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Digital changes in trade – chances of digitalisation at the point of sale

At present, just like manufacturers with their own retail and operators of shopping centres, trading companies with a stationary POS are intensively concentrating on the digitalization of the POS.

The pressure to act is great since at present, the behaviour of many customers along the customer journey is radically changing. The results of a Nielsen study show that by now, for example, for 76% of Germans, clothes are at the top for online shopping, and with consumer electronics, 60% of Germans already get information online prior to visiting a stationary shopping location. It is not just with the Otto and Zalando customers that mobile end devices have become a central access medium for shopping (Otto, 50% and Zalando, over 60%).

The borders between online and offline shopping are becoming blurred due to the implementation of technologies. In traders' business models, the importance of data collection, data integration, data analysis and data use has therefore significantly increased because of it. Many traders must set themselves up in a customer-centric way and transform themselves into omnichannel trading companies.

Digitalization of the customer journey

Digitalization has become a part of the entire customer interaction, which is called the customer journey. This process is sub-divided into four sub-steps that end users can perform ideally online, stationary at the POS and by changing channels, on the basis of technological support from omnichannel architecture.

Step 1, "search and consider", encompasses the search for (product) information and possibly the reservation of the products that were searched for. The order or purchase process, as well as the payment process, make up step 2, "purchase and pay". The pick-up or delivery of the product purchased makes up the third step, "receive". In step 4, "return or use", the product is finally exchanged or used by the customer and the purchase process moves to after-sales service.

Over the long term, digitalization will be beneficial to those traders who network the customer journey across all channels and, on the basis of the linked data, offer the customer a seamless and more compelling shopping experience.



The digitalization of the Customer Journey leads to the digitization of the shopping experience

Status quo analysis - conditions for the digitalization of the POS

But before stationary traders deal with the topic, they should first ask some questions within the framework of a situation analysis. How omnichannel-capable are you today? Does your business have the necessary inventory accuracy across all channels? Can mobile end devices be used at your POS? Can your product range already be purchased online? What do your target groups, your digital sales channels, your online and offline customer points of contact, your system landscape, your source systems and data flows, your organisation and your processes look like today? What do the challenges of the future look like? What customer data are available today and are they already linked across channels? What data are necessary in the future? Are the goals of the digitalization of your company clearly defined? In short, do you have a digital strategy?

Dimensions of the digitalization of the POS

In essence, the term "digitalization of the POS" is made up of three dimensions that can respectively be sub-divided into facets.

The first dimension, digitalization of the shopping experience, focuses on the original shopping process at the POS and essentially, combines all digital, in-store experiences, for example, the retrieval of product information at the POS with the help of digital self-service terminals or by smartphones and functions which can be summarised by the term "seamless omnichannel purchase". For example, this is the case if customers reserve goods in the online shop and have them sent to the POS to try them on (click and collect). In addition, so-called "web to store" or "mobile to store" experiences count as part of this. An example of this is checking to see whether a certain article from the online shop is also in stock at a certain branch store and reserving it online by means of smartphone.

The second dimension, in-store analytics, encompasses all digital analysis and reporting instruments that should make it possible for a trader to gather (customer) information about the behaviour of its customers in the real world or at a stationary POS. Through the implementation of technologies, such as 3D camera sensors or data relevant to wi-fi tracking, stationary trade can determine what has been common practice in online shops for a long time, by using Google Analytics, for example. Key business indicators for the stationary trade can be optimised on the basis of this data.

The technologies used, the resulting percentual capture rates of the POS visitors as well as the extent of the linking of the data collected are central distinctive features in the area of in-store analytics.

The third dimension, digital traffic to store, contains all digital customer contact channels and technologies through which customers can be led to the stationary POS, in particular, focussing on technologies through which the customers are reached if they are outside of a store, such as geofencing in combination with smartphone apps, for example.

The following image summarises the dimensions of digitalization of the POS and some aspects associated with it.



The three dimensions of digitization at PoS

The process of implementation of solutions on digitalising the POS

An important requirement for the digitalization solutions for the POS is that of offering the target group added value. This is expressed in the use of a shopping experience for the target group. Acceptance and degree of use are influenced by it. In contrast, with in-store analytics solutions, there is the use of the decision-making tool as a basis and / or frequency-generating channel for the trade company in focus.

In order to achieve added value that contributes to the solution of the challenges of trade through digitalization, after the status quo analysis of the system landscape, source systems, data flows and processes presented earlier, it is recommended to work out a digitalization strategy and to furthermore derive and provide concrete use cases as well as related KPIs.

This is followed by the development of the IT or system target architecture and the target processes, as well as - on this basis - a comprehensive professional and technical specification analysis on the systems needed in the future and the evaluation of appropriate solutions or solution providers.

With the implementation of the solution and the integration into the total architecture, the operative realisation of the project then takes place. Business process outsourcing (BPO) can possibly be an appropriate medium in order to ensure the operative management of digitalization systems.

Professional data analysis and data visualisation/reporting make up the conclusion of the implementation process.


In the very complex and quickly-growing solution provider landscape, extensive research and the careful self-evaluation of software solutions often do not lead to the desired goal, but rather to isolated solutions. The results are non-integrated data and a lack of a 360° view of the customers. Apart from the indispensable know-how about the integration of systems and data, an extensive insight into the solution provider landscape as well as an appropriate contact network to these providers are important factors for success in the digitalization of the POS.