Why Pet Retailers Need to Add Mobile Today!

Read Time: 5 minutes

Before I get started, I would like to say my heart goes out to all of you in Tennessee and Kentucky who were affected by the recent weather events.  Having not evacuated for Katrina I can tell you; I am very familiar with the pain, chaos, and fear that follows an event of this magnitude.  I found this page on Facebook if any of my readers would like to either learn more or donate to their recovery.  https://www.facebook.com/crisisresponse/?crisis_id=2283464545281290

Now onto Mobile POS.  The results are in, and I have to say, I am shocked.  Last week I asked you all if you would rather discuss BOPIS, Self-Checkout, or Mobile POS.  With almost 35% lead, a strong majority of you wanted to hear more about Mobility. 

So that being said, let’s dig into the topic a little more.  Today we will discuss the following:

  • What problems in your business can Mobile POS solve?
  • What are some technologies that you can utilize to maximize your productivity?

What is Mobile POS?

For me, Mobile POS can mean many things.  In fact, the reason there are so many options out there for Mobile POS is that it means different things to different people.  Now I can’t speak for everyone for obvious reasons.  This next part is important.  My opinion is not the one that matters here, yours is.   For this reason, I like to start with the issues my clients are facing then work backward to make sure the product provides a solution to that problem. 

According to TechTargetan mPOS (mobile point-of-sale) is a smartphone, tablet or dedicated wireless device that performs the functions of a cash register or electronic point-of-sale terminal (POS terminal) wirelessly.” So even the definition is vague.  There are drastic (I mean 130 years’ worth) differences between a cash register and a POS Terminal. There are also drastic differences between a smartphone, a dedicated wireless device, and a tablet. 

For those reasons out next section will be dedicated to those 5 options. 

Hardware Options

The first one is quite simple and can definitely make your decision-making process easier.  Although in my experiences, while it’s important, it has never been a deciding factor for me or my clients. 

  1. Smartphone:  According to Meriam Webster a smartphone is a cell phone that includes additional software functions (such as e-mail or an Internet browser). That is not typically the case when it comes to mPOS.  mPOS will usually require an Android, IOS, or Microsoft Phone, with most of them requiring the first two. 
    1. Considerations
  • Tablet: In the interest of saving you time, I am going to cheat here and say that for most purposes a Tablet is just a big smartphone, with the exception of The Windows Surface Pro.  The Surface Pro has ports, and more integration, and additional functionality, in my opinion. 
    • Considerations
      • See i.-viii. in the section above.
      • If you are going to do Pop Up Registers, then can your employees read it?
  • Dedicated Wireless Device:  These are great but unfortunately not as relevant in Retail.  I see them a lot more in Event Hospitality.  Clover also uses these now I think but I’m not sure.   My fear with these (which is warranted) is that my clients will be forced into long agreements or subpar software by them getting HW that is proprietary. 
    • Considerations
      • Training: How much time will you have to spend teaching your employees to use it?
      • Do you want to have your employees running around with these?
      • How will you find it, if it gets lost?
      • How mobile is it?
        • Will you be selling on an airplane, in a van, in your parking lot, or around your store?
      • Can you protect it? Can you get a retail-hardened case for it?
      • Costs: This is very low on my priority lists.  Yes, costs are important but at this phase the difference is negligible. 

Problems Requiring Solutions?

  1. Long Checkout Lines:  If you ever have people leaving your store due to long lines than adding a mobile option to your POS can be very helpful.  By opening another checkout option, you can Increase Customer Satisfaction, increase avg ticket, increase revenue, etc.
  2. Sales on the Go: Many of you need to be able to do special events, sidewalk sales, outdoor dog washes, tradeshows, etc.  You need to ask yourself Where do you want to sell, and how mobile do you want to be?
  3. Real-Time Inventory:  If you have a larger facility or warehouse than I recommend mPOS.  This way when you are doing your physical counts, you don’t need to worry about the extra steps or the same inaccuracies. 
  4. Staffing Issues: If you have a limited supply of qualified helpers this can help turn one person into 1.5 people.  By giving your staff a fully functional floor POS you can enable them to look up items, customers, receipts, reviews, etc. all on the floor.  Then when they are done ringing them up they can check out right then and there.  This can also enable floor clerks to pick and pull online, call in, or BOPIS orders. 
  5. Loyalty Programs: It never hurts to add people to your inhouse loyalty programs.  “But ugh, who has the time.” Well, consider using your mPOS to walk around the store and enroll in your inhouse Loyalty Program.  Capturing this data will be critical for upcoming marketing campaigns. 
  6. Corona Virus: Whether or not it becomes a pandemic, people are still afraid to be out shopping and according to the WHO it will get worse before it gets better.  Make it ok for them to spend less time in your store and more time away from potential carriers. 

Tech Tools That Can Help You Reach Your Goals?

This is by no means a complete list, but it can at least get you thinking.

  1. Square
    1. According to their Wikipedia Page Square is a financial-services, merchant-services aggregator, and mobile payment company based in San Francisco, California.
    2. This is a very beginner software that is amazing for small startups, but really not intended for growing businesses.
      1. Many of my clients outgrow Square pretty quickly due to its lack of reporting, and retail analytics.
      2. Much more closely aligned with the electronic cash register than the Point of Sale needs for mobility. 
  2. Clover
    1. Clover is very similar to Square in its limited functionality but is maybe a little farther in its evolutionary process. 
      1. Typically meant for brand new single location stores that may not fully comprehend what analytics are most important to them yet, and do not require integrated eCommerce, BPOIS, Self-Checkout, Direct Closed-Loop Marketing, Loyalty, Multi-Location, Purchasing Advice, etc. 
      2. Like a mobile version of QuickBooks
  3. CP Mobile
    1. A fully integrated Mobile POS created by NCR (#1 in transactions World-Wide).
    2. Obviously, I like this one the most because it is fully integrated with Pet Rewards POS. While yes, I am biased, who doesn’t want to be able to do real-time inventory, sales, and customer management, while having full integration with their counter-top POS that can provide purchasing/ transfer advice, accounting integration, Direct Closed-Loop Marketing, and Astro Integrations?  
      1. Click HERE to SCHEDULE
  4. SAP Mobile Platform: According to Wikipedia SAP Mobile Platform is a mobile enterprise application platform designed to simplify the task of creating applications that connect business data to mobile devices for workflow management and back-office integration.[1] SAP Mobile Platform provides a layer of middleware between heterogeneous back-end data sources, such as relational databases, enterprise applications and files, and the mobile devices that need to read and write back-end data.[2]+
    1. This is a much more costly route to take and would only be necessary if you are currently running SAP Software to run your business. 
    2. For many retailers this is overkill yet many of my clients also do distribution and need SAP software, so this option is still viable.    

Closing Thoughts

So whether or not you are worried about the bottom line cost of the Coronavirus to your business or your desire to prepare for “Retail Armageddon” it is easy to see why it’s important for you to add mPOS sooner rather than later.  You have tons of reasons to try and limited reasons not to.  There really isn’t much more I can say on the topic, but if you have questions, I’d love to hear them.  Considering recent events with the Corona Virus and the economy, the next article will be based on how small retailers need to prepare for potential consumerism changes that might take place.  I hope you are all ok with it, and I promise the last two articles will follow this topic as originally intended.     

About the writer:

Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Pet Rewards POS.  He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size.  In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR (National Cash Register.)