This article was originally published in the Autumn 2018 issue of The Record.
Modern POS systems have come a long way since the first analogue punch key cash registers – and it’s all due to technologies such as transistors and integrated circuits, magnetic ink character recognition, barcoding, magnetic stripe cards, consumerisation of the PC, and improvements in broadband connectivity. These innovations have transformed POS into a foundational in-store operational tool that supports functionality for automated promotional and discount execution, store administration and bookkeeping, managing inventory management and customer data capture. While significant progress has been made to incorporate new functionalities around POS, it is not enough to simply support the wave of digital transformation that is already here.
For retailers to successfully set themselves apart from the competition and cater to customers’ needs, they must have a POS system that incorporates various omnichannel functions and continually evolves to support automated processes for executing promotions and facilitating cash-and-carry transactions. There are three key POS innovations that retailers must consider if they want to deliver a seamless omnichannel journey and differentiate their in-store experience. They include: click-and-collect, send sale and endless aisle, and mobile.
Click-and-collect is a well-known omnichannel concept, but retailers must understand that POS should support two different scenarios. In the first scenario, an online customer pays for an item and chooses to collect it in a store. The sales associate gives them the product when they arrive at the store and the order is marked as ‘picked up’ in the POS. Meanwhile in the second scenario, an online customer reserves an item in a particular store and defers payment until the sales associate has presented it to them when they arrive in the store. To ensure success, retailers must configure and automate specific rules and processes for each scenario in their POS system.
Now that customers are more connected, POS systems are starting to incorporate ‘send sale and endless aisle’ functionality to support customers being able to purchase their desired products regardless of their location. The ‘send sale’ capability allows customers in one store to reserve or purchase items that are physically located in another and gives them the option to have the order picked up from or delivered from the second store. Meanwhile, ‘endless aisle’ provides customers with the opportunity to buy items that are not part of the physical store assortment but can be found online or ordered specially. Both capabilities allow store associates to save a sale or increase average ticket value. The key for retailers is the ability to perform these capabilities with others on the same transaction seamlessly and efficiently without customisation. For example, they should be able to perform a ‘send sale, ‘endless aisle’ and cash-and-carry function in the same transaction.
Mobile POS solutions are key for retailers who want to deliver a personalised, interactive experience to individual consumers. They enable retailers to accommodate customers’ shopping habits by allowing them to initiate, modify or complete transactions anywhere in the store. With increasing integration of unified commerce, POS systems are increasingly providing in-store associates with a seamless view of customers to facilitate ‘clienteling’. For example, if a customer researched a product online prior to visiting a store, an associate can use that data and other analytical insights from their profile to start a conversation and drive the purchasing journey. Other mobile capabilities allow customers to interact with associates during the shopping experience via chat or requests for assistance. The data being pulled from these mobile technologies means that retailers can offer better-informed customer service, quicker payment processes, greater access to special offers, and more real-time personalisation.
Several other exciting developments are also fuelling advanced POS capabilities. Cloud adoption continues to drive innovation through faster upgrades and better integration; frictionless payment functionality is streamlining the checkout process; and the ‘cashierless’ store concept is revolutionising how consumers engage. However, to enable all of these capabilities and avoid silos, retailers must have an enterprise solution as the foundation for seamless integration. They must also develop a prioritised roadmap around desired capabilities that transform and enhance the customer experience.
Deesean Wilson is the global product manager for retail at DXC Technology
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