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Best Buy Canada Pilots Mobile POS

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An increasing number of retailers are planning to test and adopt mobile POS during 2013. A recent Motorola Solutions mPOS study uncovered that 75% of retailers currently using fixed computers for customer-facing strategies expect to transition to handheld computers, smartphones and tablets in the near future.

Best Buy Canada is exploring mPOS strategies in stores to strengthen customer service initiatives, such as line-busting. Five Best Buy stores are trialing an mPOS system that combines Motorola ET1 enterprise tablets and MC40 smartphone-sized devices, according to Kevin Satterfield, Director of IT Application Development and Maintenance for Best Buy Canada.

“We wanted to use both devices, since tablets in particular are useful in full-service departments that require more interaction with the customer, and also provide associates with POS capabilities as well as access to selling tools and web stores,” Satterfield said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The smaller mobile computers, however, are used for line-busting and quick transactions for entertainment, accessories and grab-and-go items.” 

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The mobile technologies provide store associates with access to training materials, key departmental information and a variety of tools to encourage seamless product comparison, Satterfield explained. Providing these applications empowers store associates to guide customers throughout the browsing and buying journey and in turn, create a more compelling brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Associates also are equipped to complete transactions anywhere within a store, which will help improve shopper satisfaction.

Between 15 and 25 mobile devices are utilized in each store for both transactional and full-service departments, Satterfield reported. Best Buy Canada currently is participating in a five-phase development process, in which the retailer is refining functionality to match tools offered in fixed POS systems. As each phase is completed, the retailer will roll out the mPOS strategy to more stores, including different store models such as mall kiosks and Best Buy Mobile stores.

{loadposition MWIAA} “Our goal with the mPOS implementation is to improve the in-store experience for customers by allowing them to complete purchases with the aid of their associates from anywhere within the store,” Satterfield stated. “For example, a customer and associate can use a tablet device to participate in comparison shopping and price analysis to confirm the customer is getting an item for the best price.”

While the addition of mobile devices in stores presents an opportunity for improved customer service, it also helps reduce Best Buy Canada’s overall IT footprint, especially in smaller format stores, according to Satterfield. “We quickly realized the primary benefit of reducing the number of fixed registers,” he said. “Overall, we get a smaller IT footprint yet more devices for associates to use with customers on the sales floor. The investment savings was based on a removal and reduction in purchase of ‘fixed’ hardware compared to the mobile IT hardware required.”

Satterfield added that with fixed POS systems, customers are forced to go to a central location to transact their purchases, which causes long lines — especially during seasonal shopping periods. “One of the benefits we realized with mPOS is the flexibility of having a team of mPOS associates available to transact purchases wherever customers are,” Satterfield said. “During busy holiday periods and large promotions, this strategy dramatically reduces lineups at cash registers and provides a much more engaging customer experience.”

To determine the optimal mix of technologies in stores, Satterfield explained that Best Buy Canada is relying on feedback from store associates to see “how mPOS helps them optimize their day-to-day interactions with customers.”

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