New retail workflows are enabled today with new mobile technology. Mobile workflows such as assisted selling, queue-busting and mobile POS deliver a better and more personal experience. Tablets and smaller form factor devices are hosting the software, and wirelessly-accessible peripherals are available for taking payment and printing receipts.
Wireless accessories are now evolving, in some cases, delivering intelligent capabilities that enhance mobile workflows, not just enabling them. These new devices are Mobile-Aware.
Mobile-Aware Accessories Enhance Mobile Workflows
Accessories in retail have been available in 1 or 2 categories: cabled or wirelessly accessible. The later simply replaces the physical cable with a wireless connection, enabling easy access from a tablet. Thus a mobile device can connect with a separate device to send a receipt print job, or to run a cash drawer or a credit card reader, sans cables. These are clearly valuable functions which are being used more and more in retail.
There are some select devices that go beyond simply removing cables. They have seen the new workflows that mobility is enabling and they are extending these workflows in new and smarter ways.
Mobile-Aware Cash Drawers
Cash transactions are still relevant in retail, many consumers prefer to pay with cash. Just about every retailer still takes cash, even the Apple stores. The challenge is how to manage cash transactions in a MPOS environment.
One common method is to send cash customers to a standard counter-bound cash wrap. One problem with this approach is the disruption this can cause, since the method of payment is usually not revealed until the end. To address this, some cash drawers have wireless access so that a POS software command from the mobile device can open the drawer. In an assisted selling workflow or a line-busting workflow, a sales associate can access strategically placed Mobile-Aware cash drawers and trigger them without a physical cable connection to the mobile device. This eliminates having to send a customer to a cash wrap to wait in line and to restart the transaction process.
This is where the next level of capability comes in, being Mobile-Aware. In the case of cash drawers, retailers certainly do not want cash drawers to open if the mobile sales associate is not close to the drawer. APG’s NetPRO® enabled Cash Drawers are Mobile-Aware. Store associates use proximity claiming which ensures that the drawer cannot be opened unless a sales associate is in front of the drawer. When the transaction proceeds to tender, the sales associate uses a Tablet to scan a barcode and ‘claim’ the cash drawer. The POS software running on the tablet then checks if this barcode is valid, and if so, it issues the command to open the drawer.
From this capability, many other advantages follow. For example, the retail software can record which associate opened the drawer, and timestamp the data. Some drawers could be assigned per associate so that end-of-day reconciliation can be tracked to the person. NetPRO® enabled drawers can email customer receipts, eliminating the need for POS printers all together. The NetPRO® cash drawer also stores events, which can aid the retailer in managing exceptions. Another retail software feature is that a store-mounted security camera aimed at the cash drawer can capture the scene at the exact moment when the drawer is opened. The NetPRO® enabled drawer will broadcast events, which can be used to trigger other alerts and actions. POS Software or Physical Security software can leverage the benefits of this cash drawer.
New Mobile Workflows, Better Mobile Workflows
Once tablets can access cash drawers, credit card readers and receipt printers wirelessly, they no longer need to be clustered only at cash-wrap. Cash drawers can be positioned at a few places in the store, often unobtrusively under a counter. Associates can safely and with accountability open the closest drawer when it is needed. Consumers will be impressed at the convenience and ease with which their shopping needs are met.
Similarly, receipt printers can be placed strategically about the store. If a customer requests a printed receipt, the associate can use the closest printer, which can be placed conveniently but discreetly located.
Overall, the process is more natural and more personal. Consumers can be assisted when and where they find interesting merchandise. The associate can bring relevant information to the consumer immediately and as part of the one-on-one relationship. At the time of payment, this relationship does not have to be broken by sending the consumer to a cash-wrap. Instead, payment can be taken in any form at a place nearby and convenient improving the shopping experience overall.
Mobile Point of Sale Architect
About the Author: Bob Ashenbrenner has over 25 years of computer engineering and engineering management experience. Today, Bob is Motion’s expert in Retail Point of Sale and payment terminal technologies. In this role, Bob has led the development of a suite of products, services and software that support retail, with an emphasis on fitting within a retailer’s chosen environment. Before Motion, Bob was Director of Engineering for Dell’s notebook PC product lines, including starting the Inspiron product line. Prior to that, Bob ran Dell’s Dimension PC Development Group; that resulted in a product leadership position where Dimension products won over 75% of all magazine reviews entered. Bob also led the setup of Dell’s first China-developed and manufactured desktop PCs.