3 Technologies Leveling the Playing Field for Small Retailers
Until now, larger, resource-rich retailers have had the upper hand over their smaller counterparts due to the millions of dollars they invest in people and the latest technologies to improve the shopping experience for consumers. After decades of limited access to critical tools and techniques, several new classes of technology have emerged, offering smaller retailers an opportunity to level the playing field against the Amazon.com's of the world.
Many retailers are moving toward what's commonly referred to as "in-store digitization," offering customers a faster and more efficient way to check out via mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems, as well as what Forrester calls an "endless aisle," where customers shop in-store then purchase online where the selection of products isn't as limited.
While businesses large and small realize the need to update their payment systems, small businesses have an advantage over larger retailers when it comes to what Gartner calls "Advanced Selling Systems" or in-store digitization. Larger retailers are deeply invested in their POS systems, but smaller retailers can now easily deploy mobile POS via tablets and smartphones with ZingCheckout, Intuit, Revel Systems, Square and other vendors. Square, for instance, is targeting small businesses with its latest product, Square: Business in a Box, which offers an easy and low-cost solution for mobile POS.
The "endless aisle" is also more easily implemented online by small retailers whose catalog sizes are smaller and faster to digitize and organize across channels. As a result, it's now possible for smaller retailers to deliver in-store digitization.
BYOD and ‘Customer Aware’ Technologies
Consumers have increasingly embraced the "bring your own device" (BYOD) trend, using their personal mobile devices while they browse and shop in-store. As such, retailers are scrambling to make it easy for consumers to shop and transact on their mobile devices while in-store as well as provide a more omnichannel experience. With the rise of the phablet — the device that marries smartphone mobility with tablet-sized screens that customers prefer for transacting — the trend of browsing in-store while purchasing online will only accelerate.