Back in November 2011, Greg Buzek, President of IHL Group, provided our tekSESSIONS attendees with valuable insight into the way mobile solutions typically unfold in 4 stages:
1) Store Managers
2) Store Associates
3) Mobile POS
4) Consumer Engagement
While Buzek explained that Stages 1 and 2 usually serve as an enhancement to an existing POS solution, it’s Stage 3—Mobile POS—that he said would be the real game-changer for retail.
And, so far, it appears that Buzek was spot-on with his presumption. Since then, a number of mobile POS payment solutions have hit the market and begun ushering in a new era of retail.
As a matter of fact, just this past week, Isis—the joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless—announced a roster of national merchants that will be joining the mobile commerce solution’s network this summer.
This development is particularly significant given the fact that NFC payments have gotten off to a relatively slow start, as Google Wallet and Isis have been struggling to get retailer mindshare. Aside from adding some big name retailers like Aéropostale, Dillard’s, Foot Locker and Macy’s, Isis also announced new retail partnerships across Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Another key development on the mobile payment front came in March 2012 when VeriFone announced plans to enable Isis NFC mobile commerce capabilities on all of its stationary hardware.
But this most recent wave of mobile payment solutions goes beyond the NFC-based mobile wallet platforms I’ve blogged about in the past. Aside from the Google Wallet and Isis payment solutions, there is a variety of new mobile plug-ins that “are serving more merchants across verticals” according to a recent Retail TouchPoints (RTP) article, Mobile POS: Changing The Way Retailers Think About Payment.
Mobile plug-ins themselves are small pieces of hardware that enable smaller merchants to conduct credit card transactions by simply plugging the device into a smartphone or iPad. However, mobile payment companies like Square and PayPal recently unveiled new apps, which allow even the smallest of retailers to move beyond simple payment processing. I think the fact that merchants like crafters or hot dog vendors have the ability to list menu items, track customer purchases and inventory, proves just how far-reaching these new mobile POS developments are.
The three-part report released by RTP gives a great overview of some of the other latest developments in EMV, mobile payment and mobile POS. And, after reading it there is little doubt that mobile has gotten to the point in the industry where it’s a “need to have” instead of a “nice to have.” Supporting this theory is Motorola’s Mobile POS Study, which found 23% of retailers surveyed between Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 currently have mobile POS solutions deployed, with 11.3% are piloting options.
But one particular point made in the RTP article really struck a chord with me from an IT standpoint. Erik Vlugt, VP of Product Marketing for VeriFone Systems, talked about the importance of “ensuring existing payment infrastructures and methods work well while integrating new technologies and applications.”
“There is a tremendous new complexity hitting the POS industry,” he explained. “Retailers want to take advantage of all of these new payment applications, including Google Wallet, Isis, PayPal and mobile devices such as tablets, but need an integrated solution.”
It’s understandable why retailers are feeling the push to accept a variety of new payment applications. However, in order to do this successfully, it’s crucial that all of the various platforms, devices and service carriers are utilizing the same architecture to ensure smooth, secure transactions. Most importantly, retailers need to find the best solution for their store and their business objectives, so it’s best to do your research before making any large-scale investments.
So, are you currently planning to adopt mobile POS tools? What are some of the business objectives you have for adopting these solutions? Join our LinkedIn group, Retail tekSPERTS and weigh in! We’re always online, so if you’d rather just stay up-to-date on the latest developments in retail/hospitality technology, you can always follow us on Twitter @tekservePOS or connect with us on Facebook.