For retailers and food service establishments, the holidays represent both significant opportunities and significant challenges. The opportunities are obvious: crowds of consumers seeking the products and services you have to offer.
The challenges come in effectively managing operations when those crowds stretch stores and restaurants to their maximum capacities (and sometimes beyond). Even a great shopping trip can be ruined if the most memorable part of the experience is waiting too long at a checkout line. Managing returns is another critical area: retailers will want to do everything possible to keep what customers view as a necessary evil from turning into a truly negative experience.
Mobile point of sale terminals can provide a flexible, cost-effective solution to these seasonal challenges. Emerging wireless tablet technology allows retailers to expand their POS capabilities on an as-needed basis, providing associates with handheld POS terminals that can be used to quickly thin out long, slow checkout lines.
Mobile terminals are also ideal for temporary “pop-up” stores and seasonal satellite locations, such as a mall kiosk or an outdoor area selling Christmas trees. These locations often rely on a cash-free operating model, and consumers are becoming increasingly accepting of receiving electronic receipts rather than printed ones, removing the need for a cash till and printer.
Today’s POS solutions can also be easily configured to handle other types of transactions, such as the returns and exchanges that spike after the holiday gift-giving season. When these transactions can take place in the aisles of a store rather than at a centralized returns desk or POS station, customer service levels rise. For example, if the issue is a gift of apparel that’s the wrong size, the associate can help the customer find the right-sized item right on the shelf. And if the mobile POS terminal is connected to back-end inventory and order management systems, the associate can arrange for the right item to be delivered to the shopper’s home – even if it isn’t currently in-stock at the store.
In the food service arena, mobile POS terminals are already demonstrating their utility. Pay-at-the-table solutions can speed transactions and also add to customers’ sense of security because their payment cards are never out of sight. At quick service restaurants (QSRs), mobile POS terminals can be used for line-busting functions and taking orders from customers who are standing in line or waiting at a drive-through.
While navigating the throngs of holiday shoppers may provide the impetus for investing in mobile POS solutions, these devices have year-round applications. When connected to product catalogs, real-time inventory systems, and customer databases, they can be invaluable tools for assisted selling, displaying detailed item information, current product availability and cross-sell and upsell suggestions that will be the most likely to appeal to specific customers. With connections to a retailer’s e-commerce channel, a mobile POS terminal provides associates and customers with an access point to “endless aisles” of inventory beyond what’s currently available in a particular store.
From the line-busting functionality that addresses holiday operational challenges to a host of more advanced applications, mobile POS terminals offer the flexibility that retailers and food service establishments increasingly prize.