Check it Out: Technology Advancing Retail Point-of-Sale Systems

iPad point of sale system

iPad POS (using ERPLY)

The dynamics of the shopping experience continue to change and evolve, seemingly due to the commanding presence of technology.  In addition to the internet serving as a vital catalyst, there are soon to be other players changing up the game.

According to a Yahoo! Finance article, Urban Outfitters has made the decision to convert their point-of-sale systems to Apple devices (like iPod Touches and iPads) in lieu of cash registers.  While this is something that Apple has been implementing for some time already in their own retail stores, it’s interesting to see it take off with other retailers.  CIO Calvin Hollinger of Urban Outfitters states, “iPads cost about 1/5th as much as a cash register, and can be used for so much.”  Another benefit is their space efficiency and the ability to swivel the screen towards the customer so they can view the screen and enter information, as needed.

iPod point of sale

iPod Touch POS (using Omniexpress)

Another retailer looking to advance their POS system is JCPenney.  TIME Moneyland outlines some of Ron Johnson’s new strategies for JCPenney, including doing away with checkout counters, cashiers, and cash registers.  According to the article, “Johnson explained that physical retailers should be able to do everything an online-only retailer like Amazon does and more—including face-to-face customer service and options such as in-store pickup.”  The new strategy would involve various self-checkout possibilities, Wi-Fi networks, and mobile checkout.  The strategy is already in effect in select locations, and all of the JCPenney stores are expected to offer mobile checkout by the end of the year.

Nordstrom is planning to follow suit (USA Today) with numerous other retailers trailing closing behind.  How will customers react to these new changes?  While some customers may be confused or annoyed, the convenience factor could prove to be huge benefit.  It’s kind of like an odd marriage of shopping on your mobile or tablet device WHILE shopping in the actual store.  Those who already shop online may not be bothered too much by the change, and I’m sure everyone would revel in skipping the check-out line.

Using the iPad as a POS system could be an advantage for small, independent retailers as well, providing a money-saving alternative to a traditional cash register and the option of portability for those on-the-go businesses.

I’m curious to see what this fervor for the iPod and iPad — and other mobile touch technologies — will impact next!

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