ICBA 2013 – Joe Skorupa: “Mobility changes everything”

Mobile POS

We’re reporting live from the Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) conference in Bellevue, Washington. You can find our tweets about the event and sessions here

We just sat in on Joe Skorupa’s ICBA 2013 presentation “POS Dialogue: Evolution of Retail Technology.” Mr. Skorupa is the Editor in Chief and a Retail Technology Blogger at RIS News, and had some fascinating insights on college store retail to report.  He discussed the changes and challenges of keeping pace with customer expectations, and talked about how the technology that drives the expectations is transforming POS in the retail world.

Joe started off the talk by giving an overview of four major trends:

  • Customers are 24/7
  • Competitors are 24/7
  • Mobility changes everything
  • Innovation is accelerating-consumer driven, retailers playing catch up

We’re seeing an exponential uptick in mobile use. On Black Friday in 2010, 6 percent of all Internet shopping traffic was from mobile devices. In 2011 that number climbed to 14 percent, and in 2012 it jumped to 24 percent. Major retailers are also catching up; Urban Outfitters is 100 percent mobile, JC Penny expects to be fully mobile in the future and has mobile in addition to traditional POS now, and Coach is currently running pilot programs with mobile.

Because of this, there’s been a revolution in point of sale systems, as well. Instead of using computers, retailers are using technology like Square. Devices are streamlined, small, and attractive. These new POS systems can move to the customer — they aren’t anchored to one spot in the store like computers. But when it comes to college bookstores, adoption is slow. In the room at ICBA, only two people out of about 60 raised their hands for having mobile POS in their stores.

Why? Security is the biggest concern, including PCI compliance, device security, and enterprise security.

In a retail environment where convince comes first, it is necessary to step up and meet the expectations of consumers, make their experience as convenient and accessible as possible. Foot traffic is reported to be decreasing year over year, and competitors are available 24/7 with next day or even same day shipping (like Amazon, for example). Mobile devices that allow you to go to the customer, interact and make the sale are going to make all the difference in winning back consumer share.


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