The touch screen iPad Point of Sale, “POS” combines the best experiences of online shopping, brick and mortar retail outlets, customer relationship management as well as the unique knowledge of retail consultants. The CIO of Urban Outfitters, Calvin Hollinger stated at an analyst meeting that the retailer had purchased its last cash register and would only purchase Apple iPads with POS. The CIO stated that the Apple iPad POS costs only one fifth as much as a computerized cash register which “could be turned on a swivel toward the customer who could enter their personal information and use it as a gift registry and so forth.” The iPad POS can be stationed in one fixed location, several fixed locations or carried throughout the store by a retail employee.
The cost of a cash register and the periphery equipment ranges between three hundred to a thousand dollars while the cost of a wireless Apple iPad cost’s three hundred to five hundred dollars. The lowest cost option is to download the POS application to a smart phone and acquire a free portable card reader and pay a merchant card provider one to three percent charge of each credit card swipe. The iPad POS technology can even enable the brick and mortar retailers to adopt a low inventory or “demo” strategy to be on parity with the lower cost online retailer. The main advantage of the iPad POS is that the device is mobile, optimizes space and provides access to real time data stored on the cloud as well as product information on the Internet. Specifically the iPad POS provides:
• Access to the cloud, product information, customer history, real time inventory and prompt customer service to a convenient touch screen source. Furthermore, the iPad POS software gives the retailer real time sales and inventory reports which can be accessed anywhere. For instance, the owner of a small coffee shop could be on the beach with an iPad monitoring sales on a real time basis while they take in the sun.
• The ability to collect customer data for the company’s customer relational management “CRM” software including the customer’s personal email, preferences and buying history in which the retailer can easily send special offers or sell gift cards.
• Either a printed receipt in the store or a receipt sent by email to the customer who can happily save the receipt digitally thereby enhancing the customer experience and customer loyalty.
• A better customer experience. The low cost, low space features of the Apple iPad POS allows more retail space to place merchandise as well as more places for customers to check out and reduce wait time. For instance, a shopper who has found the product they love which might not be in the color they like or some other feature can now be satisfied by the iPad POS which has real time product information. The iPad empowered retail employee can promptly show the customer the product they want in the color they want and induce them to buy by offering later pick up at the store, immediate pick up at another store or delivery to their home.
Wal-Mart is well known for using its information technology competitive advantage to act on proprietary data of what customers currently want, manage inventory distribution and empower its employees to deliver customer wants. iPad POS technology promises to give the same advantages to brick and mortar retailers which Walmart is known for. Cloud computing allows iPad POS users to get real time sales reporting by product, by hour and by employee. The computer based “wired” register on the other hand has to be paused so that data can be consolidated and uploaded to the server which may cause unfortunate wait times for customers. The cloud iPad POS sources data and cyber security to a dedicated organization while the server based organization must manage data and cyber security itself.
In conclusion the iPad POS offers a great deal of customization, mobility, convenience, optimization of space at a lower cost as well as real time data to boost sales and aid management in better decision making. For instance an analysis of the sales by hour would look out of sorts if one employee was frequently not registering sales in comparison to their coworkers who were frequently registering sales. Brick and mortar retailers have struggled with low cost online competitors. The iPad POS offers a great deal of promise for brick and mortar retailers who have had to watch their enterprise value shrink because of the lower prices provided by online retail. The iPad POS coupled with proper supervision, analysis of real time reports and management could shrink the risk of theft further bringing parity and enterprise value that’s closer to their online retail competitors.
In the 21st century, the one constant is change. Apple Computer integrates TV’s into its product line while Hewlett Packard seeks to exit the PC market. Cash registers will soon litter the dustbins of history and touch screen tablets strapped to customer service reps will sling valuable inducements to customers who want to buy 1. The standard greeting “how may I help you” will soon be replaced with smart customer reps whose customized message will resonate, where do you want to go today?
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