by David Crist, Brother Mobile Solutions
As competition for consumer dollars intensifies and margins shrink, we’re seeing a growing number of retailers transition away from static, transaction-based platforms toward more dynamic, personalized selling environments – a trend made possible by POS technology. These retailers are leveraging mobile point-of-sale technology by providing sales associates with tablets, smartphones, dedicated handhelds, and even interactive screens on the sales floor ‒ to help customers find what they need faster and close sales more efficiently right on the spot.
With the addition of compact wireless mobile printers, they can bypass the traditional checkout counter, complete returns and other transactions, and issue printed receipts virtually anywhere on the sales floor. This is a welcome time-saver for customers since it eliminates the need to stand in checkout lines waiting for service.
Using these smart networked electronic devices, associates can also check inventory in the stockroom or other store locations and can enter an order online if a desired product is out of stock. They can increase cross-selling and upselling opportunities by using the search function and display screen to show accessories and related products, thus making the early encounter more personal and memorable.
Forward-thinking retailers are integrating mobile POS technology into their core strategy for boosting brand awareness and loyalty by creating a strong, positive in-store experience for every shopper. By engaging shoppers early in the process, retailers aim to increase sales opportunities, reduce abandoned shopping carts and lost sales, and keep customers coming back.
The Role of Mobile Printers and Receipts
The growing use of mobile POS systems and mobile printers by sales associates on the retail floor has changed the role of paper receipts and the ways in which they are issued. Receipts are still very much a part of the POS workflow, but the range of delivery choices has expanded. E-mail, secure text, and web registry have all emerged as viable alternatives to paper receipts and are preferred by some shoppers. However, retailers still need to formulate their plans around the larger percentage of customers who still prefer to receive a paper receipt at the point-of-sale, and that’s where mobile printers offer value and convenience.
Using battery-operated, WiFi and Bluetooth enabled mobile printers, associates can quickly and easily print and issue a paper receipt for every sale or merchandise return. Completing transactions on the sales floor is more efficient for employees and more convenient for customers. In fact, some retailers are expanding their use of mobile receipt printers ‒ adding bounce-back coupons that drive customers back to the store with discounts and promotions, for example, or referring them to the retailer’s website to take a customer service survey and qualify for a prize.
Attributes to Look For in a Mobile Printer
In selecting handheld mobile printers for use with in-store mobile POS systems, it’s important to remember that these devices will be used repetitively by a variety
of different sales associates, some of whom may not be adept with mobile technology. So it’s crucial to look for rugged construction, ultra-reliable printing performance, ease of use, versatility, and smart functionality that includes easy-to-read display screens plus clear menu icons and intuitive navigation.
In addition, it’s no longer practical or cost effective to invest in dedicated printers for each specific retail function, such as desktop receipt printers at checkout counters, label printers for pricing and markdowns, and specialized printers for shelf markers. With the growing adoption of mobile POS, retailers striving to “do more with less” need more flexible options. Today, there are compact, all-in-one mobile printers on the market that can be used interchangeably to print receipts and can also be used to generate eye-catching shelf markers, price tags and promotional coupons. These high-performance printers can perform double and even triple duty in every area of the store, and can even be used off-site in pop-up mall kiosks, so their return on investment is high.
Additional features to look for include dual wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), and compatibility with major operating systems, such as iOS, Android, Windows and Windows Mobile. These capabilities can help protect the printer investment by ensuring that the printers will operate seamlessly even if the retailer changes or upgrades the tablets or smart devices used on the sales floor.
Mobile POS Strategy Delivers Value
In selecting a retail mobile POS system and components, the goal should be to source an affordable solution that is non-disruptive to existing store systems, can be implemented within a relatively short timeframe, and is simple and fun for sales associates to use. In formulating a practical mobile POS strategy, most retailers turn to industry-leading technology system consultants who regularly design and install such systems. Working with a knowledgeable business partner makes good business sense and can save significant time and money in completing the project successfully. That’s because an experienced partner can help ensure that all system components ‒ hardware, software and peripherals ‒ will work seamlessly and effectively for the retail organization’s central office, and for all of the employees who will use it to better serve customers.
Using mobile technology to transform the in-store experience provides real value in today’s fast-moving world. More than ever, busy consumers have an almost unlimited range of choices as to where, when and how they shop. With so many daily activities becoming more automated and impersonal, who doesn’t appreciate being made to feel like a valued and important customer rather than just another face in a check-out line? Using smart digital and mobile technology to create a more personalized, convenient and memorable shopping experience will help keep these valued customers coming back. At the same time, retailers can become more competitive and achieve greater operational efficiency. Best of all, they will gain new opportunities to increase sales and revenues.
About the Author:
David Crist is president of Brother Mobile Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brother International Corporation and premier provider of mobile thermal printing solutions for retail and a host of other industries. Learn more about retail printing at www.brotherruggedjet.com, or visit www.brothermobilesolutions.com. To request a free POS mobile printer for in store trial call 800-543-6144.
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