As the old saying goes, there are only two rules for success in the retail industry:
- The customer is always right.
- When the customer is wrong, refer to rule #1.
Customers are driving one of the biggest trends in retail today—mobility. Studies show that 80% of shoppers worldwide use a smartphone, tablet, or other digital device while in-store, and 82%
Another indication of the increasing importance of mobility to retailers, a recent projection advised a 19.2% compound annual growth rate for mobile payments in the U.S. between 2020 and 2024, from total sales of just over $2 billion in 2020 to slightly more than $4 billion in 2024.
It’s clear that retailers who don’t embrace mobility by adopting portable POS systems risk declining sales and losing customers to more modern competitors. These are five of the ways that a portable POS system benefits retailers by improving the customer experience:
1. Supports the Rise of Mobile Businesses
Putting your business on wheels is no longer just a strategy for carpet cleaners, dog groomers, and landscaping services. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses were going to customers rather than waiting for the customers to come to them. These are among the top benefits of portable POS systems for mobile businesses:
- Support for e-wallets and other mobile payment methods as customers rely less frequently on cash and credit cards when making purchases.
- Integrate accounting, employee management, marketing, and customer service in a single, easy-to-use interface that’s available 24/7/365.
- Take advantage of cloud-based “cognitive services” that allow even small businesses to apply advanced analytics to their sales, marketing, and customer data.
- Connect remote workers and groups simply and inexpensively by using the communication tools built into mobile POS devices.
An advantage mobile businesses have over many of their brick-and-mortar counterparts is the ability to adopt and integrate new technologies that offer customers more payment and shopping options. This allows the retailer to take advantage of new opportunities quickly while also getting closer to their customers—literally and figuratively.
2. Integrates Online Orders With Portable POS Systems
One of the fastest ways to alienate customers is through order delays. The rise in online ordering is accompanied by an increase in the use of portable POS kiosks for taking and paying for orders without requiring human interaction. This promotes safe shopping (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) while also allowing for the fast and accurate completion of orders.
A challenge for many retailers is seamlessly integrating their online ordering and portable kiosk operations. Aspects to consider when combining an online ordering system with mobile POS devices include the following:
- Ensure all user-facing interfaces are synonymous with the business’ brand.
- Support for mobile and contactless payments.
- Manage online and on-site orders through a single interface.
- Set up automatic notifications of order status.
- Provide access to loyalty programs, purchase histories, and other customer information.
3. Enables Portable POS Hardware to Become More Functional and Affordable
POS tablets enhance customer engagement by allowing employees to answer their questions and meet their other needs from anywhere—merchandise aisles in-stores, table-side at restaurants, or any mobile location with a WiFi or cellular network connection. Employees can confirm the availability of products in specific sizes, models, and colors, and offer discounts or special deals based on the customer’s past purchases. Tablets also offer customers an “endless aisle shopping experience” by allowing them to browse items displayed on the tablet that aren’t necessarily available in-store.
Credit card readers, receipt printers, and barcode scanners are all available in convenient portable models to support mobile businesses. Today’s wireless card readers accept many different payment methods and are a fraction of the size of their standalone counterparts. Similarly, new receipt printers and barcode scanners are small enough to carry conveniently and can easily connect wirelessly to POS systems.
4. Allows for the Conversion of a POS Tablet into a Mobile Cash Register
Tablet-based cash registers add an entirely new dynamic to customers’ retail experience. In addition to supporting a variety of cashless transaction types, the devices can be linked wirelessly to the POS system to transfer the transaction amount to a physical cash register drawer to complete cash sales. A mobile tablet cash register is capable of the following functions:
- Applying discounts, refunds, and write-offs.
- Bundling related products to offer customers special promotions based on their purchase history.
- Tracking sales by each employee.
- Displaying tax information.
- Creating digital receipts that can be sent to customers via text or email.
- Linking wirelessly or via cable connection to barcode scanners, printers, digital scales, cash registers, and card readers.
Unlike a standard cash register, a tablet integrates sales data with inventory, accounting, customer, and employee management components of the retailer’s POS system. Stores can track sales in real-time and analyze customer data on the spot to ensure a positive shopping experience.
5. Puts Customer Data at Employees’ Fingertips
Retail customers increasingly are demanding the ability to shop whenever and wherever they choose. Young people in particular no longer distinguish their online activities from those in the real world. Retailers are responding to this trend by offering them a multichannel marketplace that takes advantage of cloud and mobile technologies to meet the needs of these customers.
By offering branded websites and applications in addition to their mobile operations, retailers make customers feel at home regardless of their method of connecting to the store. To further personalize the experience, a portable POS system can collect information about customers that is readily available to employees, allowing them to offer unique special offers and discounts tailored to the customers’ likes and preferences. This is one of the best ways for retailers to make a positive emotional connection with their customers.
In times of change, it becomes more challenging for retailers to pick up on trends and respond in a timely manner to alterations in consumer behavior. A portable POS system provides the data and analytics capabilities that help businesses track and adapt to changing conditions while also allowing them to establish close, personal relationships with their customers. That’s a combination that’s tough for retailers to turn down.