Faster Checkouts At Hand

It’s spring! Finally! Your parking lot is full, your registers are humming and your employees are running around selling various products to the customers packing your store.

A customer walks your sales yard and picks out a tree and three bushes. Right now, most garden centers tag the product as sold, directing the customer to go into the store and pay. Then, the customer still has to come back and get their purchases loaded into their car. Total ticket processing time: 10 to 15 minutes on average.

Instead, imagine your clerk could process the sale and take payment, load the merchandise into the customer’s car and quickly move on to take care of the next customer. Total ticket processing time? More like two to five minutes.

This solution offers the customer three big wins: a single point of contact, a sale that was completed much faster and no waiting in another line (one of the biggest customer complaints) to complete the purchase. The garden center’s big win: another parking space is now free for the next customer.

Pieces Of The Mobile POS Puzzle

Processing a ticket via a mobile unit (sometimes called “line busting”) can cover a lot of functions. Over the last few years, an increasing number of point-of-sale (POS) systems have allowed you to enter a mobile ticket, suspend or hold the ticket and then collect payment at the register. However, what more and more garden centers are interested in doing is processing the ticket in their yards and collecting payment directly on the mobile device. And, they don’t want to give up speed, inventory control or customer tracking. Just imagine – mobile computing, right at your fingertips!

So, what is mobile computing? It is simply the process of using a small (usually portable) computer on the spot. Mobile computing has three aspects: mobile communication, mobile hardware, and mobile software. The first aspect addresses communication issues (how you connect to the network or cloud); the second focuses on the hardware, i.e. mobile devices or device components; and the third deals with software and the requirements of mobile applications. In this column, we will focus on the latter two aspects.

Mobile Hardware

Let me start with the necessary mobile hardware. A mobile device is a pocket-sized computing device, typically having a display screen with touch input and/or a miniature keyboard. In the case of the personal digital assistant (PDA), the input and output are often combined into a touch-screen interface.

A mobile device has many names: a handheld device, a handheld computer or, simply, a handheld. Smartphones (like iPhones and Droids) and PDAs are popular with those who require the assistance and convenience of certain aspects of a conventional computer in environments where carrying one would not be practical. Enterprise digital assistants can further extend the available functionality for the business user by offering integrated data capture devices, like bar code, RFID, and smart card readers.

So what type of mobile hardware should you consider? Your choices are wide, varied and based on your specific system. The good news is that mobile devices can be as common as a smartphone. Wireless devices like the Janam XM66 and the Motorola (formerly Symbol) MC55 with built-in scanners are two examples of higher-end devices that support an additional magnetic stripe, making them enterprise digital assistants.

Prices for these devices will range widely, from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand. Your considerations will vary based on your operations, but I strongly suggest you include a scanner and magnetic stripe for credit cards on your requirement list. Ease of use, speed and data security make both of these items a must.

Mobile Software

The second part of any mobile solution is software. Mobile applications can include mobile POS tickets, physical inventory, transfers, receiving, price checking and more. Many of the most popular POS software packages have third-party applications that have addressed mobile computing. Companies like 2B Solutions have written full-featured, third-party applications for CounterPoint and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Likewise, RMS also has a third-party mobile application available for its product.

Radiant Retail (makers of CounterPoint) has decided to address the situation directly. In the third quarter of 2011, Radiant plans to release CPMobile, which will have the ability to do POS, inventory, and gift registries – all targeted to run on iPod touch and iPhone devices. The POS functionality will be delivered in the summer 2011, and will run over Wi-Fi in the store, or over 3G on an iPhone if you are away from the store.

Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks POS, has taken another approach. Utilizing its credit card processing branch (Intuit Payment Solutions), Intuit offers GoPayments, which allows its customers to process a credit card with a cell phone. After the charge is processed, the order can be downloaded into QuickBooks Financial for a complete recording of the sale and inventory movement. Although GoPayments is limited to a direct interface with QuickBooks, it can also be used as a standalone application.

One note: You might think that with all the headaches regarding credit card compliance, processing a credit card on the mobile device is fraught with security issues. In fact, mobile processing is as secure as terminal processing (assuming you are using a secure processor and following all the PCI rules). Certainly, one of the “best practices” is to provide your clerks, who process the mobile tickets, with a magnetic swipe for customers’ credit cards.

