Written by John Kenney, SVP, Business Development, Stella Nova Technologies, Inc. (www.sntinc.com)
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 08:32
The cash wrap is rapidly becoming an antiquated place for transactions. In the past, customers and retailers have experienced a single-channel touch point via the brick-and-mortar store. Today, this single-channel touch point has evolved into a complex and multi-channel experience — where customers interact via multiple, independent touch points that function through retailers in technical silos, including e-commerce, catalog, and brick-and-mortar. Building off the multi-channel approach, retailers are scrambling to deploy a high-function, high-touch cross-channel approach where customers interact with multiple touch points across one brand, and where retailers have one single view of the customer as they still operate out of technical silos. But the future, and what some are calling the “nirvana” of retail, will be the era of the omni-channel. Omni-channel entails customers enjoying a seamless brand experience independent of channel, as opposed to channels within brands, and retailers using strategic ways to leverage their single view of customers. Mobility, and especially mobile point of sale (POS), is the epicenter of omni-channel, connecting retailers and their customers.
Retailers must ask themselves two questions in order to empower today’s large percentage of tech-savvy customers as well as enhance the customer experience and enable store associates. The first is: How will new and emerging mobile technologies affect customers? The second: How will retailers be able to support these initiatives?
Mobile POS is a key enabler of omni-channel functionality. Mobile POS allows customers to conveniently research options, search for deals and check out without going to a central POS. It also empowers retail associates to assist the customer while he or she is considering a purchase. Associates can assist the customer in researching options and can easily check inventory and shipping options to instantly provide the customer with information. Customers increasingly expect this level of in-store service, and those retailers that do not provide it will be outdated sooner than later. Customers appreciate the ease of use and instant information provided by mobile POS. These aspects of mobile POS demonstrate the retailer’s commitment to customer satisfaction.
Mobile POS must be seamlessly integrated for a positive customer experience. This is also important to remain competitive in the market. Retailers that ignore or wait for the mobile POS movement will be left behind as customer demands and market trends drive competitors to move ahead with deployments. Mobile POS is also less expensive than traditional registers and a huge money-saving option for retailers considering upgrading or replacing a traditional register system. In addition to that, mobile POS easily scales with increased business or a busy season and is easily upgradeable. This scalability is a great option for holiday or seasonal pop-ups. Pop-up stores can also benefit the customer with easy accessibility and quick checkout. On the retail side, integration of information is made simple with mobile POS, ensuring quick information and assistance for time-crunched customers.
Keeping the customer in mind with every decision made is important as retailers move forward with mobile POS and omni-channel. Customer expectations are higher than ever, and the current economy demands that retailers listen to the customer. We suggest an associate-facing device for every customer device in-store. Associate-facing devices empower retail associates in researching options for customers and, as mentioned above, increase the knowledge of associates for better customer interactions.
Smooth mobile applications, customer awareness, efficient and trained staff, and a myriad of other considerations are essential to a successful omni-channel and mobile POS deployment. The most important factors to success in mobile POS and the future of omni-channel are: a proper seamless integration for a consistent positive customer experience, and moving ahead and deploying your program.
John Kenney, SVP, Business Development, Stella Nova Technologies, Inc. has more than 20 years of retail and retail IT experience. Kenney has experience directing POS and returns capability for a Fortune 50 retailer, directing POS and store system outsourcing and offshoring initiatives, and managing global IT delivery teams. He has worked with companies such as Best Buy and Accenture. His additional skills and experience include POS consulting and advisory, and sales development with retail business intelligence and analytics. Kenney holds a degree in Computer Information Systems from the University of Wisconsin.