By Gregg Brunnick, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s an exciting time to be in retail technology. Change is happening at lightening speed, and there’s an overwhelming consensus that the consumer sits squarely in the driver’s seat. Never before have we seen consumer behavior dictate IT decisions like we will in 2013 and beyond. There’s an incredible evolution taking hold, and only the most innovative POS technology companies will adapt and thrive.
Smartphones represent half of all cellphones in the U.S., and shoppers are getting savvier with them. Using Smartphones to comparison shop, and make purchases online while in the store, is becoming commonplace. There is also an increased consumer demand for store associates to be armed with devices that enhance the shopping experience by providing immediate access to information such as inventory availability, and enabling faster checkout anywhere in the store. As a result, retailers are looking for POS technologies that allow them to meet today’s more demanding consumer expectations.
More than ever before retailers are investing in technologies that cater to the shopper, wherever, whenever and however they shop. However, retailers face many challenges in delivering on the promise of this new customer-centric model. In many cases, stores and e-commerce sites operate and function in silos, making it difficult to deliver a consistent brand experience and offering no shared visibility into things like inventory, fulfillment, loyalty programs and returns. Adding functionality to inflexible, fixed checkout POS systems can be time consuming and costly. Today’s POS technologies must offer more mobility, better connectivity and greater functionality.
Next-generation POS technologies give retailers access to real-time data and allow them to make decisions that have the greatest impact on the bottom line. Gaining access to information at the transaction level and utilizing cloud-based applications to parse the information and deliver real-time analytics is an exciting new concept. Investing in predictive analytics that create actionable behavior and real-time results can transform stores.
Hardware technologies like smart printers are a prime example of making a commoditized product new and increasingly relevant again. A simple POS receipt printer is now a powerful source for delivering information and personalization at the point-of-service. These devices provide a gateway to cloud applications, enabling transactional data to be parsed and analyzed to provide personalized offers, coupons, loyalty program data, and other revenue-driving content.
Smart printers can also include computing power and memory to drive new, flexible POS configurations in the store, enabling web-based printing, mobile POS checkout, and connectivity to drive a range of peripheral devices without a PC or POS terminal. As such, they provide the ability to support hybrid POS systems comprised of fixed and mobile POS, while driving in-store kiosk displays, web POS, thin client and a host of other applications. Since smart printers are POS-agnostic, retailers can protect legacy investments while adding functionality to virtually any system without changes to their POS application.
Today’s retailers face growing threats from online and mobile shopping, many times within their own store walls. The key advantage brick-and-mortar stores have over e-commerce and showrooming is the ability to provide exceptional, personalized and unique shopping experiences. With the newest smart POS technologies, retailers can exceed customer expectations by offering engaging, relevant, in-store shopping experiences, while at the same time improving the bottom line.
Gregg Brunnick is director of marketing, business systems division, Epson America, which offers next-generation POS technology with intelligent printing and mobility solutions that meet the demand for mobile, smart and connected stores, restaurants, financial institutions, hospitals and more (pos.epson.com). He can be reached at email@example.com.