I recently got back from Miami and in-between the partying I managed to do a fair bit of shopping as well. On one such occasion I happened to stop buy a local Urban Outfitters clothing store. I was surprised to see that the store was now processing all card transactions on iPhones. Essentially the store clerk was able to now take payment from anywhere in the store without the need of being near a till. They could process the payment and then go back to a nearby stand to collect a wirelessly printed receipt and put your clothing in a bag. Not only would this save a huge amount of time on busy days (think Black Friday or Boxing Day sales) but also, if you want to be a bit more salesy, allow salespeople to close a sale before someone changes their mind.
As I work in the industry I was keen to discuss the system with the salesperson and seeing as I had just spent an exorbitant amount of money on clothes I’m probably too old for, he was more than willing to discuss it with me.
What he explained to me was that this system is not only designed to make their lives easier but to also allow greater collection of data. Salespeople are able to capture customer data including purchase history on their device and then upload it to an administrative console. The device can also be used to check stock of items all of which is deigned to speed up anthe sales process.
The devices have a credit card swipe reader attached and then the customer can use their finger to sign the touch screen device. It will then print the signature on the receipt as well.
In the UK where we use chip and pin for our devices, it is easy to imagine an alternative version where you input your PIN number instead of signing.
A device like this works in stores such as Urban Outfitters which attract a younger, more technology savvy patron, however I can anticipate some people having qualms about a salesperson using their mobile phone to make a transaction, especially in stores which aim at a more mature clientele or perhaps more sophisticated high involvement purchases.
It is however great to see that organisations are making use of more contemporary devices and using them in such an innovative way rather relying on the way they have traditionally always done it.