Make Holiday Shoppers Merry with Mobile POS
By: Ian Goldman
Halloween is over, and that means one thing for retailers: the countdown to Black Friday is on. According to the National Retail Federation, sales volumes for November and December are going to be four to five percent stronger than last year. That’s good news for retailers, but it also represents an increased risk for service failures. While long lines full of eager shoppers waiting to buy are the stuff retailing dreams are made of, they can be heartburn inducing for impatient consumers. Strong competition from e-commerce and m-commerce channels make it incredibly easy for frustrated shoppers to throw their hands up and abandon the hustle and bustle to shop from home.
Retailers that want to preserve brick and mortar customers this holiday season must be on point with appropriate service levels to keep those shoppers firmly in the physical channel, no matter how crazy the sales floor gets.
Drop the Anchor and Mobilize Employees
Mobile POS solutions provide retailers with new flexibility in managing the in-store checkout process, freeing up employees to close sales without being chained to cash wraps. Armed with tablets or other handheld devices running point-of-sale software, these employees become fully equipped checkout centers whether they position themselves alongside affixed POS terminals or roam freely about a sales floor.
But the functionality of mobile POS is not limited to sales; full integration gives these portable units visibility into product information and inventory levels. Hence, shoppers looking for items not readily available on shelves or seeking more in-depth information do not need to wait in long checkout lines at retail locations that provides mobile POS solutions to employees. Instead, they can ask any employee with a mobile POS device and get an immediate answer.
Fully integrated mobile POS units have the same functionality as fixed devices, so if the item a customer is looking for can be located in inventory, it can be retrieved and sold by a single employee. Similarly, the item can be held at another location that has stock available, put on special order, or any additional action that can be taken at a typical POS terminal. This prevents these time consuming activities from holding up checkout lines and frustrating customers who simply want to purchase what they have already selected.
Keep Customers Moving and Engaged
According to Retail Customer Experience, the average shopper will only tolerate four minutes of waiting in a checkout line before leaving a store. Mobile POS provides flexibility by instantly scaling up the number of available checkout stations without the investment of installing additional cash wraps. Imagine a retailer that has four cash wraps, but expects a 50% uptick in sales during the holiday season. By purchasing two tablets and hiring a few seasonal employees, the retailer can temporarily increase checkout capabilities without the capital investment and space requirements for adding cash wraps. Checkout capabilities are quickly increased, allowing improved service levels that keep customers from walking out.
Mobile POS solutions are completely free roaming and can be used alongside fixed terminals or from any location with a wireless connection. Retailers that operate mobile POS from varied locations reduce customer density at checkout areas, creating the perception of a less chaotic environment and putting shoppers at ease, inviting them to spend more time on the floor. As every retailer knows, more time spent in store equates to bigger opportunities for conversion.
Retailers that implement mobile POS solutions now will find themselves with a significant advantage over competitors. A report by Infogroup indicates that 26% of all retailers use some type of mobile POS solution; but that number is expected to triple by 2018. That means any retailer that fails to implement this strategy will find itself at a significant disadvantage in short order and be forced to reclaim eroded service levels. Cash wraps probably aren’t going anywhere in the near future, but supplementing them with mobile solutions is rapidly becoming the new normal and is the best weapon to keep eager holiday shoppers in the physical channel.
Ian Goldman, President and CEO of Celerant Technology, is an expert software engineer and entrepreneur with extensive knowledge of Point of Sale systems, CRM, and inventory management. He co-founded Celerant Technology in 1999 with the goal of offering the most efficient and scalable turnkey POS platform to retailers that simplifies operations by integrating all aspects of management into a singular solution.
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