We will continue to see an increased use of mPOS in retail as the cost of terminals comes down and the need to compete with online retailing continues. Online retail is quick and easier then going to a store, so mPOS helps speed up the process in many apparel retail stores. In grocery it helps speed up the process as a form of line busting with the cashier needing only to bag the items already purchased. The greatest benefit will be increased sales. How many times have we seen lines and walked out of the store? An mPOS terminal can reduce lines. In fashion retail, closing the sale with mPOS before the customer changes their mind increases sales. Also, these same terminal can be used to generate online orders for lack of stock, check inventory and pricing as well as mPOS. The downsides are the cost of the technology, the training of staff and the high turnover of staff. Even in a restaurant using mPOS has helped customers feel better about not seeing their credit… Read more »
Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

As with many questions in retail, the answer depends on the segment and merchandise we are talking about. In segments like apparel, electronics and many others, mPOS can be wonderful way to build a better customer experience by providing not just a quicker checkout process for the shopper but also by building a stronger relationship with the sales associate. This has the potential for driving higher conversation rates and larger transaction values. It is of course, only one part of a multi-part puzzle for delivering that great experience — the associate is also critical to the process and its overall success.

However, I’m going to agree with Amazon’s Patrick Gauthier, who said at Shoptalk last week that we should focus on a check-in experience rather than a checkout experience, with the goal of making the payment process so integrated and seamless that it disappears.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Mobile POS or mPOS used as a line buster can certainly enhance the customer experience by quickly checking the customer out once the decision is reached to stop shopping. However, the ability for an associate to walk around with the customer, mPOS in hand, and make suggestions, cross-selling or up-selling can delay that decision to stop shopping and increase the size of the transaction.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

I agree with Ricardo that the impact and usefulness of mPOS depends very much on what the retailer is selling. Some retail segments may find mPOS has a great deal of applicability to act ask a pay point and others not so much. In some cases, its value is in the information it can provide the store associate regarding their products. In other cases, its use may be situational.

As others have stated at some point the customer may have to have their purchase placed in a container (bag, box, etc.) to take it home. If mPOS is being used as a pay point then retailers will have to determine how they want to handle this final step.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

With proper staff training and ongoing coaching (easier said than done, BTW), mPOS can drive incremental revenue via cross-sell/upsell techniques to target higher margin and other priority products. This is huge and it’s making a tangible impact at innovative retailers as we speak around the world.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
According out our research, in the next two years, the use of tablets, hybrid POS terminals and mobile devices will increase tremendously along with a slight decrease in the use of traditional POS terminals. Mobile POS lowers the overall cost of ownership by eliminating or minimizing the need for “big iron” (a thick-client cash register) at store-level and virtually eliminating annual hardware maintenance fees, as most units are disposable. Mobile POS usage has also increased to 29% this year compared to 20% last year although a majority still indicates that improvements are needed. Another 55% of retailers plan to implement mobile POS within the next three years. For most retailers, mobile POS has not become a substitute for a traditional fixed station POS. The majority of retailers continue to use traditional POS stations as their basic POS, adding mobile options and additional PCs or tablets as supplements. The transition from fixed station POS to a hybrid environment and more mobile solutions is underway but it is a slow process. Another advantage of low-cost, disposable mobile… Read more »
Nir Manor
BrainTrust

I also believe that mPOS can be a game changer in improving checkout process and reducing wiring time. Ideally used, it should be connected to other retailer systems such as inventory and ordering, “endless aisle” for OOS products, products with affinity to the ones bought to allow cross sell, CRM to look at past purchase and tailor personalized offers, product info videos for complex products, reviews by previous buyers, price comparisons to other retailers if applicable, and more

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The ability for an associate to walk around with the customer, mPOS in hand, and make suggestions, can increase the size of the transaction."
"This is huge and it’s making a tangible impact at innovative retailers as we speak around the world."
"If mPOS is being used as a pay point then retailers will have to determine how they want to handle this final step."

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