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Revolutionizing point of sale

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A more efficient customer experience that provides greater ease and understanding of the customer should drive the point of sale revolution.

That was the takeaway from Ryan Craver, one of the panelists from Monday’s discussion on revolutionising the POS. Craver is senior vice president of emerging brands, licenses and digital strategy for Lamour Group and president and CEO of Trimfit Inc., a Lamour Group children’s wear brand.

Craver said that if you split POS into the two distinct buckets of brick-and-mortar and online, nothing has changed in terms of payment methods, despite media speculation over the rise of things like mobile payments.

“I think today, people either don’t use them, don’t have the app to use them, don’t have the appetite to use them and just want to continue to use their credit cards. But you take that exact type of thinking to online, and things like Apple Pay and mobile pay are revolutionized. Things that have become natural for the user to use have proliferated.”

Craver was joined by Danny Kourianos, senior vice president of product development for Rakuten Marketing, and Monika Kochhar, CEO and co-founder of SmartGift e-gifting. Anne Marie Stephan, CEO and founder of KWOLIA LLC, moderated the discussion.

Where are we today?

Stephan posed the question of how to start with the adoption phase of smart POS that leads payments to where it needs to be in the future.

Craver said he’s tried to make chip card transactions with 10 to 15 retailers, but with limited success. “Let’s take EMV. What has it done to the actual checkout process? It’s caused chaos, confusion and spend.”

Kochhar said that at the same time, consumers’ expectations of the payments experience have drastically changed. She cited clothier Rebecca Minkoff as a prime example. The retailer has touch-screen mirrors that can read RFID tags and where shoppers can order their size from inside a fitting room. “We’ve traditionally talked about POS as just during checkout. But really it’s about before, during, after, and taking the consumer through the entire journey.”

Carver said that quick-service restaurants could actually present a strong example for others to follow for the future of payments. “You start to see those who just need to sell crap and get churn, they’re the ones that are doing it the best.”

The generation gap

Kourianos said that just from observing his own children, who are 5 and 7, he sees a difference in the way they prefer to make purchases. When they want to get an Xbox, they would rather download it, whereas he would rather go to Target and have the experience of bringing home a new purchase. “I just think there is going to be this new generation that’s just never experienced going in a store and purchasing something,” he said.

Kochhar added that Millennials are willing to trade privacy for personalization. They never grew up in a world that was private anyway, so they believe it’s a fair barter.

Yet people still want the experience of getting to touch, feel, smell and sense a brand. “I think the store over time will really become the experience of a museum — an experiential thing, as opposed to just wanting to go there to buy something.”

Communicating with consumers

If history is any indication, consumers will become less concerned about privacy, Craver said, adding that when Sears first launched its catalog, people were worried about giving out their mailing addresses.

And although people were worried in the same way about mobile devices capturing their location and other data, Craver points out that Google Near Me searches are now the fastest growing category of searches. “I think we’re slowly but surely getting desensitized to it. And it’s only a matter of time before we realize everything is tracked.”

Kochhar predicts “massive innovation” as POS becomes the spine of ecommerce, loyalty and rewards. “Everything is about data. So I think we ourselves are becoming SKUs, in some sense.”

Stephan expects that data will continue to merchants to speak to consumers and offer incentives based on their purchases. “You have dynamic pricing that exists. Now that we have the ability to harness data, what would prohibit us from having dynamic loyalty in the same fashion?”

Kourianos warned of a scenario in which capturing consumer data could bring about over the next decade, in which three or four giant companies could hold the customer hostage from other brands, retailers and marketers because they own all of the consumer data. He predicted that data will only continue to gain importance for the point of sale. “I think consumer data is the most valuable currency that we’re going to be operating with in the next three to five years.”

Autumn Giusti
Autumn Cafiero Giusti is a New Orleans-based writer and editor with more than 15 years of professional experience. Giusti has covered global payments and financial services since 2006, having contributed to nearly a half-dozen trade and consumer publications. She previously served as news editor for New Orleans’ weekly business newspaper and as a daily newspaper reporter in Florida.

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