Last updated: Commerce without boundaries: The new role of point of sale

Commerce without boundaries: The new role of point of sale


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Electronic point of sale was introduced in the seventies and revolutionized the way retailers tracked sales and created business efficiencies.

By connecting the POS device to the back-office mainframe, retailers were able to perform business operations more effectively and keep more accurate records of sales and stock, as well as provide a secure environment for cash transactions.

While it is essential for retailers to understand and have a clear view of their multi-channel offering and the corresponding consumer behavior, it is also important that they consider the needs of their market.

Today, we find ourselves in a very different, transitional retail landscape on the journey towards what I like to call “boundary-less commerce.” As consumers increasingly turn to alternative commerce platforms such as online, mobile and telesales, many traditional stores are being left behind.

Innovations in technology, the availability of data via multiple, connected devices, and the changing dynamics of consumer behaviour are providing retailers with more information than ever before

The challenge now is to utilize this to help them predict future consumer behaviour and enable them to fulfil their customers’ needs. Retailers must then view any IT or business transformation they implement as a step in a constant journey of transformation and not as the final solution.

When looking to initiate their e-commerce strategy, retailers must consider the cost of integrating existing point of sale systems in their stores with new platforms and whether this is the best use of the technology. 

This requires a shift in thinking. Transformational IT projects must be viewed as a series of steps to ensure current and future success. Retailers should embrace the new payment technologies, such as tablets and contact-less payments, and begin to consider POS simply as a technology that is beginning to lose relevance.

The challenge in any integration is adapting disparate products to ensure maximum benefit for each retailers’ specific business needs. Integration should also take into account the uniqueness of each retailer’s operating model and provide the ability to adapt and streamline the business process across all channels. A consistent approach is needed across all channels, be it retail, online or mobile.

This approach provides the retailer with the ability to assess the behavior of the customer, which in turn allows them to provide a seamless interaction and movement between channels depending on the retailer’s needs. For example, moving from online to offline via the use of QR codes which provide a discount in-store, or allowing mobile devices to facilitate payments through the use of NFC (Near Field Communications).  This can be transformational for retailers.

By following this approach, retailers will find themselves taking another step on the path toward boundary-less commerce.

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