Today GoMo News continues our series of articles written exclusively for us by our friends in the mobile industry. We got such a good response to our request for “Christmas blogs” that we didn’t have enough space to publish them all – but luckily for all our readers, we’re posting them now! Today’s article is from Sandeep Bhanote
CEO, Global Bay Mobile Technologies, on the important role that mobile devices can play inside the store.
Today’s shoppers are tech savvy, and they increasingly expect the businesses they interact with to be as well. Inside the four walls, retailers are struggling to keep up with a consumer base that is dramatically outpacing them in the adoption of new mobile technologies. As smartphones and iPads continue to skyrocket in popularity, retailers are empowered to provide shoppers with on-demand product and store information wherever they are – including in the store.
Keeping retailers up at night – and contributing to lost revenue – are issues like slow-moving check-out lines, missed selling opportunities, and poor customer service, with store associates lacking up-to-date information about product features or availability. In addition, retailers are struggling with how to best make use of outdated software systems and bulky handheld mobile options. The good news, however, is that the dynamics are changing. It is clear that mobile represents a sea change in how retailers approach store operations and consumer interactions, and retailers are waking up to the need to leverage mobile throughout everyday store operations and consumer interactions. Forward-looking retailers are using mobile in new and unique ways to take charge of their store operations like never before, and propel themselves into 21st century.
Next-generation mobile technology including Mobile POS, inventory management software, and consumer-facing applications that encourage higher brand interaction present retailers with the opportunity to leverage existing investments in store software technology and significantly enhance retailer-to-consumer interactions.
The Apple Store Experience Sets A High Bar
The “Apple in-store experience”, and continued deployment of mobile POS systems by other major retailers, has demonstrated that mobile POS is the wave of the future. By allowing store associates to check out and assist customers anywhere in the store, Apple and others are able to eliminate long lines at checkout, reduce lost sales due to walkouts, and increase units per transaction (UPT) by encouraging an exceedingly personalized sales environment.
In addition, mobile POS is about more than just “swipe and go.” 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, and more. All of this empowers sales associates and further contributes to increased revenue and a superior in-store experience.
While many retailers today offer store associates access to this information, it is usually via a POS terminal with a fixed location. This method of servicing a customer by guiding them to a stationary POS terminal is no longer feasible, and savvy retailers should demand a system of servicing the customer at the point of contact, regardless of where it takes place in the store.
Bringing mobile POS systems to retailers is a disruptive force in the industry with the potential to streamline retail operations. Earlier this month, we saw excitement in the technology press when it was reported that our customer, Guess? Jeans was testing an apple-based line busting solution. Increasingly, companies like Guess Jeans have witnessed the vast potential that mobile POS offers for growing their businesses, and we anticipate this trend to grow rapidly in 2011.
How Do Retailers Get Started?
The retail industry is justifiably apprehensive at the prospect of shelving their existing POS technology and starting from scratch. Major retailers have already leveraged millions of dollars in their legacy POS technologies, and it is not feasible for them to throw away that investment and start anew. At Global Bay, we offer retailers the ability to breathe new life into their existing store systems by leveraging their current investment in store technologies and POS infrastructure. Our mobile software platform integrates with a retailer’s existing POS and back-end infrastructure to facilitate in-store mobile transactions, track inventory, deliver real-time sales analytics, and more. When using Global Bay’s highly configurable technology platform, retailers are not tied to any one back-end system or device, and instead have the flexibility to integrate their preferred devices with existing back-end infrastructure.
What to Expect in Mobile in 2011
Due to the vast potential for mobile POS to streamlineretail operations and grow retailers’ business, we anticipate adoption of comprehensive mobile strategies to increase among retailers in 2011. Here’s why:
The Landscape: Multi-channel retail interaction is entering a rapidly changing new reality, and retailers who do not embrace new technologies are faced with the prospect of being left behind. Next-generation retail mobility software now makes it easier for retailers to effectively implement a strategic mobile POS experience in their stores.
The Apple Experience: By supporting the ability of store associates to check out and service customers anywhere in the store, the Apple in-store experience has earned its reputation as one of the most effective in retail. Global Bay’s leading retail mobility software offers many innovative applications on multiple mobile platforms that can effectively streamline retail enterprise and grow retailer’s business.
Tailored Solutions: It is obvious that different retailers have different ideas on how mobile should be implemented into their overall in-store and online selling strategies. Whether it is an iPad application for personalized, face-to-face selling, an in-store kiosk, a consumer facing iPhone application for m-commerce, or a full-throated mobile POS system, Global Bay can customize a comprehensive mobility solution for retailers of all shapes and sizes.
Retailers are waking up to the huge opportunity presented by leveraging mobile in their stores. Past barriers like being tied to a particular mobile device and the challenges of workforce training are rapidly evaporating. For the reasons outlined in this article, we believe that 2011 will be a big year for mobile POS in retail.