October 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Matt Pillar, editor in chief
With the rapid metamorphosis of the traditional POS, what will become of receipts?
As retailers reevaluate every point of interaction with consumers, the role of the fixed-station POS is changing. With any change in POS philosophy comes a ripple effect of operational decisions — from payment acceptance to the issuance of receipts. We talked with Angela Mansfield-Swanson, director of corporate marketing at CognitiveTPG, for insight into the future of the receipt in an omni-channel, increasingly mobile retail environment.
In an age when the relevance of the store is changing — if not altogether questioned — how are retailers leveraging POS peripherals to enhance or differentiate the in-store experience?
Mansfield-Swanson: The retail environment has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. Even just a few short years ago, the main question was how brick-and-mortar retailers could compete with the online retailers. Today, the majority of retailers have a multichannel platform, so the complexities are far greater, yet the opportunities for connecting with the customer are also exponentially better.
In our industry, we use the acronym POS. What does it really mean other than point of sale? I see it as the key interaction point between retailer and customer. In the past, this was a salesperson at the store and at the register. Today, the points of interaction are many, which means our POS platforms must adapt to these multiple interaction points, including mobile POS.
Ironically, many retailers have not yet adopted a mobile POS solution. Although adoption rates may be lower than expected, I would suggest that the adoption rate moving forward will be faster. That said, it is not as simple as buying your sales associates smart tablets. There needs to be an organized and well-developed strategy on how this new mobile POS platform will work within the current system. In many cases, upgrades in technology, both software and hardware, will be required.
How are retailers leveraging receipt printers to drive the customer experience in the store?
Mansfield-Swanson: The receipt is an interesting part of the multichannel strategy, since it is really the only transactional record of the purchase. The receipt can, when used as a marketing tool, really act as the postpurchase connection with the customer. The receipt can and should be used to drive promotions and customer surveys and highlight loyalty reward programs.
Additionally, many receipt printers are capable of printing the QR codes, which have proven highly effective in driving customers back to the retailer’s website for additional product information.
What technology advances are enabling new POS printer features and functions?
Mansfield-Swanson: The POS printers are becoming more environmentally and space-conscious. We are also seeing more wireless printers that can work with the “smart tablets” that sales associates are using to help with faster checkout times.
As mobile retailing — and specifically mobile POS — continues to evolve and displace fixed registers, how will the role of the receipt printer change?
Mansfield-Swanson: In some cases, the receipt printer will be embedded into the mobile platform, but the roll sizes are small, which limits how many receipts you can print. This is obviously not an ideal solution for a grocery store where the purchase tends to exceed 15 items.
There is a lot of talk around the electronic receipt replacing the need for receipt printers. There is no argument that in certain cases this makes sense and that the electronic receipt will gain some popularity, but there will still be a need for printing a hard receipt.
Personally, I would think that the retailer would prefer to keep the receipt printer in its POS system as a cost-effective marketing tool and because customers expect to have the option of receiving a hard receipt.