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5 Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) Capabilities Required in Retail Today

Posted by Julia Morrissey on Jun 14, 2022

The point of sale (POS) has long been a cash register for retail businesses. These traditional systems were built for simple transaction functions, such as sales and returns. You typically find them working alongside credit card readers and receipt printers, and fixed to a checkout counter. While this may have worked for the old retail world, it doesn’t work for the new one.

We’re now experiencing a new reality where there is more to retail than just selling. This is especially true for brands looking to digitally transform their businesses.

If you sell across multiple channels and locations, you need a mobile point of sale (mPOS) to meet growing customer expectations.

In this post, we discuss key mobile POS capabilities and why your brand needs to invest in one today.

5 Key mPOS Functionalities

With an mPOS solution, store associates can be trusted advisors to shoppers from anywhere in the store. So, what are the core functions of an mPOS system? We outline them below.

1. Mobile Checkout

There are many benefits of a mobile POS. When it comes to the new retail world though, where customers will continue to be wary about personal space, mobile checkout is king. Mobile checkout brings the point of sale to the shopper. The entire experience, from scanning products to processing payments, is all completed on a mobile device. This makes for a seamless checkout experience.

The payments piece is important to note because older point of sale solutions can’t easily accept contactless payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Tap to Pay on iPhone. Soon shoppers will carry a phone but no physical wallet, so being able to quickly deploy these options is a necessity. Not to mention, contactless payments are now part of normal buying behavior.

With digital payments via a mobile checkout system comes another opportunity: customer capture. An email address is gold in retail, and you’d be remiss not to grab it at the point of sale. 

Most people are willing to give their information if there is a value exchange. There doesn’t have to be a discount involved; people are often happy to share their email if it makes a future return that much more seamless. The customer capture doesn’t have to be tied to a transaction, either. Use the data to market to customers, notify them about pre-orders, and for future clienteling. 

A woman holding three shirts in one hand while scanning their tags with a phone in the other

2. Store Inventory

Inventory solutions have not evolved at the same pace as other retail systems. There are still some brands using spreadsheets to receive and know what goods are on-hand. This very manual process not only takes store associates off the selling floor, but it is also prone to human error. 

Brands today cannot afford poor inventory management. Inventory accuracy and visibility is critical to omnichannel, and without it, you can’t align supply with demand — wherever it may be coming from.

Having store inventory integrated with the point of sale is an easy way to add confidence to the shopping experience. For customers, it means that when they search online for something in-store, the item you say is available…actually is. 

For associates, it prevents them from needing to leave the customer’s side to check the stock room. When you put inventory information at the associate’s fingertips, they can confirm availability from anywhere in the store. This helps keep the one-on-one relationship with the customer intact. 

Inventory also comes into play for returns. You need to have a streamlined process to accept returns in-store, and place them back into your stock. Retail brands want to sell as much inventory as possible, that is the name of the game. With store inventory as part of the point of sale, you can drive up inventory levels and make all items available-to-sell. 

3. Endless Aisle 

If you have a modern POS with real-time access to inventory information, use it to your advantage for endless aisle orders. Endless aisle means store associates can sell inventory from anywhere within the organization. An item might be out-of-stock or unavailable in one location, but you can purchase it for the customer from another location or a distribution center. 

Endless aisle is an effective way to “save the sale.” Across the NewStore customer base, brands have seen up to a 15% lift in store GMV from endless aisle. These are sales that might not have happened if there wasn’t a mechanism in place to access and sell enterprise-wide inventory. They may also be sales from upselling or cross-selling. If a customer wants a top to go with their bottoms, but you don’t carry it, order it from another location for home delivery. 

When thinking of this new retail normal, you’ll want to have an endless aisle strategy because the store of the future will hold less inventory. That means you won’t find the same depth of product in-store, both because it’s expensive and because you may choose to downsize your brick-and-mortar business.. Carrying fewer sizes and not as many color combinations will be commonplace for these reasons. 

4. Store Fulfillment

Omnichannel fulfillment is only possible if the mobile point of sale is tightly integrated with an order management system (OMS) on the backend. 

