An Omni-Channel Approach to Retail
While a ton of ink has been spilled over the need for mobile solutions, traditional POS technology is still very much relevant, albeit in a smaller, sleeker package. VSR touched base with HP’s head of retail marketing at Aberdeen Group’s Retail and Consumer Markets Summit to discuss where he sees the POS market heading as well as get a first glimpse of the company’s new RP7 POS.
VSR: With the launch of the RP7, HP is offering a POS that could almost be a kiosk. Why did you go this route?
At NRF we themed our booth around the seamless customer experience, recognizing that regardless of what retail format you’re talking about, [companies] are trying to bring all these different touchpoints together, whether it be mobile, fixed POS, self-service, digital signage, etc. We’re taking a big step by releasing products that support that direction. This type of device should be widely adopted in aesthetic sensitive environments, specialty, and general retail stores that want a touch terminal and care about the look of the device. We also see it moving into fine dining, convenience stores, and QSR.
If you go into a Macy’s, you see the typical black tank that’s sitting in a well. The thing about department stores is that 80 percent of the time, they are only using 20 percent of their cash registers. They don’t provide any utility beyond just being a cash register. Devices like the RP7 can be dual-purpose—they can be associate devices doing POS or they can be turned the other way and be a customer device, streaming content, or it could be an interactive digital display.
VSR: Where do you see the POS industry heading?
The biggest trend that’s driving almost everything in the store is omni-channel. Omni-channel retailing is recognizing that retailers have to bring an experience at the store level that integrates both what the customer experience on the web, on a mobile device, and in the store. There’s a paradigm that people learn and shop on the web, but they are doing the majority of their shopping at the store—with that dynamic [we can] bring the experience [of the web] to the store through digital touch points—whether it be POS, kiosks or digital signage. Underneath the covers of that mega-trend, we see retailers that definitely get the role that mobility needs to play in their next generation store technology. Mobility is two things. It’s not only consumer mobility—recognizing that the smartphones are putting all the power into the hands of the shopper—but it’s also associate mobility where retailers are looking to arm associates with mobile tablets where it makes sense.
VSR: HP is making a big push into business intelligence. Do you see the company incorporating BI software into upcoming POS systems?
The enterprise group has done a lot of exciting acquisitions in analytics, so the opportunity to bring that more tightly into retail is certainly there, but that’s not in our solutions today. Part of the strategy that we are working on now in retail is the fact that we don’t have any legacy baggage or background, nor do we have the software aspiration that can conflict with the software channel partners that we work with. ISVs that want this [type of] technology can partner with HP with confidence because it’s not like we are talking out of both sides of our mouth and we also have a software objective, or we have some huge legacy base of proprietary technology that we have to protect and figure out how to bring forward. There’s definitely going to be more software content brought into this discussion, and it will come from the enterprise group and some of the cool things they are doing with analytics.