In my last mPOS blog post, I talked about the definition of and the benefits behind mobile point of sale. To recap, mobile point of sale is essentially a smartphone, tablet or dedicated wireless device that acts as a cash register or electronic point of sale terminal (POSint-of-sale terminal).

A bad point of sale experience can cost a company customers. We’ve all heard the adage that “it’s easier to keep a customer happy than to find a new customer.” Not only is it easier – it’s far less expensive. In fact, the Chartered Institute of Marketing published a paper with the Cam Foundation that discusses this very concept. 

While the amount of money estimated for finding new customers definitely depends on the industry you’re in, it is accepted fact that a new customer costs four to seven times what it costs to retain existing customers. For example, if retention costs 10 dollars, then that new customer costs upwards of 40-to-70 dollars. That’s money that can be put into marketing, technology to enhance the way your company works or hiring new staff to better support the customer base.

Why talk about this in a blog where we’re talking about implementing mobile point of sale? Implementing mPOS – or any technology solution – comes with a cost. When we think about technology, we usually think of a big price tag. The key is to look at mPOS as an investment in keeping your existing customers. We live in a world of instant gratification, filled with feedback from angry customers and elated customers – and few in between.

But let’s talk about implementation. For example, let’s take a company that has three locations. In each location, they have three point of sale areas, including scanners, printers and point of sale all-in-ones (an LCD screen and CPU in one unit). In the back room, they have servers and the point of sale computers communicate to the server, which synchronizes to a SAN at their main location.
Your company may have all – or none – of these. The key for this fictional company is that they are experiencing pain. The good thing is that their customers are engaged. They’re Yelping, tweeting, and interacting with the company on Facebook. The bad thing is that many times, the customers are not happy about wait times. “Everything was great until I tried to check out” is a common complaint from their customers. So, the company’s decided to investigate how to deal with the longer lines and shorten wait times.


There are a few options for this company:

  1. Put in a fourth point of sale area for $20,000 (This will help their customers logistically, but there will still be long lines at some points of the year.)
  2. Install kiosks to let their customers self-serve
  3. Give employees handheld point of sale devices or tablets
  4. Employ any combination of the above.

So, what’s the best option? Let’s take a look:

Option One 

This is my least favorite option. While it will give them more bandwidth for their customer interactions, it offers no flexibility for positioning employees. In addition, it doesn’t allow for customer interaction on the sales floor and a quick exit for the customer.

Option Two

Kiosks can be a great option. These are especially helpful when there is some interaction outside of paying that can be automated. Target uses kiosks to great success in their stores and this allows their employees to focus on strategic work. Kiosks can be canned or customized. Chili’s and other restaurants are also adding tableside kiosks and tablets in order to automate payment and add-on sales.

Option Three

 Deploying mobile devices (Cisco SMARTnets, tablets, scanners, etc.) can be incredibly effective. Think of Best Buy as an example. You enter the store, find something you like and then go to pay. The lines are long, but an employee has a handheld device. They are able to check inventory, upsell the warranty and close out the sale, without having to go to the point of sale area for check out.

Option Four

The combination of solutions is by far my favorite option. A kiosk lets customers self-serve. Scanners help employees to be more attentive and to line bust. Mobile point of sale works together to optimize existing tools and salesforce while augmenting in the places it can be most effective.

Lastly, I’d be remiss not to include beacon technology available from Apple and Google in this discussion. Currently, it’s not readily available, but once it gains in specificity and customer experience, let’s revise this and add that into our plan.

How Do We Implement Mobile Point of Sale?

First, we look at the existing hardware:

  • Three point of sale all-in-ones
  • Three receipt printers
  • Three corded scanners
  • One server in the backroom
  • Keyboards and mice (four of each)
  • Wi-Fi

Then, we take a look at how we’d like the store to look and what we’ll need to accomplish that vision:

  • Two handheld devices (with scanners and enabled with Wi-Fi)
    • Hardened devices (In case they’re dropped, they won’t shatter.)
    • Credit card capable
    • Inventory search functionality
  • Two kiosks (for customer self-serve)
    • Inventory search functionality
    • Email capability (to send customers information, coupons, etc.)
    • Optional: check-out and printing capabilities

A retail assessment requires a company to review what’s working – and what’s not. In the case of our fictional store, we’ll need to ask these questions:

  • How many mPOS devices do we need? Does everyone need mPOS? Or just a few key players?
    • It’s key to take a look at traffic flow, as well as how many people are on the floor at any one time.
  • Does real time information live on the mobile device?
    • Online inventory, as well as in-store orders and loyalty programs can all be consolidated on one platform
  • Does your POS platform support mobile point of sale?
  • Can you optimize customers’ shopping experience with real time analytics?
    • Leveraging analytics with companies like Vertica and Splunk can highlight products while they’re selling like crazy and gives you the ability to offer coupons in real time
  • What type of device will work in your environment?
    • Do you have a manufacturer who also makes tablets?
    • Is water used in and around your company environment (grocery stores, paint stores, etc.)?
    • Does your company need super rugged equipment?
    • Will a standard tablet in a hardened shell work?
  • What will success look like once mPOS is implemented?
  • Will the mobile devices and kiosks reside inside or outside?
  • What type of bar codes does it need to read?
  • Does it need to be RFID capable?

What’s Working in the Company

  • Sales
  • Customer support (when it’s not over-full )
  • Product mix

What’s Not Working

  • Customer wait times
  • Difficult product look-up
  • Abandonment by customers due to POS challenges

How We Can Solve the Problem

  • Create a timeline for the mobile point of sale experience to take place
  • Plan and design kiosks
  • Research handheld devices and smartphones to uncover the best option for the store
  • Order kiosks and mobile handhelds from a reputable distributor
  • Implement the solution with professional services from an experienced company

Once we have all of the answers to our questions, you can build out what the solution will look like, as well schedule implementation.

The goal is to increase customer retention and help create a smoother sales process for all involved. Because we’ve chosen a hybrid solution, nothing will be down during implementation – and much of the install will simply be setting up mobile devices and kiosks. While software is often highly customized in the retail space, many of the most popular point of sale software include mPOS and analytics support.

Interested to learn more about retail solutions for your business? Check out CDW’s collection of mPOS-related white papers and data sheets, as well as the Retail section of BizTech Magazine for more information on trending technology.