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Retail Technology: Keeping up with POS

Posted on: December 27, 2017

With options growing every year, how can retailers best deploy mobile point of sale (POS) technologies? Paul Ybarra, SVP of Tangoe, explains

With Apple’s latest iOS release, a major enhancement has been added (for just US users for now) – Apple Pay Cash.

According to the company, Apple Pay Cash allows anyone with “a compatible device with iOS 11.2 and later or watch OS 4.2 and later to quickly and easily send, receive, and request money in Messages from across the table or across the country”. With Apple diving deeper into the Mobile payment waters it will most certainly create waves in the way Millennials want to pay and interact with traditional “bricks and mortar” retailers in the near future.

They will start to expect a digital transformation from traditional ‘bricks and mortars” to a “clicks and mortars” experience that combines the technologies used when shopping on Amazon online, with a convenient, physical location as they continue to use the mobile device as a mobile wallet.

How will this affect or impact mobile point of sale at retailers?

While we don’t have a crystal ball, we do anticipate mobile devices playing a larger and larger role in retail interactions with customers in the future. Those interactions could have many forms, from a tablet used to check out from any location in the store, eliminating waiting in checkout lines to pay, to a tablet at a kiosk allowing customers to look up store reward program details, store maps, or special offers.

Retailers are sure to gain steam in adopting mobile payment options in the near future. On the heels of this year’s Amazon Go announcement there are plans that Target intends to launch a mobile payment system integrated into a store app later this year, and rivals Wal-Mart and Kohl’s have already incorporated similar offerings in their respective store apps.

On top of this is the growing list of retailers accepting Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Wallet, and PayPal at checkout. As the demand for mobile payments grows, retailers must ensure that they are deploying the technology properly.

What can retailers do to prepare for this change?

In order to have the right mobile payment solution, a company’s IT Mobile Compute team needs to be part of the discussion as early as possible. From our experience, many retailers take a “fire, ready, aim” approach when it comes to deploying tablets and new mobile applications to their retail locations.

What often tends to happen is the retailers’ marketing team will devise a customer experience enhancing application, and sell the concept internally, expecting the IT Mobile Compute team to then be able to simply roll the project out. It’s not quite that simple. It is crucial to have the IT Mobile Compute team present from day one of development to help identify key logistical details, software and operating system requirements, essential requirements for different devices, employee training and support processes and a deployment model.

Without IT Mobile Compute representatives as a part of the process from its beginning, deployment to the actual store will hit many unexpected delays.

Furthermore, retailers should admit if they do not have the in-house subject matter expertise and therefore leverage a Managed Mobility Service (MMS) company during the planning session to identify and avoid deployment pitfalls.

What are the benefits of a Mobile POS?

If deployed correctly, leveraging tablets and other mobile technology can increase customer satisfaction and lower a retailer’s labour rate, by making information available to the customer via technology versus relying on individuals to disseminate the information. But as we’ve covered, there are a variety of factors at play to ensure correct deployment. In addition to the early inclusion of an IT Mobile Compute Team, retailers will need to manage multiple areas of a mobile device lifecycle once the product is deployed. The stages of that lifecycle include: 

1. Ordering the device
2. Loading of custom applications
3. Putting a protective case on the device
4. Including custom instructions
5. Assigning the device to a specific store employee during setup
6. Live troubleshooting when the device is not working correctly
7. Verifying carrier billing is accurate
8. Tracking the device inventory information
9. Having a process in place for if/when the device is stolen or lost
10. Replacing the device
11. Fixing broken screens, buttons and display
12. What to do with the device at the end of its life, including removing sensitive company data and disposing of it in an environmentally responsible manner 

Again, retailers can either build that expertise in-house, or leverage a full lifecycle MMS company if the internal expertise does not exist.

What are the cost and security implications?

Once a retailer has completed deployment, they cannot overlook cost and security. To ensure they are receiving the most competitive rates from carriers, retailers can create single accounts with each carrier, rather than leveraging just one.

This allows for devices in use in diverse locations across the globe, and ensures the retailer is leveraging its entire spend. Utilising companies that specialise in global carrier contract negotiation is a fast path to get the best rates from mobile carriers.

In an age of increasingly regular data breaches and hacks, taking every step to keep mobile POS devices secure is a must. Leveraging Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Software is not only a good idea, but a must in order to protect the sensitive data and limit exposure.

Even with the multitude of factors to consider, at Tangoe we are seeing regional and mid-size retailers around the world being the most agile in deploying customer facing mobile technology.

Furthermore, from 2015 to 2016 we saw a tenfold increase in mobile device logistics projects from our customer base. This is almost certainly driven by companies starting to implement mobile device initiatives that were started in 2015.

Now, with the much-publicised “Apple Pay Cash” launch, we expect all retailers to expedite mobile technology deployments into the express line.

Article appeared on Retail Technology here.

$38+
Billion

of spend under
management

7.5+
Million

devices managed
globally

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