Every industry evolves, and some even do it at Mach speed. It wasn’t too long ago that consumers used the Yellow Pages to find local business information, Blockbuster brought commercial-free movies into the home, six-disc changers played music in cars, and spare change was handed to toll booth workers.
Evolution is always a market force to be reckoned with, and retail technology is no exception. New mobile apps are flooding the market, drawing on today’s mobile lifestyle while stretching the boundaries of traditional retail environments. The best of these apps join together a better shopping experience for the customer, and more efficient operations for retailers. Following are five reasons why this is great news for indie retailers.
1. No costly up-front investment
Next-gen apps simplify a retailer’s operations by using technology you already own: your smartphones and tablets. Increasingly, you can run and manage your entire operations with these devices alone. You won’t even need add-on credit card swipers or dongles to accept mobile payments. All functions, from POS and item management to loyalty and back office, can be performed and managed on iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices. Say goodbye to the traditional cash register, and hello to easier operations.
2. Leveling the technology playing field
Giant retailers may have bigger budgets to buy the latest-and-greatest technology, but that advantage shrinks with next-generation store systems. Mobile checkout and store apps are quick to deploy, are far more affordable, and are even likely to be free in major app stores. Some even offer simplified payments with fixed-rate transactions, and no surprises or contracts to contend with. And with mobile apps, retailers gain unprecedented freedom of movement within their stores, which leads to innovative store layouts (just think of your last visit to the Apple Store), and more personalized customer interactions.
3. Powerful performance
A small price tag doesn’t mean small performance. The cloud makes mobility more robust, and next-gen apps take advantage of it by featuring reporting and management functions accessible on any mobile device—anywhere. For example, Roshi Muns, owner of Society Bakery in Dallas, says her new mobile-based store system, Cartwheel Register, has dramatically simplified her management processes and increased her productivity. “There’s a lot of potential here for independent business owners,” says Muns. “You can look at a wide variety of reports, like cost of labor, sales information, inventory and more, and each report comes right to your phone or tablet.”
4. Increased security and automatic compliance
Next-gen mobile systems are a step ahead of traditional systems when it comes to security. The best mobile solutions give you instant PCI and EMV compliance, and they never store card information on any device. Information is captured, encrypted and sent to payment processors the instant a credit card is read. Your customers’ specific payment information is never actually recorded.
5. More social good, more customer loyalty
Consumers today like to support good causes, and retailers can do this through mPOS apps that donate a portion of the funds. More than 89 percent say they would switch their loyalty to socially responsible businesses. It’s a great advantage for independent retailers, who tend to have closer relationships with their customers than mass-market brands do. Positioning your store as a socially responsible enterprise not only wins customers today, it lays the groundwork for ongoing loyalty and business growth in the future.
Substantial changes aren’t just coming to mobile retailing, they’re already here. Independent retailers who take full advantage of them will be well ahead of their competitors, not to mention the next generation of shoppers.