Consumer behaviors in the 2020s indicate tech-savvy shoppers know how to navigate an omnichannel world. They order online for curbside service, pay at the table in restaurants, and look for sales associates with mobile solutions to checkout rather than waiting in line.
However, John Choi, Product Manager for Epson America, says they’re encountering the entire spectrum of customer experiences, from good to bad, when they take advantage of those options.
“Take buy online, pick up in store. There’s a lot of friction if the merchant doesn’t have a dedicated platform for this,” Choi explains. After placing an order, consumers may not have the information they need to know when to pick it up or how to let the merchant know they’ve arrived. “Merchants that piecemealed a solution together struggle to provide good experiences,” he says.
Choi adds that checkout lanes are no longer preferred in a store or restaurant – consumers increasingly expect on-the-spot service rather than waiting in line.
How Mobile Solutions Can Help
Merchants have leveraged mobile point of sale (POS) solutions for some time for line-busting or assisting customers in the aisles. However, these solutions also have the potential to improve omnichannel processes. When a merchant uses mobile devices, buy online, pick up in store, customers no longer have to wait at a checkout counter. Store or restaurant employees can meet them curbside or at the door to complete transactions. Consumers can also purchase additional items when they arrive and add them to the total or immediately handle returns if they change their minds.
However, Choi reminds independent software vendors (ISVs) that a mobile POS solution that delivers optimal value to merchants does more than carry out transactions. For example, merchants are looking for solutions that include loyalty program capabilities and the ability to pull transactional histories. “Merchants can greatly enhance customer experiences with that data – upsell with personalized recommendations, make customers aware of loyalty rewards and promotions, and offer services related to sales,” he says.
Furthermore, the demand for mobile solutions that enhance customer experiences and operational efficiency isn’t limited to the retail and restaurant verticals. For example, direct store delivery (DSD), last-mile delivery, and other field services businesses have also responded to customer demands by deploying mobile solutions with POS capabilities. Instead of invoicing, these businesses are managing accounts and accepting payment upon delivery of products or services – if they have solutions that support those processes.
Making It Work
The challenge for ISVs is extending terminal POS capabilities to mobile POS. “Mobile POS operates outside of a controlled environment,” Choi explains. Unlike the traditional process in which a grocer rings up an order, accepts payments, and prints a receipt, there can be more variability when that merchant enables omnichannel transactions. When an online grocery order is delivered to a shopper’s vehicle, eggs could break or packaging could tear. Mobile POS must be capable of voiding items, crediting the consumer, and printing a receipt.
Integrations are key to providing the features that merchants need to optimize omnichannel experiences. Third-party solutions can provide customer relationship management (CRM), loyalty, and other functionality merchants need to craft competitive experiences.
In addition, integrating your mobile POS solutions with mobile printers, such as Epson’s MobilinkTM portable wireless receipt printers, gives merchants an easy way to print receipts at the point of service. Sales associates providing curbside service or in-aisle assistance can’t carry a printer or walk inside for a receipt. The best solution is lightweight and ergonomic with reliable connectivity.
“Merchants don’t want to send the customer inside the store to a customer service lane. They need technology capable of handling issues immediately,” he says.
The Outlook for Mobile Solutions
Choi predicts the trend to move away from stationary checkout lanes to mobile solutions will continue to build momentum in the coming years. “Tech in any form addresses the need for more access to data, greater operational efficiency, and optimal use of labor,” he says.
“Mobile solutions with a dashboard that allows an employee to find customer information with just a few clicks speeds up transactions and saves time for more high-quality work,” Choi explains.
He also envisions operations in the future in which the back-office server or data center is replaced with mobile solutions that communicate directly with the cloud; and on the consumer side, proximity-based solutions that enable interactions via app in-store.
“Mobile is becoming a part of the overall solution,” Choi comments. “But it will require more platform integration. The industry is still undergoing the transition to find the sweet spot to optimize interactions with customers.”