Last week, high street retailer Woolworths announced it had become the first retailer to implement a fully transactional mobile point of sale system, in an attempt to reduce queuing times in stores.
While improving the in-store experience should not be undervalued, retailers need to get more out of the system than simply getting consumers out of the store more quickly, said Jacqui Hendriks, research director at analyst firm GartnerG2.
"Mobile point of sale systems could actually impede consumers from buying additional items on impulse," she said. "If a consumer can get into a store quickly, pick up two items and then pay and leave using an assistant with a mobile point of sale, this may improve the consumer experience but reduce sales on impulse."
As well as cutting queues, mobile point of sale systems should be used to monitor real-time sales and inform employees when the shelves should be restocked, Hendriks said.
"In a more dynamic world, mobile point of sale should help in developing the real-time enterprise. The enterprise that can react rapidly to changes in demand can change promotions and prices rapidly to ensure, for example, perishable items are sold within their sell by date," she said.
"In addition, mobile systems should provide assistants with information about products to enable them to help customers more, for example, where products are located in the store and ingredient information."
Nicola Pritchard, programme manager at Woolworths, said the mobile point of sale system will improve customer service and help it gain market share.
"Other retailers have implemented queue-busting technology, but we believe Woolworths is the first to implement an integrated solution that can complete the full transaction," she said. "We are dedicated to providing customers with a superior service, and reduced waiting time at the till is a key factor in achieving this, especially during peak periods."
Woolworths implemented the mobile point of sale system in 138 stores before Christmas and will continue the roll-out to the rest of its 826 stores during 2003.