Over the last 18 months, the industry has been abuzz with mobility. Mobility as a term has many meanings that can take the retailer in many different directions. Consumer mobile devices can be used to locate a retail store, compare product prices (showrooming), scan a QR Code, or be used to buy coffee. Consumer’s tablets are also used to surf the web and place online orders. There is also this whole mobile wallet discussion taking place. Mobility is revolutionizing how we shop. Mobility, through m-POS, can also speed up the checkout process and enhance our overall shopping experience.
Mobile POS or “m-POS,” the use of tablets or handhelds as a checkout device, does not guarantee these improvements. When used properly, mobile device technology can be used as a line buster and can allow a retailer to bring the point-of-sale transaction to the shopper at their point of purchase. With mobility, a retailer can increase shopper loyalty by providing a more convenient, more personalized, and more interactive transaction experience. Lastly, using a tablet or handheld device can reduce the cost of the point-of-sale solution.
Just because a point of sale uses a tablet, doesn’t mean the solution is mobile. If you’ve walked through the malls in the last several months, you’ve probably seen tablets bolted/mounted to cash drawers or countertops. Ultimately these POS solutions are not mobile–they are really thin client installations. In most cases, tablets are either connected to a store based PC or the cloud, which makes them thin. We need to think about using the term Thin-bility (thin client + mobility) as opposed to Mobile POS. Thin-bility becomes the ability for a handheld or tablet to be both a thin client and a mobile device simultaneously.
Now let’s unlock that same tablet and put it in the hands of the store associate to help customers as they shop in the store. By either completing the transaction or buying an out of stock item online, the solution now becomes truly mobile. Retailers should consider other areas in their store where associates can close a sale (dressing room areas, restaurant tables, or sitting areas). In a mobile POS environment, you have the ability to check out a customer anywhere. If that customer wants to pay with cash, the associate simply walks the customer to the cash drawer, and completes the transaction. Lastly, at the end of a shift or the day, the mobile solution allows the store manager to again unlock the tablet and run all of the audit and inventory reports.
Thin-bility will allow the store personnel to be more productive while helping the consumer enjoy the personal attention during their shopping experience. Customers are mobile, and new technology has brought new expectations. Retailers should adapt to where their customers are by creating a thin-bility environment. Take advantage of the new mobile technologies and give the associates more sufficient ways to close a sale.