Picture this: your customer walks into your store and walks out with merchandise without ever talking to you or a store clerk. No, he’s not stealing from you. He paid full price for all of his items and he was happy to. This is the future of point-of-sale software and it’s amazing. Some stores, like Apple and J.C. Penny, are embracing this new technology. Will you?
Mobile POS systems aren’t just for hot dog stands. In fact, many large companies are seriously considering making a switch away from more traditional terminals to advanced software-drive POS systems. These systems typically use custom iPad software for POS terminals, but they don’t have to.
Obviously, the most famous company using this technology is Apple itself. Ever walk into an Apple retail store? You’ll be greeted by one of employees holding what looks like either an iPad or iPod Touch. These are modified units designed for selling products and services.
When you pick up something in the store that you want to purchase, you hand it to an employee and they scan the product. They take your payment information, and they offer to send you an email receipt. Check out the http://www.shopify.com/pos/small-business link to see how this works.
What’s amazing is that you never actually stand in line or wait for a “sales clerk” to ring you out. Some stores even let you scan items with your phone or tablet and then pay using your Apple ID (iTunes account). If you have a credit card on file with Apple, you can buy anything in the store. It’s almost too easy to get into serious trouble in there.
But, Apple’s not the only store doing this. Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters have jumped on the bandwagon too. Companies that switch over to this kind of system also benefit from real-time inventory and product catalog updates as these systems integrate with a company’s back end processing and fulfillment systems. In other words, stores will be able to keep hot items in stock, while decreasing inventory of unpopular items. They will be able to better spot sales trends and serve customers’ seasonal demands.
What these mobile POS systems do is unify the web and brick and mortar stores. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce is in an upward trend right now. These systems blur the line between e-commerce and traditional retail shopping.
Because they sync with a company’s inventory and product catalog, companies can get real-time updates about product availability, track sales in real time, and provide a sort of web-to-reality experience for consumers – allowing customers to buy virtual inventory that can be shipped to their door or buy product from across town or even from around the world.
This is a huge improvement over traditional POS systems that are not capable of this kind of connectivity. It’s also a competitive alternative to straight-up e-commerce companies that are smashing retail stores due to their incredibly delicious offer of no lines, free shipping, and discounted pricing.
Indeed, this is a perfect example of what’s old is new again. If brick-and-mortar stores adopt mobile POS systems, they will further blur the lines between online shopping and traditional in-store shopping. Combined with 3D, on-demand, printing, you may even see the retail store of the future completely replace online stores as consumers walk in to speak with a professional, and walk out with a custom product made right there in front of their eyes.
There are many benefits of switching to a system like this, but perhaps one of the best reasons is that it enhances the user experience. Suddenly, distributed virtual self-service kiosks are a viable solution. Customers get the benefit of immediate gratification (they get the product right away) without the drawback of having to wait in long lines.
For example, if you could walk into a store, scan a product with your smartphone, and then pay for it right then and there using a credit card that you had stored on your phone, you would eliminate the need for an actual checkout.
Stores could take the idea of a virtual shopping cart and push it back into the real world. Customers scan items and add them to their real cart and continue shopping until they leave the store. At that point, the system automatically charges their credit card on file. An advanced security system notifies store personnel when a customer tries to leave without paying. Shoplifting incidences are reduced, congestion during holiday seasons is all but eliminates, and the store increases revenue through faster customer turnover. Everyone wins.
Aaron Crew is an entrepreneur with a knack for technology. With a handful of successful small businesses to his name, he enjoys blogging about innovative tech and effective businesses practices for the modern market.