Why retail stores need mobile POS

HP MX10 product photo

Seamlessly converts from mobile to fixed POS and back

‘We only use all of our POS lanes about 10% of the time.’ ‘We’re interested in self-checkout but would like it to convert to a traditional, cashier-operated lane and back.’ ‘We can only justify the investment if this device has multiple uses for our business.’

Those are just some of the concerns we’ve heard from retailers as they evaluate their POS strategies to determine whether the time is right to retain, replace or refresh aging systems.

The over-riding theme is retailers demand flexibility and scalability from their POS investments.

“Stores are becoming digital hubs of technology and as a result POS must be capable of managing a wide range of applications that serve shoppers anywhere in the store and connect associates to digital or online enhancements that improve the in-store experience. This shift has been underway for at least three years and during this time it has steadily fueled POS upgrade plans”, comments Joe Skorupa in RIS News’ 24th Annual Retail Technology Study. Findings include:

  • Nearly 30% of retailers are planning a new POS investment in the next 12 months
  • 31.1% of respondents are already investing in mobile POS; another 21.8% plan to invest by the end of 2014
  • The average retailer using mobile for POS over the next three years plans to purchase 20% fewer traditional POS terminals

According to the recent findings of IHL Group’s Mobile POS Vendor database, shipments of new mobile POS devices are expected to grow more than 95% worldwide and will surpass 108% growth in North America in 2014. Regarding the mobile devices themselves, HP and Motorola are challenging Apple’s dominant share (39.9% today) of the mobile POS install base. Along with Micros, they are expected to have the greatest shipment growth potential in 2014, with segments such as department store, apparel and shoe stores expected to have the greatest growth rates.

Greg Buzcek of IHL said that “Apple had first mover advantage but larger enterprises predominantly use Windows for the POS”. Unlike consumer-grade devices like those currently offered by Apple, today’s tablets are ruggedized, have longer battery life (and replacement batteries) and because they run Windows they can more easily integrate within the retailer’s technology ecosystem.

Why does brick-and-mortar retail need mobile POS?
Liberating sales associates from the restrictions of fixed POS lanes and enabling them to engage consumers directly on the sales floor is one of the primary benefits mobile POS delivers. Enabling other functions on the mobile POS device such as assisted selling or ‘endless aisle’ speeds the ROI and empowers sales associates by allowing them to be more informed than most shoppers. Other mobile POS benefits include:

Greater utilization of technology investments: General merchandise and specialty big-box stores are some of the retail segments who do not have full utilization of their POS lanes. In other words, although they have anywhere for 4 to 10 lanes on average, typically only 2 to 5 lanes are used on a regular basis. The remaining lanes are used during peak business periods (i.e. back-to-school, Nov/Dec holiday season). The usage ratio is even lower for large department stores with upwards of 50 POS lanes — imagine how many of these will be idle on a regular basis.

Retailers have made big investments in POS and peripherals (printers, scanners, payment terminals, EAS devices), as well as the cash wrap fixtures themselves, that are not being fully utilized. Plus there’s the loss of sales floor real estate that’s taken up by those traditional fixed lanes.

Regain selling space: Traditional POS takes up a lot of space — whether it’s the cash wrap fixture or the POS footprint on the counter. Even if a mobile POS is in a docking station on the top of the cash wrap, it still takes up less space than a fixed POS terminal.

An interesting mobile POS solution
At Mainstreet, we’ve evaluated several mobile POS hardware solutions for our retail clients. We like the flexibility and durability of HP Retail’s Mobile POS (MPOS) solutions. The heart of the solution is the HP ElitePad (Slate 2) tablet which transforms into a mobile POS device when equipped with the retail sleeve featuring a barcode scanner and magnetic stripe reader (MSR). Using the Microsoft 7 operating system, it’s easy to integrate the solution to existing application infrastructures so there’s no additional software platform to be supported.

HP has brought even more flexibility to mobility with the introduction of its MX10 Mobile POS – a 3-in-1 integrated solution that combines the ElitePad MPOS and the HP Retail Expansion Dock that connects existing POS peripherals to print receipts and give cash back. The MX10 seamlessly transitions between a mobile and fixed POS enabling store associates to react quickly to shopper needs and never miss a sale.

Mainstreet & Mobile POS
Mainstreet is an HP-authorized solution partner and authorized service provider. We’ve successfully implemented HP’s Mobile POS solution at a major retail client. In addition to mobile POS, the solution benefits their in-store e-commerce fulfillment and is used for assisted selling in one of their high service in-store departments. Contact Mainstreet to learn how we can personalize a mobile POS solution for your retail stores.

Comments or questions, please email me at dsimurda@mainstreetinc.net

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