The mobile dilemma

The word on everybody’s lips at the recent Retail Business Technology Expo  in London was ‘mobile’.  But mobile meant quite different things to different suppliers at the event.

For some, it’s about using a smartphone to buy online and check competitor prices in-store. For others, mobile is about in-store tablets supporting assisted selling, with a few retailers already started on that journey. In this sense, it’s all about what hardware and operating system you go for – Android, Microsoft or Apple?

There are various options in the consumer market which retailers have taken and tried to make work in a store, such as the HP ElitePad we’ve implemented for our customers.

Similarly, there are different ways of looking at mobile payments. It could be using your own mobile phone to pay for goods, either online or in a store. Or using a mobile Chip and Pin payment device communicating to an in-store tablet device. Or linking a mobile phone and a Chip and Pin Payment device to take payments out “on the road”.

Hardware manufacturers (such as Ingenico and VeriFone) had various devices on show for people to peruse, while Miura devices appeared on some software providers’ stands.

During the seminars, one of the key topics being discussed was around the security of these devices, especially around point-to-point encryption (P2PE). Technology moves at such a fast pace, so for retailers trying to keep up with the competition, security can sometimes be overlooked in the rush to get mobile devices into stores.
Contactless, NFC, mobile wallets and coupons

There was also a healthy discussion in the various seminars around other mobile-related trends, with “solutions seeking a problem” being mentioned.

Contactless has taken off, mainly due to the Olympics in London last year, but will NFC really follow suit? Will people be prepared to put all their cards into a mobile wallet of a company they have never heard of before, and which one would they choose? And what happens when the mobile runs out of power!?

Customers are more likely to go down this route when they get something out of it, with either money off or reward points. So would a retailer’s app which stores your digital wallet, containing your loyalty card and preferred payment method work better? Maybe, but I’m sure there will still be plenty of people grumbling in a queue when somebody is fiddling to unlock the phone, trying to get into the right application before presenting the phone to check-out! These issues need to be resolved first. Have a look at what Eagle Eye is doing in this space.
 Where next for mobile?

At BT Expedite, we are constantly looking at the changing mobile landscape, and working with suppliers to bring solutions to market. We already have customers live today with Windows and Apple tablets in store. And we’re working with all our PSPs (Payment service providers) on getting the right combination of mobile tablet and payment device into stores.

Many of our customers are replacing their ageing Pin Entry Devices (PEDs) with future-ready devices and we’re helping to deliver this, while enabling contactless payments on them. But will our retailers’ customers want to use them? Time will tell…

Richard Savage, senior technical consultant, BT Expedite

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  1. Chris Wood says:

    RBTE was a great show for Datalogic ADC too, we showcased all of our mobile, barcode scanning, hardware. One area, wherein we found a lot of interest from the retail community, was around the use of mobile coupons and mobile loyalty schemes, utilising 2D barcodes.
    Datalogic have developed a number of POS barcode scanners that can read these 2D codes from phone screens (as well as all conventional 1D barcodes from labels etc) and sales of these scanners has been soaring!
    We fully expect to see even more of these 2D mobile coupons and customer incentives in the coming year/s.