The efficiency, interactivity, and flexibility provided by mobile point-of-sale systems are making them an essential part of today’s shopping experience.

The days of the checkout counter are numbered. More and more, innovations in mobile point-of-sale technology are transforming operations for both small businesses and big-box retailers. The efficiency, interactivity, and flexibility provided by mobile point-of-sale systems are making them an essential part of today’s shopping experience. While experts have varying predictions for the effects of this technology on the future of retail, it can’t be denied that change is happening rapidly.

Wharton professor Stephen Hoch outlines some of the reasons for the growing popularity of mobile point-of-sale systems: “In the long run, consumers want convenience and speed, and retailers want lower transaction costs, convenience, speed and fraud detection.” In a time when customer convenience is of the essence, mobile point-of-sale systems are increasingly preferred to EMV systems. According to electronic trading site Finance Magnates, “2015 marked the first time in history that mobile contactless payments were preferred to cash transactions, and it is predicted that by 2025, as many as 75% of all transactions will be made without cash.”

In a Retail Dive article, Boston Retail Partners principal Ken Morris proclaims mobile point-of-sale to be a must-have. “The customer requires it,” he maintains. Writing in Entrepreneur, Gordon Russell says, “Mobile point-of-sale systems allow retailers to re-imagine physical store layouts to maximize sales and increase the intimacy of customer interaction. No longer must there be a physical barrier between sales associates and their customers. No longer will customers be frustrated by sales associates that stand behind the counter and never greet or approach them.”

Mobile point-of-sale technology has come a long way since Apple stores first started employing iPod-based terminals in 2009. According to Business News Daily, the features and applications of the technology are advancing rapidly. These days, mobile point-of-sale systems do much more than simply accept payment. They allow retailers to track real-time sales, manage inventory, and integrate customer relationship management software.

Industry magazine PointofSale.com mentions next-generation point-of-sale system features such as software-integrated gift cards, mass marketing E-mails, and even suggestive selling prompts for cashiers. And the applications aren’t limited to sales associates and managers; customers can now use their own smartphones to compare products and share purchases on social media.

As for the future of mobile point-of-sale technology in retail, Morris forecasts an explosion in the use of shopping-related smartphone apps. He says that retailers can generate customer loyalty and intimacy by leveraging customer social networking. Consumer research firm TrendWatching foresees a greater adoption of “Point & Know” applications, which facilitate a “totally shoppable physical environment.” With these features, customers can simply point their devices at a product to download purchase options.

In TrendWatching’s view, more retailers will aim for an increasingly targeted, personalized customer experience. According to the site’s newsletter, there has been a huge growth in mobile Google searches for the phrases “for me” and “should I.” “The inevitable next step? Retail brands that go beyond simply knowing the consumer, and start reaching out and serving them in the physical context they happen to be in at that moment.”

While the future of retailing is difficult to predict, one thing is certain: it is sure to incorporate mobile point-of-sale technology.

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