Within 5 years, customers will expect all companies to know their individual needs and personalise their experience.

That’s the forecast in a recent Customers 2020 report, which also predicts that customer experience will overtake price and product as the number 1 brand differentiator.

In fact, 5 years is probably a lenient estimate – already we’re seeing new levels of personalisation being demanded online, and this is beginning to influence bricks and mortar shopping.

Shoppers are no longer content to stand in long queues to be served, or fumble around in their bags for loose change if they can’t pay by card; they don’t want to hunt around for a dimly lit customer service desk in the corner of a store; and they certainly won’t tolerate a member of staff who doesn’t have all the answers to their questions at their fingertips.

The question is, how are retailers living up to these expectations?

Variably, is the answer – and technology is to blame for many of these shortcomings.

In truth, the majority of retailers are trying to use old tools to meet new standards, and often consumers can answer their own questions before store associates, simply by getting out their mobile phone.

Smartphones and tablets have liberated consumer behaviour across channels, yet the retail sector has found itself on the back foot when it comes to building mobile experiences – even though the technology to innovate customer experiences exists.

Mobile Point of Sale, powered by the cloud, has the ability to effect an entire transaction away from the cash desk, freeing retailers to build encounters around their customers’ needs.

More than that, it can easily integrate added value functions such as inventory data and order management, loyalty schemes and digital coupons, to become a complete customer service solution from a single device. It’s less of a mobile Point of Sale, more of a mobile Point of Service.

And by taking information away from servers into the Cloud, retailers aren’t reliant on technology updates to bring new functionality to their operations – meaning they can flexibly innovate as customer experience standards inevitably rise over the next 5 years. The data remains in the cloud, all they need to do is integrate it with the Point of Sale device they’re using.

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