Making point of sale mobile means better service, by Maxatec
Written by Tom Abbott (pictured, right), Director of Mobile Enterprises at IT services company Maxatec
We live in an impatient world. It isn’t that people are intrinsically impatient these days; it’s just part of our culture. We live our working lives at speed and people also expect to be able to squeeze every last moment of enjoyment from their downtime and that can only be achieved if they aren’t delayed in any way. This spills over into hospitality, sports and past times and presents big implications for those who offer such services.
The traditional bottleneck in service is the delay at the cash register. Queuing to pay has to be one of the nation’s bugbears. We are all prepared to wait a reasonable amount of time to place an order and be served, but we don’t want to line up to pay the bill. It’s a matter of order, consume, pay and be on your way.
The catering trade is picking up on this and is using tablet PCs (Waiter Pads) to streamline food and beverage order processing and to send accurate details wirelessly directly to the kitchen from the customers table. This technology is also being used to process customers' bills quicker at the point of sale (POS).
The next stage is actually taking the payments at the table directly on the tablet PCs. This will replace the need for waiting staff to rush around looking for the card machine or the customer having to go to the cash desk. The mobile devices only need the addition of credit and debit card readers, and with the advent of Near Field Communication (NFC) payments, it won’t be long before even the plastic card will give way to instant payments from customers’ mobile phones.
It doesn’t take much to mobilise your point of sale. The software exists, mobile computers – particularly rugged or ruggedized tablet PCs – are readily available and cost-effective, and there is a good choice of mobile receipt printers on the market. Putting it all together isn’t rocket science either, so long as you select the right partner – and that needs to be one that has experience of mobile POS applications.
We’ve seen such mobile POS applications pay dividends in improving customer service and loyalty. The customer gets what he or she wants and the payment experience is slick and easy. We can see a huge potential for mobile POS for all types of businesses – even those thought of as being very traditional.
Fishing, for example, attracts around 4 million anglers a year to freshwater venues. Each angler over the age of 12 years must have a fishing rod licence and in addition millions of these have to buy a permit to fish; and, that isn’t always convenient as the angler has to purchase the fishing ticket before fishing. Instead, wouldn’t it be better if the angler could go direct to the water and pay on the spot. It also gives the water bailiff or warden the opportunity to check that licences are up to date too.
But, it doesn’t stop there. All kinds of sports where people have to pay to play could benefit from mobile POS. Indeed, the entertainment sector in general would benefit too. We’ve heard of all sorts of users improving service with mobile POS, including a lap dancing club. I’ll leave you to ponder that one for yourself. The most important thing for the service provider, whether food, sport or entertainment, is to consider the gains they will achieve by taking all of the service to the customer and not breaking up their experience with traditional payment administration.
Tom Abbott is the Director of Mobile Enterprise at Maxatec, an ISO 9001:2008 certified Value Added Supplier of Specialist IT Hardware, Software and Services to the Mobile Enterprise, AIDC and EPOS market sectors.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.