Photo: Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters caused a stir this year when it announced that it had ordered its last cash register and would start equipping staffers with iPads instead.Many other major retailers have announced plans to get rid of the bulky machines, including JCPenney, Aeropostale, Sam’s Club and Nordstrom.
Retailers have a lot of reasons to eliminate cash registers, according to Gary Lombardo, head of marketing at Demandware, a company that provides e-commerce solutions.
Lombardo’s company puts all of a retailer’s data into a cloud-based system so they don’t have to worry about updating their physical equipment.
Stores will likely have some stands with cash, similar to the Apple store, but those paying with debit or credit cards will be able to pay the first associate who assists them without having to stand in line.
Using iPads or other mobile devices in place of cash registers also allows retailers to make the most of their money, time and square-footage, said Lombardo, whose clients include Lands’ End, Crocs, Pacific Sunwear and Perry Ellis.
“Right now, businesses have to replace their cash registers every eight to 10 years, an long process that can take months and millions of dollars,” Lombardo told us. “If you can free up those resources, then companies can actually focus on innovation and making business better instead of just maintaining the infrastructure.
iPads are also attractive because they are more affordable and intuitive, making it easier to train staff, Lombardo said.
The devices cost about 20 per cent of what a cash register alone does, according to Hollinger. Once the machines are purchased, companies also pour money into updating software and training employees.
JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson also expressed that iPads were a more affordable checkout method.
“Think of a physical store without a cash wrap,” Johnson told investors earlier this year. “About 10 per cent of all the money we spend, half a billion dollars a year, goes to [checkout] transactions.”
Johnson plans to use the money he saves toward improving customer service.
Urban Outfitters told analysts that its iPads would go on a swivel. This allows the customer to input information, such as an email or gift registry, on the spot.
Using mobile devices instead of cash registers also reduces lines and wait times because more employees can be equipped with the technology to check out shoppers.
“Innovating the point-of-sale makes you more attractive to customers,” Lombardo said. “Not only can you shorten their wait time, but you can also make the experience of shopping more modern and fun.”
Lombardo said that at the current pace, mobile devices could replace cash registers in just a few years.
“Our customers are loving the idea of a virtual point-of-sale system,” Lombardo said.
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