Guest Column | May 19, 2014

6 Must-Haves For Retailers' Mobile Platforms

Greg Burch, VP Mobile, Business Development and ISV Relationships, Ingenico North America

By Greg Burch, VP Mobile, Business Development and ISV Relationships, Ingenico North America

The mobile platform has become a key strategic component for retailers focused on creating a compelling in-store experience for shoppers, enabling clerks to provide increased service and bringing the point of sale to the in-lane point of service. Below is a list of must-haves when offering a mobile store system platform to retailers:

  1. Flexible data connectivity options. Retailers must determine how a new mobile platform operates within their existing network infrastructure. Does it connect directly to legacy systems or should it run in its own silo? Flexible data connectivity will accommodate legacy systems as well as future technology investments. This is often accomplished with a flexible, standards-based API that also allows enterprise legacy systems to achieve connectivity through a translation layer.
  2. Scalable mobile solution. Many retailers are still launching their first mobile in store platforms, therefore, they are learning about their individual store operations requirements and team capabilities. To achieve success in this evolution, the platform should be scalable to support a phased implementation. Retailers should be able to launch a subset of the full system feature set in order to migrate to a mobile store system; for example, a retailer could launch a system that only implements inventory look up to start to enable the mobile evolution of the store operations infrastructure. Additionally, retailers should be able to scale up the quantity, functionality, and type of devices on the system.  
  3. Secure support for payment services. Payments accepted on a mobile platform must be P2P (point-to-point) encrypted in a PTS (PIN Transaction Security)-certified payment terminal. This is particularly critical to ensure that data being passed to tablets and phones running a commercial “open” platform do not have access to sensitive card data and supports achievement of PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) certification.
  4. Support for future payment and loyalty acceptance methods. A retail mobile platform should support EMV chip card acceptance as well as QR code and beacon technology.  Support for EMV, a global standard for authenticating debit and credit card transactions, ensures the ability to accommodate the upcoming EMV liability shift that will be imposed by the card brands by October 2015 — after this date merchants will be liable for card fraud if systems are not EMV-enabled. QR code and beacon support position the merchant to accept emerging loyalty acceptance methods.
  5. Flexible user interface customizable to merchant staff and use case. Retailers have realized that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to mobile commercial products in the enterprise. For example, mobile tablets are used for consultative selling and phones are used for line busting. The retail mobile platform must allow the retailer to quickly and easily alter the user interface for various use cases including line busting, consultative sales, and inventory lookup. In addition, user interfaces should be seamlessly customized to the type of device, i.e., a more detailed and graphical user interface for tablet use and a streamlined, no-button-press interface for line busting.
  6. Align with merchants’ omni-channel strategy. Retailers are now implementing two types of mobile applications, one for in store clerk use as an extension of the traditional POS and another consumer facing application that is downloaded to consumer phones and tablets. The implementation of the mobile platform must result in a seamless experience between these two applications as well as the additional components of the retailer’s omni-channel strategy. Example features include:
    • Ability to shop online and view detailed product descriptions from the retail mobile platform. 
    • Showcase promotional coupons and flyers to ensure customers never miss out on a deal.
    • Let customers build a shopping list or write a review about their latest purchases from within mobile in store kiosks or their hand held devices. 
    • Allow connectivity with various social media applications to enable consumers to share purchases and registries within their network.
    • Have customers sign up for in-store workshops or appointments using the retail mobile platform.

These must haves support a retail mobile platform that raises sales assistant productivity, heightens brand awareness, and supports the delivery of an enhanced shopping experience.

Gregory Burch, Director of Business Development for Ingenico North America, is responsible for developing strategies to bring new technology and solutions to Ingenico’s retail clients as well as building plans to introduce Ingenico products and services into new markets. With more than 15 years of experience, Burch has driven results in numerous technical and leadership positions in the point of sale and telecom industry.