The mobility trend continues to gain traction across the retail industry. At the 2016 NRF Big Show, customer engagement and retention strategies ruled, along with a renewed focus on the mobile technology needed to support these critical initiatives at the brick-and-mortar store.

Many consumers today use mobile devices before and during their shopping excursions and retailers are challenged to keep up with them. Mobile POS is a key part of that drive. In-store shoppers want speed, efficiency and convenience on the sales floor. An associate-friendly mobile POS system throughout the store encourages higher levels of customer engagement and customer satisfaction. Interacting with shoppers using tactics such as proximity marketing and in-store sales assistance, a retailer can increase sales opportunities, reduce lost sales, and make the shopping experience more pleasant and convenient.

Retail IT and Mobile POS Spending is Growing

There’s ample evidence that spending on in-store technology and mobile POS is growing. One recent survey* of more than 500 retailers representing various diverse segments of the retail industry revealed that:

  • 35% of retailers plan to invest in mobile POS in 2016
  • Nearly 33% are prioritizing wireless networking
  • 28% are planning to implement a POS software solution
  • More than 28% plan to invest in mobile printers
  • Nearly 25% plan to invest in mobile devices for store associates

For most retailers, the goal is to find an affordable, associate-friendly solution which can be implemented within a relatively short timeframe and is not disruptive to existing store systems. Decision factors should include an accurate assessment of the store’s existing networking infrastructure, the connectivity options (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) desired, and a clear understanding of the software’s functionality. To make these tasks easier, most retail organizations choose to partner with an external solution provider or VAR with industry experience as well as IT expertise.

It’s also important to ensure the interoperability of system components across computing platforms and protocols. Standardizing on easy-to-use mobile devices – such as consumer smartphones and tablets ‒ across the store or group of stores, will make the mobile POS system easier to deploy, manage and update as business needs require. Here also, a knowledgeable business partner can be helpful in ensuring that all components will work seamlessly together.

Key considerations in selecting a high performing mobile printing solution include:

  • Connectivity: Does the printer offer flexible connectivity options, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth?
  • OS Compatibility: Is the printer interoperable with the operating platforms of devices you use now ‒ and will it connect easily with devices you may plan to use in the future?
  • Power Supply and Portability: Can you move the mobile printer anywhere in the store and be confident it will function reliably for the full shift?
  • Broad Functionality: Can the mobile printer print a wide range of high-quality labels and receipts anywhere in the store ‒ from the sales floor, to the stock room, to the sales kiosk outside?

While the challenges may seem daunting, the rewards for successfully implementing a mobile POS strategy can be significant for retail organizations.

Here are five ways in which mobility can help improve customer service and business operations:

  1. Improved customer engagement early in the process can boost customer satisfaction and loyalty, turn casual shoppers into customers, increase sales, and reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts.
  2. Greater engagement with the shopper can also help retain effective sales associates by making their jobs more interesting, engaging and fun. It could also help them more effectively achieve their sales objectives.
  3. Better workflow efficiency makes associates more productive and can help increase transactional speed during busy times. This takes pressure off the check-out counter, eliminating long lines and delays.
  4. Effective end-to-end in-store mobility can link sales floor transactions with the store’s centralized accounting system, and portable mobile printers can be deployed so associates can issue customers’ sales and return receipts right on the spot.
  5. Mobile POS and other in-store mobile technologies can play a key role in supporting a retailer’s omni-channel strategy of linking their e-commerce and in-store messages and presenting a unified face to customers.

Competing in today’s retailing environment is all about customer engagement. In-store mobility can make your store more competitive, dynamic and responsive in real time, offering customer convenience and speedy service. This is a huge advantage for retailers faced with fierce competition and shrinking profit margins!

As mobile technologies continue to advance, Brother strives to provide creative, accessible and affordable mobile printing solutions that can help boost sales opportunities and improve business results. This week we announced the expansion of our line of rugged mobile label and receipt printers. The new RuggedJet2 is an ultra-compact, rugged, and connected —with MFi and Remote Update technology—quickly prints receipts, tags, and labels from 1” to 2” wide. I invite you to try it out for yourself!

*Survey Source:  Innovative Retail Technologies Retail IT Forecast 2016

By David Crist
President at Brother Mobile Solutions

This post originally appeared here.

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