Retail sales on the rise

Across the globe, people are spending increasingly more money at retail destinations. This is particularly the case in China and the United States, which are expected to be the primary markets for shopping within the foreseeable future. For merchants, this should just reinforce the importance of the point of sale - they will be seeing a growing number of customers checking out, and they need a flexible, effective POS terminal that can process purchases quickly and efficiently.

A recent report conducted by eMarketer found that retail sales are expected to top $22.4 trillion this year and over the course of the next four years, and could hit as much as $28.3 trillion. The eMarketer study surveyed more than 22 countries to come to that conclusion, including a number of online customers who purchased goods via the Internet from retailers in both their own countries and abroad.

Brick-and-mortar stores are still the channel of choice for customers
While many retail sector pundits have spoken extensively about the rise of online shopping, on a global scale, it seems e-commerce is still only a drop in the bucket. Online sales are expected to account for only 5.9 percent of the total retail market worldwide this year - that is approximately $1.3 trillion. While that is an impressive figure and enough to ensure all merchants have online stores as well, it does illustrate that in-store sales are still the most important.

Approximately 63 percent of the U.S. population will make digital purchases this year, according to the eMarketer study, but brick-and-mortar stores are still the preferred means of making a purchase. People will buy online, but they do so infrequently. Instead, most of their money will be spent in physical stores, with the researcher estimating approximately $10 out of every $11 will be spent in stores in 2018. Interestingly enough, the U.S. actually lags behind China and the U.K. when it comes to online sales activity.

“Ecommerce share of total retail sales can mean different things in different markets,” the study added. “In the case of the U.S., this metric shows the continued strength of brick-and-mortar retail, as well as U.S. consumers’ appetite for purchasing in-store.”

Processing in-store purchases quickly and safely
For retailers, the fact that so many people still prefer physical stores just reinforces the importance of the point of sale. 2014 was a prolific year in terms of data breaches and fraud, numerous criminals were able to steal customers’ private information and credit and debit card numbers through vulnerable POS terminals. With people continuing to prefer brick-and-mortar stores over all else, the onus is on retailers to utilize POS systems that are safe and secure. Of course, POS developers must also design solutions that take advantage of tokenization and encryption solutions as well to ensure retailers have the ability to protect their customers.

But an effective POS needs to be more than secure - it also needs to do its job effectively. The POS has evolved considerably over the years and now tablet-based POS systems provide retailers more flexibility. The point of sale is no longer locked to the front of the store, retailers can set up POS peripherals anywhere and switch between stations with ease by simply moving the tablet from one station to another.

As long as customers continue to shop in-store, merchants will need an effective POS to help them serve shoppers. Now is the time to reconsider the POS terminal and make upgrades when possible.