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42pc of retailers trialing mobile POS to enhance in-store experience

EMS store associates are equipped with iPads

Mobile point-of-sale solutions are turning into a core strategy for businesses in the retail, hospitality and field services industries, according to a new report from Motorola Solutions Inc.

Retailers, in particular, are showing a strong interest in using mobile devices in stores to provide shoppers with more personalized service, payment convenience and enhanced cross-selling opportunities.

“As retailers battle for shoppers’ hearts and wallets, mPOS serves as a valuable tool that can help turn browsing into buying,” said Michelle Crissey, customer solutions lead at Motorola Solutions, Schaumburg, IL.  “When the power of mPOS is in the hands of every retail associate, shopping becomes an experience and associates are always in a position to make the sale.”

Line busting
The survey found that 16 percent of retailers currently have a mobile POS solution while less than nine percent have completely mobile or portable checkout systems.

Some of the retailers currently testing mobile POS solutions include Sephora, Bass Pro Shops and Eastern Mountain Sports.

Key findings include that 66 percent of retail respondents are interested in mobile POS while 42 percent are currently piloting or starting trials within the next 36 months. The majority of these efforts are focused on using mobile POS for sales associates on the store floor or line-busting.

Additionally, 71 percent of retailers that indicated an interest in mobile POS said they are planning to use it to improve customer service while 51 percent intend to use mobile POS to provide access to inventory management, 48 percent to pricing and 42 to merchandise returns applications.

Other findings include that 55 percent of retailers plan to incorporate the ability to take cash as part of their mobile POS solutions.

On average, retail respondents anticipate replacing more than 36 percent of their fixed POS as a result of migrating to a mobile POS.

Capturing more sales
Retailers are embracing mobile POS solutions for their ability to capture sales that might otherwise be missed because customers do not want to wait in line.

A December 2011 survey from Motorola found that one-third of store visits ended with an average of $125 unspent due to missed opportunities to purchase and that inefficient payment processes is one of the leading contributors to these lost sales. More than 43 percent of shoppers agreed that their shopping experience improved when store associates used mobile POS devices.

Bass Pro Shops recently began piloting the use of iPod touches in stores to reduce the amount of time customers spend waiting in line to make a purchase (see story).

Outdoor apparel and gear retailer Eastern Mountain Sports recently said it would roll out iPads in its stores following a successful pilot in four stores last year (see story).

Beauty products retailer Sephora has implemented software from Agilysys and RedIron to turn iPod touches into mobile point-of-sale devices across a number of its stores (see story).

Mobile POS also gives retailers a way to eliminate the high cost of traditional cash registers while providing a way to accept payments wherever and whenever. This includes magnetic stripe, chip and PIN-based credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards as well as near field communications via a mobile phone.

The goal of retailers’ mobile POS efforts are to improve the quality and speed of service while increasing customer loyalty.

“Retailers in particular are showing a strong interest in deploying mPOS solutions over the next 2 years to provide shoppers with more personalized service and payment convenience while gaining more opportunities to close the sale,” said Frank Riso, global lead for the retail and hospitality industry at Motorola Solutions Inc.

“A sophisticated mobile strategy allows store associates to look up inventory, determine product availability and location in real-time, access customer history for upselling and cross-selling,” he said. “All of this empowers sales associates and further contributes to increased revenue and a superior in-store experience.”