Tech-savvy, empowered consumers have access to more information than ever before. With the simple tap of a smartphone or tablet, shoppers can instantly access a plethora of pricing and product information, empowering them to make the best decisions for their individual wants, needs and preferences.
Undoubtedly, consumers are now in the driver’s seat. To capture shopper attention and dollars, retailers must meet and even exceed their expectations by delivering relevant and compelling experiences, especially in the store.
There is definitely hope for small businesses. As many as 64% of small business owners believe the best way they can innovate and differentiate themselves is through their customer service strategy, according to the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor.
New solutions are emerging to help small businesses innovate, empowering them to not only keep pace but surpass their larger competitors, while ensuring amazing shopping experiences for new and loyal customers.
Specifically, mobile devices have been spotlighted as a game-changing technology to help improve customer service strategies and ramp up the checkout experience, all while keeping customer data secure. Mobile POS solutions, especially tablet-based systems, are jam-packed with the features and functionality to help small merchants improve the customer experience. These systems offer the tools and business intelligence a business owner needs to succeed, within reasonable financial limits for small merchants.
Following are three key benefits of mobile POS, confirming the reasons why small businesses owners should consider betting on cloud-based, tablet solutions:
- Access Advanced Business Intelligence: Whether they have one or 10 stores, business owners can reap several benefits from mobile POS solutions. For one, most solutions provide anytime, anywhere access to detailed business analytics. A powerful dashboard enables managers to delve into daily, monthly or annual sales results. Purchasing trends are just a finger swipe away, so managers — and even employees — can keep a constant pulse on the health of the business.
In essence, business intelligence can help take the guesswork out of decision-making processes. Sometimes, managers have limited visibility into product performance and customer demands. As a result, they are left betting on new products or offerings, and even end up spending too much money on excess inventory. With advanced business intelligence, managers can simply tap into their mobilized dashboards, analyze data, track patterns and make their final decisions. In the small business world, every dollar counts. Business intelligence empowers entrepreneurs with the data and insight they need to drive profits and secure long-term success.
Retailers are beginning to realize the organizational benefits of business intelligence solutions, with 45% of retail businesses investing in more powerful solutions, according to Aberdeen Group. Although large chains and big box retail giants already are embracing these types of business intelligence solutions, small businesses can now get on board with new cloud-based solutions that have dashboards built out-of-the box.
- Cloud-Based Solutions Help Simplify Business Processes: More small businesses are embracing cloud-based solutions in an effort to become more agile and have the ability to be more proactive regarding new trends. Consumer preferences and shopping behaviors are evolving at a rapid pace. Growing adoption of mobile devices, coupled with the always-on communication possible on social networks, are giving consumers instant access to products, prices and brands anywhere and at anytime.
Now, small businesses have the ability to track purchase behaviors and customer preferences in real time, and make the appropriate changes to their inventory assortment, services and even marketing campaigns.
Using a comprehensive tablet POS solution, delivered via a cloud-based portal, small business owners and employees can access inventory data, financial information, sales data, and customer profiles with an integrated back-office system. Being able to access this information gives business owners the ammunition they need to improve the customer experience, which will have a significant impact on bottom-line results.
Cloud-based solutions also give small business owners the opportunity to expand their mobile POS strategy with fewer headaches and less financial strain. Business owners can scale costs by starting slow, and increase the investment if the implementation proves successful. For example, if a small boutique tests mobile POS in one store, and then decides to roll it out to its other three stores, the cloud can facilitate that process while keeping spending in check.
- The Ability To Deliver A Coordinated Experience Across Locations: An increasing number of retailers are embracing mobility in stores, according to the 2013 Store Operations Survey from Retail TouchPoints. Nearly half (44.1%) of retailers are arming their associates with smartphones and tablets, up from 42% in 2012.
Enabling anywhere, anytime payment is one of the key benefits of using mobile devices in the store. Think of high-traffic holidays such as Black Friday, in which consumers are demanding quick and quality service. Mobile-toting associates can use tablets to browse through products while standing with customers, make recommendations based on individual tastes and preferences. They also can complete transactions using mobile devices when customers are ready to make a final decision.
While more than one third (36%) of retailers are tapping mobile POS to facilitate payment, other mobile business opportunities include offering instant access to product availability (71%) and product information (66%).
With the advent of the empowered consumer, who browses across multiple devices and in stores throughout the day, more retailers are realizing they must follow suit by giving managers and employees real-time access to product assortment across all locations. Most retailers today believe inventory visibility is a top priority for their business, according to Retail Systems Research, especially if they want to get the most value out of mobile POS. However, only 11% say product information is fully synchronized across all purchasing channels.
A unified mobile POS platform can provide merchants with this synchronization, enabling employees to track and access inventory data in real time. Doing so will help ensure the most relevant products are available on the floor at the right store location and right time. Store managers also have the ability to understand which products or services are most popular, and then revise their offerings based on consumer trends and demands.
Conclusion: The Business-Wide Impact Of Mobile POS
Several big-name retailers have capitalized on mobile technology to make the brick-and-mortar experience more enjoyable for their shoppers.
However, the powers of mobile POS are no longer confined to the big guys.
Businesses of all sizes and categories now have the opportunity to implement mobile POS in their stores. Whether a business owner wants to streamline operations, improve decision-making or simply enhance customer service, today’s mobile POS solutions are comprised of the tools, features and functionalities designed to help merchants boost sales and shopper engagement.
Evan Sohn is a veteran entrepreneur and visionary executive and expert in industries as far and wide as Wi-Fi and Instant Messaging data security, business intelligence, payments, customer relationship management (CRM), handheld development and mobile computing.
Sohn is currently the Senior Director of Sales for the North American Financial Service group at VeriFone, where he is responsible for launching VeriFone's new business in tablet software. From 2003 to 2006, he acted as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Omnipod, the service provider of secure enterprise instant messaging, which was acquired by MessageLabs in 2005 (and subsequently by Symantec in 2007). At Omnipod, Sohn implemented and managed the organization’s marketing and sales strategies, including product positioning, volume sales and enterprise sales.