The mobile POS decision: A retailer’s checklist

Posted By Kristin Flandreau
Americas Business Group Lead

Mobile POS is hot! The idea of extending the traditional point-of-service function using a mobile form factor appeals to retailers for numerous reasons: it enables retail associates to complete transactions away from the traditional POS device (i.e. line-busting), creates a more personalized sales experience, and allows associates to spend more time on the floor, increasing productivity and sales.

Glancing through the Big !deas sessions for “retail’s big show,” next week’s National Retail Federation’s (NRF’s) Annual Convention & EXPO in New York City, I noted at least half a dozen sessions that touch on mobile POS. To get more insight into this industry trend as our team prepares for NRF, I spoke with Gary Price, director of sales for Retail Solutions at NEC Corporation of America (NEC), one of our new intelligent systems partners. NEC implements end-to-end intelligent systems solutions for retailers using Microsoft and Windows Embedded technologies, and provides full lifecycle management. With this background, Price fully understands the promise—as well as the realities—of mobile POS.

“Tablet-based POS makes sense for many retailers,” Price says. “Tablets give retail associates the option to stand next to the customer in the store as they are making a decision, and close the sale on the floor by processing the purchase immediately on the tablet. Additionally, these devices may be lower in cost when compared to a PC-based POS device or all-in-one units.” But, Price notes, there is no one mobile POS solution that is right for every retailer.

After my discussion with Gary, I came away with several points a retailer should think through when considering mobile POS:

  • User scenarios. What types of networking connectivity need to be supported (wireless, USB, etc.) in the retail environment? What peripherals need to be supported? What types of security and lock-down features are needed?
  • Commercial grade versus consumer grade. Durable commercial-grade tablets may have lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO) than consumer-grade tablets. Compare the time and cost needed to purchase consumer-grade tablets and then potentially replace them multiple times when they break or walk out the door with employees to the time and cost needed to purchase higher-priced but longer-lasting commercial tablets, which are designed for use in a rugged retail environment.
  • Upcoming EMV deadline. October 2015 is the proposed deadline for POS terminals to meet new Europay Mastercard Visa (EMV) standards in the U.S. Retailers need to understand the compliance issues associated with their mobile POS strategy.

I’m always impressed by the commitment our partners show in ensuring their customers make the right choices and are successful. Price will be available for any additional questions on mobile POS at the NEC booth (#351) at NRF. Please swing by and ask him about the new approach to retail IT that NEC will be announcing at the show. Find out more about in-store mobility on NEC’s blog. NEC will also showcase visualization of customer activity and shopper demographics in front of product displays. The solution incorporates NEC biometrics technology and the Microsoft Kinect camera, and will be demonstrated in our Microsoft booth #2703. Read more about Microsoft’s vision for intelligent systems in the retail industry here. See you at the show!

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