By Jamie Croggon, Chief Innovator, Unique Secure.
Bricks and mortar retail is in turbulent times, having to redefine itself in a digital world. The importance of interior design is well understood. It entices consumers in off the street, sets the mood, conveys the brand and affects shopping behavior. Retailers realise it's one of its key points of difference over online and are thinking about all the senses - lighting, the sound track, the aroma.
It's an experience. How about other experience areas like the store staff and bringing digital in store? Apple has led the way in showing how retail IT can enhance the shopping experience. Being able to transact anywhere in the store is great. MPOS is growing fast. How about if IT could bring those well informed "Geniuses" to every store? Design will help here. Designing the experiences, thinking through interfaces, designing the devices.
POS IT can be mobile now. Why have anything fixed at all? Provide store staff with easy to access information so they become the expert who can help, anywhere in store with contextually relevant information. All the cool stuff, exploded views, technical information and benefits. "What would those look like on me?" Price comparisons and offers. Transact anywhere.
However right now POS IT feels like computing in the 90's – it's functional, all about performance and tech. Black and white boxes cobbled together to make a solution. Generally it has to be hidden away under the counter lest it detracts from the beautiful surroundings. Why not make POS part of the experience? Make it something counter worthy. It's an area ripe for design led innovation to come in and redefine the space with some thought through, integrated solutions.
I used to work at Dyson, a company that made the humble vacuum cleaner desirable. It wasn't just about the way it worked, it looked so different. That was important in signaling a change in the category. Design is like that, it's about setting vision of a better world. Likewise when I worked for Gillette I borrowed the idea of making "concept cars" from the auto industry and applied it to razors. Why? Because in a product that is really a collection of super high tech but invisible technologies you need to have a vision of what you're trying to achieve to guide you to the future. Design led innovation changes the experience by giving context and meaning to technology.
So when we at Unique Secure came up with our MePOS idea, as tablet based reinvention of POS IT, we used a design led approach to set our vision for what POS should look like. We didn't want something over styled, the design should be radical for a POS but help explain what's different about it. So the basic form of the two removable towers which were integrated but at the same time separate, rising up out of the central base unit has some drama but is essentially says exactly what it is.
Why is it that way? Well what we realized is that every shop is different, has a different character and layout. That's why POS systems are modular. Right now that means a collection of jumbled parts. Bringing your POS IT together so it looks like it belongs together would be a start. Being modular and integrated at the same time is an ideal scenario allowing flexibility but still looks integrated. Now make the integrated thing look so good its counter worthy and you are really doing something different.
The next step would be to make something that is designed to be customised. A retail outlet should be the ultimate expression of the brand identity. In those last few seconds of the shopping experience consumers are faced with the least elegant expression of the brand. How about if POS was made to be branded? Designed to reflect the décor or carry branded graphics or provide a place for promos or seasonal messaging, this capability is here now with the MePOS.
There is so much scope for design to help the physical world of in store retail to be much more engaging and experiential in a way that online cannot compete with. It will take vision and imagination. Some great new hardware and amazing digital innovations and above all, design led thinking.