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Little Artika enables mobile payments at POS, throughout stores

Infant and children’s furniture, gear, stroller, toy and clothing retailer Little Artika has mobilized its sales staff and point-of-sale system to help drive more sales and increase its profits.

With a LightSpeed Mobile package from Xsilva, Little Artika’s retail staff can engage with customers anywhere in the store using an Apple device over a Wi-Fi, 3G or VPN connection to create new invoices, perform inventory lookups, select a customer or enter a walk-in, scan products with Linea Pro hardware, process credit card payments, accept signatures on-screen and email receipts. LightSpeed Mobile various payment processors, including Merchant Warehouse, Axia, Heartland Payment Systems and

“Driven largely by the tremendous success that the Apple Store has seen with its mobile point-of-sale system, coveted by consumers and retailers alike, retailers are moving – and quickly – to mobilize their POS systems,” said Dax Dasilva, founder/CEO of Xsilva, Montreal.

Technology analyst firm the Aberdeen Group, in its December 2010 report “Retailers target POS mobility for engagement, interactivity and revenue,” reported that 65 percent of retailers identified mobility as a key POS focal point.

Boston Retail Partner’s 12th-annual POS Survey, announced at the 2011 National Retail Federation’s annual conference and exhibition, revealed that more than half of the retailers surveyed planning to launch mobile platforms within the next two years.

“With big-name retailers like Old Navy piloting and Target and Walgreens announcing plans for their own mobile POS systems, it is clear that this technology has moved into the mainstream and 2011 will see both significant traction gained for both vendors offering out-of-the-box systems and investment made in custom application development,” Mr. Dasilva said.

“When it comes to off-the-shelf tools offered by POS vendors, features will distinguish the offerings from one another,” he said. “A lot of noise has been made about mobile payment systems, but they are inadequate for most retailers because they do not offer any bar code scanning or tie into business workflows.

“In LightSpeed, Xsilva has developed a fully integrated POS system that offers a unified retail POS experience across mobile and desktop—LightSpeed 3.4, the latest version, features a ‘hand-off’ feature, where a mobile transaction can be ‘handed-off’ to a POS station instantly in order to settle payment.”

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Ron Barry, owner of Little Artika, Phoenix. Here is what he had to say:

What is Little Artika’s strategy behind the partnership with Xsilva and the launch of the mobile POS platform?
The initial relationship formed sort of accidentally. My partners and I came from a design and Web software development background, so we were attending our ritualistic Macworld SF Expo in 2008 at the same time we were researching new POS systems.

We had been using MS RMS, now Dynamics, and were evaluating POS systems and had pretty much written off the Mac platform.

But then we happened upon the Xsilva booth at Macworld and were drawn in. After a period of due diligence and demo usage, we were totally sold.

By summer of 2010, we had a solid two years of LightSpeed usage behind us.

We were opening a second store that promised to have much more foot traffic and more small ticket ring-up than we were used to, so we were considering adding another register.

That meant another computer, another till, another printer, another scanner, etcetera.

LightSpeed Mobile came along at just the right time.

Like almost everyone else, we were familiar with the impressive ability of Apple Store employees to ring people right on the floor.

LightSpeed Mobile allows for that same functionality via the same hardware, but with our existing POS system and database instead of Apple’s custom-baked system.

LightSpeed Mobile provided several compelling benefits for us, in order of importance from our perspective:

No. 1: It drastically reduced the cost to add another POS station, so we can ring people up right from the floor, with no strings attached.

The cost of one iPod touch plus the hardware kit, which includes a bar code scanner and card reader, plus $5 for the LightSpeed Mobile app from the Apple App Store came out to roughly several hundred dollars.

Versus the cost of an additional computer plus a USB till plus a printer plus a scanner plus another CC terminal, which would easily come out to two or three grand.

No. 2: The ability to do price lookups and product information lookups directly from the floor means no waiting for an open POS station or computer.

No. 3 is the “cool factor”: We are in the business of selling modern, high-design, lifestyle-oriented baby gear. We sell “cool stuff for small humans.”

Many of our customers have an appreciation for aesthetics and cool technology, so when their baby gear shopping experience is surrounded by a “cool workflow,” it adds to the vibe.

No one can be checked out that way without commenting on it.

For now it is novel, but when the novelty wears off, it will just become an expected experience from retailers that could benefit from the better workflow and lower impact of checkout fumbles: scan the products, associate the customer, swipe the card, get a signature, email or print the receipt, done!

What challenges does Xsilva address for Little Artika?
Xsilva’s Mac-based platform, LightSpeed, allows us to largely remove IT hassles from the daily running of our business.

Yes, whenever you have databases with thousands of products, you have maintenance, update and data-entry issues.

Most of the issues that arise from that are due to the human factor and user error.

But our computers and LightSpeed itself do not require much from us on a daily basis. We just use them in the background and focus on our customers.

We almost never crash, have never lost a transaction, have never lost our database or had to re-enter product, or a host of other common problems.

That is a far cry from our past experiences and the experiences of our peers that are on other platforms and POS systems.

Xsilva, the company itself, adds to the equation with their awesome remote access support.

Occasionally, a software update from the Xsilva or the Apple side will cause unexpected glitches. That is why we always update when we know we have a window to test before full deployment during operational hours.

But their tech support uses reverse-connect remote access to see our screens and rapidly address any issues we have.

That means I can be at home on my laptop, remoted in to my LightSpeed server, call Xsilva, have them reverse-connect to the same machine and I can watch them fix stuff from the comfort of my couch while my store is closed.

Then, we are back in business when we open for the day.

Of course, they can also do this in the middle of the day when we are open and something urgent comes up.

This has also happened a few times. But those incidents have decreased with the maturity of the product and the education of ourselves and our staff.

Another thing that we use religiously is the iStats app.

From our phones, or any Web-enabled device, we can quickly get sales and intelligence directly from our POS from anywhere we are as long as we have Internet or wireless network access.

We do not have to launch a full POS client on a computer and tie up a licensed user—we can just do quick-spot intelligence from our phones to see how the day is going without bothering our, hopefully, busy staff.

Plus, they are just nice folks. When we started this business, we made ourselves a promise to only do business with nice, cool people.

It doesn’t matter how much we think we could sell of an item, or how useful something could be to us. We only work with nice people whenever possible. Xsilva fits the bill.

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