The OMS is the gatekeeper for all inventory and order information. It enables customers to buy from anywhere and you to fulfill from anywhere, improving customer convenience and helping to avoid margin erosion.

Omnichannel fulfillment services such as buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS), which appears at some brands as curbside pickup or click and collect, offer customers more ways to get their purchases into their hands. With a mPOS, associates can have orders waiting for customers when they walk into the store, and view all relevant order information in just a few taps. 

With store fulfillment on a mobile POS, you can also decrease picking errors and increase processing efficiency. This will allow you to ramp up omnichannel fulfillment to a high enough degree that it makes a meaningful impact on cross-channel sales. 

Two women in a store talking about a shirt and looking at a phone

5. Clienteling 

Data suggests shoppers who interact with retail associates are more likely to make a purchase. Even more, they’re likely to have higher basket sizes compared to those who don’t interact with associates.

But having a basic point of sale system or cash register typically means an associate has to leave the customer’s side for any function. This interrupts the consultative style of the buying experience and increases the time customers spend waiting. This is where having a mobile POS device really comes in handy. With an mPOS, the store associate never has to leave the customers’ side. 

Like with inventory and orders, a modern point of sale gives associates access to cross-channel customer information. This includes the basics like contact information, but also online order and browsing history, preferences, and wish list items. 

This means the associate is able to match the shopper to products just for them. There is less guesswork, making the experience for everyone involved a little more special. 

Clienteling isn’t just an opportunity for in-store associates, either. Having customer information in an omnichannel platform means the point of sale can exist at any touchpoint. From customer support reps online to call center agents back at headquarters, as long as the data is carefully collected and distributed, it can drive value for the business.

Investing in a Mobile POS Is Strategic 

Most brands understand omnichannel is the path to value, and that an mPOS is a key solution in the retail tech stack. Yet, some are still testing the waters with mobility. They’re dipping their toes into the world of opportunity it presents, armed with legacy systems out of fear of unknown technology.

Shying away from an mPOS, however, is a colossal mistake. In order to stay relevant, you need to modernize your technology. Legacy technology is stifling your brand and implementing a mPOS is not to be feared. 

Legacy Technology Is Holding You Back

Legacy POS systems are unable to cope with modern consumer demands. They aren’t built for omnichannel and retail today. 

A major downside to a traditional POS is that it communicates with and loads data to a physical server. So, unlike with a mPOS, the data can’t be accessed from the cloud. Store associates don’t have access to real-time customer, order, and inventory data, and they are largely stuck behind a clunky cash register. This greatly diminishes associates’ ability to deliver a great customer experience. 

With an mPOS, you can not only get rid of the old-school checkout counter and free up floor space, but you can also give store associates the chance to do more of what they love––help customers. In turn, this makes for a far more engaging experience for shoppers who can enjoy personalized recommendations and faster transactions.

An mPOS Is Easy to Implement

Most of us (your employees included) resist change because of fear. Maybe you already have your sights on an incredible mPOS solution, but you’re refraining from taking that leap because of your organizational culture.

Since mobile phones are integral to our daily lives, almost everyone is comfortable using one. Learning how to use a mobile-based POS is as easy as learning a new app on your phone. Training, therefore, is exceptionally fast. Instead of hours spent sitting in front of a computer watching training videos, your staff can be out on the floor within a matter of hours and giving your customers the incredible service they desire. Familiar tech like this massively reduces that fear factor that some employees experience when onboarding to new systems. 

When the new technology you’re adopting revolves around an incredibly familiar piece of hardware, that change is much easier and comes with far less friction.

Adding a Mobile Point of Sale to Your Store

Stores are more valuable now than they’ve ever been. From marketing and fulfillment to customer service, they are where brands survive and thrive in retail. 

In order for them to operate with efficiency, you need an mPOS at the hub of all store operations. Legacy POS solutions, or even niche ones, weren’t built for today’s omnichannel customers or omnichannel associates. 

Customers want to engage and transact with your brand anywhere and everywhere. This is possible with a mobile point of sale as part of your core commerce platform.

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