The Future of the Retail POS Is Expanding Beyond the Counter

The Future of the Retail POS Is Expanding Beyond the Counter
Portable POS solutions are a way to meet the evolving needs of the retail industry.
by George Lee Jan 14, 2023 — 4 min read
The Future of the Retail POS Is Expanding Beyond the Counter

As retailers have made efforts to increase efficiency and enhance the customer experience, portable POS solutions have started to gain traction as a way to meet the evolving needs of the retail industry.

Equipping associates with portable terminal devices that offer a range of functionality, including checking out customers anywhere in your retail store, can be effective for enhancing service levels. Portability is a plus for any retail setting, but it’s particularly important for a retailer who sells on the go at festivals or markets or has pop-ups and other events.

A comprehensive POS available on a portable terminal device provides flexibility and efficiency that not only increases checkout speeds and reduces the optics of long lines, but it’s also an effective tool for enhancing customer service and personalizing shopping experiences. Flexible POS solutions were cited as a top-five priority for retailers in the 2021 POS & Customer Engagement Report from Retail Consulting Partners. Among the retailers surveyed in the report, 33% said POS technology that can be mobile was a top priority. 

With Square for Retail now available on Square Terminal, retailers can expand beyond the traditional counter for making sales, taking payments, processing returns and exchanges, and can be wherever the transaction needs to happen. 

Long lines increase the risk for abandoned sales

A traditional retail experience typically involves shopping around and then heading to the counter to wait in line to pay for your items. But as in-store shopping experiences have evolved, the checkout line has emerged as a point of frustration for customers, and one that can deter them from even entering your store at all.  Seventy-three percent of customers say that the checkout experience is their number-one pain point with in-store shopping.

Retailers have implemented remedies to take advantage of the time customers spend in line by adding inventory to the line area to keep them engaged, but there is still a large group of consumers who would rather abandon their whole purchase than wait to check out.

Checkout lines give customers time to reconsider their purchases. While you want to encourage mindful and intentional shopping with your customers, especially to prevent frequent returns, you don’t want to facilitate an opportunity for customers to talk themselves out of something they want. When customers are in a store, they’re considering spending money and in the mood to make a purchase. According to a study done by Magestore, 84% of shoppers have made an impulse buy and 79% made most of their impulse purchases while in a store.

Square for Retail on Square Terminal enables sales associates to check out customers where they’re standing, reducing any friction between the point of deciding to purchase and the point of purchasing. 

Flexible checkout solutions create a better shopping experience

Portable retail POS solutions also reflect the trend toward giving customers the ability to purchase products and services in whatever manner is most convenient for them. This includes not only traditional in-store shopping, but also online ordering for in-store or curbside pickup.

The 2022 Square Future of Retail Report found that 26% of consumers who order online prefer to pick up their products in-store, and 11% prefer curbside pickup (that jumps to 17% for Gen Z consumers).

The report found that retailers are on board with offering these services. Fifty percent of retailers surveyed said they are planning to continue to offer buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) post-COVID, and 39% are planning to continue to offer curbside pickup.

These alternatives, buoyed during the last few years by consumer safety concerns about COVID transmission, have remained popular because of the convenience they provide for shoppers. They also allow consumers to engage directly with store associates, if they so choose. In addition, they create another touchpoint for retailers to provide personalized service.

Equipping your workers with Square for Retail on Square Terminal can make BOPIS and curbside pickup even more convenient for your customers, whether they need to pay when they pick up their order, obtain a receipt, or perhaps order additional items. Imagine your store associates being ready to quickly sign customers up for your Square Loyalty program while fulfilling a curbside pickup order, for example, or asking if they have any questions about the product.

For apparel retailers, equipping a fitting room attendee with a POS device could drive sales by allowing customers to check out as soon as they find an item that fits or enabling associates to check inventory to see if a different size or item is in stock. A hardware store associate might be able to suggest all the additional tools and parts that a customer needs for a home repair or an appliance installation while on the floor helping a customer check out.

These applications and others reflect the possibilities that Square for Retail on Square Terminal offers. Untethered (but still connected) from your other Square for Retail POS, your POS-equipped terminal device associates can turn your whole store into a sales-driving machine that simultaneously enhances the customer experience.

A mobile POS to streamline the holiday season

Square for Retail on Square Terminal can also be a line-busting solution when customer traffic is heavy. This is an especially important consideration as the year-end holidays approach. Customers who expect to be waiting in long lines would likely be delighted to find that they can check out on the sales floor or perhaps at temporary checkout stations equipped with terminal POS devices.

Such services can be an important aspect of improving the in-store experience for customers. The Retail Consulting Partners research found that expanding or enhancing the customer experience was a top priority for 67% percent of retailers, second only to growing or enhancing digital commerce at 85%.

The 2022 Square Future of Retail Report also emphasized the importance of providing a smooth customer experience across all ordering and fulfillment platforms.

“Consumers clearly value and use flexible omnichannel experiences like buying online and picking up or returning in-store,” said Roshan Jhunja, general manager of Square for Retail, in the 2022 Future of Retail Report.

Square for Retail on Square Terminal can improve all of your operations

In addition to their customer service value, portable devices can also be important tools for performing back-of-house functions and providing access to information such as sales reports.

Square for Retail, now available on Square Terminal, is built around a compact, powerful device and expands your checkout options with the ability to have POS functionality anywhere in your store or even curbside. You can take payments, process returns and exchanges, print receipts, create orders, and view sales reports — all from one handheld POS device. Or, set up Square for Retail on Square Terminal as a temporary checkout during peak sales times, or use the flexible POS device to create additional space-saving checkout stands anywhere on your premises.

At a time when consumers are continuing to embrace online shopping channels — global eCommerce sales are projected to increase 50% in the next four years — a flexible, portable POS equipped with Square for Retail can help sales with speed and efficiency while elevating the customer experience.

George Lee
George Lee has been writing about food-related topics, mostly in the B2B environment, for more than 20 years. He has written extensively about product development, marketing, distribution and other areas of the industry from farm to fork.


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