Best-in-class retailers are recognizing the front- and back-end benefits of implementing mobile technology. From improving inventory and supply chain management efficiencies to maximizing the in-store customer experience, tablets and smartphones offer merchants an influx of information and resources. As a result, more retailers are testing and implementing mobile POS and point of payment (POP) solutions, according to a recent study from Motorola Solutions.
Currently, 23% of retailers have mobile POS or POP solutions deployed, according to the Motorola “Mobile POS Study.” However, results point to more rigorous pilots of smartphone and tablet solutions (11.3% of respondents), and retailers’ plans to begin testing within the next six to 12 months (13.5% and 11.7%, respectively).
To glean insight on current mobile investments, plans and concerns of implementing mobilized tools and technologies, Motorola fielded a web-based survey of retail executives from Q4 2011 through Q1 2012. Executives from hospitality and field service organizations also participated.
Although 74.8% of retailers said they currently use desktop computers for customer facing applications, overall investment in these devices will drop to 53.9% in the next year. This dramatic shift in usage is due largely to the growing prevalence of mobile devices in enterprise environments, and to retailers wanting to create an interactive, cross-channel environment in brick-and-mortar locations, according to Scott Drobner, Director of Business and Market Intelligence for Motorola Solutions.
“More savvy retailers are looking at mobile POS in a holistic way to reach consumers in the store effectively,” Drobner told Retail TouchPoints. “Shoppers are looking for technology to simplify and enhance the customer experience. A lot of the solutions we’re seeing in the mobile commerce and payment space are really focused on improving that experience.”
As reported by Motorola’s “Mobile POS Study,” future mobile technology implementations versus current investment rates are as follows:
· Smartphones (49.6% vs. 46.5%);
· Tablet computers (51.3% vs. 26.5%); and
· Rugged hand-held computers and other mobile devices, not including smartphones and tablets (42.2% vs. 26.5%)
There also is increased interest in “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) strategies, in which consumers utilize their own smartphones and tablets to access corporate applications in stores. Among retail respondents, only 16.5% said they would be extremely likely to use this strategy, while 36.5% and 28.3% said it was “somewhat likely” and “neither likely or unlikely,” respectively.
Although many retailers are focusing on achieving seamless cross-channel integration and implementing business intelligence solutions, more organizations are leveraging mobile to empower both customers and store associates, according to Drobner.
“A big piece missing in the current state of mobile POS is how much retailers are integrating these mobile solutions with existing strategies,” Drobner said. “Our previous consumer research indicated that shoppers are looking for an enhanced brand experience. But they also want retailers and store associates to guide that experience.”
Among retailers currently using or planning to use mobile POS solutions, most are deploying smartphones and tablets to complete coverage on the floor (31.3%), aid in line-busting (23.5%) and provide mobile device-based loyalty programs (18.7%).
“A lot of retailers are beginning to see mobile as a key driver for their businesses,” Drobner reported. “More merchants are focusing on mobile task management, while others are utilizing mobile POS as a way to drive cross-sells and upsells, which also is a tremendous benefit of implementation.”
Other tactical goals and benefits of mobile POS solutions cited in the study included:
· Better customer service (71.3%);
· Special ordering capabilities for out-of-stock items (27.0%);
· Custom orders or assisted shopping (26.1%); and
· Line busting (23.5%).
With the benefits of utilizing mobile tools in-store becoming more tangible, retailers will continue to invest more in reliable strategies for customer engagement and satisfaction.
“Traditionally, retailers have not been technology leaders,” Drobner said. “However, merchants are beginning to look at themselves as innovators rather than laggards, and in turn are focusing more on investments that will increase top-line growth and customer satisfaction. In fact, retailers today are spending more on IT than any other industry, which reaffirms the growing importance of implementing new technologies and strategies in today’s retail environment.”