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Savvy Retailers Deploy Mobile Checkout Technology

Major retailers can no longer solely rely upon their in-store point-of-sale (POS) terminals for transactions. They must quickly evolve their POS strategy to offer both online and mobile payment options to customers, that's according to the findings from the latest market study by Informa Telecoms & Media.

Retailers that offer multiple payment options -- including a mobile checkout facility -- will be able to serve more customers and reduce loss of sales due to the busy shopper's reluctance to wait in line, especially during the holiday season.

The use of mobile POS terminals can help retailers to serve more customers during busy times and issue paperless receipts to customer e-mail addresses, rather than making customers wait in long lines to pay at fixed POS terminals.

During the 2012 Christmas holidays, lifestyle brand Alex and Ani implemented mobile checkout technology in several of their U.S. stores and witnessed an impressive 318 percent increase in sales just from transactions processed by sales associates carrying mobile POS terminals.

"Many retailers have now deployed, or are in the process of deploying, mobile POS terminals," says Shailendra Pandey, a senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Unlike a few years ago, many vendors are now offering mobile POS terminals and support services. These vendors are also offering attractive incentives to merchants and retailers to upgrade their old terminals with new mobile POS systems.

Retailers, especially the big supermarket chains, are eager to reduce POS staffing costs and are introducing self-service checkout counters. In the longer term, adoption of NFC- and cloud-based mobile payment services could reduce the retailer need to have many checkout counters.

Shoppers could scan the items they want to buy using their mobile phones and pay for their shopping by simply waving their phone in front of an NFC reader, or by using a cloud-based mobile payment service.

Other interesting alternatives to enable brick-and-mortar retail payments are now also available -- including services based on a plug-in card-reader such as Square, mPowa and Ezetap.

Mobile POS provider Payleven has launched a chip-and-PIN POS terminal in Europe that links to a smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth. The device has been certified by both Visa and MasterCard.

Informa estimates that by 2016, over a billion mobile subscribers will be remotely buying physical goods and services via their smartphones every month. Also by 2016, about 1.1 billion users will be actively using mobile local payments in retail stores and on public transportation networks.

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