Mobile Applications Move Retail POS Out of the Back Office
As a retailer, being chained to your back-office computer terminal can be tough. Imagine trying to keep track of inventory, receiving, and warehouse functions behind the scenes, while simultaneously watching over sales and operational processes in the front of the store. Being in two places (or more) at the same time isn’t easy, and can leave retail store managers and owners feeling a step behind in the day-to-day operation of their stores.
(Screenshot courtesy of Celerant.)
But with the recent proliferation of mobile devices, including tablets and smart phones, point-of-sale developers and retail users are asking a similar question. What if you could oversee all of these important back-office functions using mobile devices?
And it turns out that POS software and Web developers are listening. Companies like Celerant and Net Suite are rolling out point-of-sale systems that operate via web browser or in “the cloud,” and offer compatibility with a variety of mobile devices.
Some worry that mission critical POS applications shouldn’t move away from traditional hard wired setups, because of concerns about data safety and overall system reliability surface. While no system is likely to operate perfectly one-hundred percent of the time, businesses are used to building redundancies in their operations. And it’s no different for browser-based applications.
Most mobile POS systems would employ a baseline hard-wired Internet connection as the default option. If for some reason that connection failed, the fall back would be a wireless Internet connection. And the system would be set up with a 30-second rollover to the wireless backup. So if the hardwire cable goes out, there’s a minimal delay that would go unnoticed.
Another concern businesses may have is limiting application development to a single device platform. Owners fear choosing the wrong path could be risky, especially if the platform lacks longevity. Fortunately, this problem has been largely alleviated by deploying so-called “device-agnostic” applications. That means the mobile POS application will function on iOS, Android, Blackberry, and any other mobile platform.
An example is Celerant’s mobile POS retail operations applications which have been developed using a cross-browser Java script that lends itself to interface with mobile devices. This approach allows seamless integration with traditional POS systems while limiting the cost of proprietary hardware. Lower cost, multi-purpose tablet devices, enabling multiple applications – from mobile POS to inventory – offer plenty of flexibility.
The next time you see a retail manager with a tablet or smart phone in her hands, you may wonder whether she’s riding the wave of mobile apps and finding a way to save time and better serve the customer by moving out of the back office and onto the sales floor.
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