Consumers today are increasingly leveraging the incredible depth of information available to them and exercising total control over the purchase process. By necessity, retailers are embracing this shift in control, taking the checkout to wherever the customer may be (case in point: large-scale mobile device deployments in Home Depot and Nordstrom). Suppliers of customer engagement technologies have, similarly, had to be agile and learn the importance of channeling their customers’ input into device functionality and solutions set. A recurring theme across many, if not all, of the technologies that we cover here at VDC has thus been mobility. Be it a mobile POS, transaction terminal, receipt printer or a personal shopping device.
The need to expedite the check-out process and effectively engage today’s increasingly mobile customer while also presenting a technology-forward image in order to strengthen loyalty seems to be the driving factors for growing adoption across all strata of technologies. What is even more interesting is the degree to which the form factor is being patterned according to consumers’ personal handhelds – never before have consumer products influenced enterprise-grade technologies to such an extent.
This new universal form factor is blurring the lines between some of these customer engagement technologies, which have in the past had their suppliers enjoy distinct boundaries encompassing target markets/verticals, feature & functionality sets, and expectations that were more or less set in stone. For instance, POS Terminal bellwethers such as NCR, IBM and Wincor Nixdorf are today directly competing for tighter retail IT budgets with vendors such as Motorola, Honeywell, VeriFone and Ingenico who have each, to varying extents, expanded their portfolios or device functionalities to include mobile POS solutions. Consumer-grade Apple products with integrated barcode scanners and card readers are also in very high demand especially amongst fashion retailers. While these are currently complementary to their stationary counterparts, VDC’s latest research on the POS market indicates a much higher annual growth rate for mobile devices which will eventually come at the expense of this traditional form factor.
At what pace is investment on these mobile devices taking place? How is this tussle between traditional and next-generation form factors shaping up? How are suppliers enhancing their software solutions portfolio to run seamlessly across a plethora of disparate technologies? For answers to all of these questions and more, stay tuned to our continued coverage of Customer Engagement Technologies (CET).