It's the End of POS as We Know It

Joe Skorupa
Editor at Large
By Joe Skorupa
Retail stores have been designed around cash-wrap POS stations for decades. But a new study just released by RIS indicates the decades-long reign of the cash wrap POS station is coming to an end. 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. Does this indicate retail is on the verge of a dramatic shift in POS as we know it? This study says it is.
According to “The Mobile POS Effect” research report, 21.4% of retailers say their long-term plan is to remove five or more fixed POS stations per store, a dramatic finding that indicates retail is on the verge a paradigm shift. (Note: The 21.4% figure is achieved by combining the number who say they will reduce fixed POS stations by more than 5% and those who say they will remove ALL fixed POS stations – both were selected by 10.7% of respondents).
Plans to remove one to two fixed-station POS units per store might indicate retailers are hedging their bets and testing the waters with alternative POS options. But that is not the case. Instead the reduction is pegged at the significant figure of four to five, which implies total removal in many store concepts and near-total removal in the vast majority.
Backing up this finding is the low percentage of retailers who take the reverse position and say they DO NOT PLAN ANY LONG-TERM REDUCTIONS in fixed POS stations per store – just 14.4%. Clearly, there is no strong desire among retailers for maintaining fixed POS station status quo.
Rise of Mobile POS

No doubt the rise of mobile POS is the decisive factor in this paradigm shift. According to the study, 55.2% of retailers have initial plans to deploy one to two mobile POS devices per store immediately and number jumps to three to five mobile POS devices per store in the long term, which is a nice parallel to the finding that fixed POS station removals are pegged at five or more.
The doubling of mobile POS devices per store in the long term adds fuel to the fire that retail stores are on the precipice of a dramatic reinvention and removal of its most distinctive visual element and business hub – the fixed-station POS.
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.
In the two years since Home Depot rolled out mobile POS to all its stores in 2010 a cadre of other leading retailers has also joined the mobile revolution. Some names are recognized leaders, such as Nordstrom, Disney Stores, Urban Outfitters and Lowe’s. Others are not noted for being in the vanguard, but the list is growing and the trend is picking up momentum.
The impact of mobile devices goes far beyond business efficiency and penetrates deeply into the critical realms of shopper experience and customer satisfaction.

For a complete set of charts and findings from the RIS study click here.
For a more detailed and comprehensive research report on this topic by the IHL Group titled Consumer Mobile: The end of the Store as We Know It?" click here

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