Friday, December 5, 2014

Insights on Point of Sale and E-Commerce

A well written article from Soumen Das at UniteU offering some insights and advice related to point of sale systems and e-commerce:

Retailers Missing Out on the Promise of the ‘Endless Aisle’
For years retailers have focused on the wrong technologies —in-store TV networks, augmented reality, RFID, magic interactive dressing room mirrors—instead of mobile point of sale
Soumen Das
Founder and CEO

The retail industry is going through a painful period of digital disruption. Walk any mall or department store and you will encounter RFID tags, interactive video displays, even iBeacon technology, etc., designed to, hopefully, enrich the shopping experience.

But perhaps retailers have focused on the wrong technologies? Mobile point of sale (mPOS) is one digital innovation that retailers have been slow to adopt, yet the impact on revenue can be substantial. According to a Forrester Research Inc., report (June 2014), “The State of The Digital Store 2014,] “Perry Ellis...experienced a 14% lift in average order volume once it implemented ‘endless aisle’ capabilities in-store.”

How can a single technology make such a difference? The answer is to be found in the idea that the entire shopping experience can be transformed when sales associates have access to off-site inventory tracking and recommendation engines. This coming transformation is often referred to as ‘clienteling,’ in which sales associates are empowered to help shoppers find out-of-stock items and make suggestions for associated products.

In a clienteling situation, shoppers are introduced to an “endless aisle” with virtually unlimited inventory and choices. Can’t find that blouse in your color or size? Not to worry! The color of your choice can be shipped to your home today. Recommendations engines can also provide sales associates with smart suggestions to complement that blouse. This intelligence provides real potential for sales floor employees to increase average order value.

Roadblock: IntegrationHowever, the advent of the endless aisle has been roadblocked by a lack of payment system integration. To avoid operational nightmares, mPOS devices must be tightly integrated with existing enterprise systems and operational processes. This can seem a daunting task as integration needs may extend from existing retail systems (POS, ERP, accounting systems) to digital inventory, which may live in an external e-commerce platform.

Innovators such as Square® have revolutionized the mobile checkout for small merchants and service providers, such as taxis, making it easy to accept payments anywhere an iPhone can connect to a network. However, accepting payments for small, medium and even larger merchants is not enough. Without integration employees often must spend hours after a day selling, manually reconciling their sales with the backend systems that manage inventory, orders, commissions and financial reporting. And, vendors like Square® sell these services bundled with credit card merchant accounts, great for micro merchants but it creates issues for larger merchants with established merchant accounts, typically with better rates.

Another approach is a response from the traditional POS (Point of Sale) vendors, who are busy mobilizing their complex POS systems that over the years have evolved into much more than payments systems. The challenge here being that not all of these capabilities translate for ease-of-use and meeting consumer expectations on mobile devices. Another issue is that the richness of data, in terms of product imagery and descriptions in POS systems, is not sufficient to meet consumer expectations or in assisting sales associates.

Increasing Average Order VolumeSo what is the solution? “Forrester expects that e-commerce platform vendors will continue to invest in and evolve their mPOS capabilities” [Forrester Research Inc., Market Overview: Mobile Point of Service Solutions for Retail – September 2013]. E-commerce solutions already have four winning components; integration with existing store systems, rich product imagery, cross selling data and interface usability.

With minimal customization, merchants can leverage numerous backend connections already developed for their e-commerce and mobile commerce needs to coordinate orders, invoices, inventory levels and gift cards. These systems are constantly updated with new payment method integrations and emerging technologies, generally provided by the vendor via automatic updates. From a usability standpoint, e-commerce solutions are built for conversion and to increase average order size via recommendation engines, so product search, recommendations and checkout are already customer-friendly.

In he year ahead, retailers should seriously consider integrated mPOS solutions that have evolved from e-commerce platforms. Generally they offer the endless aisle and recommendation engine features that result in increased ROI and make back-end integration quick and effective.
Soumen Das | CEO and FounderUniteUSoumen Das has been CEO of UniteU since its inception in January 1999. As founder and CEO, Das has provided the vision and managed the growth of the company from start-up through the completion of its technology and subsequent year over year steady growth.

Prior to founding UniteU, Das applied his MBA and Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics to his work at Xerox, including various capacities ranging from product support and front line management in Europe and Latin America to technology, business strategy and operations at the forefront of Xerox digital and Internet initiatives.

Das continually demonstrates to UniteU, its customers and partners a proven ability to apply information technology to solve real problems for the online retail industry.
Len Stein: 

1 comment:

  1. Point of sale has a great importance in eCommerce industries.