Platforms that serve as a gateway between retailers' existing systems and new mobile technologies can simplify the process of adding new mobile-based capabilities, including payments.

"You don't have to rip out everything to adopt mobile payments. It's one of those fundamental elements to ensure that you get this right," says Todd Berner, vice president of retail solutions at Zebra Technologies.

Noting that shoppers may often know more about a product than an employee on a showroom floor, retailers can use mobile point of sale systems to give their staffs access to better real-time information and accept payments faster to ensure that potential sales aren't lost, he added during a presentation Jan. 13 at the National Retail Federation's 103rd annual convention and expo in New York City.

"The POS has moved from the checkout lane to the aisle, but it's also moved to the front door, to the kitchen, to wherever business is done," he says.

A hardware-agnostic approach makes mobile implementations easier and expands functionality to mobile devices used by employees, as well as to consumer-facing mobile apps and e-commerce websites. In addition, it lets retailers maintain their existing banking relationships.

PCMS Group has developed a platform that relies on a base library of retail business tasks like inventory management, product information and payments, and connects those core tasks to different form factors, including existing hardware systems and new mobile and online tools.

The centralized technology takes a hub-and-spoke approach to accepting payments, rather than using disparate systems for traditional POS, mobile POS, e-commerce and consumer shopping apps, says Paul Kaye, PCMS Group's chief technology officer. Kaye spoke during another presentation at the NRF convention.

"The last thing we want to do is build lots of applications with overlapping capabilities," he says.

This approach has benefits beyond payments, including helping retailers maintain current pricing, inventory and promotion data.

"We can deliver the exact same code to calculate promotions on both an enterprise server and a mobile point of sale device," Kaye says.

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