Retailers are always looking ahead. The upheaval of 2020 has made it even more important for stores to have a clear view of what to expect in 2021:
- Varied payment options for customers
- Increased use of self-service multimedia displays
- Personalized solutions and services
- Integrated operations between online and brick-and-mortar channels
- Automated operations
- Simplified yet powerful data analyses
The reason for these trends’ emergence can be summed up in one phrase—to meet the heightened expectations of modern customers. The one area where customer expectations are rising fastest is mobile capabilities. Consumers now:
- Expect stores to be available wherever they are
- Want greater control over their shopping experience
The best mobile POS apps include features that help stores meet these needs.
Top 5 Qualities in the Best Mobile POS Apps
These are the five most important features to look for in mobile POS software:
1. Offline Mode to Keep Your Business Running During a Network Outage
Retailers need to be ready for any contingency, a point that has been hammered home by the restrictions implemented in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. When planning for mobile POS operations, an important consideration is how to maintain operations when the network connection fails.
In a recent survey, 81% of retailers reported at least 1 network outage in the previous year. In addition, 82% of the businesses stated that network downtime had a negative impact on their customers, 87% had to wait 4 hours or longer for the connection to be restored, 72% lost sales due to the outage, and 61% were unable to process credit card transactions without network access.
The best mobile POS apps include the ability to process credit card purchases in offline mode, as well as reconcile inventory counts, sales figures, and other data once the network link is restored. The apps also keep track of customer loyalty and rewards programs while in offline mode, including the ability to apply custom discounts and other promotions.
2. Data Collection and Analysis to Better Determine Resource Allocation
All retail is seasonal to some degree, but mobile retail businesses face unique seasonal challenges, particularly in ensuring they have sufficient inventory, supplies, and cash on-hand at all times of the year. Operating a business on-the-go requires keeping abreast of local regulations, permits, and tax rules. Mobility also means having to watch the weather and prepare for the inevitable high- and low-selling seasons.
A mobile POS app that includes the ability to collect and analyze sales data and other information about the business allows managers to anticipate the resources they will need from day-to-day and location-to-location.
3. Enhanced Customer Service to Help Boost Retention Rates
One of the trends affecting retail operations of all types is customers wanting the convenience of retailers anytime, anywhere rather than always having to go shop in-person. Customers were expressing greater interest in online shopping prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but since the coronavirus outbreak, requests for it have skyrocketed. The best mobile POS apps allow businesses to bring their store’s unique shopping experience (or a restaurant’s dining experience) online. Mobile POS apps can integrate smoothly with the retailer’s online processes to support customers who shop for and order products for pickup or delivery.
When customers come for an in-store shopping experience, mobile POS apps allow store employees to create a better customer experience. They can address most (if not all) the needs of a customer without having to leave their side. This includes confirming stock of customer-requested products, locating alternative products if necessary, and arranging for delivery of out-of-stock items to the customer’s home or business.
4. Client Access to Key Functions, Features, and Information to Create a More Personalized Shopping Experience
To foster a “customer-first” business strategy, more and more retailers are giving their clients access to many of the features that were previously off-limits. For example, retailers can provide their customers with downloadable apps that put the store’s inventory and other pertinent information on the customers’ phones and tablets. Today’s POS software also runs on customer-facing screens and mobile kiosks.
Once the POS software recognizes the customer, it can offer personalized promotions and discounts automatically based on their purchase history and other previous information that the system collected and analyzed. The app also makes it easy to connect with customers and alert them of changes to store hours or other helpful information.
5. Streamlined Capabilities to Increase Productivity
Doing more with less has become a mantra in the current retail environment. The best mobile POS apps address this trend by allowing employees to offer customers a higher level of service in less time and with less effort. A prime example of this is a restaurant’s waitstaff:
- Servers are able to take orders tableside that are delivered automatically to the kitchen. Mobile POS apps improve the timeliness and accuracy of the orders while saving the server a trip to the kitchen to deliver the order ticket.
- A POS app can help ensure the items customers request are available by keeping a running count of inventory and supplies in real-time. The system can send automatic alerts when inventory reaches a preset level and can be configured to place reorders automatically.
- By providing direct links to cloud data storage, mobile POS apps help keep sensitive sales and customer information secure while reducing the need to secure physical POS terminals. It also lets businesses free up physical store space by eliminating the need for large-footprint POS hardware.
Handling Change Is Easy With the Best Mobile POS Apps
Change can be difficult for businesses to implement, but change is necessary, especially now more than ever. Successful businesses find ways to make the changes—whether in technology, business processes, or customer expectations—work for them. Mobile POS software is an important tool for a modern business to have in their arsenal, and will allow businesses to successfully face any challenges or changes that come their way.