Point of Sale (POS) systems do much more than track inventory and record financial transactions. They can also alert merchants to the personalities of their customers and help define a marketing direction. So much easier for all involved than the old “customer comment card” found at some establishments, mobile POS (MPOS) can capture data quickly, accurately and with little intervention into the consumer’s time. Sales associates can engage better with customers and the merchant benefits from a stronger client relationship and data that can help target marketing dollars.
An April 30, 2013 report from PYMTS provides an overview of the major players in the MPOS marketplace. While acknowledging that the MPOS sector in the retail market is expected to grow rapidly over the next five years, it will in all probability remain a small percentage of overall sales. According to the report, “MPOS will account for only about one tenth of one percent of all retail sales.”
A recent survey conducted by Constant Contact reports that 71 percent of small businesses using mobile technology now accept mobile payments and 52 percent use a mobile-/tablet-based MPOS system. However, many small businesses are not taking advantage of this technology, citing perceived customer disinterest, lack of time to learn the system, irrelevance to their business, and other issues.
MPOS remains relevant, however, because of the proliferation of mobile smart phones and tablets, allowing both consumers and merchants opportunities for easy transactions at points of sale. A recent Forrester Research report predicts that one billion consumers will have smart phones by 2016.
Javelin Strategy and Research also released a report in late April 2013 that projects up to $1.1 trillion in annual sales through mobile POS. Javelin’s report involved interviews with executives at 14 mobile POS providers, as well as data from a random survey of 6,651 consumers, identifying key trends and themes in the market. An area of weakness in MPOS that came to light in the survey was security. Javelin found that only 28 percent of consumers consider mobile credit card processing as secure, but this was counterbalanced by the level of convenience offered by mobile applications.
Most MPOS systems provide immediate access to inventory and price information, expediting sales transactions from anywhere in the store or even outside the store. In terms of marketing strategy, access to the customer’s purchase history and interests are tracked, allowing retailers to increase up-selling and cross-selling with positive impact on revenue.
MPOS is good for the merchant, as it captures purchasing behaviors without intrusion into consumer’s time or personal space. It helps speed customer interactions while providing a positive retail experience that goes beyond the traditional “loyalty program.” Information about the products purchased are stored and used to create personalized prompts a store clerk could access to cross-sell or up-sell merchandise. And the marketing team could use the information stored in the database to create campaigns which would send relevant marketing content directly the customer on their mobile phone or email based on customer behavior.
There are many POS software products on the market, so the decisions on which to choose should be based on the evaluation of specific business needs, options and budget. It should not be difficult to find a solution that’s easy to install and use at a reasonable cost for purchase and maintenance.
Written by Suzi Harkola
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