Dec. 20, 2013 - The days of ringing up a customer at a cash register and sending them on their merry way are over. The future of point of sale (POS) technology, retail shopping and store backend integration will be merged together to provide a more personalized customer shopping experience in order to combat showrooming, Scott Ellison, PayPal's senior director of corporate strategy told Business News Daily. Showrooming customers like to see and feel items in person, but ultimately make their purchase online at a discount. The Wall Street Journal explains that showrooming can do serious damage to the bottom line of brick and mortar stores and significantly benefits online retailers.
One way to combat this trend is to offer a better in-store experience to customers. Almost 90 percent of customers will do business with another store if they have a bad shopping experience, reports the 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report from RightNow. In order to improve the customer shopping interaction, many businesses have turned to mobile point of sale systems to improve how customers shop and pay for goods and services.
Stores can create loyalty programs so sales representatives can pull up your information as soon as you walk in and let you know how close you are to your next incentive: One more sandwich and you get a free one, or just another $25 to go for a 10 percent discount. Logging in online gives you that information, so you should get get it from walking into a store as well.
Another experience enhancer is to have the employee that helps you on the showroom floor be able to check you out on the spot, rather than pass you off to go stand in line to pay. A third improvement is for browsers or gift buyers. Online, you can get updated suggestions of what to buy. Mobile point of sale systems that are integrated into the shopping database can tell customers on the spot what the top selling items are in various categories. A cash register can't do that.
One of the biggest benefits of using this newer point of sale technology is the time it saves. Alfred Baker, executive vice-president at Gourmet Services, told Forbes that his company was able to get its staff up to speed on the new mobile POS system in just thirty minutes and save at least 5 hours a week on taking stock. In the past, once an event was over they would need to go around to every stand and take inventory to determine what needed to be ordered. With an integrated system, they get real-time data fed right to the tablets, smartphones and computers to know exactly where their levels are and if product needs to be ordered or moved around.
It is not just the front end that needed updating, but the back-end as well. Simply adding a card reader and a checkout app to a tablet or smartphone will not achieve this integrated future. A system behind the scenes can sync all this information. Companies like NetSuite can provide cloud-based retail integration to provide instant, up-to-the-minute access to information like inventory, customer information, profits and shopping trends. Once this integration is in place and in sync, your customers will gain a better experience, and you get a better picture of your business and an improved bottom line.
Everyone’s point of sale needs are different. Some benefit the most from time savings and the updated information they get from such a system. For others, having instant access to customer information and shopping habits, as well as the ability to check out shoppers on the floor, becomes a top priority. Entrpeneur.com suggests shopping for a system that is easy to use, and is customizable. Some systems have bar code readers and can not only store the price, but bulk discounts, as well as the ability to search for products in the database from only partial information.
Creative Commons image from gruntzooki from Flickr