Hard Lessons Learned from Mobile POS Failures

Joe Skorupa
Editor at Large
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By Joe Skorupa
The early adopters of mobile POS paved the way for the next wave of fast followers and credit should be given to these pioneers – Home Depot and Urban Outfitters, to cite two examples – who uncovered many unforeseen problems and ultimately solved them. Now, the next wave of retailers is carefully studying the lessons learned as they formulate new and improved mobile POS strategies that are uniquely suited to their organizations and retail segments.
In the RIS News Custom Research report “Next Wave Mobile POS” we reveal what the early adopters learned and explore the next best steps retailers should take as they embark on their mobile POS journey.
One of the big things we wanted to find out is the answer to the question: What do retailers truly want to accomplish from their mobile POS initiatives? At the top of the list is a soft (meaning hard to measure) objective – to improve face-to-face customer engagement, which was chosen by 50% of retailers.
Although improving customer engagement sounds like a logical outcome it actually contradicts a frequently expressed opinion by many retailers who say associates who use mobile devices during interactions lose eye contact with shoppers. Apparently, that is old thinking. Instead, a large segment of retailers believe customer-engagement benefits clearly outweigh potential distractions.
Here are some other key findings that retailers have learned by observing the failures and successes of mobile POS pioneers:
  • Interestingly, two benefits initially thought of as being top objectives for mobile POS rollouts appear at the bottom of the list. They are saving the sale when an item is out of stock (10.5%) and providing associates with detailed product information (26.3%). These benefits aren’t as valued by retailers as was once thought.
  • The vast majority of retailers believe that return on investment (ROI) is achievable within two years of a rollout.
  • Benchmarking the penetration of mobile POS rollouts today we find the number of retailers who have deployed it in all or most of their stores is surprisingly low -- 13.5%. Although low, this number seems accurate and aligns with reality seen in the marketplace.
  • The top challenge that retailers cite for a mobile POS rollout is the need to create and execute an effective associate training program (56.8%).
These highlights are a small part of the overall study. To get a full set of charts and analysis click here.

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