The point of sale is the engine room of every store, where the transactional business of retail takes place. It’s also often the only point at which there is any direct engagement with the shopper. The point of sale is traditionally a fixed counter, with the onus on the shopper to make their way to where the store wants them to transact. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In this article, we explore how mobile POS ‘untethers’ the point of sale, allowing it to go out into the store, and even beyond the four walls.
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The traditional point of sale counter is a fixed desk within the store, complete with point of sale terminal* running the pos retail software, cash drawer, scanner, payment terminal and receipt printer. Mobile POS, on the other hand consists of a lightweight and portable device – which could be a tablet, a mobile computer or even a smartphone – which runs the same POS retail software as its larger, counter-based cousins.
The mobile POS device will usually incorporate a built in scanner and a contactless payment card reader. It may also be used with a mobile receipt printer – however, with a growing number of customers preferring to receive digital receipts (42%**, compared with 34% who prefer paper), many retailers now implement mobile POS without feeling the need to offer a printed receipt option.
Mobile POS is not new technology, but with the growing focus on customer experience, its presence has become ever-more prevalent, and the market is still growing apace. The value of transactions on mobile POS is forecast to reach US3.3 trillion in 2023+, and to grow at 14% to $5.58 trillion by 2027.
The reason for the continuing surge in mobile POS is its ability to transform the retail store in a range of ways:
In-aisle customer engagement
The AI customer service bot can provide the information the customer needs before they purchase – and which helps to drive and increase sales. This includes:
- Save the sale – with the traditional point of sale, where the customer only engages once they have selected their goods, the store has no opportunity to save abandoned sales – in fact they won’t even know that the customer had intended to buy but left without a purchase. By engaging with the customer at the point of decision, the associate can save sales that would otherwise have been lost, by, for example, showing the customer that the goods they want are in another store, and ordering them on the spot
- Cross sell up sell – by being at the customer’s side in the aisle, the associate can provide advice on complementary products, or more profitable alternatives.
- Queue busting – long lines are one of the biggest bugbears for shoppers – 86% have left a store without purchasing because of queues, and 70% are less likely to return to a store where they have experienced long wait time. Armed with mobile POS, associates can assist shoppers to checkout in the aisle, busting queue times and raising customer satisfaction.
Transform the store layout
- Reduce fixed checkouts – for retailers to make the most of their floorspace, mobile POS can be the way to reduce the number of traditional checkouts and use the freed up space for additional merchandising.
- Flexibility – the number of checkouts a store needs may increase – say in holiday season, or during sales. Mobile POS can quickly increase the point of sale stations in the store, just when they are needed.
Move outside the four walls
- Curbside pickup – Mobile POS enables retailers to give online shoppers the omnichannel option of picking up their goods without even coming into the store, by setting up a collection station in the car park.
- Pop up stores – pop up stores are used to build brand awareness, to rapidly set up a presence in a new area, sell at an event, to test the market, to launch a new product, or to have a concession inside another store. The pop up is designed for rapid set up, and mobile POS provides the full-function technology the store needs, but in a rapid timescale and requiring minimum or no counter space.
Mobile POS has a wide range of uses – leading to greater customer engagement, staff getting to do more of what they enjoy, and increased sales and revenue.
What functions does a mobile POS have?
A mobile POS can have the same functionality as the counter point of sale, or more. It can check customers out, taking their payment and sending a receipt. It can allow customers to use their loyalty points, just as at the fixed POS. It can be connected to the inventory system, so that the associate can see what stock is in the warehouse or other stores, and even order the customer’s goods for later collection or online delivery.
Why do customers like mobile POS?
Mobile POS changes the dynamic between the customer and the store. With fixed POS, the customer has to go to where the retailer decides they will complete their transaction. With mobile POS, the checkout goes to the customer, putting them in charge. It also allows more flexible omnichannel shopping options, such as curbside pickup. Finally, they love being able to get great advice and guidance from store staff with all the answers literally at their fingertips.