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The portability offered by tablets and smartphones has been a major selling point for consumers of all stripes, giving them both computing power and access to the web while on the go. But the devices have also proved seductive to retailers that rely on the very same features to bolster their mobile point-of-sale capabilities.
According to a February survey of retail employees in North America and Western Europe conducted by Motorola Solutions, 23% of retailers had already deployed mobile point-of-sale or point-of-payment technology. And even more retailers were gearing up for such a program: More than one in 10 were in the midst of a pilot or trial program, and one-quarter of respondents planned to implement a mobile POS or POP program within a year.
Among retailers, smartphones were the device of choice for customer-facing applications, with 46.5% currently using them, compared to 26.5% for tablets. But tablets were clearly the wave of the future, with 51.3% of respondents planning to deploy them in the near term, surpassing planned smartphone implementation. The use of rugged handheld mobile computers—devices packaged in tough shells, designed to withstand outdoor conditions and optimized for industrial uses—was also set to grow significantly among retailers, from 26.5%, as of the survey, to 42.2% in the future.
In terms of payment options, 85.7% of retailers planned to offer credit card payments at POS, making it far and away the most preferred mobile payment method. But almost six in 10 planned to accommodate debit card payment with PIN entry. A much smaller number, only 16.5%, planned to handle mobile wallet or near-field-communication payments made through a smartphone, likely because these technologies are not yet widely incorporated into devices.
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