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2020: The Year of the Modern POS

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 90 percent of retail sales in the most recently reported quarter were transacted in-store. There is no question that the in-store experience is critical to the success of any retailer.

To deliver a truly elevated in-store experience, retailers must provide customers the speed, convenience and choice available via online shopping along with the hands-on, personal touch of shopping in-store. The way retailers can deliver this ideal experience is by implementing a modern POS system. Affordable, easy-to-use modern POS systems are now readily available to retailers of any size who want to offer their customers a digitally savvy brand experience combined with highly personalized customer service.

With the new year only weeks away, here are four important features that retailers must offer their customers to stay competitive in 2020. Fortunately, today’s modern POS systems can help, providing important benefits to retailers while enhancing the overall shopping experience for customers.

Check Out the New Checkout

A study reported in Chain Store Age cites that last year, 86 percent of consumers have left a store due to long lines, resulting in approximately $38 billion in lost sales. That’s not surprising given the “now” economy to which most consumers, particularly Millennials, have become accustomed.

Instead of investing in new technologies that create a truly frictionless checkout experience, many retailers continue to invest in legacy systems that lock them into old, clunky, siloed systems, a phenomenon we call “tech debt.” Retailers feel that they have invested so much time and money into existing systems, they are reluctant to start over.

That’s a huge mistake given the expediency and affordability of newer, modern, cloud-based POS systems that allow checkout anywhere in the store, accepting numerous payment options and even working off-line during power outages. It’s time that retailers dump the glorified calculators at the fixed checkout stations and equip their store associates with small, state-of-the-art, handheld mobile devices that turn a transaction into an experience and make checkout the easiest part of the customer journey.

Provide a Connected Shopping Experience…Anywhere, Anytime

Because brands typically established their store platforms long before establishing an online presence, the technology stacks for the two channels tend to be separate and unconnected. This is what has led to the clumsy, disassociated shopping experience many consumers currently experience when they access a brand via different channels. This no longer needs to be the case.

Modern POS connects all channels, enabling consumers to interact with a brand from a desktop, a mobile device or in-store and enjoy a consistent experience. Customer and purchase information, loyalty status and shopping cart data can all be accessed anytime from anywhere. And if part of an order isn’t available in-store, consumers can now complete one simple transaction, accessing inventory from multiple channels but making only one payment. And finally, a modern POS also allows for various fulfillment options across channels, such as buy online, pickup in store, which not only offers an added convenience to the customer, but drives foot traffic to the store providing additional sales opportunities.

Save the Sale With Endless Aisle

As the economics of retail change, we have seen a noticeable shift away from mega department stores and a move toward smaller branded stores. While this shift provides efficiencies to retailers, it also poses a challenge in terms of storing inventory and offering customers the breadth of styles, colors and sizes they are used to.

Modern POS systems solve this problem as well by creating an “endless aisle” of inventory available for customers shopping in these smaller footprint stores. Modern systems integrate both in-store and online product and inventory data — available on the store associate’s mobile device or via an in-store kiosk — providing customers with data about, and access to, the retailer’s entire product catalogue. This allows store associates to place online orders on behalf of the customer if an item is not currently available in-store. What previously would have been a lost opportunity is now additional revenue for the brand.

Make Your Customers Feel Like VIPs

An important differentiator between shopping online and shopping in store is the personal, one-on-one connection established when a customer interacts with a store associate. To foster this important connection, retailers must service the customer in a way that makes them feel special and drives customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Modern POS systems help achieve this by offering clienteling services, which store a treasure trove of useful information that empowers the store associate and helps create a personal connection with the customer. Information such as a customer’s personal shopping history, typical purchase size, preferences, likes, dislikes, clothing size, loyalty status and wish lists, as well as personal, in-app communications, can all be made available to the store associate with a simple tap in the app.

Today’s consumers are looking for a shopping experience that is fast, convenient and offers a great deal of choice, but are not willing to give up personalized customer service. The key for retailers is to let go of legacy POS systems and embrace today’s new, affordable, cloud-based, plug-and-play systems. Modern POS systems provide invaluable benefits to retailers while enhancing the shopping experience for customers, allowing them to feel connected to and valued by the brand.

Nitin Mangtani is the founder and ceo of PredictSpring.