By Justin Coward, managing director, mobile retail systems, VeriFone, ASPAC
Retailers are gearing up for the vital holiday season. And while we don’t know what the season holds from a sales perspective, there are some problems that hold true from year to year. Here we look at the challenges faced and how a mobile POS (mPOS), can help both manage costs and generate those vital extra sales to make this a successful selling season.
Problem #1: Bigger crowds mean more tills. More tills equals less counter space for product.
Each year stores sacrifice valuable retail space to install additional fixed tills to cope with the season’s demands. Often, seasonally hired store staff is dedicated to manning these tills irrespective of the actual number of customers in the store.
How mPOS Helps: A mobile POS offers all the functionality of a fixed POS and payment terminal with the additional benefit of the flexibility to complete sales anywhere in the store. Today’s advanced mPOS systems include a built in scanner, so that product pricing is immediately available at the device, including any current promotions, discounts or customer coupons. The result – increased selling space and a reduced cost for additional tills. With the addition of strategically placed islands for storing shopping bags and paper, store staff can quickly and easily get customers checked out and on their way without forcing them to wait in line.
Problem #2: Staff inflexibility
Most stores don’t have a reliable fortune teller on retainer, so trying to determine the proper staff-to-customer ratio is largely speculative and based on previous years’ sales for the same time period.
How mPos Helps: With today’s menu driving retail software for tablets, just about anyone can complete most transactions on an mPOS system without managerial assistance and without a lot of initial training.
If the crowd suddenly thickens or thins out, staff can quickly change from one role to another — restocking when customers are few, and picking up an mPOS and assisting with checkouts during peak traffic. The solution is also ideal for dealing with the post holiday queues that build up when ‘returns’ are being made. A mPOS easily integrates with back-end retailing solutions, making the system extremely cost effective.
Problem #3: The Customer Engagement Glass Ceiling
It is difficult to connect with a customer during the slow summer months and almost impossible during the busy holiday rush. But personalized attention is what customers are increasingly asking for and what they are increasingly spending more money as a result of.
How mPOS Helps: Modern shoppers have an empathy with technology. Tablet-based systems with customer relationship management (CRM) functionality create opportunities for a higher level of engagement with the customer. Lookbooks and product finders help customers narrow down what they are interested in while purchase histories allow staff to quickly pinpoint items that match customers’ personal preferences. All of this gives customers the feeling of a more satisfying and personalized experience even during the festive rush. And, when not in active use, advanced mPOS systems can display videos and advertisements, and at the touch of the screen switch to an interactive lookbook when a customer is ready to browse.
Problem #4: “Sorry, we appear to be out of that product.”
There are few things worse for a retailer than having a customer who has researched their purchase and is in your store ready to buy—and the item appears to be out of stock.
How mPOS Helps: A tablet retailing solution creates endless aisles for products not on display and can even track whether a product is in stock and just needs to be brought out from the back room. And if a product truly is out of stock, sales staff can quickly work to secure the purchase using a combination of stock lookup and the promise of fast delivery either to the store or the customer’s home.
The level of sophistication of today’s mobile tablets and devices is astonishing and they offer the same, if not better, capabilities over many of their older and larger predecessors. If you are considering purchasing an mPOS solution to either completely replace, or simply augment, your existing POS infrastructure, be sure that your purchase is what your business needs. And, know when you need to have the solution fully deployed, and keep this deadline in mind when evaluating mPOS solutions; implementation can take a matter of weeks or months — depending on the system.
Justin Coward is managing director, mobile retail systems, VeriFone, ASPAC.