Retail Gets Mobilized
The restaurant, Butcher & the Burger, was using the iPad to take orders, calculate totals and manage the line with ISISPOS software. And the spa, the boutique, the gym and even 7-Eleven were all using a new app called Belly for loyalty points. I was excited enough about the iPad usage and potential for rewards that I didn't hesitate to divulge my personal info and sign up.
I probably shouldn't have been surprised to see so many places using tablets. On Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s first-quarter earnings call, in which it shipped 15.4 million iPads, it talked up the uptick of their use in retail, citing real estate agency Coldwell Banker, Sotheby, Bed, Bath & Beyond and wineries as examples of companies getting on board. (See Apple: the Numbers Behind the (Huge) Numbers.)
But, while tablet apps like Belly and ISISPOS are great, what's really exciting is that this all signals we're getting closer to mobile payments as well. The Belly app required scanning a card, but a patron could just as easily tap their phone. And the burger joint uses an iPad or iPhone for table-side ordering, but it'd be so much more valuable if they completed the transaction right there as well. (See NFC to Come Standard in Sprint LTE Phones, Making Money on Mobile Money, Trends for 2012: Mobile Payments and Near-Field Inches Nearer.)
Interim steps like this are really important to getting consumers comfortable with using mobile devices at the point of sale. There are still a number of business model and technical issues to work out with mobile payments, but I'd say it's a sign we're well on our way when I encounter five examples in one day.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile