Major Retail Chain Goes Totally Mobile at POS

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Urban Outfitters, long recognized as one of the “coolest” retailers in America, is also among the most recent to adopt mobile Point of Sale (POS) technology in their retail stores. After testing the concept during the past two years, the company is now poised to abandon stationary checkouts and go fully mobile in time for the 2012 holiday season. Urban Outfitters is based in Philadelphia and operates more than 140 locations in the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

 According to Calvin Hollinger, Urban Outfitters’ CIO, the company plans to combine iPod Touch and iPad devices with software that will facilitate POS transactions. The mobile solution is also designed to perform inventory management, such as identifying the location of specific items in specific stores, returns and restocking. The ultimate goal is, as it should be with all retailers, to provide better customer service. Mobile POS allows high volume stores like Urban Outfitters the ability to move people through checkout faster and make inventory virtually company-wide. And given the demographics of the brands in the Urban Outfitters family, tech-savvy consumers and store personnel alike will readily adopt the mobile format.

 Mobile POS is financially a smart move for the company as well, as an iPod Touch, fully loaded and installed, costs about $500, with the price of a register 10 times that. The iPad tablet can be mounted on a swivel arm mounted to a Bluetooth-enabled cash drawer and runs about $1,000 fully installed.

 Mobile POS, or mPOS, provides inventory access across the board, identifying size/color combinations of merchandise that might be unavailable in one store but easily ordered for the customer from another. If, for example, the customer is looking for a certain style and size of merchandise, and the store is temporarily out of stock, a quick check of the single-platform inventory will pull up three stores that have the item on the shelf. The item can then be ordered and shipped directly to the customer’s home. This feature facilitates up- and cross-selling with text prompts or automatic displays of other related items, enhancing the customer experience, making a sale easier for the floor staff, and ultimately growing the company’s bottom line.

 The Urban Outfitters solution was provided by Starmount. Several other companies, including Motorola Solutions, Intermec and Retail Anywhere also offer mPOS systems.

 Other retailers testing mPOS include JC Penny, Sephora, Bass Pro Shops and Eastern Mountain Sports. Noted Michelle Crissey of Motorola Solutions, “mPOS serves as a valuable tool that can help turn browsing into buying. When the power of mPOS is in the hands of every retail associate, shopping becomes an experience and associates are always in a position to make the sale.”

 Written by Suzi Harkola


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