POS check: Rising to the mobile challenge
By Chris Poelma, president and GM, NCR Silver
Mobile payment platforms debuted amidst tremendous buzz. Although the platforms launched successfully, most consumers continued to use traditional payment methods, pushing business owners to delay their mobile-first strategies to a later date.
However, business owners shouldn't get too comfortable – mobile payment use is still on the rise. And more importantly, mobile payments make up only one piece of the mobile puzzle. For retailers, there's a variety of elements to consider, from engaging customers on mobile devices to accepting payments on the go. Luckily, much of that can be handled right at the point of sale (POS), if it’s up for the mobile challenge.
Excel away from the counter
The first element of a truly mobile POS is a literal one: can a POS operate away from the counter? This allows remote operation, from taking the POS to various areas inside a store or restaurant to taking it on the road.
A transportable POS may seem like it's only necessary for mobile-centric business models, like food trucks. Yet many retailers, large and small, are taking advantage of the growing pop-up economy, predicted to have grown to $10 billion in sales. Pop-up stores provide an opportunity to visit new markets and reach a customer pool a business may otherwise be unable to reach.
Even if a store owner isn't interested in branching outside an existing physical location, a transportable POS can help in traditional ways, as well. For example, restaurant staff can accelerate table turns by taking the POS on the floor, saving valuable time otherwise spent returning to a stationary POS to process all transaction.
Get a grip on reporting
While it's important to have a POS that can operate remotely, retailers shouldn't have to sacrifice advanced reporting and management capabilities of a more traditional POS. Granted, smaller, independent retailers may not need any payroll or marketing capabilities. Here, a straightforward payments processor can do the trick. For those who do prefer to put their data to work, going mobile shouldn’t mean giving up metrics.
Savvy business owners are increasingly using data directly from the point of sale to better manage back-and-front-office operations. As an example, some POS systems provide in-depth employee management. Now, retailers can identify individual performance data, whether it's floor sales or table-service, allowing for smarter employee management.
From a back-office perspective, the POS also can deliver actionable data for inventory, customer trends and more. The result: a more efficiently run business. And a cloud-based mobile POS can help provide these information points, even when on the road.
Cater to the increasingly mobile customer
A mobile POS simplifies life for the operator, but also can improve the shopping experience for an increasingly mobile customer base. With 90 percent of customers admitting to using a smartphone while inside a brick-and-mortar store, retailers can extend their brands by amping up mobile efforts, directly from the POS.
One of the most effective ways to tailor the customer experience is offer a customer loyalty program. Eighty-three percent of consumers are more likely to continue shopping with a business if they offer a loyalty program.
But it's not only the customer that wins; loyalty programs give businesses a foot in the door to consumer's mobile devices. And as any clever business owner knows, that's a direct ticket to building better customer engagement.
Train the staff for mobile success
Ultimately, a conversation around a mobile POS must involve mobile payments. And while mobile payments don't make a quality mobile experience in themselves, they do play a major role in one.
Consider this: mobile e-commerce sales alone are predicted to reach $638 billion by 2018 – more than all of e-commerce accounted for in 2013. The mobile e-commerce world is growing, and payments will eventually follow.
It may seem as simple as accepting mobile payments, but the true challenge lies in training staff to properly manage a mobile payment transaction. Floor staff should be able to process a mobile transaction as easily as they do with credit or cash.
Employees play a valuable role in raising awareness, offering mobile payments as an alternative and explaining the added security benefits of leaning on the mobile wallet. And no minor benefit, credit card processing fees are expected to decrease over time for mobile wallet transactions, increasing retailers margin with every transaction.
With a mobile-savvy staff, retailers can stand confident in their mobile POS experience. As mentioned, it's about more than accepting mobile payments. A truly mobile POS accepts mobile payments and offering remote functionality, without sacrificing the reporting strength of a traditional POS. Toss in customer-facing mobility, such as a mobile loyalty program, and that's a POS that easily measures up in the mobile world.