mPOS: Much More Than a Cash Register Replacement
The original intent of the mobile POS systems, mPOS, was to increase customers’ overall basket size. Because sales associates would be alarmed with tablets that could not only complete the checkout process but also make recommendations associated with the current purchase, customers would spend more money. Anecdotally, when tablets are used in that manner, that hypothesis proved correct. However, some retailers have chosen to use the technology in other ways. Those ways often do not take a long view of the business, but rather focus on short-term gain.
Retailers that have chosen to replace standard, standalone cash registers with mPOS, and not equip salespeople with the devices as well, are missing out on a huge opportunity to increase sales.
Retailers that make the move to mPOS simply as a replacement for cash registers are looking at the immediate savings, which can be significant. A tablet POS with software can be purchased for less than $100 a month, whereas a traditional POS can cost $3,000 to $7,000. That’s appealing to an established merchant trying to reduce costs, or to a startup that needs cash for other investments. However, that type of implementation often falls short when it comes to inventory tracking, returns data and other ERP-type functions.
Making the move to mPOS makes sense when the immediate cost savings is combined with a system that will enhance sales. Linebusting, for example, is one way the mPOS can be used to process more orders in less time. But the bigger, more lucrative means of employing mPOS is by allowing a sales associate use it to engage with customers, looking up complementary items base on current and past purchases. That engagement can significantly boost basket size.
Having the proper software becomes critical; the purely mobile, modular retail management platform, Retail Pro Prism, is equipped to replace old POS systems. Prism can record what inventory is purchased, and document it with professional, branded receipts that are either printed or emailed. That helps retailers determine what product is in demand — and what is not.
Two years ago, PayPal’s then-president David Marcus wrote in a blog posting that point-of-sale terminals would become increasingly mobile in 2013, with the traditional cash wrap starting to disappear. It hasn’t happened yet, but slowly the savviest are realizing that mPOS goes far beyond line-busting, helping to improve the customer shopping experience and — by losing the cash wrap/checkout counter — add floor space for product promotions.