MPOS Speeds Checkout, Enhances Customer Experience
What are the most important factors for an enjoyable shopping experience? According to a Forrester study, they are the location of the store, price of products, and the length of their checkout lines. Another study found that one-third of consumers would rather wash dishes than visit a retail store – mostly because of lengthy waits at checkout. And in the age of social distancing and restricted retail, anything that reduces customer contact and helps shoppers avoid checkout lines is a winner. That’s why mPOS – mobile point of sale solutions – is transforming brick-and-mortar retail.
The Forrester survey of 1,000 American shoppers found that 85% said speed and convenience of checkout was very important to their satisfaction and plays a role in where they decide to shop. Additionally, 39% have left a store without buying because of long lines, and 58% said they are likely to change stores if checkout was better somewhere else.
“The research shows that slow checkout frustrates today’s shoppers who value their time as much as they do their wallet,” said Heidi Dethloff, vice president of marketing, Digimarc, the company that funded the study. “Retailers put effort and expense into pricing promotions for consumers focused on value, but they may be underestimating the true cost of slow checkout in terms of lost business revenue and diminished loyalty.”
In the grocery industry, long checkout lines ranked dead last in analyzing the best and worst parts of a store visit. So, whether you sell groceries, apparel, shoes, cold medicine, power tools, televisions or cars, speed and convenience in customer checkout can make or break a business.
MPOS: The most important acronym you might not know
Point of sale – POS – systems have been around for a long time. Their invention consolidated and streamlined customer checkout many years ago. Before them, checkout clerks hand-operated cash registers and some businesses wrote receipts and orders by hand. Pen and paper, baby!
However, for all of their genius and convenience, the speed of customer checkout today isn’t as fast as some consumers would like. Some of that is because many stores hire fewer checkout clerks than they did years ago which is why self-checkout is gaining popularity and in-aisle mobile checkout is becoming a thing.
MPOS, like e-commerce and m-commerce, as an alternative, is rapidly gaining recognition and acceptance.
MPOS in retail
Nordstrom deployed more than 6,000 mobile POS devices in its stores in 2011 and just a year later, according to the company, had more of them than regular checkout registers.
The company’s 2011 sales report in 2011 indicate the mPOS devices could have played a part in increased revenue, according to a Forbes report. Both the average selling price and the number of items sold increased after deployment of the mobile checkout program.
Necessity – the mother of invention
Even though MPOS has been fledgling around for close to 10 years now, it wasn’t until shoppers began getting fed up with the insanity of Black Friday checkout lines that America’s biggest retailers jumped on the bandwagon. A recent National Retail Federation survey showed that 52% of consumers said they weren’t planning to shop on Black Friday because they didn’t enjoy the crowds. The following year, 2018, both Walmart and Target both began testing mobile POS solutions and fully implemented the programs just before the November shopping holiday.
Walmart debuted “Check Out With Me” in its Lawn and Garden centers that April. It allowed customers to avoid hauling items such as heavy bags of mulch, potted plants and yard tools through the store to checkout counters. Instead, it let them checkout on the spot. It expanded to 3,000 stores on Black Friday.
Target started testing its “Skip the Line” mobile checkout in select stores in February 2018 and expanded to all its stores in November.
“We all know waiting in line is a massive pain,” brand consultant Deb Gabor told the Los Angeles Times, adding that mobile in-store checkout technology is “lowering the barrier to getting people physically in the stores.”
Restaurants have been using tablets with card readers for years to let customers pay at their tables. Those services are slowly becoming mainstream moving from big boxes like Walmart, Target and Home Depot to small, independent retail businesses.
The 20th annual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmark Survey from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) indicates that mPOS is gaining favor with consumers and retail businesses alike.
Despite the spate of data security issues experienced by retailers like Target, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and others, the survey shows 56% of shoppers are more likely to shop at stores that allow them shared carts across multiple channels and half are more likely to provide retailers more personal information if it smooths checkout and allows for personalized offers and discounts. Sixty-three percent of consumers already use their smartphones while shopping.
The BRP survey also shows retail businesses are ready to adopt mPOS. Nearly half (49%) say their customers’ mobile experience is a top priority over the next three years. Sixty-three percent plan on making customer-owned mobile checkout available and 94% plan to implement a unified commerce platform that incorporates e-commerce, mPOS and traditional register checkout.
“As customer expectations for an increasingly customized experience increase and evolve, retailers are adopting new ways to identify customers and personalize their shopping journey,” said Perry Kramer, senior VP and practice lead at BRP. “Retailers continue to offer more mobile services from a consumer-facing and associate-facing perspective that include personalized recommendations, loyalty rewards, coupons, discounts and promotions.”
Checkout counter and beyond
Most small businesses probably don’t have a great need to shorten checkout lines, but there are plenty of other reasons why adopting mPOS is a good idea.
More Payment Options
MPOS systems might be more flexible and accommodating than a traditional register checkout. If a business hasn’t upgraded its payment terminals in the past few years, they might not accept mobile payments, also known as NFC (near-field communication) or frictionless. Because of their technology, mPOS devices include frictionless payment options along with traditional EMV card payments.
Mobile POS allows businesses to accept payments wherever their customers are – garden centers, lumberyards, sidewalk sales or anywhere. They also allow mobile businesses – landscapers, food trucks, retailer crafts fairs, contractors – to accept payments on the spot.
People currently use smartphones to manage all aspects of their personal lives – banking, purchasing, scheduling, entertainment, communication with friends and more. Businesses will soon be following suit.
“Mobile POS isn’t just about accepting payments. The future of retail is rapidly heading toward mobile access to everything – ordering and inventory, delivery scheduling and tracking, and workforce management with employee messaging, time tracking and task management,” says Jeff Rogers, marketing, sales and partnerships director at Paladin Data Corporation. “Eventually, everybody in a retail business will have mobile devices that will serve as their virtual workstations. They will be able to conduct sales transactions, check inventory, schedule deliveries and more. They’ll all be managed by an on-site or cloud-based server and all business operations and functions will be accessible.”
Paladin offers a suite of products – Mobile Access, Mobile2, Paladin Pilot and the Innowi mPOS – that provides independent retail businesses ultimate mobility. Innowi mobile devices are used in more than 4,000 Fortune 500 retail businesses. Paladin makes them available to small, independent businesses.
“To me, it’s a no-brainer and something every retailer should invest in,” Forrester retail analyst Sucharita Kodali tells BizTech. “Widespread customer adoption is going to take a while, but it will eventually become a standard.”
Whether you’re looking to improve customer experience by busting your checkout lines or enhance communication, workforce and inventory management, and other processes, mPOS could make your business more mobile and agile.