It has been a rough time for the British High Street as retailer after retailer has gone into administration, including some huge brands such as HMV and Jessops.
With the difficult trading conditions magnifying any inherent weaknesses in a retailer’s strategy, processes or systems, various explanations have been offered for the recent spate of closures.
Defunct electronic retailer Comet, for instance, was afforded little pity
as experts pointed to the paucity of its multichannel strategy. Elsewhere, other commentators have suggested that the rise in ‘showrooming’
and the power of ecommerce is a key contributor.
However, according to new research by Epson and independent research firm Coleman Parkes, there is another culprit to blame – the cash register!
A study of European retail companies, including 100 UK retailers, found that one in three UK retailers (36%) are losing up to 1 hour of sales time each week due to till-point downtime.
The research found that eliminating this downtime could save UK retailers an average of 52 sales hours per year. The solution, to this problem, according to Epson, is the Cloud - Cloud-based POS systems store data online and do not have the same maintenance requirements as in-house POS. Cloud-based POS systems are changing the retail landscape and experts predict fewer sales assistants posted behind a cash till, free instead to influence customer buying behaviour by walking throughout the store. They can carry out transactions, deliver tailored information on web-enabled handheld devices and remotely print receipts, enabling greater customer interaction and cross selling opportunities as well as cutting down on queuing times.
However, currently fewer than half (41%) of UK retailers interviewed use the cloud for POS services.
Adrian Clark, head of sales business systems at Epson UK, said: “The fact that less than half are currently using this technology is a concern for the UK retail industry. As well as improving efficiency of their IT systems, cloud-based POS means retail assistants can influence customer buying behaviour by walking throughout the store. They can carry out transactions, deliver tailored information on web-enabled handheld devices and remotely print receipts enabling greater customer interaction and cross selling opportunities as well as cutting down on queuing times. This is exactly the kind of innovation needed to increase the differentiation between online and in store customer experience and preserve our retail environment.”
In the longer term, even greater changes may be on the horizon for POS according to other findings. A story out earlier this week reveals that US retailers are reporting the death of the cash register
. Luxury retailer Barneys New York has revealed plans to use iPads or iPod Touch devices for credit and debit card purchases in its stores, while Wal-Mart is testing a ‘Scan & Go’ app that lets customers scan their items as they shop.
Could we be witnessing the end of the cash register? If they really are culpable for High Street closures, then retailers certainly won’t be sorry to see the back of them.