The Point of Sale in the digital age

Current trends at the POS

According to a recent study on e-commerce, online shopping is growing at an average rate of 13% per year, whilst 54% of Germans shop once a week on the high street. For most types of products, they prefer to buy from high street shops, but this trend is decreasing. Given this situation, traditional outlets are required to make their processes more innovative.

IT solutions play an important role in the multi-channel strategies of retailers. Today, a digital customer uses both online and offline offers of modern retail for their customer journey. Modern solutions do not just shape the payment procedure in the shop, but they also affect the customer’s journey with their different contact points – the so-called “touchpoints”. The journey begins with an electronic shopping list and continues with a mobile purchase consultation in the shop. There, the journey includes modern solutions like self-scanning, offers on mobile phones or mobile scanners (on the shopping cart), and finishes at the point of sale when paying by smartphone or cashless by card.

The final impression when leaving the shop is an important part of a contemporary shopping experience. Thus, point of sale has long since developed into point of service. In discount and food retail, the till has become a service center, which involves the customer, be it through coupons which can be redeemed at the till, or through sales promotions which can be displayed on smartphones or on digital signage displays near the till.

In the till area, there are two types of systems customers can use to finish their purchase, at a standard POS with a cashier, or at a self-checkout. The aim of both is to ensure short waiting times and a good service for the customer.

Standard checkout

Cashier-operated POS systems should be clearly structured and tidy, with a scanner, touchscreen, and payment solution so that queues cannot form. In order to generate cross-selling potential, many retailers display offers and promotions, as well as price information, on a monitor near the till.

A modern shopping experience should also offer various cashless payment options. Due to increasing customer demand, mobile and conventional cashless payment variants are spreading rapidly. These payment methods must be secure and easy for the customer to use. An important precondition for successful use is that staff are trained on how to handle mobile payments and can support the customer. Ideally, employees at the till will point the customer towards new payment methods.

Mobile payment

When does a mobile phone make your wallet surplus to requirements? Only 15% of retailers in Germany offer contactless payment, and a further 11% plan on introducing it.

The speed of payment makes the procedure attractive. According to a study by American Express, paying by NFC is 60% quicker than paying with cash and 50% quicker than paying by card. In German retail trade, credit and debit cards have been widespread until now. In order to increase acceptance of paying by smartphone, it is necessary to make paying by NFC or by scanning a barcode on the mobile phone display as easy as possible. This can include having scanners pointed at the customer and making the procedure clear: the customer holds their smartphone up to the scanner and the barcode is read. Embedded NFC readers at the cash register function in the same way, and make paying by phone just as simple and quick. An important criterion for building trust in paying by phone is ensuring that the customer never has to hand over their device.

Self-checkouts with added value

While self-checkouts are already widespread in food retail in many European countries, the technology has taken a little longer to take hold in Germany. Different versions of self-checkouts are used, such as scanners and payment stations at IKEA, the tunnel scanner at REWE, or mobile scanners on the shopping cart at Tegut and Globus. An important criterion in self-checkout is intuitive user prompts for the customer. The customer needs to easily recognize how the procedure works. Acceptance mainly depends on whether the customer is supported by information signs, on-screen interactive menu navigation, and helpful employees. Self-checkout has advantages for both customers and retailers: For retailers, the technology is desirable as it generates larger shopping baskets, more sales, and is subjectively considered by customers as a novelty way of saving time.

*Study: German e-commerce