End Times for Fixed POS?

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End Times for Fixed POS?

By Joe Skorupa - 09/05/2012
Is it possible to have retail stores without cash-wrap POS stations? Is the retail world as we know it coming to an end? Is the unthinkable thinkable?

The answer is “yes” to all three, according to recent research by RIS that’s corroborated on several key points in a report published by the IHL Group.
The key finding in the RIS report, “The Mobile POS Effect,” is this: One fifth (21.4%) of retailers plan to remove five or more traditional, fixed-station POS units per store and replace them with mobile POS.

Plans to remove one or two fixed POS stations per store might indicate retailers are hedging their bets and testing the waters with alternative POS options. But since the reduction is pegged at four to five it implies total or near total removal in many store concepts.

The rise of mobile POS is the decisive factor in this shift. According to the study, the largest block of retailers (41.4%) say they will deploy three to five mobile POS devices per store in the long term, enabling them to reduce fixed POS stations by a comparable number.

If a larger phenomenon in the evolution of stores has occurred than the rollout of mobile devices then it can only be one of the big three – barcode scanning, computerized POS stations and cash registers. This is an elite group and mobility clearly deserves to join the club.

The impact of mobile devices goes far beyond business efficiency and penetrates deeply into the realms of shopper experience and customer satisfaction.

Retailers see mobile-enabled POS as a direct link to improving the shopper experience and a source for breathing new life into the traditional store model, which is increasingly viewed as embattled.

The IHL Group report, “Consumer Mobile: The End of the Store as We Know It?” tracks the mobile revolution in detail and examines the impact it is having on traditional POS terminals. It also notes that removing fixed POS stations is not the best option for all retail concepts and, therefore, traditional POS stations are not likely to disappear any time soon.

Still, it is possible to envision some stores of the future without fixed-station POS units and what was formerly unthinkable has now become thinkable.