Perfect Timing

With approximately 95% of retail purchases still occurring in physical stores (according to the National Retail Federation), it has never been more important to find new ways to engage, and connect with, in-store shoppers. For The Finish Line, mobile point-of-sale was a critical component in its drive to enhance the customer’s shopping experience.

“We recognize the importance of being where our customer is at the time when he or she needs us,” said Rob Baugh, director of store applications and delivery, The Finish Line, Indianapolis, which has 641 stores in malls across the country. “By leveraging mobile POS, we are empowering our associates to engage and assist consumers throughout the [store-level] buying process.”

The retailer made mobile payments a reality as it upgraded its POS system to a platform from MICROS Systems, Columbia, Md. When it was time to select the best customer engagement solution to integrate to POS, the retailer researched all of its options. It selected a solution from VeriFone, San Jose, Calif.

Finish Line upgraded its entire POS infrastructure with the MICROS Retail X POS solution, and MX915 payment terminals from VeriFone.

In addition to supporting electronic payment options, including magstripe and PIN-based debit and credit cards, chip-enabled (EMV) smart cards and near-field communications (NFC) mobile payments, the color, high-speed multimedia processors also support full-motion video to further engage the shopper during checkout.

The second piece of the POS rollout included the addition of iPod Touch devices integrated with Micros’ MyStore application and VeriFone’s PAYware Mobile Enterprise software, which supports all device transaction functionality and adds a level of security to the mobile devices.

Choosing a user-friendly customer-facing technology was important, but plenty of work happened behind the scenes to bring the devices’ functionality to life. To streamline mobile POS processing, Finish Line performed network upgrades and added wireless access points. It also deployed mobile receipt printers throughout stores to aid sales associates performing mobile POS transactions.

Holiday Rush: While many retailers will hold off on rolling out an innovative, expansive technology such as mobile POS until after the holiday rush is over, Finish Line knew mobile POS would deliver, as Baugh explained, “additional checkouts, line-busting and enhanced customer interaction — all components that can help us to put the customer first, throughout the holiday season and beyond.”

To prepare, Finish Line conducted a 36-store, three-month pilot of the technology from May to August. Each store featured five mobile devices that supported a variety of functionality, including “credit payments, loyalty account lookup, gift card bar code scanning, and later we added PIN-based debit,” he explained.

“The trials were successful, and our customers valued interacting with sales associates using the mobile POS units,” Baugh said.

Positive feedback prompted a company-wide rollout of the mobile solution a month later.

“We are deploying five devices per store, each integrated with VeriFone’s PAYware software that enables the iPods to accept credit, PIN debit, and eventually EMV and NFC payments,” Baugh explained. “The devices also have a bar code scanner, allowing users to conduct price checking and inventory management processes.”

While sales associates can use the devices throughout the store, units are tightly integrated with POS. As a result, all mobile transactions are filtered through the retailer’s central processing system, providing one overall view of data.           

At presstime, Finish Line was close to completing its rollout across all of its stores. The retailer has high expectations for the technology’s functionality, especially when intimately connecting with store-level shoppers during the critical holiday shopping period.

“During the trial, there was certainly a ‘wow’ factor, and this new shopping experience created excitement among both with sales associates and our customers,” Baugh added. “Moving forward, we will be measuring the results of the rollout, and comparing transactions on the sales floor versus transactions occurring at the counter.”