Q: I am inundated with changes and investments that need to be made in my stores. With “EMV” Chip and Pin, “Mobile POS,” and “Omni-Channel” retailing being expected… Any suggestion on how I can best cope with all this technology change when I don’t have a big IT team?
A: It can be overwhelming. The pace of change in retail technology is both exciting and daunting for retailers. There are some major storms brewing, storms you are now feeling, that are causing a tremendous amount of disruption in specialty retail. It is critical that you are aware of these combined forces, how they will impact your store’s future and how you can best prepare and leverage them.
First and foremost, the EMV “chip and pin” technology will need to be implemented at all U.S. stores by October 2015. If it is not, the retailer will hold liability for fraudulent transactions. That is a major shift of liability–from the banks to the merchants.
So the first storm is handling EMV, and this will require new POS hardware and perhaps software at your stores. As you are experiencing, many legacy systems are still not EMV ready. In fact, many legacy systems are still struggling with PCI compliance to protect from a data breach.
But there is more immediate concern, creating a perfect storm for retailers that you highlight. If you are currently sitting on legacy technology, systems that were developed over 15 years ago, you cannot do many of the things a modern retailer needs to do to survive in this new omni-channel world.
Your customers demand that they be recognized and serviced across all channels—store, web and mobile. The days of having walls separating channels are over, and if a retailer does not adapt to this storm they are at a severe competitive disadvantage.
Customers today want to buy online and be able to return to the store, buy online and pick up at the store and use loyalty points and gift cards across all channels. You are not omni-channel if your systems cannot support this unified sharing of data.
Another impact of older legacy technology is that it is difficult to use mobile points of sale, like iPads, in the stores because that old technology is not designed with mobile devices in mind.
I bring up all these different “storms” because they are all creating disruption within current store technology at the same time.
Since investments need to be made to address these different, yet related issues, it is a perfect catalyst for moving off your legacy system to handle all these changes at the same time. This can be accomplished when you invest is a POS system with an architecture that is designed for the mobile, omni-channel and of course the changing payments world (EMV, NFC, etc.).
With lower-cost cloud POS systems removing the need to maintain heavy IT burdens, the lower cost of iPads, omni-channel tools allowing you to share data between store and web, and payment technologies that can handle all payment types (EMV) in one device, it has never been easier to be sheltered from the technology storm.
Michael Dattoma is President of The Bart Group Retail Merchant Services. He is an expert in Cloud POS, Mobile and Omni-Channel technology. If you would like more information he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.