According to David Gosman, CEO of pcAmerica, 26 percent of people will leave a brick-and-mortar store if they are having a bad customer service experience. And of those 26 percent, seven percent of those customers will leave permanently.
That is a huge statistic. That means that retail store personnel can do everything correctly – merchandising the store well, advertising before a customer arrives at the store, providing fantastic customer service in the store, as well as providing competitive pricing. But if the point-of-sale experience is poor, the customer may leave – and leave for good.
Seem far-fetched? Recently I was in a grocery store where five lanes were open and there were still overflowing lines of people. You could just feel the frustration in the air. I asked for a lane to be opened and soon two more lanes were opened. The tense, palpable moments before were calmed and joking ensued. It had just been one of those things that happen in retail where everyone checks out at the same time. The thing is that it happens, the cashier assured me, all the time.
Why Wasn’t the Store Prepared for It? And Why Aren’t We?
Big data and analytics are helping create next generation stores. Analytics are helping to map the flow of traffic in stores to optimize planograms. Whether it’s grills or seasonal items, stores are maximizing every inch of retail space.
Analytics also allow retailers to target customers on wireless devices. Beacon technology helps stores to identify customers by phone number, email – even Facebook account. When they walk into the store and are near a product, the store is able to generate coupons that make sense for that customer at that time. Think it’s a little creepy? Your local store knows that. While they’re targeting you, they’re mixing up advertisements to make you feel more like an incidental shopper who happened to get lucky with a few choice coupons.
What is Mobile Point of Sale? And What Does it Bring to the Table?
You might be surprised to know that mobile point of sale (MPOS) has been around for over twenty years. From the first time someone swiped a credit card in a taxi cab, to the sound of your credit card information beeping from your cellular phone at Starbucks, point of sale is evolving. Like everything, necessity is the mother of all invention.
Mobile point of sale is defined as a “tablet, smartphone or dedicated wireless device that performs the functions of a cash register or electronic point-of-sale terminal,” according to SearchCIO. In this simple definition, there are many use cases: line busting, cross-selling and upselling, inventory insight and floor space optimization. For some businesses, it is a combination of these benefits that moved them from straight point of sale to mobile point of sale.
Line busting is epitomized by Black Friday when hordes of consumers wrap brick-and-mortar stores for hours before the store opens. Once the customer is inside the store, they’re trapped – it’s now up to the business owner to take the customers’ money. Or is it? Consumers in line for Black Friday still have smartphones and can still comparison shop other Black Friday sales (not to mention on Facebook where all of their friends are talking about the deals they’ve nabbed). Savvy retailers have their employees on-hand with tablets and smartphones to line-bust and get those consumers out the door – before a 45-minute wait in line turns that “must have” into a sale that could have been.
Inventory insight is a fantastic way that some retailers are making use of mobile point of sale – and even kiosk technology. The cost of retail space makes each square foot precious and there is nothing more important than deciding where to market something to the correct consumer. But how does the consumer know – easily – if there is more of a product in stock, or if this store is out and they’ll have to go elsewhere? At some stores, it’s as easy as scanning a barcode (Think: Target kiosks with the bright red arrow to guide their guests.). The kiosk tells the price of the item, quantity available and can ring an associate to pull one from the back if the customer needs that service. To complement the stationary kiosks, Target’s team of associates sport mobile devices that allow them to walk around and scan any item in question, giving them not only the inventory in their store, but inventory in other stores, as well.
As a result, better customer service is – essentially – a scan away.
Get in the fastlane with mobile point of sale #CDWBlogSolutions
But How Does Upselling and Cross-Selling Using MPOS Help Us Compete?
Let’s take the supermarket example from earlier. Imagine I walk into the same store, but now my cart is enabled with a scanner. I scan items as I place them into a cart. At the deli, each item is weighed and scanned for me. I’m able to scan items and find coupons as I select items. When I’m ready to leave, I swipe a credit card through the MPOS system attached to the cart.
So, what about the customer-employee interaction (or lack thereof)?
Here’s another example: I walk into a large electronics store and look at the televisions. I ask a few questions of the sales associate and when I’m ready to purchase, the associate pulls a MPOS system from her pocket. She punches in a few numbers along with my information and my purchase is completed. There is no time for me to become disenchanted or upset with another part of the process. I don’t wait in a long line, no one is rude and everything is handled quickly for me.
If you still think you’re losing business because customers may not be walking throughout the store, you are correct – there is a loss associated with that. But research shows many customers – particularly when purchasing high dollar items – have done their research. They understand the product and know what they’re looking for. Mobile point of sale gives customers an easy way to complete transactions that is reminiscent of an online purchase, but with a little bit more handholding and the instant gratification that comes with having the product today.
Mobile point of sale could potentially produce incremental lag with sales and traffic – but with savvy employees, it will be more than made up for by keeping customers in the store, as well as upselling warranties and other complementary products.
Interested to learn more about how CDW can help with mobile point of sale and other retail technologies? Check out our collection of mobile POS-related white papers and data sheets, as well as the Retail section of BizTech Magazine.