Breaking The Checkout Bottleneck: Mobile POS
The traditional point of sale is the check-out counter. It's where the cashier bags the customer's purchases and tells the customers about promotions. It's a great system, but there are some drawbacks: it chains some employees to the front register, breaks up a smooth conversion from picking up the product to purchasing it, and, worst of all, it causes long lines to form when the store gets busy.
Digital technology may be able to alleviate some of those problems. Specifically, retailers have started using mobile Point of Sales (or mPOS) technology, which is where the software for running a transaction is downloaded on to a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. It's becoming increasingly popular, with 55% of retailers reporting that they plan on adding mobile POS technology to their stores within the next 3 years according to Ken Morris of RetailWire. In fact, a recent study done by the research company Juniper Research found that 20% of all retail transactions may be processed on mPOS by 2021. What does this mean for the industry?
It may mean shorter lines in the future. With mobile POS, a sales associate can ring up people wherever they happen to be in the store, so customers won't have to congregate in one spot to complete their transactions. This could be particularly helpful to the customer who wants only one or two things.
Another way it will shorten the que at the register is by answering questions and making the sales pitch before the customer is lined up. The Juniper Research study found that often the mPOS capability was part of a cloud-based business software which contained information about inventory. This allowed the sales associate in possession of the mPOS to answer questions about products and sales without burdening the head cashier or making everyone in line wait while someone checked on something.
The shorter queue lines make customers happier and gives them less time to change their mind about what they are buying, so it isn't a surprise that some of the businesses that are using mPOS have seen a 25% increase in sales.
There are other reasons for this boost: the sales associate who can ring people up can also cross- and up-sell a customer as he or she can walk a customer to an accessory item while the transaction is happening. With the need to hand a customer over to a cashier out of the way, sales associates can build up a relationship with the customer, too, which will lead to more sales.
Replace Or Complement?
Mobile POS may be increasing in popularity, but it is unlikely to take over the job of stationary POS's. There is the problem of bagging a costumer's items, after all. Sales associates probably can't cart around bags all day.
And the usefulness of the mobile systems really change with each industry. Electronics stores, for instance, might use it almost exclusively while grocery stores might use it more in a supplementary fashion.
Slow transaction processing and long checkout lines undoubtedly affect conversion rates in store, and although it may not be appropriate for every industry or transaction, mobile POS can have a huge positive impact on conversion rates and ultimately sales performances.