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Tech Guest Viewpoint: Mobility Matters in the Material World


There’s no time like face time. Whether closing a multi-million dollar business deal or selling discount apparel, nothing moves the needle like human engagement. And although modern POS solutions have been revolutionary in integrating inventory, customer data, omnichannel sales, and a slew of other retail success factors, large cash-wraps have driven a physical wedge between merchant and customer.

Cash-wraps also often serve as a source of frustration for customers: the dreaded checkout line. During peak holiday shopping periods, the tension in these lines is palpable. Everybody knows the irritation of having to wait in a long line to check out after they have selected merchandise.

And what happens to customers that need assistance beyond simple transactions? The stress this puts on both customers and employees can be maddening and erode loyalty.

Arming team members with tablets that are fully functional POS terminals can reduce the lines customers hate so much and enhance their experiences by improving engagement; and your retail management platform may easily support this. The mobile POS revolution is here, and retailers large and small are reaping the rewards.

The power of presence: Employees on the sales floor

Getting employees out from behind cash-wraps gives them the ability to multitask. Walking the sales floor with a mobile POS tablet, these employees have access to all the same information as their colleagues at traditional checkouts with the added benefit of closer engagement with shoppers.

For example, if a customer needs assistance locating an item in a correct size, an employee can use a tablet on the floor to determine if the item is available in inventory. If it is, she can walk the customer to the correct location or retrieve it from the stockroom and then complete the transaction right there without requiring the customer to wait in line. If the item is not available, the employee can determine which location has the item in stock, or even complete a Web order -- all from her tablet, in a single engagement.

The psychological impact of direct communication without the physical barriers of furniture, screens, or other checkout supplies between employee and customer also makes the entire experience feel more personal.

Bolstered capacity for minimal capital expenditure

Most stores are optimized to handle a typical amount of traffic, with peak times stretching infrastructure to the limit and slow times leaving some unused. That’s by design, because it’s difficult to justify purchasing excess cash-wraps that require significant financial investment and consume valuable real estate when they are only needed a small percentage of that time. Most retailers can easily come up with a thousand better uses for that money and square footage.

Those peak times, however, can cost plenty when lack of appropriate infrastructure affects service levels. Mobile POS solutions allow retailers to add temporary checkout capacity without requiring large investments in equipment or floor space. For the cost of a few tablets, most retailers can double or even triple checkout capacity when it is most needed. The ease of scaling up and down capacity provides the freedom to react to demand dynamically instead of relying on inaccurate forecasts.

The end result is quicker service and shorter lines, which improves goodwill among customers and store staff.

Harness the power of the pop-up

There are a variety of reasons why setting up shop outside the traditional four walls of a store make sense. Perhaps a special event popular with a target market that are heavy consumers of specific merchandise is happening and there is an opportunity to set-up a temporary remote location to serve them. Some retailers also exist in spaces that are highly seasonal. Pop-up stores are also popular during holiday seasons like Halloween for costumes and decor, the Fourth of July for fireworks, and the winter holidays for toys.

The biggest hurdle to pop-up stores has traditionally revolved around logistics. Running credit cards in temporary spaces and managing inventory proved difficult. Tablets running mobile POS solutions can connect to integrated retail management platforms on standard internet connections, which brings all functionality including inventory reporting and transactional capabilities to a simple device. This mobility is freeing retailers to explore beyond permanent stores and the internet to find the best sales opportunities.

Consumers are flocking to their mobile devices to make m-commerce the fastest growing channel in retail. But that’s really only one half of the mobility coin; the other falls on the side of retailers, who are realizing the value of expanding their capabilities to enhance engagement with customers in the physical world. Mobile POS solutions bring the expertise and utility of sales staff directly to customers, improving the shopping experience.

Ian Goldman, is president and CEO of Celerant Technology.

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