When most people discuss mobile in retail, they immediately go to shopping applications. While I agree the consumer side of mobile is huge, I believe its also important to arm store associates with mobile tools. There are around a dozen major roll-outs of mobile POS to chain retailers, and all have been successful. This does not, however, signal the demise of traditional registers. Retailers will adopt mobile POS slowly and reduce the number of fixed registers over time, but there's likely to be a combination of both for the foreseeable future. Even Apple retains at least one fixed register in every store, you just have to know where to look.
The business benefits for mobile POS are pretty straightforward:
1. Faster checkout. Walmart's CFO recently reported that for every second they shave off the average transaction time, they can potentially save $12M a year in labor. I think its more likely that labor will be redeployed to enhance the customer experience.
2. Smarter associates. The sales associates on the floor need the same access to information that consumers have, if not more. They need ready access to product details, reviews, inventory, etc. to meet consumer expectations. In a recent study, 40% of consumers said a savvy store associate can impact their final product selection more than a website.
3. Lower costs. Mobile POS hardware (iPod touch + sled) costs about a fifth of fixed registers, not to mention the reclaimed space that can be used for product displays.
But almost all Mobile POS solutions can claim those benefits equally. Where there's differentiation is on the technical side. Oracle recently announced availability of the Oracle Retail Mobile Point-of-Service, and it has three big technology advantages in the market:
2. Flexible. Our Mobile POS is free with the Oracle Retail Point-of-Service product. Retailers can use any combination of fixed and mobile registers, and those ratios can change as required. Perhaps start with 1 mobile and 4 fixed per store, then transition over time to 4 mobile and 1 fixed without any additional software licenses. Our scalable solution supports lots of combinations.
3. Consistent. Because our Mobile POS is fully integrated to our traditional POS, the same business logic is reused. Third-party Mobile POS solutions often handle pricing, promotions, and tax calculations separately leading to possible inconsistencies within the store. That won't happen with Oracle's solution.
For many retailers, Mobile POS can lower costs, increase customer service, and generally enhance a consumer's in-store experience. Apple led the way, but lots of other retailers are discovering the many benefits of adding mobile capabilities in their stores. Just be sure to examine both the business and technology benefits so you get the most value from your solution for the longest period of time.