The POS as it’s commonly known (read: impersonal place at front of the store where money exchanges hands and a receipt is given) is no longer a “point of sale.” A transformational change in retail, fueled by empowered consumers, is redefining POS as the “point of service,” a place where retailers engage customers to build relationships and loyalty. It’s not an overstatement to say that the retail industry has been and will continue to undergo a paradigmatic shift in the way it operates across a multitude of new and existing channels. The traditional brick and mortar location remains at the heart of the retail operation, but many organizations may find that the technology running these locations is not up to the challenge.
Too many retailers today struggle with their store systems as they navigate their businesses through turbulent waters. Countless POS solutions were built simply for the needs of the retailer business of yesteryear: designed to register payments and reduce customer engagement to the transactional level. Armed with powerful technologies (think smartphones and tablets), unparalleled access to information (think always-on WiFi) and the seemingly unstoppable proliferation of social media (think Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) today’s consumer expects more from their retail experience than a simple transaction. Now, the experience needs to be personally relevant, truly outstanding in terms of customer service, and highly differentiated from the competition.
Retailers have long been bringing the store environment online. Now, the challenge is to bring the online experience into the store—basically, to become a Dynamic Retailer
- Connected, to customers across all channels to listen, learn, and respond with consistent, convenient experiences offering customers what they want, where and when they want to shop.
- Empowered, to increase productivity and customer service across a changing global workforce helping their most valuable asset—people—reach their full potential.
- Proactive, to execute with insight by accessing critical information in real-time–optimizing performance, anticipating trends, and capitalizing on opportunities. All of which requires a genuine 360-degree view of the business.
Finally, the Dynamic Retailer wants to take advantage of new market opportunities fast. And that means having the ability to flex, grow, or evolve their business without constraint—introducing new business models with ease or creating and executing workflows on the fly. How can retailers enrich the in-store environment, without resorting to competitive measures, in a way that brings value to the customer?
Every aspect of a retailer’s IT infrastructure – especially POS – needs to drive a shopping “experience” – one that allows retailers to deliver on their brand promise and build lasting loyalty. So why does traditional POS fall short in adding value in today’s retail? Because current POS systems are transactional rather than experiential, and that goes for both customers and retailers.
Some of the biggest names in retail are already preparing to make this leap. Target
will soon be flexing its omni-channel muscles with its new service, code-named Cartwheel, which will integrate online and mobile channels, offering features like coupons, rebates, and price comparisons. Meanwhile, companies like Best Buy embrace technology to convert showrooming visitors into happy customers.
At Microsoft, we believe that modern business solutions should connect people inside and outside the organization, giving them the context and insights that drive better decisions and boost productivity. It’s why our mission is to enable the Dynamic Retailer to be connected to the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and across multiple channels.