TechBytes: POS trends
As retailers continue to combine online and offline elements of the shopping experience, point-of-sale systems are helping to bridge the gap at the store level. To support this transition and drive a more frictionless commerce experience, POS functionality is taking a new turn.
Here are four POS trends that can help transform the store experience:
Expanding mobility options: Mobility is a must in the road to frictionless commerce and more configurations are becoming available. Mobile POS, which enables associates to tender orders from anywhere on the sales floor, continues to gain traction due to its expanded flexibility, increased functionality, device simplicity and its lower cost of entry.
And look for more retailers to let customers skip the checkout line entirely via mobile checkout. Macy’s is ramping up its mobile checkout option, with plans to launch it in all full-line stores by year-end.
Customers can use the Macy’s app to browse and purchase merchandise and apply relevant offers and rewards. They can then pay through the app with a pre-registered credit card.
Before leaving the store, customers visit a dedicated mobile checkout counter where associates verify the purchase, remove security tags and bag their items.
Cloud-based POS solutions: Retailers are turning to cloud-based solutions for more than product scanning. Cloud solutions give cashiers access to online and store inventory levels, updates on BOPIS orders — as well as the ability to create ship-from-store orders — and order merchandise from online channels or other stores.
Nordstrom runs its POS in the cloud. Besides enabling associates to assist customers more quickly, cloud solutions provide access to rich product and inventory information and allow users to quickly locate and order the right products across the supply network on any device. Cloud software also connects commerce platforms with back-office systems and analyzes data.
The need for speed is increasing: No one wants to wait in a long checkout line — especially today’s on-demand shopper. Modernized POS functionality that streamlines access to pricing and payment systems can speed up what can otherwise be a cumbersome checkout process.
“Understanding the customer experience you are trying to achieve defines the technology needed to speed up the experience,” said Greg Buzek, founder and president of IHL Group.
There are things you can do to shave off steps, and ultimately, time at the POS, advised Steve Rowen, managing partner of Retail Systems Research.
“It comes down to thinking the way your specific shopper does while checking out,” Rowen added. “Taking some of the sting out of what makes that process unpleasant is where all of our heads should be right now.”
The emergence of unified commerce strategies: Delivering a true omnichannel experience requires leveraging customer data and driving personalized customer service across all digital touchpoints — and POS must be part of the mix.
“POS must leverage all customer data that a chain has, as well as all inventory and product knowledge,” Buzek said. “If you do not have a single view of your customer and inventory data across channels, then you are only operating your POS at 50% to 75% of its usefulness.”
Modell’s Sporting Goods is one of the latest retailers to invest in unified commerce. The chain has transformed its historically proprietary and closed POS solutions into a single open architecture that enables a seamless experience across channels. Using a scalable architecture and data model, Modell’s stores can now combine its front-end experience within its web and mobile channels.
Joann collects customer feedback—in real time
A fabric and craft retail giant has a new tool that is helping it improve the customer experience across all channels.
Joann has deployed a solution that provides a real-time view into actual customer feedback across its 870 stores, e-commerce site and mobile app. By implementing the new tool, the retailer can now collect holistic, actionable customer feedback in real-time.
The solution, the Medallia Experience Cloud, supplements Joann’s existing analytics and CRM systems. It captures feedback across all channels and centralizes data from customers across all stores, online and the call center. The technology processes one customer comment every minute, giving associates the information they need to take action, and improve the customer experience.
Early results already show high engagement from Joann customers, with an initial 50% open rate and 20% survey response rates for solicited feedback. Team members are able to consistently monitor their stores’ comments, and an average 75% of actionable incidents are closed within 72 hours.
The company is continuing to explore rolling out the platform across other channels, including its buy online, pickup in-store and education programs, according to the retailer.
“Although we’ve served the craft industry for 75 years, we are constantly learning from our customers and looking for new ways to improve their experience,” said Steve Miller, senior VP, marketing & e-commerce at Joann. “To align and engage our tens of thousands of team members across the nation, we needed Medallia’s powerful platform that offered a holistic view of the customer experience, as well as the ability to easily see, drill down and take action on specific incidents.”
Miller noted that Joann recently launched a new concept store, which features new experiential offerings, merchandising and custom services, “and getting clear feedback on those changes will help determine how we move forward.”
The store, which opened in June in Columbus, Ohio, combines technology, dedicated community and learning spaces and new custom services.
Online furniture retailer debuts ‘mixed reality’
Wayfair is offering a new kind of immersive shopping experience.
Through a partnership with Magic Leap, the online furniture retailer is launching a mixed-reality (MR) commerce experience. Using what the company describes as the first-ever spatial computing web browser, called Helio, Wayfair is creating a new visual environment that integrates physical and digital objects in real-time.
The technology will be a featured bookmark within the Magic Leap One, Creator Edition computing platform. Shoppers can also access the Wayfair MR experience by visiting next.wayfair.com in the Helio browser. As customers launch Helio, they can place the browser anywhere in their space, and then launch Wayfair’s MR experience. Shoppers can interact with and view true-to-scale products, then pull items into their physical space. Merchandise can be moved and rotated, to see how products fit into their living space.
“We are setting a new precedent for a truly immersive shopping experience leveraging the power of mixed reality and the ease of Web,” said Steve Conine, co-founder and co-chairman, Wayfair. “Together with the MR experts at Magic Leap, Wayfair has developed a completely new way to shop for home with a spatial browsing experience that will shape the next evolution of retail.”