How Would You Like to Pay for That? The iPad in Retail

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I recently had the pleasure of being able to use Square to sell products at a convention. The mobile credit card app was invaluable in the fast-paced environment where thousands of anime fans converged into on tightly packed room; buying everything they could get their over-exuberant hands on. The Square allowed us to accept credit cards, something that is uncommon at conventions. This made it easier for fans to make big purchases with us and still save their cash dollars for the little buys throughout the weekend.

Retailers are using the iPad more and more to help customers by offering mobile point-of-sale options, and also connecting with them on a more personal level. As the iPad becomes more popular with retailers, developers focus more on the best apps for the cash register and back office.

At the beginning of this year, Aruba Networks conducted a survey of retailers’ plans for in-store mobility and the iPhone and iPad topped the list of preferred devices. At the time, Square, Verifone, and NRC all had their own mobile PoS app for iOS. These days, you will see iPads in restaurants, clothing stores, boutiques, and even department stores.

Have you ever stood in painfully long lines at a department store, waiting for one of only two cashiers to finally be available? There may be six employees wandering around the retail floor, but only two behind the register. Places like Nordstrom and JC Penny are implementing iPad usage to help ease the discomfort at checkout. Employees will walk around the store and ring customers up before they are even in line. Not only that, but customers can get a personalized shopping experience with the iPad. If you find a dress you like, but there is not one in your size on the rack, the store clerk can order one for you and either have it delivered directly to your home, or have it sent to the store for you to pick up later.

Small boutiques are taking advantage of business apps for the iPad to create a more useful cash register. Instead of paying $200 for a machine that only does one thing, for $300 more, small business owners can have a device that works exactly the same as a register, but can also be used for inventory, website management, coupon designing, mass emailing, scheduling, and game playing.

Hair stylists are also known for taking advantage of the iPad’s retail business apps. Most hair stylists rent a “chair” from a salon where they are in charge of how much money they make. They pay someone for the use of the building, but keeping track of the inventory and monetary flow is up to them. The iPad becomes a handy tool for anyone working as an independent contractor of sorts.

Finance companies are capitalizing on this trend by offering PoS apps that include simple pay structure and easy approval. There are also apps for backroom services. For example, Square Register includes the basic credit card payment feature, but it also offers an inventory library, integrated loyalty programs to offer discounts to regular customers, interactive analytics and more. ShopKeep POS lets retailers open a physical cash register manually, print orders to the kitchen automatically, scan barcodes for inventory management, and more.

The iPad may not replace traditional cash registers entirely, but they will definitely become part of everyday use for hundreds of retail and service industry stores, simply because they are easy to use and even easier to carry around.

About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik