A new mobile shopping app from point of sale (POS) solution provider DigiPoS “will do for retail what the ATM did for banking”, according to the company’s SA GM Dione Le Roux.

He says the MobileShopper app, recently launched to consumers in the UK and now available for demo in South Africa, is a radical departure from the current approach.

“At the moment, retailers are mostly limiting their mobile presence to an optimised version of their website,” he says. “But if the customer is in store and the garment they want is out of stock in their size, your marketing is only going to frustrate them. What’s really useful is to let the customer use their mobile to check the stock levels in your other stores, then phone to reserve the item.”

Allowing customer access to retail backend systems may seem a daunting prospect at first, says Le Roux – but the benefits in terms of increased turnover and customer loyalty can be immense.

“If your customer checks in to your mobile app as they enter the store, you can offer them vouchers or other deals based on their personal shopping history,” he says. “Likewise if they’re scanning every item that goes into their basket, you can alert them to specials they might otherwise miss, at exactly the right time.”

The move into mobile apps marks a major evolution for DigiPoS, which has historically specialised in point of sale hardware and software.

“We’ve recognised that the point of sale is moving away from the till,” says Le Roux. “If customers want the point of sale to be on their mobile phone, we need to make that happen. Stores can still control security in specialised packing and detagging areas, but these can be made a lot more pleasant for the customer than the old queue for the till.”

Importantly, notes Le Roux, the customer is in control of the app. “This is a 100% opt-in channel,” he says. “It enables relevant, tailored and timely personal marketing via a medium which is always on, always available and has a built-in purchase mechanism. It makes for highly measurable ROI.”