Mobile technology has come of age, according to Richard Cottrell, sales and marketing director at IT services company, Vista Retail Support.
Speaking at RBTE, Cottrell said suppliers including HP and Toshiba are now offering hardened retail devices and the units are suitably tailored to the relevant environment with features including jackets, barcode scanners and integrated fingerprint readers.
Critically, these mobile units can free up staff from fixed till points and be used for assisted selling, said Cottrell.
“Now HP and Toshiba have the platforms it’s a real pointer mobile has finally arrived,” he said.
Further evidence of the mobile trend comes from Vista customer, Pets at Home, which has equipped store staff with iPad minis. While the mini isn’t a rugged solution, the beauty for Pets at Home is that it hasn’t had to train staff on how to use it – they already know, explains Cottrell.
Other trends include wireless networks being increasingly deployed to track shoppers as they move around a store and for customer insights.
“It’s not just about security,” said Cottrell.
Biometrics will become the method of payment in future, Cottrell claims. It is no coincidence the new iPhone 5s features a fingerprint identity sensor, he adds.
Convenience retail and mobile within convenience is another key trend.
“We are becoming a nation of convenience shoppers and more and more convenience retailers are looking at mobile,” Cottrell said.
Stores are also increasingly look at Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) in a bid to combat the showrooming trend, Cottrell adds.
Vista’s retail customers span fashion (Monsoon, Thomas Pink, Jones Bootmaker), entertainment (Game), homewares (Dunelm), pets (Pets at Home) and toys (Toys R Us). Fashion and entertainment are both hostile technology environments, particularly in relation to dust, Cottrell reports. That ensures Vista remains busy.