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Going mobile with retail EPoS

Thursday October 20 2011

Richard Goodall, retail IT expert, looks at the challenges of mobile retailing and how it can go hand in hand with electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) systems

Richard Goodall, retail IT expert, looks at the challenges of mobile retailing and how it can go hand in hand with electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) systems

 

The exponential growth of smart phones since the launch of the i-Phone in 2007, has had significant impact on retail, according to Richard Goodall, group sales and marketing director at retail IT services provider, PCMS.

 

“The consequential change in consumer behaviour sees more and more customers browsing stores’ offerings on their mobile devices and doing price comparisons in store to ensure they are getting the best value for their money,” he said. To maximise this new sales opportunities, retailers have also developed their own apps to showcase their wares.

 

Shockwaves from mobile impact

 

Indeed, the growth of mobile technologies is changing the face of retail. No longer are sales staff tied to the till. Mobile devices – such as the iPad and other handhelds are helping staff improve interaction with customers, reduce queues and transaction times, capture data and support table service in food service outlets. Meanwhile, loyalty schemes and promotions have gone viral, with coupons and offers being sent directly to mobile phones, which in turn are used directly from the phone to the point of sale.

 

Goodall said that, while this is a positive step in supporting more direct relationships with customers and reducing costs of printing and postage, it can present costly issues when it comes to integrating these developments with EPoS systems. “Mobile is a very similar challenge to that of multichannel, and ensuring that the different elements all communicate with each other seamlessly can be costly to achieve,” he pointed out. “And even more so if you get it wrong.”

 

This led him to cite one of the latest mobile challenges – the rise of contactless payment. “The recent collaboration between Barclaycard and Orange has brought the ability to purchase goods directly through mobile phones. It is expected that consumer demand for such technology will be high, especially for low value purchases,” he said.

 

Mastering till integration

 

“For retailers this means another integration with EPoS systems and investment in technology to enable such payments at every till. The speed of change and widespread adoption of new technologies is getting quicker and mobile payment follows hot on the heels of PCI [Payment Card Industry] compliance.

 

“Mobile payment and other developments demonstrate why retailers need to carefully choose a system that offers the best guarantee in terms of being able to keep abreast of new technologies. Therefore, to ensure longevity of investment, architecture needs to be flexible to enable new technologies to be easily incorporated with minimum cost and impact.”

 

He said systems that don’t offer a flexible architecture could result in a retailer managing multiple systems, which operate on different platforms and have different reporting formats. “With a flexible system, new developments can be integrated and will operate and report as all other point-of-sale modules to enable consistency of data and reduced time in collating management information,” he added.

 

“Mobile offers a great opportunity for retail, but it doesn’t come without its challenges,” Goodall concluded. “New technologies are going to continue to emerge – at pace – so when considering to upgrade EPoS to deliver new ways of paying, the key thing to consider is long-term adaptability.”