Ahh, the old reliable point-of-sale (POS) system. It’s familiar, it’s comfortable and it works. For retailers, the thought of replacing their entire network of POS hardware and software can be an uncomfortable proposition. Not only is it sometimes unclear where the return on investment is, but also it impacts deployment, training, support and maintenance. No wonder retailers end up sticking with what they already know.
The problem is that out-of-date POS systems quickly become an inhibitor and don’t line up with the larger omnichannel retail strategy. Older systems, both hardware and software, were designed solely to handle transactions. Modern POS systems are designed to handle relationships. This key difference puts the retail POS system at the center of an omnichannel retail strategy.
Tear Down Silos and Enable Omnichannel Retail
Customers don’t see channels – they see a brand. And they expect the same experience each and every time they interact with a brand. Whether online, mobile, in-store or through other channels, customers don’t differentiate the same way retailers do.
That’s why many in the industry are starting to adopt the term “Total Retail,” which views the customer holistically no matter where they are shopping. But whether you call it omnichannel retail, unified commerce or total retail, the objectives are the same. You need to capitalize on new sales opportunities and grow revenue in a highly competitive retail market.
So where does the POS system fit into this? Today’s POS systems are the center of the entire retail ecosystem, and have the capabilities to bring together every channel to form one complete picture.
Make the Store the Center of the Digital World
Retailers are finally starting to blur the lines between the digital and physical worlds. Deloitte, for example, found that 43 percent of consumers plan to use click-and-collect programs during the 2016 holiday season. Other initiatives, such as buy online and return in-store, ship-from-store or endless aisle capabilities are all becoming popular. Old POS systems are unable to track interactions outside of the direct transaction, making these programs difficult to implement. Instead, retailers can install a modern POS ecosystem that tears down existing silos to make for a seamless shopping experience.
Get out from Behind the Counter with Mobile POS
Store associates are the front-line staff that customers deal with every time they go into the store. As the role of the store changes, the role of store associates needs to change with it. With mobile POS systems based on smartphones or tablets, retailers can shift their employees from a cost-center to a valuable asset that helps customers and facilitates sales. In a world where 70 percent of consumers want in-store recommendations, bringing employees out from behind the counter and onto the floor to speak face-to-face with customers is a huge opportunity. Not only can this help your brand stand out from the crowd, but also it can improve conversion rates as employees finalize the sale on the spot with ease.
Get Customers through the Line and Through the Door
Few things in life are certain. But one thing that is for sure is that people hate waiting in line. PWC found that 46 percent of customers said “ease of checkout” was the number one factor that would make the in-store shopping experience better, and 44 percent of holiday shoppers said long lines were the biggest reason they avoided the store. Modern technologies such as self-checkout, combined with new POS hardware and software, are designed to make the checkout experience simpler and easier for the customers, while collecting more data for the retailers. If retailers can’t get customers through the line, they won’t get customers through the door.
Sweating your Retail POS Systems will Inhibit Omnichannel Retail
Upgrading the entire retail POS system is definitely a large investment that can open up new challenges for retailers. With the critical importance of keeping the POS system running at all times, retailers are often hesitant to move from something they know to something unfamiliar. And the concern is valid. One U.S. retailer recently reported a 12 percent sales drop as a direct result of a poorly implemented POS system.
But the truth is, modern retailers must move away from transactions and toward relationships. Enabling full omnichannel retail capabilities requires retailers to upgrade to a modern POS system that integrates all channels and becomes the central point of the entire strategy. Done right, it can turn employees into valuable assets, decrease wait times and enable new capabilities, so that your customers are happier and your sales grow.