The ever-changing landscape of retail requires that savvy retailers be willing to make adjustments to fit their customers’ needs quickly. Mobile computing may be a newer technology feature, but there is little doubt that, just like credit card processing and POS systems, this new feature is not going away. Will everyone do it? Probably not, but this is a perfect solution for many garden centers and a welcome addition for their customers.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Departments...

July 2, 2015

At Great Risk, Ernest Wertheim Helps Others To Escape Nazi Germany [Book Excerpt]

Editor’s note: Ernest Wertheim met the famous Pastor Niemöller at his cousin’s wedding. Niemöller is credited with saying: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist. Then they came for the socialist, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.” Niemöller told Wertheim about a ski instructor at a mountain resort that was half in Germany and half in Czechoslovakia. Here is an excerpt from Wertheim’s memoir, Chasing Spring, that recounts why Wertheim, renowned for his love of […]

Read More
Petunia ‘Pink Halo Ray’ (Danziger)

July 2, 2015

Improve Your Plant Knowledge At 2015 Summer Show Classes

Make plans to attend some of these educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions covering plant knowledge that will be taking place at this year’s conferences.

Read More

July 1, 2015

Marketing Classes At 2015 Summer Shows

Make plans to attend some of these educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions covering marketing that will be taking place at this year’s conferences.

Read More
Latest Stories

July 2, 2015

At Great Risk, Ernest Wertheim Helps Others To Escape N…

Editor’s note: Ernest Wertheim met the famous Pastor Niemöller at his cousin’s wedding. Niemöller is credited with saying: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist. Then they came for the socialist, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.” Niemöller told Wertheim about a ski instructor at a mountain resort that was half in Germany and half in Czechoslovakia. Here is an excerpt from Wertheim’s memoir, Chasing Spring, that recounts why Wertheim, renowned for his love of […]

Read More
Petunia ‘Pink Halo Ray’ (Danziger)

July 2, 2015

Improve Your Plant Knowledge At 2015 Summer Show Classe…

Make plans to attend some of these educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions covering plant knowledge that will be taking place at this year’s conferences.

Read More

July 1, 2015

Marketing Classes At 2015 Summer Shows

Make plans to attend some of these educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions covering marketing that will be taking place at this year’s conferences.

Read More
Alden Lane Nursery Water Wise

July 1, 2015

Drought/Water Management Classes At 2015 Summer Shows

Make plans to attend some of these educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions covering drought and water management that will be taking place at this year’s conferences.

Read More

June 29, 2015

All-America Selections Releases 2015 Annual Report

The annuals, perennials and edibles that are All-America Selections winners can help every segment of the distribution chain sell more product because of a back story that explains what it takes to become an AAS winner.

Read More
Lloyd Traven

June 29, 2015

Peace Tree Farm’s Lloyd Traven Will Be A Keynote Speake…

Speaking on Wednesday, Aug. 5, Traven will offer a wake-up call for the industry on how to capture and engage young consumers.

Read More
Botanica Collection (Landmark Plastic)

June 29, 2015

New Products Debuting In Summer 2015 [Slideshow]

These new products will be making their debut at this summer’s retail shows. Be sure to stop by and visit their manufacturers while you’re walking the trade show floor.

Read More

June 26, 2015

Share Your Memories Of Pink Flamingos To Honor The Pass…

Tonight I will lift a glass to Donald Featherstone, who created the iconic plastic pink flamingo that became a symbol of kitsch or bad taste, depending on your sense of style. He died this week at age 79 (Click here to read his obituary from NPR). I’ve long had an affection for the tacky lawn art. I lived in Austin, Texas, throughout most of the 1980s and and early 90s. While living there, I often drove by a house that was far away from the epicenter of Keep Austin Weird, in a quiet established community known for interesting architecture, good schools and its well-heeled residents. This house stood out because it had a plastic pink flamingo, out of place in this pocket of good taste. Over a few months, the homeowner added more pink flamingos until it was a sizable flock. Did I mention his house was on a major thoroughfare? […]

Read More
Feature image

June 25, 2015

Ernest Wertheim Rescues His Father From An Early Concen…

After Wertheim's father was arrested when re-entered Germany after a lengthy absence in 1937, his family heard there may be a way to free him. Here is an excerpt from Wertheim's book, Chasing Spring, recounting what happened next.

