Supplant Emerging Technology in Retail
New technology brings new capability. Within the retail POS hardware industry, new technology is driving change in retail hardware platforms. Cloud-based software, coupled with the emergence of powerful and feature-rich mobile devices, offers new possibilities for retailers to better serve and engage their shoppers at the Point of Purchase.
Typical construction of a Point of Sale cash register is centered on a PC workstation. These cash register systems are often positioned in one or more fixed locations in the retail store. They might be served by an array of peripheral devices: a touch display, a customer pole display, a handheld scanner, a receipt printer, and a cash drawer. These peripheral devices are typically configured with serial or USB interfaces and connect to a port on the PC workstation dedicated to each device. Software developers engage each device through OPOS or native DLLs drivers created by the hardware manufacturer.
In this setting, a shopper is compelled to queue up at the cash register and stage their goods for itemized sale. By contrast, software functionality and mobile device technology allow a retailer to bring the Point of Sale transaction to the shopper at their Point of Purchase. In this way, a retailer can increase shopper loyalty by providing a more convenient, more personalized, and more interactive transaction experience.
A purpose-built Point of Sale solution can be developed from the ground up for the mobile transaction faster than ever. Hardware manufacturers are creating new solutions to support this trend. By selecting hardware that maximizes the benefits of a mobile transaction, a retailer can significantly improve system performance and significantly reduce the total cost of the system. However, the current PC-centric workstation architecture presents several technical challenges as a retailer chooses to deploy a mobile POS solution.
Consider this example: A mobile credit transaction performed on a smart phone or tablet can improve the quality of the shopping experience while reducing the time of the retail transaction. The latest MSRs can connect directly to the audio jack of a mobile device making it easy to envision a completely paperless transaction where the retailer simply swipes the shopper’s card and emails a receipt. This approach can make credit or debit transactions robust, secure, low-cost, fast, and very mobile.
However, retailers process multiple types of payment methods, including the most traditional form of payment for goods and services: cash. At first glance, mobile POS transactions and cash payment processing don’t intuitively go hand-in-hand.
Or, do they? Can a retailer offer the same convenience and highly engaged transaction experience when processing a cash transaction? Can the cash handling processes be secure? The answer to each of these questions is a resounding: Yes!
Truly mobile POS transactions for all transaction types can become a reality by simply adjusting our paradigm - our frame of reference – by moving the POS hardware architecture from a PC-centric (host/peripheral) model to a peer-level IP-enabled device model.
Retailers can augment or even supplant their traditional cash register hardware platform and achieve true mobile POS transaction capability by deploying cash drawers, printers, cameras, and other devices as IP-enabled peer-level devices. Devices with IP-enabled functionality are not peripherals and they do not require a PC workstation to support their configuration and operation.
While cash payment processing in a mobile environment requires planning, security of the transaction need not be a concern. In fact, security can be enhanced in new ways with IP-enabled devices. For instance, an IP-enabled cash drawer offers a simple and effective means to ensure that a cashier can open a cash drawer only when in close proximity. Additionally, new system-generated actions can occur in response to exceptional events. Imagine a smart phone or tablet that captures an image as the retail transaction occurs through its built-in camera. Envision a cash drawer that directly activates a remote IP-enabled, surveillance camera to record activities taking place during a ‘No Sale’ transaction. Consider a software agent on a remote host that accepts a prompt directly from a cash drawer and sends a SMS text message to the store manager’s mobile device when an unexpected cash access event occurs. Each of these actions, and many more, are possible today with the integration of IP-enabled POS hardware. These feature-rich systems can be developed and deployed quickly using standard TCP socket protocols, available in every O/S, and without managing and deploying device-specific drivers.
As retailers continually look for new ways to engage and retain shoppers more effectively, deploying systems that bring the retail transaction to the shopper can achieve this goal.
“Going Mobile” is often perceived by dealers and system integrators as an affront to existing business as it is synonymous with loss of revenue. Consider a new paradigm: this emerging technology, applied to Point of Sale, offers expanded capabilities through the integration of smaller hardware profiles into wireless and Ethernet networks.
Now, more than ever, dealers and system integrators must become the retailer’s trusted advisor. By deploying IP-enabled devices to achieve mobile POS transactions, dealers can add new value and realize more profit from the system sale.
About Paul St. George
Paul St. George is the Engineering Manager at APG Cash Drawer. The APG engineering team develops innovative cash drawers, Point of Sale integration products, cash drawer interfaces, and software solutions that are tailored to the needs of our customers and designed to truly add value. www.CashDrawer.com
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