Moosejaw Employees Nickname New Mobile POS "The Future Toaster"

Love the Madness. That's the catchy little slogan of Moosejaw Mountaineering, an activewear and outdoor gear retailer with seven physical stores in the Midwest and a strong online presence. The brand is known for its "nonsensical" marketing strategies, such as using a Winston Churchill speech as the "hold music" on its toll-free customer service number and establishing Dating Girl, whom customers can contact for relationship advice. These moves have helped Moosejaw gain a strong following among its core demographic of serious outdoor enthusiasts who are young, anti-corporate and tech savvy.

And yet there's nothing mad or nonsensical about improving the customer experience in very tangible ways. That's exactly what Moosejaw did with its mobile point-of-sale rollout last October after developing the system for four months. "Creating that close connection with customers online and in stores is a big part of our brand and the mobile POS plays to that strength," says Eoin Comerford, Moosejaw CEO. The company partnered with CrossView, a crosschannel commerce solutions provider, to get handheld POS terminals into the hands of store associates.

Comerford says that while the brand looked at how other mobile POS options operate, the company never considered working with another provider, citing existing investments with CrossView and the resulting simplified backend integration: the mobile POS makes it so simple to access product information that sales associates can sell items sight unseen, ordering merchandise from inventory in the warehouse. The handhelds include an iPod touch with a Linea Pro cradle featuring a 2D barcode scanner and a magnetic stripe reader for credit cards. Shoppers can have their receipts emailed or printed out.

Comerford describes the system as hardy enough for a retail environment yet with a sleek form factor that looks familiar to shoppers. "We had to add a secure wireless modem in each shop to support the rollout," he adds. "Future shops have wireless built into the store's firewall device." Moosejaw is expanding into several new markets over the next 12 months.

Moosejaw associates are quite taken with the new technology. "The employees love the mobile POS and have dubbed it ‘The Future Toaster,'" says Comerford. "I'm not sure why — probably something to do with the credit card swipe slot. They like that it enables them to engage directly with customers without a bulky cash wrap getting in the way."

The POS system also helps to eliminate long queues by assisting customers wherever they're located in the store. And shoppers love it, too. "A customer used it in our Ann Arbor store one morning and then called back to say that she wanted another item but had her kids in a car, so could we run the jacket out to the car and ring her up? No problem," explains Comerford. "Overall, customers think it's pretty cool and get a kick out of signing for their credit card with their finger on the screen."

Moosejaw's new mobile POS makes it so simple to access product information that sales associates can sell items sight unseen, ordering merchandise from inventory in the warehouse.

Moosejaw is working on creating "customer engagement areas" in its stores. Different from the standard POS areas where service is traditionally delivered, these areas are located at the front of the store to welcome shoppers and are decorated with broken-in easy chairs, a rug and a coffee table stacked with games. A flat-panel TV with a rotating slideshow of promotions, upcoming events and photos from customers shows a rolling feed from Moosejaw's Twitter account. The company intends for these areas to not only improve customer interactions but also free up valuable floor space for additional merchandise.

Comerford sees other innovations ahead. "We continue to look for ways to stay at the forefront of seamless cross-channel commerce, whether that's web, store, mobile, catalog, social or whatever," he explains. "Customers expect a seamless experience with consistent pricing, policies, purchase history and brand voice."

Jessica Binns is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

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