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  • Writer's pictureTamim Halawani

How will Smart-POS reshape retail?

It has been more than two months since this pandemic has hit the world, and there is no definite end in sight. The nature of this pandemic is such that its effects will be seen over a period of time. The impact can be seen across life and business, but most critically, COVID-19 has been slowing down both the scale and speed of business.

Banking and financial services have also been impacted due to lockdowns across countries. Digital payments have also taken a hit as consumers across segments have restricted themselves to purchase only essential items. Though the lockdown has negatively affected the manufacturers of non-essentials goods and forced them to halt business, consumer sentiments are also at a new low where they are reluctant to make any unnecessary purchases. The shutdown of stores has affected offline payments through Point-of-Sale terminals widely, whereas in some places, online procurements have already begun.

Another critical aspect is the change in the behaviour of consumers post COVID-19. This crisis has pushed us to introduce new practices in our life, such as social distancing, avoiding the unnecessary touching of public infrastructure, and this is bound to continue even after the pandemic ends

Offline stores have already started making the necessary changes in their business models, such as coupling them with home deliveries and online payments. Consumers will also adapt to new practices of safe shopping, which would require minimal human contact. New norms would not only include reduced cash payments, but also increased contactless payments. Looking at the merchant base and banking partners, a significant evolution can be seen taking shape in offline retail, and POS will go through a transition.

NFC enabled Contactless payments: NFC enabled payment through tokenization supported debit/credit card transactions have been available in the market for quite some time now. Tokenization enables one to use credit cards stored on smartphones as tokens as per the prescribed norms from network players like VISA and Mastercard. Customers can make payments at POS by just tapping their phones on supported POS and using the tokenized card. Tokenization allows credit card plugins to wearable devices to help facilitate payments.

Post COVID-19, we can expect a surge in transactions initiated through NFC enabled cards or via tokenization through smartphones or wearables. POS will evolve to support all kinds of tokenized transactions. This would provide a seamless and frictionless experience to customers in retail stores.

Enablement of multi-payment options on POS: COVID-19 has been pushing consumers to become more aware of basic hygiene and avoid touching external surfaces. It will prompt consumers to use alternative modes of payment which do not require any human touch. Multi payment options would include QR, wallet based payments, payment gateways, and more.

Quick Response (QR) code-based payments are increasing in usage through mobile-based payment apps, including mobile wallets. The consumer can quickly scan a QR code placed at the retail store and make payments through e-wallets. Now, POS can also generate real-time basis QR codes mapped to individual consumer transactions and enable the customer to scan the QR code on the POS device itself and make their payment.

POS integrated with Mobile wallets will also see an increase in usage. This would allow merchants to initiate payments from POS to the wallets of customers, and customers can authorize payments by just logging into their mobile wallets on phones. This would not only cater to payments at retail stores, but also for payments required for offline deliveries.

POS would be integrated with a payment gateway to give merchants access to the full suite of payment options for customers. Payment gateway integration will allow customers to make their payments from anywhere using any of the payment options, including debit/credit card based payment or via internet banking.

Integrated Retail Store Environment: Retail stores will be pushed to make the necessary changes in their layout and operating structures. This will involve maintaining safe distance between consumers and providing a hassle-free and contactless checkout process after shopping. It would require not only changes in their physical setup, but technological rearrangement within the retail store.

Merchants would integrate an electronic cash register or inventory module within the store with SmartPOS for fetching the details of all the purchases made from the shelves by customers and enabling direct checkout at POS through the multiple options available. SmartPOS will also help merchants to manage their inventory and income better. POS providers are expected to build an integrated module to enable pull and push data from POS devices to ECR or Retail management system.

Omni-channel model of payment for retail: We will see retailers transitioning to both offline and online modes of business. Retailers will plug in home-delivery, or local delivery enabled through an online order management system. Change in customer behavior would require merchants to have an omnichannel payment system that would help them facilitate and manage both offline and online payments.

Shopify recently launched a fully rebuilt and reimagined Shopify POS, which merged both offline and online sales to provide an omnichannel experience to merchants. Shopify POS is now poised to help merchants stay resilient and flexible in the face of the challenges that their businesses face today and the ever-changing retail landscape ahead. The new version of Shopify POS provides simplified omnichannel management as well as enables merchants to manage inventory and analytical insights.

The emergence of Software-based POS: News across the globe is pointing towards a drop in the usage of physical POS devices, mainly due to the shutdowns across regions. A Mobile/Tablet-based POS software that enables the acceptance of all forms of payment like debit and credit cards through a tap-based feature on mobile phones having NFC (Near Field Communication) or through payment gateway links sent to customers' phones. Mobeewave has been a solution provider pioneering in software POS and has launched a product with Samsung. Earlier, it was limited to support only low ticket transactions due to the necessity of having to use a PIN on the merchant's mobile phone. This year, we have seen Mobeewave launching a suite of innovative new features that remove current contactless payment limits for merchants and consumers around the world.

This is torrid time for business, and things will go through a massive transformation to suit new norms. Retail stores will also go through an evolution and adapt to the new normal to provide seamless and touch-free buying experiences to customers with the use of technology, mainly SmartPOS.

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