Long checkout lines continue to be a problem for both retailers and customers—and one of the most common reasons shoppers at brick-and-mortar stores abandon their purchases.
When customers change their minds about making a purchase, stores lose out. This is one reason why some retailers have been quick to adopt improved point-of-sale (POS) technology, including mobile POS systems.
In 2019, 29.1 million people are expected to use mobile payments in the U.S. totaling more than $87 billion in transactions for the year. Statista predicts that number will grow by 29.6% annually, closing in on nearly $246 billion by 2023. Small and medium-sized retailers are leading that charge, accounting for 79% of mobile POS systems.
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That’s a big piece of the retail pie, making a mobile POS system well worth consideration. Not only are they convenient for retailers, but a mobile POS system can help quash queues and enhance the checkout experience.
While those are two common reasons retailers adopt a mobile POS system, there are a number of other advantages that make an on-the-go POS system worth the investment. Here are some of the top benefits as well as what you can learn from two large retailers that have already mastered mobile POS.
What is a Mobile POS System?
A mobile POS system is just what it sounds like: a point-of-sale system that can move around inside (or outside) your store. Store owners can take transactions from a central point of purchase (like a traditional checkout counter or cash register) to wherever you need it to be. Typically, retailers use hardware like a tablet or smartphone to process transactions and mobilize their POS system.
If you’ve been to an Apple Store, you’ve probably seen staff members completing transactions all over the sales floor. That’s a mobile POS system—and Apple was an early and ardent pioneer, using it to help them redefine what the in-person shopping experience can and should be. (More on how Apple uses mobile POS later.)
Sell Anywhere: The Benefits of a Mobile POS System
The ability to move your point of purchase around your store is a simple modification that can revolutionize the shopping experience for your customers.
It holds the power to completely change the way your store functions and enables you to put customers first without being hamstrung by technology.
While a mobile POS system boasts multiple benefits, those advantages can vary depending on how you implement the POS and use it within your space. Let’s look at four ways that a mobile POS system can benefit both store owners and customers.
Reduce Friction and Ease Pressure on Employees
The most obvious benefit of mobile POS is an end to point-of-purchase congestion. That’s right: No more long checkout lines. Lengthy queues can rapidly take over a whole store during peak selling hours, especially for smaller retailers. Fewer, shorter checkout lines mean customers are far less likely to abandon their items.
A mobile POS system is also helpful for your retail employees. Store associates can quickly consult their mobile device (powered by your POS system, of course) to check stock levels and quickly access product information. With a mobile POS system, staff members are better equipped to help customers, answer questions, and check inventory availability without regularly running off to “check in the back.”
Long lines and impatient customers can understandably put a strain on staff. When you cut down the checkout line with mobile POS, you ease this pressure, enabling your team to spend more time and energy connecting with customers.
Seamlessly Transition from Inquiry to Sale
Traditional stationary POS systems have a way of slicing and dicing the customer experience. Customers interact with one employee on the sales floor when they have a question and another entirely when making a purchase. Instead of dealing with one staff member and developing a personal rapport, many customers rarely interact with the sales staff and barely make small talk with cashiers, and instead rush through the checkout line.
With a mobile POS system, one staff member can manage a customer’s entire journey.
Employees can transition seamlessly from helping customers to making recommendations to completing the sale.
When your team is able to build a connection with customers, they can foster a feeling of trust and make more personalized product recommendations. This makes it easier to upsell and cross-sell, resulting in more and larger sales. Plus, when the checkout process is fast, there are fewer barriers and less friction when making a sale.
Be More Flexible About Where and When You Sell
There are a lot of places where you and your customers can interact outside your brick-and-mortar store, from pop-up shops and pop-in stores to food trucks and public markets. A mobile POS system helps you seamlessly process sales at any and all of these locations.
Without the physical constraints of a stationary POS (not to mention annoying cords and cables), you can be more active and engaged within your local community without sacrificing sales. This is a selling tactic for The Cheese School of San Francisco, a merchant that regularly takes their tasty products on the road. After performing on-site demos and tastings at venues all over the city, employees can process sales on-the-spot.
Taking your products out into your community helps build brand awareness and recognition while reaching new audiences and winning over new customers.
Gather Customer Email Addresses and Go Paperless In-Store
In the ecommerce world, there are many opportunities to gather information about your customers to help you better market to and serve them. Brick-and-mortar retailers don’t have as many organic opportunities to collect customer information, but a mobile POS system can help that.
For example, customers can opt to receive an email receipt instead of a paper one. This gives you access to their email address and is a perfect opportunity to ask customers to subscribe to your email list.
FURTHER READING: Looking to ditch paper receipts? Learn how retailers can leverage email receipts.
The days of single-channel shopping are long past, so gaining access to your customers’ digital habits is more important than ever. Engaging customers across the channels they frequent most (think online, social media, and in-store) offers you the chance to stay top of mind. Emailing receipts instead of printing them is also a lot greener, saving you a few bucks while also helping the environment.
Mobile POS System Pioneers and What You Can Learn From Them
Many small and mid-sized businesses lean on mobile POS systems, but there are a few retail giants that stand out for perfecting the practice. Brands like Apple and Warby Parker leveraged mobile POS to turn the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience on its head.
When the first physical Apple Store opened in 2001, it was immediately clear it would be unlike any other brick-and-mortar. One of the most striking visual differences was a lack of any checkout line or centralized point-of-purchase.
Everything about the stores, from the sleek, minimalist design to the blue-shirted employees roaming around was designed to keep customers focused on Apple’s products. Avoiding a congested, stationary POS system removes the frustration of long checkout lines while maintaining the open layout that showcases products and encourages staff to engage with customers.
What You Can Learn
- Eliminating a centralized point-of-purchase opens up a lot of free space in your store, and enables you to completely rethink and reorganize your layout.
- Without the focal point of a stationary POS, you can play up something else in its place—your products (like Apple) or your brand mission.
Warby Parker was among the first of a growing number of online direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands to make a foray into brick-and-mortar retail.
For many of these brands, the physical store isn’t about getting customers to walk out the door with a shopping bag in hand—it’s about providing them the opportunity to touch, feel, and experience products before they order.
That’s why Warby Parker uses a mobile POS system to make the transition from browsing to selling as seamless as possible. All of its employees are trained to handle everything customers may need and each is equipped with a tablet to place orders. The important thing here is implementation: Because Warby Parker invested in a great mobile POS system and trained its employees to use it seamlessly, the checkout process is incredibly quick and painless for customers (so much so that I, an impatient millennial, found it remarkable when I bought my own pair of glasses.)
What You Can Learn
- A mobile POS system isn’t a gimmick. Its power rests in the way you implement it in your store and the reality of your own mobile checkout process.
- Mobile POS can make your life a lot easier as a retailer, but it’s vital to pass that ease on to customers, too.
FURTHER READING: Need some guidance with finding the best mobile POS system for your retail business? Consult our checklist to find the POS for you.
Better Customer Experience With a Mobile POS System
Mobile POS systems have been steadily and rapidly on the rise—and they’ll only continue to grow in the coming years.
The benefits to both you and your customers are clear and many. If you take the opportunity to learn from successful retailers who are already employing mobile point-of-sale, stellar customer experience is well within your reach.