Read More

June 25, 2015

Human Resources Classes At 2015 Summer Shows

Make plans to attend some of these educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions covering human resources that will be taking place at this year’s conferences

Read More
Chasing Spring and Its Not Just about the Hat

June 22, 2015

New Memoirs From Ernest Wertheim And Allan Armitage Off…

New books from garden center design expert Ernest Wertheim and plant expert Allan Armitage offer a glimpse into the two mens’ careers. More importantly, however, they also go into detail on each man’s life experiences that helped make them what they are today.

Read More
Hawthorne Gardening feature image

June 22, 2015

Scotts-MiracleGro’s Subsidiary Buys Hydroponic Co…

Scotts-MiracleGro’s Hawthorne Gardening Co. recently announced it has purchased General Hydroponic and Bio-Organic Solutions. The company is based in Santa Rosa, Calif., and is “popular with marijuana growers,” according to Columbus Business First. Hawthorne Gardening Co. was created in October 2014 and is led by Chris Hagedorn, the son of Scotts-MiracleGro CEO Jim Hagedorn. At the time, Scotts-MiracleGro said the division was created to serve a younger and more urban customer. Purchasing General Hydroponic will position Hawthorne to respond to the U.S. changing attitudes and laws to legal medical and recreational marijuana. Tom Knox’s article about the purchase in Columbus Business First says General Hydroponics supplies liquid fertilizers and has plants in California, West Virginia and France. You can read Scott’s press release on the purchase here.

Read More

June 21, 2015

Ian Baldwin’s Blog Spurs A Debate On What Matters…

Industry consultant Ian Baldwin wrote recently about the need to emphasize nature more in garden retail. He pointed out that most garden retailers would prefer to go backpacking or kayaking before going to a movie, yet that passion for nature rarely translates in their customers’ shopping experience. His comments stirred a vigorous debate about organic vs. local and how butterflies and wildlife marketing are working at the ground level. Read the debate below. If you would like to read the original block, click here. Ian, this an interesting dilemma. We have classes on creating a Backyard Wildlife and they are generally well attended, but I think the vast majority of gardeners consider these kinds of backyards to be too messy and unruly. Obviously this is a misconception and one that our industry could do a better job of clarifying. Keep up the good work, my friend. Steve Smith, Sunnyside Nursery The […]

Read More
Fire Ants

June 19, 2015

Imported Red Fire Ants Discovered At Delaware Garden Ce…

State agriculture officials made the discovery during an inspection of tropical plants imported from Florida. The state has issued an alert to local businesses reminding them to check any shipments they may be receiving.

Read More
Moana stacked pallets display

June 19, 2015

Display And Merchandising Classes At 2015 Summer Shows

Make plans to attend some of these educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions covering displays and merchandising that will be taking place at this year’s conferences.

Read More
Webinar Laptop Graphic

June 17, 2015

Webinar: Proven Ways To Protect Your Data From Hackers …

On June 4, Today’s Garden Center broadcast a webinar addressing ways garden retailers can increase their online security. Listen to the recording of the webinar, where our panel of experts discussed the steps you can take to ensure your business, your data, and your customers are safe.

Read More

June 16, 2015

Digital/Social Media Classes At 2015 Summer Shows

Make plans to attend some of these educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions covering digital and social media trends that will be taking place at this year’s conferences.

Read More
Cultivate Trade Show

June 12, 2015

What To Do, And What’s New, At Cultivate’15

According to Aubrey Ballinger, learning resource specialist at AmericanHort, Cultivate’15 is the industry’s post-season pep-rally. “Because Cultivate’15 is unique in its attendees — representing every facet of the industry — and the sheer size of the event, we like to keep it on the cutting-edge of what it means to have an all-industry, educational, networking and business experience,” Ballinger says. Here’s what you can expect this year. What To Do At Cultivate New Varieties Zone: Get a first-hand look at more than 750 new plant introductions. See new colors, better habits, drought resistance and other aspects important to growers, retailers, landscapers and — most importantly — consumers. New Products Zone: This is your chance to preview the new innovative items ready to hit the market. Whether hard goods, technology, equipment or future retail best sellers, Cultivate’15 lets you be the first to see what’s coming so you can get a jump on the competition. […]

Read More