Are Check Out Lines Outdated? iPad POS: The New Cash Register

From tethered to roaming, a timeline of technological mobility

There was a time when phones were tethered to a wall, connected to a line that was attached to a switchboard. As technology progressed, homes began to house cordless phones. With this, individuals were now free to move about the house during a phone call, putting away laundry or going to the restroom while on the phone. However, the mobility was limited to the homestead. Then came cell phones and satellite phones. Now there are only a handful of places on earth where a phone call cannot be made.

Similar progressions could be recounted for televisions (antennae to cable to Netflix), computers (desktop to laptop to tablet/phone), and cash registers.

Are Cash Registers Becoming Obsolete?

Yes, even cash registers. Think about it. Initially, a store clerk would enter the prices of your items into a machine and give you a total cost. You would hand them your payment, they would process it and give you a receipt, and you would exit the store with your purchase.

Next came the self-checkout line. Once computers took over the memory of pricing information and scanning barcodes, there was no need for a sales clerk. Customers could just as easily scan their own items and process their own transactions at a kiosk. Yet the kiosks remain stationary. As the evolution of checkout progressed, the tablet took center stage. (Apple actually uses mobile phones as point of sale systems, but that’s because they manufacture said phones and it’s good advertising.)

iPad POS: The Evolution of Checkouts

Using an iPad point of sale system (a.k.a. cash register) has the potential to put checkout lines on the endangered species list. Here’s why. Because tablet technology is so user friendly and because so many people interface with them on a regular basis anyway, the device is familiar and non-threatening for new clerks.

Customers Prefer Individualized Attention Over Being Herded Like Cattle

More than that, a wireless device gives retail employees the freedom to move about the store helping customers. Because the tablet is so lightweight, clerks can carry it with them and access things like inventory and product details if a customer asks a question they don’t know the answer to off the top of their head. Once the customer makes a purchase decision, there’s no need to go elsewhere to checkout. With an iPad POS, the same clerk can answer questions, make the sale, and finalize the purchase without walking the customer all over the store. This kind of individual attention makes customers feel like royalty instead of cattle being corralled in lines.

With such a mobile, user-friendly, customizable, individualized service option available to retailers, why should you settle for herding customers through checkout lines with a clerk who hears the barcode scanner beep in his/her sleep? As fewer and fewer people use checks (almost none) and cash (primarily strippers, drug dealers, and children too young to open a bank account of their own), point of sale systems will have the freedom to become completely digital. Checkout lines will eventually be something you see at an interactive museum exhibit at which you tell your children a story that begins with, “When I was your age…”

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