By George Pepes, Retail Vertical Solutions Lead, Zebra Technologies
Today’s omnichannel shoppers have little tolerance for friction in their shopping experiences.In response, we’ve seen continual evolution in the retail industry. A growing number of online to offline (O2O) concept stores are popping up, and retailers are offering order online, pickup in store services– creating differentiated values to better position themselves with the multiple benefits of omnichannel retail.
For brick-and-mortar stores, a long checkout line or lack of flexibility in processing payment is a pain point that retailers should eliminate to “save the sale.” To gather further insights on this, we turned to shoppers, retail associates, and retail decision makers in our recently released 11th annual Global Shopper Study, where we found clear evidence of the importance of equipping stores with mobile tools and devices.
In Asia Pacific, we found that 62 percent of retail associates view their employer more positively if provided with a mobile device for work-related activities and that nearly half (49 percent) say that mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices help them do their job better.
Customers agree. According to another retail-focused study, the 2018 Zebra Shopper Study, 60 percent of surveyed shoppers believe store associates who use mobile devices for customer assistance improve their shopping experience. More specifically, 58 percent agree that store associates using mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices will improve their shopping experience.
Reducing friction by getting more mobile
Indeed, mPOS devices look to be key in helping improve the customer experience. These solutions consist of handheld mobile devices with various payment processing tools, enabling retailers to scan items, process payments and print receipts anywhere in the store. The mPOS can take on various forms: retailers can either opt for using off-the-shelf solutions like a mobile computer paired with a mobile printer or a purpose-built device that integrates a mobile computer, scanner, printer, and chip reader into a single device.
Firstly, the mPOS solution provides the flexibility to deliver a fast, convenient, personalized customer service enhanced by the human touch of store associates, empowering front-line associates to control a deal from beginning to end, so they have an opportunity to build stronger relationships with customers. The increased engagement makes the shopping experience more personal and interactive, which is important in building customer loyalty. Reducing or eliminating waiting time for checkout will meet the customer’s expectations in today’s “now” economy.
Retailers are Starting to Look Toward Enterprise-Grade Mpos Solutions that Offer a Consumer Device-Like Interface Design While Meeting the Durability, Power and Security Needs of Business Users
This brings more value for high traffic during peak shopping periods. Store associates armed with mPOS devices can be dispatched to anywhere in the store, processing payment right at the point of the customer’s decision. It also adds convenience in a cashless payment era where customers are getting used to mobile and contactless payment methods, including mobile payment apps, tap (or wave) cards, and near field communications (NFC) payment using their smartphones and wearables.
For example, when a retailer pairs an enterprise-grade mobile computer with a mobile printer, store associates can help customers checkout anywhere in the store. They can scan barcodes effortlessly using the integrated scanners, perform contactless payment collection, and print receipts wherever the customer is. The enhanced service provided by a queue-busting solution like this will drive increased shopper satisfaction – and return visits.
Secondly, the mPOS solution helps to potentially increase sales by providing quicker and more access to checkouts. As store associates process the payment right at the point of the customer’s decision, lost sales decrease because customers won’t walk away from long checkout lines. Furthermore, the digital footprints generated can be later transformed into customer insights that can be consolidated into tailor-made marketing tactics to drive more sales.
No more wires to trip over
On top of this, mPOS offers more flexibility to drive operational efficiencies. As the mPOS implementation does not require as many cash registers, checkout stands or even wiring, it frees up precious real estate in the store for other uses so that the retailer can maximize the value of every inch of the sales floor. For example, the retailer can gain more merchandising area to help increase variety, attract the attention of customers, and create better-designed store layouts.
In China, for example, retail is thriving with the rapid development in omnichannel innovation. As the prevailing mobile payment tools such as WeChat Pay and Alipay enjoy high acceptance among Chinese consumers, retailers increasingly adopt mPOS to optimize membership management.
Selecting mobile devices to suit your needs
Most mPOS solution options today rely on consumer-grade smartphones loaded with apps. The adoption of mPOS devices began in smaller shops where there is a need to process payment without losing valuable counter space. However, larger retailers may find that any risk of device damage, failed software upgrade or loss of battery charge could leave sales associates with disappointed customers. The total cost of ownership (TCO) or opportunity costs can add up.
Retailers are starting to look toward enterprise-grade mPOS solutions that offer a consumer device-like interface design while meeting the durability, power and security needs of business users. With enterprise-grade features such as advanced barcode reading and payment processing capability, retailers will not leave customers disappointed with inaccurate scanning or difficulties in capturing 2D barcodes on their mobile devices.
Many retailers also work with system integrators to customize their hardware, and this is when they should ask if the customized solution is equipped with purpose-built barcode scan engines that can capture barcodes on various surfaces – even if the barcodes are behind plastic wrappers or have sustained damage. This is where a fast, reliable scan engine can offer faster, more reliable and more efficient scanning to improve the customer experience.