Integrated Solutions for Retailers recently published its 2013 Tech Spending report, an annual survey of nearly 200 retail professionals that examines the top technologies in which retailers will invest in 2013. The results indicate that for the first time since the report’s inception in 2009, mobility is the undisputed influencer shaping retail technology and solution budgets. Mobility influences tech purchases that range from POS systems to mobile devices to video surveillance and digital signage.
Mobile POS is on the rise with 38 percent of retailers ranking it as a technology in which to invest in 2013. There is still strong interest in traditional POS devices, with 36 percent of respondents stating they plan to purchase next year. The greater interest in mobile POS marks the first time the percentage of investments in mobile POS hardware will outpace those of traditional registers.
Mobile devices continue to be an area of interest, especially given the rise of the tablet form factor. According to the report, nearly 32 percent of retailers will invest in mobile devices for store associates in the coming year. Mobile devices are proving useful on the sales floor by helping to solidify customer relationships through time saving tools and real-time access to information. Some examples include the ability to instantly provide in-store inventory figures and verify current pricing and sales promotions.
In the supply chain, mobile devices are being used by workers in distribution centers and warehouses. Ranked as one of the fastest-growing tech investments, mobile devices in the supply chain have nearly doubled from 13 to 23 percent in the past two years. Additionally, the tablet form factor has spurred manufacturers of traditional handhelds to engineer devices more like consumer tablets.
A third mobile tech trend making waves in 2013 is the investment in video surveillance technology. Over half of retailers polled—approximately 56 percent—indicated plans to invest in video surveillance. Advances in video surveillance, such as Internet Protocol (IP) video technology, operate by way of the mobile network in contrast to coaxial analog predecessors. In addition to satisfying conventional video surveillance uses, i.e. loss prevention, IP cameras can be placed virtually anywhere throughout the retail environment as well as outside of the facility. IP video even provides the ability to access live feed of security footage via any Internet-enabled device – including smart phones and tablets.
Video surveillance is capable of integrating with POS systems and digital signage by way of a mobile network. In the case of POS systems, retailers can track each transaction through software that overlays register receipt text on IP security footage. The text is still searchable long after a transaction has closed, increasing loss prevention efforts. In the case of digital signage, IP video analytics software can analyze demographic information, such as relative age and gender, and throughput the data to strategically placed digital displays to target customers with customized messaging at the point of sale. More information on this topic can be found in the IP Strategies That Boost ROI in Retail blog post.
The common theme of mobility among these exciting technologies indicates a new method of operation for retailers in the coming years. These days, mobility not only drives retail spending decisions, but also frames the discussion around return on investments. Mobile networks enable technology to expand beyond one application, such as leveraging IP surveillance footage to drive marketing tactics or using POS machines to prevent internal theft. As retailers leverage the many advantages of mobility, we look forward to seeing what the future of retail has in store.