Mobile has been a hot topic within customer-facing verticals such as retail, restaurant and hospitality for more than two years now. Mobile point of sale (mPOS) in particular has generated tremendous buzz within these markets, as technology and service providers strive to keep pace with new consumer trends and develop optimal solutions for end-users.
In fact, mPOS took center stage at leading industry events, including the annual RetailNOW Conference from the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). A growing list of vendors is releasing mPOS hardware and other mobile solutions, while resellers and software integrators are strategizing their overall value proposition and contribution to specific technologies.
“We’ve been seeing a handful of reseller partners trying to figure mobile out and implement specific solutions,” Justin Scopaz, Vice President and General Manager of computer/tech distributor Ingram Micro, told Channel Marketer Report at RetailNOW. “We’re seeing a lot of resellers looking for manufacturers and distributors to help them along that journey. There is lot of merit in [mobile] technology, but there’s a concern about there being disruption. I think for the most part, mobile is going to complement existing solutions.”
Rather than fighting the shifts that are taking place within end-user and consumer markets, VARs must re-establish their value propositions to reflect the mobile revolution, according to Randy Smith, Founder and CEO of Mobile Wallet Media, and Founder/Former CEO of MobilePayUSA.
“There is ample up-sell and revenue opportunities to expand conventional POS software in route to enabling mPOS,” Smith reported. “VARs must keep up with and embrace these changes to take advantage of huge revenue opportunities that will extend into subscription revenues.”
With this transition to mPOS, “VARs should create and offer solutions that add revenue or increase margins,” Smith added. “Retailers will not adopt a mobile solution if it is not secure, but beyond this, it must also be shown to them how they will profit from the solution.”
Educating End-Users On Mobile’s Value
To stand out in a crowded marketplace, VARs should position themselves as thought-leaders and go-to sources for “new, cool and must-have technology,” Smith reported.
“It’s not likely you are going to make a ton money off selling iPads, but as mPOS is adopted, VARs may make just as much money from setting up an expanded and more secure infrastructure, selling merchant services, selling software upgrades for mobile,” Smith explained.
Additionally, solution providers must share optimal resources with resellers to ensure end-users and prospects are educated on the current state of mobile, and its inevitable growth. For example, VeriFone has aggressively gone to market by providing a variety of training and educational resources to its partner network, according to Erick Vlugt, VP of Product Marketing, North America for VeriFone.
“Eight out of 10 retailers use VeriFone right now,” Vlugt noted. “A good part of that success is working with our channel partners. We’ve never had this much technology and emerging trends take place, so last year and this year it’s all been about mobile. Education and awareness is building across partners and end-users for EMV and mobile wallets. Our partners are educated early on through our webinars and professional services, and are ready to effectively market to their end-users.”
Educational content and marketing resources for end-users must spotlight the value proposition for mobile tools and technologies, whether it’s increased consumer engagement, a boost in purchases, or a decrease in overall costs.
“In restaurants, mPOS enables a server to add an order in seconds without duplication or increased chance of errors,” Smith explained. “The time freed up for servers will enable ample time for up-selling and providing better service, thus consumers will be more satisfied and more likely to return sooner and more often. At a busy night at the bar, a ‘line-busting’ mobile order capability could increase orders by 10% to 20% or more.”
“Mobile solution providers should market their services as exactly what they are, the greatest opportunity businesses have ever had in terms of reaching their consumers,” added Alex Kutsishin, President and Founder of FiddleFly. “The walls between brand and buyer have completely come down and while the technology may be new, it is truly the glue that connects an entire marketing campaign.”
Drilling Down On The Mobile Market
The mobile market has offered retailers, restaurants and hotels a variety of new engagement strategies and business concepts: From mobile wallets, to fixed tablet POS and customer-to-associate mPOS,
From a retail perspective, merchants are considering the front- and back-end benefits of deploying an enterprise mobility strategy now more than ever. A recent survey from Retail Systems Research (RSR) indicated that top reasons for utilizing mobile tools in stores included: to maintain and/or improve the customer experience (69%); make employees more informed (51%); and put actionable information into the hands of managers (32%).
Adoption of these tools is only expected to soar in the coming year, according to David Gosman, CEO of pcAmerica, a POS ISV/reseller. “The consumerization of mobile devices, especially tablets, is going to cause an increase in ‘pay at the table’ restaurant models,” Gosman said. “I anticipate we’re going to see reasonable adoption in 12 months, and within 12 to 24 months, we’ll see pretty heavy usage of the technology.”
Retailer usage, however, is already growing consistently; and best-in-class retailers, such as Nordstrom and Sephora are reaffirming the value proposition for both large and small- to medium-sized businesses. “These retailers are not just talking about using mobile,” Gosman explained, “they’re discussing the success that they’ve already had using mobile.”
However, along with the increased hype around mPOS, there also has been an influx of new solutions. For example, among mobile wallets and payment apps, Google Wallet, Isis, Square, and PayPal only scratch the surface. As a result, it may take a while longer for the market to simmer, and for end-users — as well as their customers — to determine the best solutions.
“I don’t think we’re going to see massive adoption for another 24 months,” Gosman noted. “However, within that time we’re going to see more people using mobile wallets, and more models coming out. Within time, certain wallet companies are going to fall by the wayside and you’re going to see others that rise up and succeed. There’s too many right now, which is natural, but competition is going to widdle that down.”