A couple of studies undertaken by US publication RIS News recently got me thinking seriously about the future of retail Point of Sale systems installed at the majority of retailers today. Is retail Point of Sale (POS) technology at a tipping point now? Could retailers potentially be facing a requirement for a major upgrade of their customer facing systems over the next 12 months? Should they be thinking about it now?
I feel that the answer to all of those questions is a definite “Yes”! If so then what are these new customer facing systems going to look like? For the answers the stats in the RIS Studies are quite illuminating.
Firstly in an RIS News study by Joe Skopura on “The Y2K Moment for POS” found here there are some great insights into the future of POS systems in the US. No-one would argue that retailing has changed significantly and structurally over the last couple of years. The model for physical stores is under siege “Stores are over built, downward margin pressure is a contagion, fixed costs are rising, online and mobile shopping is booming, and showrooming is catching fire”.
To be effective, POS must now be cross-channel ready and enabled where the customer wants you, when they want you, armed with the information they want – out on the shop floor with the customer. As the hub of the customer experience the retail store can offer a powerful face to face advantage over online as long as the sales associates are empowered with the technology and information to meet the needs of the educated and now mobile equipped shoppers.
In the study 61% of retail respondents said that their POS is more that 5 years old (the number will be similar in Australia) and 48.8% noted that they would need to change in the next 12 months. With the “Addition of Mobile POS” being the main driver to upgrade (60%) along with “Enabling Multi Channel selling in store” (60%) and “Enabling new Payment options” (52.5%).
Why POS and Why now? Simple POS is the essential store operations platform and the pivotal enabler for additional services to improve the customer shopping experience. To combat further erosion of market share and margins to online – retailers need to act now! The fact that retailers are looking at mobile POS as a key driver and new (read mobile) payment options shows that retailers are looking to replace expensive fixed POS terminals and static counters with cheaper mobile devices that allow sales associates to get out from behind the counter onto the shop floor to serve the customer better at the point of decision rather than letting customers walk out the door to buy online later.