Marketing May 21, 2014 Last updated September 18th, 2018 505 Reads share

Retail’s Rosy Outlook: Anytime, Anywhere Shopping

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Making a sale is easy when you control the environment. When customers come to your store, all you have to do is wait for them to approach you with their items and then ring them out. But, what happens when you leave the store, and you’re directly competing with many other merchants in close proximity to you – like at a fair or a trade show?

What if you want to take your business on the road with you and erase the boundaries and limitations placed on potential customers (i.e. customers who can’t come into the store)? You’ll need a mobile POS system that’s up to the task.

Anywhere Shopping

Right now, if your customers want to buy from you, they have to rely on you having that item in stock. If they don’t see it on the shelf, then they assume that you don’t have it. Never mind that you can order it from your wholesaler or from the factory warehouse. Or, if you’re at a trade show or otherwise off the showroom floor, never mind that you might actually have the item in your store.

Customers want instant feedback. Years of shopping on the Internet has taught them that they can shop visually. If it’s not there, many people don’t know to ask an employee if there are extras hanging out “in the back.”

Of course, this is more of a problem with younger buyers than older ones, but newer custom iPad software for Point Of Sale, or POS, can sync with your product catalog back in the store and show items that you have in stock “virtually.”

How do you use this to your advantage? You bring an LCD screen with you, a virtual store front, that customers can scroll through. You can also bring some items with you to trade shows or fairs so that you have something, physically, to give to them.

Basically, with an iPad driven system, you have a mobile storefront. It’s sort of like combining the best of both the offline and online world.

Advanced Analytics

Imagine being able to have instant access to your customer’s buying behaviors and data. Imagine knowing their past transactions within seconds. Well, this is another cool aspect of software-driven POS systems. You can whip out your iPad, and look up your customer’s previous buys, and then make suggestions to him, or offer special promotions, based on that past behavior.
Let’s say you run a coffee shop. Every day, your customer comes in and orders the same thing – a traditional cappuccino. Now, you might be able to suggest something else that’s similar to what he normally buys, like a latte, but you might also be able to offer special customized discounts.

So, if he comes in 4 days a week, maybe the 5th day he gets a free coffee. This works well with people who don’t frequent your store as much, either. You can do away with cheesy store loyalty cards and just offer free coffee or added benefits (a free upgrade to the next size, for example) after so many coffee purchases.

This radically changes the selling cycle and process, allowing you to suggest complimentary items or place an order for future visits before the customer has a chance to finish his order or even walk through the door.

This information could also be used to put together a custom direct marketing campaign for future upsells, based entirely on the customer’s previous buying patterns.

Global Data Access From Anywhere

Mobile POS systems have an amazing ability to communicate with the HO. These things are linked via the Internet, after all. So, sales associates can easily look up merchandise information and availability offered at other stores while the customer is contemplating a purchase in this store.

Let’s say you sell cell phone equipment, for example. Your customer wants a particular cell phone case that’s in your downtown store, but isn’t in this location right now. The sales associate can sell the case from the other store and update the inventory immediately to reflect the purchase. Then, have the other store reserve it for the customer or ship that merchandise directly to the customer’s front door.

Now, if you have stores all over the world, you could use this to order parts from another country, so there are truly no boundaries to overcome in the selling process.

On-Demand Shopping

What if your customers could order products that don’t exist yet? Well, with a software-driven POS system, they can. Store clerks can put in orders to your factory for custom-made products that suite the customer’s personal and individual needs, saving you money on storage and inventory, since you never know what those custom products need to be beforehand.

This is the ultimate in personalization, only possible with integrated sales systems that virtualize a product catalog and then automate the sales process while linking to wholesalers, distributors, and even manufacturing facilities.

Images: “Conceptual view of payments or commercial activity over the Internet and mobile devices.Shutterstock.com

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Rose Donner

Rose Donner

Rose Donner is an entrepreneur with a penchant for technology. With a handful of successful small businesses under her belt, she enjoys writing about effective business practices and technology for today's market.

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